A Wind in the Willows (and Cedars, Firs, Maples…)

September 5th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist

How some trees react to high winds.

A broken <em>Acer macrophyll </em> (Big Leaf Maple) um stem located at the east end of Loderi Valley in the Washington Park Arboretum

A broken Acer macrophyllum (Big Leaf Maple) stem located at the east end of Loderi Valley in the Washington Park Arboretum

1)  Pseudotsuga menziesii                Douglas Fir

  • The detritus lying on the ground following a wind event in the Pacific Northwest provides ample evidence of how P. menziesii defends itself against wind.
  • The wood of P. menziesii is brittle and can snap. When a strong wind acts on a Douglas Fir, the tree sacrifices small pieces of foliage to shed the wind’s energy.

2)  Thuja plicata                Western Red Cedar

  • In contrast to Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar limbs are fibrous and tenaciously strong. Long, bendable limbs whip and swing in the wind, but rarely break.
  • The wind’s energy is transferred to the trunk and the cedar relies on its massive girth and extensive root system to keep it upright.

3)  Populus trichocarpa                Black Cottonwood

  • In growth, P. trichocarpa sacrifices strength for speed.
  • Just to the northwest of our Overlook Pond, a massive black cottonwood demonstrates how weak wood tends to shatter under stress.

4)  Salix spp.                Willow

  • Often growing in wet bottomlands, the roots of willows can be shallow mats that are relatively easy to peel up when a strong wind levers a tall tree.

5)  Acer macrophyllum                Big Leaf Maple

  • The wood of Acer macrophyllum is strong but heavy. The massive, reaching limbs can shatter mid-limb when wind pulls on the sail-like leaves.
  • A recent example is located at the east end of Loderi Valley just above Arboretum Drive, although many of our big-leaf maples are festooned with “storm stubs.”

Art Exhibit: Now You See It! The Slime Mold Revelation

September 4th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

Tuesday, September 15 – Friday, October 30
Slime mold artwork by Angela Mele

What do evolution and the Emperor of Japan have to do with art about slime molds? Now You See It! The Slime Mold Revelation reveals the stories behind four centuries of artistic devotion to these otherworldly organisms. Just what are slime molds? Worldwide, one-celled bacteria-munching travelers of the earth beneath your feet. Shimmering rainbow-colored spore-filled protists on your rosebush. Tiny dwellers of the arctic, the rainforest, and the desert. Now You See It! is a colorful foray into a little-known world: a visual and scientific delight for all ages. Come confused, leave stupefied. Curator Angela Mele is a scientific illustrator finishing the illustrations for a field guide to cosmopolitan slime molds. She recently received a Master’s of Museum Studies from the University of Washington.

The artist invites you to a reception at the Miller Library on Friday, September 18 from 5:00 to 7:00pm.

2015 Fall Kayak Tours

September 1st, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Join us for this end of summer tradition at the Washington Park Arboretum as we tour our wetlands by kayaks generously loaned to us by Agua Verde Paddle Club. All proceeds go towards our Saplings Scholarship Fund that enables underprivileged students to take part in our hands-on, science-based school field trip programs.

Learn about the wetland ecosystem, including a little bit of history and little bit of ecology!  It’s great exercise and also simply beautiful.

No experience necessary; kayaks are doubles; max tour size is 12. Spaces are filling fast, so register today!
Suitable for children ages 6+. Children must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
Cost is $35 per person.
Register by emailing tours@aguaverde.com or call 206-545-8570


  • Thursday, September 10th                     3pm and 5pm
  • Friday, September 11th                           3pm and 5pm
  • Saturday, September 12th                      9am, 11am, and 1pm
  • Sunday, September 13th                         9am, 11am, and 1pm
Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

Student Spotlight: Anna Carragee

August 31st, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor



Meet Anna Louise Carragee.  Anna is a Master of Environmental Horticulture student in the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and she will start her second year this fall.  She has 3 part-time positions at UW Botanic Gardens: Greenhouse Assistant, Nursery Manager for the Society for Ecological Restoration – UW Chapter’s Native Plant Nursery (housed at the Center for Urban Horticulture), and a short-term position to support the City’s Seattle reLeaf program to help re-inventory and evaluate the health of street trees planted with the Trees for Neighborhoods project.

Anna is from Wayne, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia.  She moved to Seattle to start school at UW last year.  She was attracted to Seattle since it is a large city with excellent access to the mountains.  Anna likes to hike, bike, contra dance, attend concerts, care for her indoor plants, and read.

Anna attended the University of Vermont and studied Ecology for her undergraduate degree.  Her favorite class was dendrology, which was life-changing because she suddenly saw all the trees in much more detail and gained greater understanding of the ecology of the northern hardwood forests of Vermont.  Anna’s favorite class at UW so far is Plant Ecophysiology, which she also found to be life-changing.  Her understanding of plants increased exponentially in ten very quick weeks.

As a student in the Master of Environmental Horticulture program, Anna has many classes in the greenhouse and in the Douglas Research Conservatory at the Center for Urban Horticulture. She has had the chance to meet the staff of UW Botanic Gardens and be involved in really interesting projects this summer.

On a typical day, Anna waters the potted plants in Merrill Hall and maintains the plants in the research yard near the hoophouses.  When working for Seattle reLeaf, she drives all over the city surveying street trees planted in the last 3-5 years.  Her favorite part of her jobs is watching plants put on new growth and seeing the colors of the Soest garden change over the season.

Anna’s favorite part of the UW Botanic Gardens gardens is the New Zealand forest at the Washington Park Arboretum; she studied in New Zealand and recalls the fun she had there.

Her favorite tree is the tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) because she loves large shade trees that also have “showy” flowers. Also, growing up in Pennsylvania she had many tall tulip poplars in her backyard that shed flowers and seeds — which provided hours of amusement for Anna and her friends!

Botanical Sketching, and I Need a Pen

August 26th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

Our first offering of Botanical Sketching in Ink and Watercolor wraps up this week. This popular series will be offered again this fall on Monday mornings, starting October 5. Learn more and register.


Blog post by Saffron Hefta-Gaub, summer communications volunteer

August 3, 2015

Today I showed up at the UW Botanic Gardens right at 10:00 am, to sit in on the first Botanical Sketching and Watercolor class. This class is to grow one’s skills in capturing flowers and foliage, with quick techniques and portable materials. Of course, the skills learned here can be applied to all sketching, our teacher herself isn’t an entirely landscape artist. The class looks to be of a fair price, though fortunately I got to sit in free.

When I walked up to the Gardens, I was a little confused and tried to follow signs to the class location. Thankfully, I spotted Jessica who guided me towards the greenhouses where the classes were located. When I was browsing events to attend, this one caught my eye because of my previous dabble in the art of sketching. I even brought my own sketch book, though I doubted I’d participate. Unfortunately I learned that the class was in pen, no pencil allowed, and pencil was all I had brought. Oh well.

The class was sold out, ten adults, all with some history/interest in art or gardening. Our teacher was Lisa Snow Lady. Yes, that’s her real name. Snow Lady. Pretty awesome right? She commented on that and I took note. I love your name Lisa! Our instructor was soft spoken and kind. Her education was at the University of Washington, in art, but she also had a certificate in Ornamental Horticulture. She introduced herself first before we went around the table to introduce ourselves. I actually didn’t introduce myself, apparently Ms. Snow Lady, who knew I was coming, told the participants about me before I showed up, because one of the ladies asked if I was the intern. Intern sounds so official! As for the names of the people in the class, they blended together, similar names from the same generation. Patsy, Pattie, Barbara, Bobby. I noticed one man biked here. He got me. I can’t drive, so I bike most places when I need to get there independently. I biked to my play when it was still going on. Speaking of the play, hope I don’t get too sentimental about it here, closing night was only three days ago. Let’s get to the class!

LeavesTo start off she showed us her own work, as well as the work of students past and some art off the internet. Next we ran over the materials list that had been next to the check in list. Turns out Sharpies are amazing, great for sketching when watercolor washes will be used, as their ink won’t run. As for the holding of paint, pan trays, the plastic dividers like the ones you used when you were a kid, work great as well. Or paints in an Altoids tin can function.

After we finished the list, Lisa brought out a giant bundle of leaves for us to practice with. I say “us” but honestly I did nothing but observe and daydream. Lisa used the sudden bunch of green to point out and explain the difference in leaf shape, in the veins, and the different locations leaves can be on the stem. Though Lisa said she didn’t remember much from her botanical classes, the class was a study in both art and nature. Next were warm ups, getting used to the feel of the pen. Like me, most people use pencils, so drawing with a permanent, smoother writing utensil can take practice. These warm ups consisted of picking a leaf, and scribbling in it’s shape on scratch paper. I watched the black leaves that emerged from the other students’ pens and, even though they were sketches of sketches, even simple sketching is beautiful if you think about it. Next was blind contouring, a game I had played myself, which consists of not looking at your paper as you draw an object, or as Lisa described it, feeling the edge. People chuckled at the designs that emerged from their blind drawings. The next activity added to that, where one could look at their hand briefly, only to connect slips in the the paper. The key was to feel the edge of the leaf. The next add-in was focus on the veins.

While I sat there, listening to Lisa and not drawing unlike everyone else, I noticed another woman and I kept alternating yawns, in a completely tired and non-rude way. What, I’m a teenager who likes sleep, I’m tired every morning. I don’t know about the woman.

I am a teenager, and I try to be as interesting and polite as possible, but my mind still wanders and it seems in this post that aspect of my writing is shining through more. I attribute that to being tired during the class and not being able to participate fully. That is why, both in class and here, I’m trying to keep all thoughts away from getting sentimental about people I meet only four weeks ago, and the direction I know Buffy the Vampire Slayer is headed. Buffy is the show I’m currently binge watching. However, this entire paragraph has been about me and not the class so I guess I failed in that task. I apologize. I honestly did start to daydream about Buffy because, despite having art skills, I did not have supplies! I had a sketchbook, but not a pen. Stupid pens.

FountainFinally my endless loop of silly thoughts were broken by the end of warm ups and Lisa’s call to go outside. We went out to the garden to observe the texture of the leaves and get some real drawing in. The gardens are absolutely lovely, with a beautiful fountain in the middle that kept my company when everyone else drew. However, before everyone scattered off to sketch, Lisa gave a quick demonstration on how she was able to draw using a permanent marker to make quick lines that formed a lovely bunch of leaves. From there, students went off and picked their own section of garden to sketch by themselves for half an hour. If only I had brought a pen I’d have been drawing too. Thankful it was a beautiful day so I wasn’t unhappy. A plaque with the phrase “unusual foliage” caught my eye. Unusual Foliage needs to be a band name. The class definitely seems like an interesting and worthy class if you love to sketch gardens, and bring paper and pen. I didn’t bring a pen. Everyone else did and they had a great time. Lisa went around checking in on people like a good teacher should. Now I realize, writing up these notes,  that Lisa said she’d look out for the blog post. Whoops. Lisa, when you read this blog post know I loved the class. I was just frustrated with not sketching when I didn’t bring a pen because I thought it was against the Volunteer Write Up Crew code or something. Nah, it was really because I was too lazy to bring a pen. Is this whole blog post me complaining about a pen? I’m so sorry. Please sign up for this class, well, not this class because it’s already full, sold out, due to what a great offering it is. But Jessica notified me the Botanical Gardens are going to offer it again in the fall. Please sign up for the fall offering. I promise, anyone, no matter what your skill, can participate.

As soon as it was getting too hot we went back inside to finish up for the day. Lisa said the class did really well for their first time and I’m disappointed not to come again to see how much they develop over the next four weeks.  The final thing I learned is that sketching is both easier and harder than you think. The final activity was cleaning up the room, and then I left. Another event complete. This job is fun. If you have a pen.

Saffron Hefta-Gaub


Fall Family Fun!

August 25th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant


Visit the UW Botanic Gardens this fall for to see some colorful leaves, and participate in some fun activities for families with kids 2-12 years old!

For families with preschoolers 2-5 we have Family Nature Class – Through science-based exploration and outdoor play preschoolers and their caregivers will experience the UW Botanic Gardens using their senses. Above all, we will explore and let the natural curiosity of the young ones direct our adventures. Interested, but have an older child? Try our Friday Afternoon class from 1-3pm for families with children ages 4-8.

For families with children 5-12 we have Park in the Dark – Night time is special at the Arboretum – the people and cars are gone, and the nocturnal animals move about. Night hikes are a chance for us to explore our senses, search for crepuscular and nocturnal movements in the forest and learn about night-related animal adaptations.

Families with children 6 and up can try out a Kayak Tour – Join us for this end of summer tradition at the Washington Park Arboretum as we tour our wetlands by kayaks generously loaned to us by Agua Verde Paddle Club. All proceeds go towards our Saplings Scholarship Fund that enables underprivileged students to take part in our hands-on, science-based school field trip programs.

Family Nature Class

WHO: Children ages 2-5 and their caregivers. The group maximum is 12 children.
WHEN: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday from 9:30-11:30am for 2-5 year olds
OR Fridays, 1-3pm, for 4-8 year olds.
WHERE: Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle)
ENTIRE SERIES: Sign up for 6 or more classes (any day of the week) $14/class for 1 adult and 1 child. Additional child: $7/class (children must be attending with the same adult to receive the second child discount). Additional adults are free!
INDIVIDUAL CLASSES: $18/class for 1 adult and 1 child. Additional child: $9/class (children must be attending with the same adult to receive the second child discount). Additional adults are free!

Park In The Dark

2015 Fall DatesNight Hike Image

  • Saturday, September 12, 7-8:30pm
  • Saturday, September 26, 6:30-8pm
  • Saturday, October 10, 6-7:30pm
  • Saturday, October 24, 5:30-7pm

Cost is $8/person.

Meet at the Graham Visitors Center at the Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle)

Register for both programs over the phone (206-685-8033), or online!

Fall Kayak Tours

No experience necessary; kayaks are doubles; max tour size is 12. Spaces are filling fast, so register today!
Suitable for children ages 6+. Children must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
Cost is $35 per person.
Register by emailing tours@aguaverde.com or call 206-545-8570


  • Thursday, September 10th                     3pm and 5pm
  • Friday, September 11th                           3pm and 5pm
  • Saturday, September 12th                      9am, 11am, and 1pm
  • Sunday, September 13th                         9am, 11am, and 1pm
Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

Student Spotlight: Regina Wandler

August 24th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor


Regina Wandler is a graduate student in the Master of Environmental Horticulture program, within the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. For her masters project, she is working with UW Botanic Gardens to develop a continuing education program for restoration professionals in the Pacific Northwest.

Regina grew up in Everett, WA (pretty local!) and went to UW for her undergraduate education as well. She knows she is lucky to have been in this beautiful area all her life and to have almost all of her wonderful extended family here. She moved back down south to Seattle from Skagit County to begin her masters program, though she still works for Skagit Land Trust.  She loves skiing, hiking, camping, road tripping or otherwise traveling and exploring, botanizing, cooking and baking, playing board games, brewing beer and reading sci-fi and fantasy. When Regina has free time, she likes to spend some of it at her family’s tree farm on the Kitsap Peninsula.

As an undergraduate, she double-majored in two amazing UW programs – Community, Environment and Planning (CEP) and Comparative History of Ideas (CHID). She minored in Program on the Environment and Architecture (she states “obviously, I had some trouble focusing on just one interdisciplinary field!”).
She loved so many of her classes, especially the core CEP classes that covered everything from concepts of community to social processes and place based education. Old Growth Forest Management with Jerry Franklin was one of the most engaging non-CEP classes she took during undergrad years, though her thought-provoking Love and Attraction CHID thesis seminar with Philip Thurtle was right up there. As a graduate student, she had many more classes that were truly enjoyable.  She thinks Plant Ecophysiology, with Hannah Kinmonth-Schultz, was very challenging, worthwhile, and found herself going back to the concepts covered again and again.

Regina volunteered as a class monitor during her first quarter of graduate school, and ended up deciding to take on the UW Botanic Gardens research project after talking with Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor.

As a student, she has classes which use the UW Botanic Gardens as an outdoor learning space – for example, a spring plant identification class regularly met in the Washington Park Arboretum. The buildings that classes meet in within the UW Botanic Gardens are some of the nicest, greenest spots on campus to spend time in learning. She also uses the botanic gardens as a personal space to relax from the stresses of balancing graduate school and a job, walking the trails or canoeing along the shoreline. For her project, she primarily works with UW Botanic Gardens staff and other engaged restoration professionals throughout the greater Seattle area.  It has been a great way to continue learning about the restoration field and discuss topics of interest within the local and larger community.

There are so many beautiful spaces to choose from at UW Botanic Gardens! Since it’s sunny, she has to say her current favorite spot is the swimming beach at Foster Island in the Arboretum – there’s not a nicer spot to jump in anywhere in Seattle! She also loves the portion of the Arboretum to the south of the Visitors Center filled with pine trees – there’s something wonderfully soothing about walking over a carpet of needles even when she can’t make it over to Eastern Washington for a visit.

Regina’s favorite plant is the Deer Fern (Blechnum spicant). She loves how the delicate looking, striking fronds stand up or lay flat, radiating out on the ground around it, and how the frond ends spiral in. It’s not everywhere around here like sword ferns, and she has always associated it with camping on the Olympic Peninsula as a child. Now she finds it in hidden corners of Western Washington tucked underneath more obvious canopy species, and always takes a minute to stop and appreciate it.

Pittosporum (Pitta=pitch, Sporum=seed) : August 17 – 30, 2015

August 23rd, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the New Zealand Forest in the Pacific Connections Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum (August 17 - 30, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the New Zealand Forest in the Pacific Connections Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum (August 17 – 30, 2015)

Native to New Zealand (and Australia, Asia, and Africa). Flowers are sweetly scented and seeds are coated with a sticky substance giving the plant its name, pitch-seed.
All plants below can be seen growing in the New Zealand Forest in the Pacific Connections Garden.

1)   Pittosporum eugenioides               Lemonwood

  • New Zealand’s tallest Pittosporum, P. eugenioides can reach 40 feet.
  • Its yellow-green leaves with curly edges have a strong scent of lemon when crushed.

2)   Pittosporum divaricatum

  • Divaricating (stretched or spread apart) branching patterns and small juvenile foliage protect this plant from beaked predators.
  • As the plant gains height, adult foliage emerges safe from predation.

3)   Pittosporum patulum               Pitpat

  • Endemic to the South Island of New Zealand.
  • Pitpat has been on the IUCN Red List as endangered since 1999.
  • IUCN stands for:  International Union for Conservation of Nature.

4)   Pittosporum ralphii               Ralph’s Kohuhu

  • Thick leathery, undulating leaves sport dense white tomentum on the underside.
  • Hermaphroditic flowers give way to orange-yellow seed capsules and black seeds.

5)   Pittosporum tenuifolium               ‘Tom Thumb’

  • This purple-leaved cultivar of P. tenuifolium is a dense, slow-growing evergreen shrub with a rounded habit.
  • You can find this plant in the newly-renovated courtyard of the Graham Visitor Center.

2015 Miller Memorial Lecture features Helen Dillon

August 19th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

photo of Helen DillonThe Pendleton & Elisabeth C. Miller Charitable Foundation

The Evolution of an Irish Garden featuring Helen Dillon

Thursday, September 10th
The Lecture is FREE!

To receive a ticket, please email info@millergarden.org

The lecture is in Meany Hall on the UW Seattle campus. Doors open at 6:15pm with the lecture beginning at 7:00pm. A free reception with refreshments will be held at the conclusion of the program.

As a lasting gift to the horticultural community, the Pendleton and Elisabeth Carey Miller Charitable Foundation, the Elisabeth Carey Miller Botanical Garden, the Elisabeth C. Miller Library, the Northwest Horticultural Society and Great Plant Picks sponsor this free annual memorial lecture to remember the legacy of Betty Miller.

Glimpse into the past – Dr. James R. Clark

August 18th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Tukey and Clark
Since its founding 35 years ago, the Center for Urban Horticulture (now a part of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens) has produced numerous students, staff, and faculty who have continued on to illustrious horticultural careers. A few days ago, I received this photograph of Dr. Harold B. Tukey, Jr., founding director, and associate professor James R. Clark. They are examining a tree experiment in the nursery area of the Center.  Since the then-new Merrill Hall is in the background, without Isaacson Hall, I would date the picture in the spring of 1985. It was obviously taken by the Seattle Times, for publicity of the newly developing Center, which would become an international model.

Dr. Clark and I were the two early faculty hires for the Center, and he arrived a few months after I did in the summer of 1981.  He holds a B.S. in Plant Science, an M.S. in Horticulture from Rutgers University, and a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the University of California, Davis.  He was a faculty member at Michigan State University from 1971 to 1981.  He was extremely instrumental in the early development of the Center from 1981 to 1991.

Upon arrival, Dr. Clark quickly developed programs in urban forestry and tree physiology.  He proved that garden sites closer to our major highways often had higher concentrations of heavy metals.  He worked closely with nurserymen and arborists, as well as the public.  In his work with the late Marvin Black, Seattle City arborist, who was responsible for putting trees back on Seattle streets, he studied the adverse growing conditions for street trees in Seattle.  He also worked with the new immersion exhibits in Woodland Park Zoo.

Dr. Clark and I shared the wooden “chicken coop-like” Medicinal building still lounging near the Botany Greenhouse on campus from 1981-84. It also housed our secretary Diana Perl. It was Dr. Clark who suggested that we teach a required course on public speaking for all our graduate students, which ultimately became the first Center for Urban Horticulture-taught course on campus.  Upon his departure, I taught the course until I retired in 2006.   Dr. Sarah Reichard continues that legacy.  Over the years, I have heard from people all over the world that they can tell the “Center for Urban Horticulture-trained students,” who know precisely how to deliver both a scientific talk and an extension-style public presentation.

Dr. Clark went on to become vice president of HortScience, Inc., located in Pleasanton, California. It is a consulting firm providing horticultural, arboricultural and urban forestry services.  Dr. Clark has developed a model of sustainable urban forest management, is experienced in designing and implementing field research, and frequently serves as an expert witness.  He is also the coauthor of four books and has published over 30 articles in scientific journals including Arboriculture & Urban Forestry (formerly Journal of Arboriculture), Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Science, Arboricultural Journal and Journal of Environmental Horticulture. He continues to lecture on arboriculture and urban forestry worldwide.  He is recognized internationally by the International Society of Arboriculture and has received many rewards including the Alex Shigo Award for Arboricultural Education.