Construction Started to Expand Public Access at Arboretum

March 25th, 2016 by UWBG Communication Staff

Photo: The Berger Partnership Whether you’re a first-time visitor to the Washington Park Arboretum or have been coming to the gardens for decades, a new trail project will take you through plants you likely haven’t seen here before.

Construction has begun on the new Arboretum Loop Trail. Once finished, this paved, multi-use 1.2-mile trail will connect to Arboretum Drive, creating a highly accessible 2.5-mile path through plants and trees from around the world—many of which are rare or threatened species. The paved path will create more opportunities for pedestrians, wheelchair users, slow-moving bicycle riders and families with strollers to exercise and explore once-hidden parts of the Arboretum year-round.

Much of our work will benefit existing plant collections by adding new specimens, replanting with native species that provide richer food and shelter for wildlife, and removing unhealthy and invasive plants. Portions of Arboretum

Detail of the construction map. Source: City of Seattle

Detail of the construction map. Source: City of Seattle

Creek will be day-lighted, and important wetland habitat will be restored.

Throughout planning, design and construction, the health of Seattle’s flagship public garden has been a top priority. We moved what we could, propagated what we couldn’t, and rerouted the Loop Trail to protect rare, unusual or very large trees that could not be moved. In total, just 137 of the Arboretum’s 10,000+ trees will be removed, and we intend to reuse all of the tree material onsite in restoration projects and other work.

As part of mitigation for the current phase of the SR 520 bridge project, the Washington State Department of Transportation is providing $7.8 million to help complete portions of the arboretum’s 20-year master plan, which was adopted in 2001 after years of public input. This paved path is a jewel of the master plan.

More information is available on the City of Seattle project site.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kirsten Rasmussen

March 25th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Kirsten Rasmussen

Kirsten is a Volunteer at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library.  She grew up in Denmark near Copenhagen and relocated to the Seattle area in October of 2011.  Kirsten likes to garden, knit, and sing in her free time.

She has a BS in biochemistry and biology and a BS in library and information science.  Her favorite classes in college were evolution and classification of higher plants, native plant identification, and information retrieval.  Kirsten enjoys solving puzzles, finding information and facts, relevance, and providing research assistance.

A typical day at UW Botanic Gardens includes working in the collection and editing records; she enjoys combining her love of plants and libraries!

The Fragrance Garden at the Center for Urban Horticulture in early spring is her favorite place at UW Botanic Gardens.

Her favorite indoor plant is the Paphiopedilum spp. (a type of orchid) because they are easy to grow, great variety, and it is such a joy to watch them bloom.

Anemone hepatica (syn. Hepatica nobilis) is her favorite outdoor plant because it reminds her of a song/poem and the flowers have the most beautiful and vibrant shade of blue.

 

 

 

Tour Spring Ephemerals at the Miller Garden

March 21st, 2016 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

miller_garden_2014-031See some of the best and choicest plants for creating a lovely early season display. While strolling through the Miller Garden, you will learn how the garden weaves early spring flowering bulbs and perennials into the landscape. Join Richie Steffen, curator of the garden, and enthusiastic guide, as he shares his knowledge and expertise of these delightful garden gems. Space is limited so reserve your spot today.

What: Tour of the Miller Garden

When: Thursday, April 7th, 1-3pm

Where: The Elisabeth C. Miller Garden in the Highlands
(Directions will be sent after registration)

Cost: $25

How: Register Online, or call 206-685-8033

 

miller_garden_2014-008

Student Spotlight: Daniel Sorensen

March 18th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Dan_Sorenson_1Daniel Sorensen is a graduate student at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, working in the lab of UW Botanic Gardens Director, Sarah Reichard, and researching the risk of invasion across Washington and Oregon of 2 two closely related grasses in the genus Cortaderia – pampas grass and jubata grass. Daniel works as the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Sustainability Coordinator for UW Grounds Management, and in that role he helps manage invasive species in the Union Bay Natural Area along with UW Botanic Gardens staff.  He is also a student member of the Arboretum Botanic Garden Committee.

Daniel grew up on Long Island in NY, close to the ocean and the salt marshes along the south shore. Family vacations–swimming, hiking and getting lost in the woods of Northern Vermont–sowed Daniel’s love for plants and nature.  Daniel earned a BS from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, in Syracuse NY.  He also worked in several states doing ecological restoration, natural resources management, and invasive plant management.

Starting a master’s program at the UW is what ultimately brought Daniel to Seattle, although he had longed to live in the Pacific Northwest.  He enjoys exploring Seattle neighborhoods by bicycle, hiking and camping the in the Cascades and Olympics, and going to antique/thrift stores to find vintage Pyrex for his collection. He also enjoys gardening, growing his own food, canning and being surrounded by plants inside his home.

Daniel’s favorite classes are Plant Ecophysiology and Landscape Plant Recognition. Plant Ecophysiology makes connections between the internal working of the plant with external influences in the landscape; it taught him how to ask research questions and set up experiments to answer those questions. Landscape Plant Recognition was a race to memorize the scientific names and identify over 250 plants in one quarter.

Daniel now gives talks and workshops for the UW Botanic Gardens Adult Education Program.

Although Daniel is often busy with classes and work on campus, he often bikes over to the Center for Urban Horticulture for a class or just to spend time in Elisabeth C. Miller Library where he loves “being surrounded by the community of professional staff, faculty, students, and volunteers on campus and UW Botanic Gardens.”

Daniel also loves to visit the Washington Park Arboretum to “get lost under the trees” of the Woodland Gardens, or go paddling in the marshes at the Union Bay Natural Area.

No one plant can be considered Daniel’s favorite, this changes seasonally and sometimes daily. With that said, one his favorite plants from his time in the northeast is Northern spice bush- Lindera benzoin– this small understory shrub has a delightful smell found in the leaves, stems, and fruit (hence its common name) but its small yellow blooms are the reason it is his favorite northeast plant. These small blooms are one of the first bit of color to in early spring and a dense stand of spicebush can glow strong against the drab brown and gray backdrop of the deciduous woodlands in the Northeast. “When I would see the spice bush in flower,” he says in glee, “I knew winter was definitely over!”

Dan_Sorenson_2

Spring Family Nature Classes

March 16th, 2016 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

We are happy to announce that our Spring Classes are open for registration!

Join us for a Family Nature Class and make connections with the natural world that will last a lifetime! Through science-based exploration and outdoor play, preschoolers(2-5 years) and their caregivers will experience the UW Botanic Gardens using their senses.

Classes are Wednesday through Saturday 9:30 to 11:30am (We are not offering any older student Friday afternoon classes at this time)

Week of: Theme
March 30-April 2 Dirt!
April 6-9 Trees and Seasons
April 13-16 Forests Are a Healthy Home
April 20-23 Our Planet Earth – Celebrate Earth Day
April 27-30 Tree Appreciation – Celebrate Arbor Day
May 4-7 WEEK OFF  – Come to our Bioblitz Friday night and Saturday all day!
May 11-14 Flowers and Pollinators
May 18-21 What Makes a Bird a Bird
May 25-28 Owls
June 1-4 Birds on the Water
June 8-11 Wetlands

kids with binos

Feel free to register online, or call 206-685-8033. Please call if you have a class credit to use!

Cost is $18/class, $9 for additional children, (additional adults free) and there is a discount for purchasing 6 or more at once.

Meet our teachers!

Wednesday and Thursday: Tifanie Treter
Tifanie Treter received her Naturalist Certificate from the Morton Arboretum, near Chicago, where she was a lead guide for school field trips, family programs, and summer camps. After relocating to Seattle, she has volunteered at the Washington Park Arboretum with the school programs and the Fiddleheads Forest School.  In her free time Tifanie enjoys learning about her new Pacific Northwest surroundings through exploring the many natural areas that surround Seattle. She looks forward to sharing the Arboretum with the many families that visit!

Fridays: Lisa Sanphillippo:
Lisa Sanphillippo is a Certified Interpretive Guide and Naturalist living in Seattle for 23 years.  Her background is in theater, but she has been an informal educator for 17 years – the last 12 here at UW Botanic Gardens leading field trips for preschool to high school students at both Washington Park Arboretum and Center for Urban Horticulture.  Lisa is super excited to work with families exploring and discovering the wonders of nature at both sites.

Saturdays: Stephanie Aragon
Stephanie Aragon is an Environmental Educator, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Her background is in Anthropology and Environmental Studies, looking at how humans and the environment interact.  When Stephanie is not teaching Family Nature classes, she explores the natural world with students at the Fiddleheads Forest School, and presents engaging programs and experiences at the Woodland Park Zoo. Stephanie approaches environmental education with a sense of wonder and excitement. She can’t wait to join you on adventures that foster our fundamental appreciation for the natural world.

More information…

Boraginaceae; the family that makes little blue flowers

March 15th, 2016 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

omphalodesverna2

Blooming now in the arboretum are several large arrays of blue flowered ground covers in the Borage family. They make a stunning effect, especially if you adore carpets of little blue flowers as I do.
There are 146 genera in this family with roughly 2000 species including garden favorites such as Star Flower, Borage, and Forget-Me-Nots, Myosotis, which are annuals and can be grown in the sun.
My two favorite species of Borage are the plants that are in blossom right now; Lungwort and Navelwort. (Many species in the family have the term ‘wort’ in their common name; this indicates that the plant is used medicinally & usually that the plant is an herb. From the Old English ‘wyrt’ or root.)
Both Lungwort and Navelwort are native to the northern hemisphere and tend to grow well in the shady, acidic conditions of temperate coniferous forests.

Lung Wort / Pulmonariapulmonaria

There was once a school of thought known as ‘The Doctrine Of Signatures,” dating back to the Ancient Greeks and revived by European naturalists in the 15th century, which stated that herbs that resemble certain parts of the human body could be used by herbalists to treat that part of the body. Pulmonaria leaves were thought to resemble the human lungs and therefore it was used a medicinal herb to treat bronchial illnesses. The plant contains compounds which act both as a decongestant and can protect lungs against harmful organisms that can affect respiratory health.1
A semi-evergreen, Pulmonaria’s leaves sport a lovely variegation and a fuzzy texture enjoyable even when the plant is not in bloom.
There are between 15-18 species in the Pulmonaria genus and multiple cultivars that may bear white, pink or purple flowers. Many patches of these can be seen in the Witt Winter Garden and the Woodland Garden.

omphalodesverna1Navelwort, Blue Eyed Mary, Creeping Forget-Me-Not / Omphalodes verna

Named from the Greek ‘Omphalos’ for ‘navel’ referring to the shape of its fruits and ‘verna’ from the Greek for ‘spring’ referring to its bloom time. Although its common name bears the word ‘wort,’ I couldn’t find any information on medicinal usage.  It was, however, listed as having poisonous compounds.
Two large carpeted areas can be found covering hillsides under Japanese Maples between the Winter Garden and the Woodland Garden. This plant spreads rhizomatously, but does not seem to be invasive or overly vigorous.

Come enjoy early spring in our arboretum either by yourself or come along on one of our Free Weekend Walks (meet Sundays at the Graham Visitors Center at 1:00 pm) and go out with a knowledgeable guide to explore the plants in our collection.

Sources

  1. http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/9-best-herbs-lung-cleansing-respiratory-support/

Staff Spotlight: Rebecca Alexander

March 11th, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor
Rebecca_Alexander_1

Rebecca in the Washington Park Arboretum

Rebecca Alexander is the Plant Answer Line librarian in the Elisabeth C. Miller Library. In addition to providing reference services, she works on acquisitions, cataloging, and a wide assortment of tasks including editing Miller Library and other publications, and updating the library’s database of questions and answers.

My beautiful picture

A younger Rebecca at the former Union Bay Circle, now the site of the Center for Urban Horticulture

Rebecca grew up in Seattle and spent some of her early childhood years living near the current site of the Douglas greenhouses at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Later on, she lived in the last house before the E. Lynn Street bridge into the Washington Park Arboretum, but her family was forced to move when the SR 520 Ramps to Nowhere were built. Rebecca has also lived in Jerusalem, Berkeley, and Brooklyn. In her spare time, she works in the garden, takes long walks with the dog, bakes bread and pastries, and writes poems.

She has a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Washington, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Pratt Institute in New York. She also studied French, and Near Eastern languages and literature. College was long ago, but two classes stand out as favorites: a course in Egyptology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem which culminated in a bus trip to Egypt, and a survey of African American History at U.C. Berkeley, both of which shaped her world view as a young adult.

Rebecca was a work-study employee in the Arboretum’s Education Department in the late 1980s to early 1990s while she was in library school. She hoped to work in the Miller Library one day, but it took a while to wend her way back. She began volunteering in the library in 2005, and became a staff member in 2006. The landscapes of the Arboretum, Union Bay Natural Area, and the Center for Urban Horticulture have been a part of her life since she was a small child. She finds it heartening to work in a place that has been so transformed (for the better!).

As the Plant Answer Line librarian, Rebecca answers a lot of questions from the public (in person, by email, and on the phone). She has learned to expect the unexpected, and enjoys finding useful information (in the library’s resources and beyond) and solving mysteries. Every day at work is different. She seeks out new titles to consider, orders books, and catalogs new additions to the collection. At any given moment, she might be working on her quarterly article for the Arboretum Bulletin, assessing a donation of books, compiling library statistics, creating an original cataloging record for a student thesis, updating a booklist, replacing dead links in the Gardening Answers Knowledgebase, or writing a book review.

Rebecca said there are too many special places at UW Botanic Gardens to name just one favorite place. She likes eating lunch on the slab of rock in Goodfellow Grove at the Center for Urban Horticulture. In the Arboretum, she enjoys spying hummingbirds in the Winter Garden and on the Grevillea behind the greenhouse, and brushing the needles of the Montezuma pine in Crabapple Meadow.

She does not have a favorite plant but is fond of Mediterranean plants like Phlomis and Halimium. Grey and fuzzy things catch her eye. They aren’t all fond of wet winters, so she has lost a few. She would love to add a Callistemon and an upright manzanita to her tiny garden, but it might mean evicting something else first!

Love Plants? Love Books? Don’t Miss the Garden Lovers’ Book Sale April 2nd

March 4th, 2016 by UWBG Communication Staff

Love gardening, plants, trees, flowers, or growing food?
Can’t pass up a bargain?
Then you won’t want to miss the 11th annual GARDEN LOVERS’ BOOK SALE of used books at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

booksale-booksThis important benefit for the Elisabeth C. Miller Library funds the purchase of new books and magazine subscriptions.

The sale on Saturday, April 2 from 9am to 3pm is free and open to everyone at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, 98105.

Beautiful art will also be on exhibit and for sale from the Pacific Northwest Botanical Artists.

hummingbird and lonicera

Botanical illustration prints and original works will be on exhibit and for sale through May 7. Illustration by Margaret Trent

The Garden Lovers’ Book Sale Preview Party is on Friday, April 1, 5 – 8pm

photo

Why are these women smiling? Because they are thrilled with the fantastic plant books deals!

Enjoy wine and light refreshments while browsing a fantastic selection of gardening books. Advance tickets cost $25; $30 at the door.
To purchase tickets call 206-543-0415.

Glimpse into the past – The UW Plant Laboratory Complex

March 2nd, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

The Center for Urban Horticulture officially began in 1980 with the arrival of Dr. Harold B. Tukey as the founding Director. He was given an office in the northeast corner (first floor) of Winkenwerder Hall in the College of Forestry Dean’s complex. His administrative assistant, Sally Dickman, was nearby.

When the first two new faculty arrived in 1981– John A. Wott (April) and James Clark (June) – the University/College had “dusted off,” painted, washed the windows, and added heat in the complex of unused buildings known as the Plant Laboratory and Laboratory Annex on Stevens Way N.E., near the Botany Greenhouse. These buildings had been built and used by the Medical School during the exciting programmatic days of studying medicinal plants for human uses.  Hence the close proximity of the Medicinal Herb Garden, still in existence today.

Rear of Plant Lab complex Greenhouse, Annex, Laboratory

Rear of Plant Laboratory complex: Greenhouse, Annex, Laboratory

Two weeks ago, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and document these buildings before this area is razed for the new Life Sciences Complex. As you currently drive along W. Stevens Way N.E., on the UW campus, these buildings are now barely visible, obscured by plants.

Lab Annex through the “bushes”

Lab Annex through the “bushes”

I well remember those first three years in that small wooden building, with no foundation and no insulation, making it quite cold in the winter and impossible to cool in the summer, and often with a few furry friends and plenty of spiders. Visitors entered off the wooden front porch, always a bit creaky.  You knew someone was coming as soon as they stepped onto the shaky boards. Inside were two rooms, one large one in which Professor Clark and Diana Pearl, our secretary, worked. I had the smaller office on the north side.

The creaky front porch

The creaky front porch

It was here that the first graduate students and staff hires were interviewed and approved, before having their fate sealed by Dr. Tukey in the “big building.”  This included potential graduate students, Professor Sarah Reichard – now UW Botanic Gardens Director – being one of them. David Zuckerman, a former Purdue student of mine and now Manager of Horticulture at UW Botanic Gardens, surprised me on a fall day. He was looking for job, and after I sent him to see Joe Witt, Curator, he was hired. It was also here that I first met Sharon Buck and Cindy Maitland, the first two graduate students who created the “flamingo mascot” idea for the Center for Urban Horticulture.

Pathway to Stevens Way N.E. and to Winkenwerder Hall

Pathway to Stevens Way N.E. and to Winkenwerder Hall

Program and building plans were discussed and dreams for an internationally-significant new program were formulated. I also remember a very dark rainy Friday afternoon when a call came from the Provost’s office wanting to know how we were going to cut a major portion of our budget due to a state budget crisis. I wondered for weeks if the entire new program would be eliminated, but alas we were spared, although we were told to raise our own money in order to survive.

Plant Lab Headhouse and Laboratories

Plant Lab Headhouse and Laboratories

When Van Bobbitt was hired in 1982, we dusted off an office in the Plant Lab Annex, just off the head house for the small attached greenhouse. We found that the previous building occupants had basically walked out the door and left everything sitting on the shelves, floor, etc. It took days to clean up the materials. Soon after, we hired staff to assist in cleaning and retrofitting the greenhouse. As additional faculty and staff arrived, we “descended” into the dungeon-like basement labs, removing glassware, chemicals, as well as much dust. In fact, much of that glassware was eventually moved into the new Merrill Hall labs.

Stairs to Basement “dungeon” labs

Stairs to Basement “dungeon” labs

The head house space was our meeting space, eating space, and the location of monthly birthday parties, usually with a cake baked by myself. The now forsaken paths around the buildings were then our daily home. We revitalized the old red and yellow roses as well as the lavender plants along the paths. Needless to say, when we moved into the newly completed Merrill Hall in April 1984, it was like moving from a log cabin into Windsor Castle. Today, thirty-five years later, change is still afoot, but these physical structures of the past will soon be just a memory and a photograph!

Greenhouse

Greenhouse

 

For more information about the greenhouse and construction of the new Life Sciences Complex, visit http://www.biology.washington.edu/about-us/facilities/greenhouse

 

March 2016 Plant Profile: Abies grandis

March 1st, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist

By Ryan Garrison, UW Botanic Gardens Horticulturist

There is a tree on the bank of Arboretum Creek that has seen the entire history of the Washington Park Arboretum, being almost certainly a legacy of the historic site vegetation.1 The seed that would eventually become this giant likely fell to the ground about the year 1896 when the site was logged by its previous owner, the Puget Mill Company.  It would have been a tiny seedling when the land was acquired by the City of Seattle in a series of purchases in 1900 – 1904. It probably went unnoticed by John C. Olmsted and his assistant, Percy Jones, when they arrived in Seattle on April 30, 1903.2 Within a month they had outlined a plan for the City’s future park system, including Lake Washington Boulevard, a mere stone’s throw from this tree. It somehow managed to survive the myriad trials that a tree must overcome to reach maturity. It has endured such adversities as snowstorms, temperatures as low as 0°F, and hurricane force winds. Through it all, it has reached inexorably upwards, and now towers above everything around it.

Grand_fir_398

This remarkable tree is known as a Grand fir (Abies grandis), and this particular specimen truly lives up to its common name. Grand fir grows in the stream bottoms, valleys, and mountain slopes of the northwestern United States and southern British Columbia.3 It is not for board feet, but for its beauty that this tree is valued. The wood is too soft, yet too heavy in proportion to its little strength, to make first class lumber. Pulpwood offers its only commercial future, and there are so many finer pulping species that Grand Fir is little felled for any purpose and is usually left in the forest to make music and distill incense.4

Grand_fir_combo_598

Common Name: Grand, White, Silver, Yellow, or Stinking Fir

Location:  The bank of Arboretum Creek, in grid # 22-4W. It can be seen from many places in the Arboretum, towering over its neighbors.

Origin: Northwestern United States and southern British Columbia

Height and Spread: On optimum sites in the coastal lowlands of Washington, mature grand firs reach heights of 43 to 61 m (140 to 200 ft) at 51 to 102 cm (20 to 40 in) d.b.h.; occasionally they reach 76 m (250 ft) in height and 152 cm (60 in) in d.b.h.  This tree is approximately 140 feet tall and 4.1 feet in diameter.

Bloom Time: Time of flowering may vary over several months, depending on temperatures during the weeks preceding flowering. Flowering occurs from late March to mid-May at lower elevations of most coastal locations, and in June at the higher elevations of the inland locations. The cones, mostly yellowish-green and occasionally greenish-purple, ripen from August to September of the same year, and seeds are dispersed approximately 1 month later.

 

  1. Hitchin, R., “The native forest vegetation in the Washington Park Arboretum: community analysis and curatorial recommendations”, (MA thesis, University of Washington, 1998), 49.
  2. Washington Park Arboretum Historic Review, September 2003.
  3. http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics_manual/Volume_1/abies/grandis.htm
  4. Peattie, Donald Culross, and Paul Landacre. A Natural History of North American Trees. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.