June 2016 Plant Profile: Primula bulleyana

June 1st, 2016 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 12.42.10 PMPrimula bulleyana was discovered in China in 1906 by Scottish plant hunter George Forrest (1873-1932). It was named in honor of Mr. A. K. Bulley of Ness, Neston, Cheshire, (county in NW England) for whom [Forrest] collected.¹ He described his first sighting as follows: “Where marshy openings occurred, the turf was gaudy with the blooms of a multitude of herbaceous plants, [and] I saw miles, really, of Primula Bulleyana [sic] …”²

The UW Botanic Gardens has much smaller groupings displayed at the Pacific Connections Garden (in the China Entry Garden), but they still make a stunning impact. They are also peppered alongside the small, shaded creek in the Woodland Garden amongst Darmera and Skunk Cabbage.

Primula bulleyana is prized as a garden ornamental and has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. This primrose performs best in damp soils alongside streams or ponds and can take sun or shade. The grouping in the China Entry Garden is in soil with average moisture and full sun and they look particularly healthy, so it seems to be an plant that can adapt to various garden situations. The florets are also fairly tolerant of cold winter temperatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Botanic Name: Primula bulleyana

Family: Primulaceae

Common Name: Candelabra Primrose, Bulley’s Primrose

Location: Woodland Garden, Pacific Connections Garden/China Entry Garden 110-08*A

Origin: Northwestern Yunnan and Southern Sichuan regions of China

Height and Spread: 20-24” tall, up to 12” wide at base. These primroses can spread easily from their seeds.

Bloom Time: Spring

Description: semi-evergreen, herbaceous plant, bearing 5-7 whorls of florets along the stem and lanceolate leaves with a lovely reddish petiole and mid-rib.

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¹ Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh 4(19): 231–232, pl. 39A, 42. 1908.

² http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/primula-bulleyana-bulleys-primula

Glimpse into the past – Changes in the Landscape

June 1st, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Currently there are many physical changes occurring in the north end of the Washington Park Arboretum, due to the construction of new SR-520 bridge. Local residents often remark that these changes will “disfigure” the natural landscape which has always been there. The truth is, this area has been greatly changed and altered over the past one hundred years, ever since the level of Lake Washington was lowered.  In fact, there is little left of its “original” shape. It has been dredged, moved, filled, planted and re-planted.

Many of the boggy areas in Washington Park, even starting from Madison Street north, have been filled with debris and served as neighborhood dumping sites. The areas north of Foster Island Drive/Lake Washington Blvd. E. were all fill sites. Now as the ramps come down and new changes occur, it will change once again.

The following photos show some of the changes in the 1940’s.

Photo looks north over the former city dump off of E Miller Street, across Union Bay, toward Laurelhurst, soil being added and plowed in.  March 1947.

Photo looks north over the former city dump off of E. Miller Street, across Union Bay, toward Laurelhurst, soil being added and plowed in.  March 1947.

Photo shows area being covered with soil.   November 1947.

Photo shows area being covered with soil.   November 1947.

Photo across fill…present location of ramps….looking west toward Simon poplars (Populus simonii ‘Pendula’).  November 1947.

Photo across fill…present location of ramps….looking west toward Simon poplars (Populus simonii ‘Pendula’).  November 1947.

Photo after seeding.   November 1947.

Photo after seeding.   November 1947.

Photo looking toward lagoon area where many lindens are planted.   November 1947.

Photo looking toward lagoon area where many lindens are planted.   November 1947.

Photo with more plantings. January 1, 1949.

Photo with more plantings. January 1, 1949.

 

Another Successful BioBlitz!

May 27th, 2016 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

By Alicia Blood, Youth and Family Programs Supervisor

It’s hard to believe it has been 3 weeks since UW Botanic Gardens staff, taxa experts and community volunteers joined forces in our 2016 BioBlitz.  It was an amazing weekend full of sunshine, teamwork, and exploration. The Washington Park Arboretum, and Foster Island in particular, was abuzz with the opening day of boating season festivities, but that didn’t stop our dedicated crew! In all, we had over 86 people take part in our weekend BioBlitz events, including an entire University of Washington Entomology class.  Here are some of the highlights from the weekend:

DSC_0346smallWe started our weekend with an introduction to a BioBlitz for families on Friday evening. Participating families explored what a scientist does during a BioBlitz through a variety of hands-on stations. Children participated in a variety of activities which showed them how to think and act like a scientist, including creating a plant field guide and observing aquatic macroinvertebrates. In addition, families had the opportunity to join in on a few guided group hikes to find birds and pond life. We had a great time practicing our skills and learning about what a BioBlitz is. In fact, a few families returned the following day to put their new skills into action in one of our taxa groups!

BatsFriday evening kicked off our first official taxa group – bats! Michelle Noe from Bats Northwest brought a crew out to collect acoustic data, allowing us to listen to bat calls. Our experts then used the data collected to reveal that there were 5 different species of bats on Foster Island that night!   We also led a group of families on a bat focused night hike where they learned about bats, played a few bat games and had the opportunity to see bats flying overhead.

DSC_0426After a quick night’s sleep, we returned early Saturday morning to start off our day with our birds taxa group at dawn. This group of dedicated volunteers arrived bright and early (with children in tow) to beat the Boating Day foot traffic on Foster Island. With the sun recently risen, they headed out to the northern-most point of the island to begin their observations. Surrounded by springtime bird behaviors, this group had the opportunity to clearly view the Bald Eagle’s nest, stand by while a marsh wren went about its job protecting its nest, observe a Virginia Rail, and see many baby birds and ducklings.

While our birds group was out exploring Foster Island, volunteers were arriving at the Graham Visitors Center and gearing up to head out in our morning taxa groups. Teams assembled to collect data on lichens, bryophytes, noxious weeds and insects. Included in this group were college students enrolled in an entomology course at the University of Washington taught by Dr. Patrick Tobin, who added great energy to the morning. Teams spread out across Foster Island and went to work finding 16 species of bryophytes, 21 lichens, 25 noxious weeds, and a lot of insects! The noxious weed group found an interesting specimen. While the ID has yet to be verified, we think it might be Lonicera maackii or Amur honeysuckle, an invasive plant native to the NE United States.

DSC_0495smallOur final groups, arrived in the afternoon, eager to take a look at our plant collections as well as explore the waters of Foster Island in search of aquatic macroinvertebrates and mussels. Team Water headed all the way out to the furthest point on Foster Island and got right in the water to examine who was enjoying life in Lake Washington. Their investigation was highlighted by an abundance of sunshine and the festive Opening Day of Boating Season Boat Parade (I heard they got to sing along to the Love Boat song 6 times)!  Meanwhile, Team Plant was out checking plant collections on Foster Island, noting tree sizes, condition and tracking any trees that were not recorded on our 20 year old maps. Through these observations they noted an extreme increase of native species along the edges of Lake Washington.

DSC_0461 (2)When the day was over, our basecamp was packed up and our volunteers and taxa experts had departed, we had a moment to reflect on our accomplishments. With a wild Boating Day weekend on Foster Island, we were sure we would run into some challenges, but in the end everything seemed to run along as smooth as can be. We had 86 people participate in our weekend BioBlitz including many young and eager future scientists! Staff had a blast working alongside experts and volunteers and especially enjoyed sharing the wonders of nature at the Arboretum. With BioBlitz 2016 barely in the past we are now looking forward to our next event – stay tuned for fall 2017.  In the meantime, make sure to check out our data here, and don’t forget to make time to come out and explore the UW Botanic Gardens!

DSCN0663A BioBlitz is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and community volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period. The University of Washington Botanic Gardens has completed four BioBlitzes at the Washington Park Arboretum over the last six years.

 

 

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Faculty Spotlight: Tom Hinckley

May 25th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Tom Hinckley

Tom Hinckley no doubt kept his much younger graduate students challenged to  keep up as he climbed to over 7000′ on Snowshoe Mountain in the North Cascades. It was there he chose to conduct research on the effects of environmental stress on three species of native trees.

Hinckley needed that energy as he served both as Director for the UW Botanic Gardens’ Center for Urban Horticulture (1998-2004),  and as researcher, teacher and mentor at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, where he is now emeritus professor.

“I first came to Seattle in March 1964 to ski in the Cascades, and I must have gotten hooked,” he says, “because I returned two years later to attend graduate school.”

Hinckley received a B.A. in Biology from Carleton College in Minnesota (1966) and his PhD in Forest Ecophysiology from the UW in 1971.  Despite his science focus, he reports that his favorite course in college was actually American History because “it was taught extraordinarily well.”

After time spent teaching in Missouri, Hinckley returned to the University of Washington in January 1980 to join the faculty.  Many of his colleagues, with whom he co-taught and worked on joint research projects, were the initial faculty cohort at UW-Botanic Gardens (James Clark, Barb Smit-Spinks, Deane Wang, Kern Ewing).

With Kern Ewing and others he was involved in launching the Restoration Ecology Network (UW-REN).  UW-REN is now a regional center for the study of ecological restoration and conservation, creating new undergraduate research and curricula, much of it taking place at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

“Now that I am retired, I am a regular visitor to the Soest Garden– my favorite place to walk and take in nature the the Center,” he says, “and I am also active in helping find financial resources to maintain and grow the garden.”

Hinckley is still an avid skier, hiker and photographer.  And when asked about his favorite plant, he had a clear preference:

Abies amabilis,” he clamoured.  This tree, also called Pacific silver fir or “lovely” fir because of the softly silver undersides on the needles and gorgeous purple-hued cones that stand upright on the branches. Hinckley loves the looks of this tree, its mountain habitat and, “the fact that it got me my first job teaching at the University of Missouri.”

 

Spring Pushes Forth at the Washington Park Arboretum

May 23rd, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (May 16 - 30, 2016)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum
(May 16 – 30, 2016)

1)   Ostrya carpinifolia                Hop Hornbeam

  • This small-to-medium-sized tree (40-50’) is native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia.
  • The common name refers to the fruit which resembles the fruit of Humulus (Hops).
  • Ostrya is from Greek, meaning “bone-like” in reference to the trees dense hard wood.
  • Located north of East Foster Island Road, east of the Broadmoor entrance.

2)  Picea mariana ‘Doumetii’                Doumet Black Spruce

  • This selection of Picea mariana is a popular slow-growing shrub with blue green needles and a dense conical growth habit.
  • Located along Arboretum Drive on the north end of the Magnolia Collection.

3)  Pinus x schwerinii                Schwerin’s Pine

  • Schwerin’s Pine is an interspecies cross between Himalayan White Pine (Pinus wallichiana) and Weymouth Pine (Pinus strobus). It was found by Earl Schwerin in his park in Wilmersdorf (near Berlin, Germany) in 1905.
  • Our fine specimen is located north of the Crabapple Meadow near the service road.

4)  Pterocarya macroptera                Large–Winged Wingnut

  • Native to northern China, the Wingnut is a fast-growing, medium height tree to 50-70 feet tall and 40 feet wide.
  • This tree boasts ornamental spikes of fruit with broad wings in long pendulous spikes.
  • This tree can be seen in fruit east of Arboretum Drive and south of the Crabapple Meadow. Look for the long bright green chains before you reach the service road.

5)  Tillia cordata ‘Bicentennial’                Bicentennial Littleleaf Linden

  • This selection of the popular street tree is known for a dense and conical form.
  • Its moderate size makes Tillia cordata useful in areas where space is limited.
  • Littleleaf Linden is known for its sweetly-scented spring flowers. Tillia fruit are held below a stiff bract similar to that on a maple seed which acts like a “helicopter” as it falls.
  • A fine specimen can be seen at the intersection of Arboretum Drive and East Foster Island Road.

May Colors Appear Just in Time for Mother’s Day!

May 7th, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (May 2 - 15, 2016)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum
(May 2 – 15, 2016)

Happy Mother’s Day!

1)  Philadelphus coronarius

  • Native to southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, this shrub is located within the Sorbus Collection. It is perhaps the best-known species of mock orange in gardens because of its sweet smell. The fragrance of its flowers is pleasing out-of-doors, but may become too strong if the plants are numerous or near sitting room windows.
  • Philadelphus is a member of the plant family, Hydrangeaceae.

2)  Rhododendron   ‘Favor Major’

  • Located just west of parking lot #5, this hybrid is showing its yellowish-orange flowers.

3)  Rhododendron   ‘Ruby Hart’

  • Located within the Hybrid Bed, this shrub certainly has been given an appropriate cultivar name.

4)  Robinia x holdtii

  • A member of the plant family, Leguminosae, the genus Robinia contains about
    20 deciduous trees and shrubs confined to North America. The name Robinia
    commemorates Jean Robin, herbalist to Henry IV of France.
  • Specimen is located in the Legumes.

5)  Styrax obassia

  • A broadly columnar deciduous tree bearing elliptic dark green leaves and bell-
    shaped white flowers, S. obassia is native to northern China, Korea, and Japan.
  • This specimen is located along the upper trail near Rhododendron Glen.

Staff Spotlight: Jessica Anderson

May 6th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Jessica_AndersonJessica Anderson is a librarian at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens.  Most days you will see Jessica at the Reference desk, doing research or providing answers to gardening questions.

Jessica moved to Seattle from the Southwest to attend the University of Washington, earning her Masters in Library and Information Science in 2010.  As an undergraduate, Jessica began working at the Natural Sciences Library inside of the Suzzallo-Allen Library on the main campus.  Once graduated, she began volunteering at the Miller Library.

“I became fascinated by all the books on horticulture,” she notes,  “and checked out dozens of books on growing edible plants.  Then I began experimenting at home.”

Jessica is now a full-fledged urban farmer and maintains an edible garden of fruits and vegetables, complete with chickens in her small backyard.

At her work in the Miller library, Jessica performs varied tasks including managing the print and electronic serials collection (subscriptions, renewals, receipt records, claiming, and archiving), supervising volunteers, and tracking purchase orders and library supplies.  Her favorite part of her job is learning new things from the research questions she is asked via the Plant Answer Line Service.

“I feel so lucky to work at a place where I spend my time with patrons answering questions about plants,” she glows.

She also feels fortunate to work next to the Union Bay Natural Area loop trail, where she often walks and, when it is clear, looks out toward the mountains across Lake Washington.

When the weather is not so nice and she is not working, Jessica joins a meet-up group to play board games.  And her favorite plant?  The Saucer Magnolia tree (Magnolia x soulangeana), with its large fragrant blossoms in spring.saucer-magnolia

“Especially after a long winter, it is a welcome sight to see a magnolia in full bloom!”

May 2016 Plant Profile: Kalmia latifolia

April 29th, 2016 by UWBG Communication Staff

kalmia photo

By Preston Pew

In western Washington, the month of May is usually marked by vivid springtime blooms of Rhododendron. A lesser known member of the same family as Rhododendron (Ericaceae), Kalmia latifolia is native to eastern North America, and is one of our most spectacular broadleaf evergreen shrubs. Its attractive qualities no doubt led both Connecticut and Pennsylvania to choose Kalmia latifolia as their state flower. Growing up to 30’ in the wild, in cultivation Kalmia slowly reaches heights of 8 to 10 feet, with a similar spread. Kalmia generally bloom later that most Rhododendron and are a good way to extend the blooming season. When not in bloom, alternate glossy deep green leaves and rounded habit give clues to its affinity with Rhododendron and Pieris. In bud, Kalmia are a special treat well before the flowers open. In early spring the small buds are covered in fine hairs. As the buds expand they develop pronounced ridges that make them resemble the dots of frosting found on decorated cakes. This fascinating geometric quality is enhanced by their arrangement in flat clusters. Inflated Kalmia buds then open to reveal five-parted shallow cups about one inch across. These groups of flowers are three to six inches across and range in color from pure white to deep pink. Several cultivars are noted for uniquely banded or spotted markings in varying tones of red and pink on their inner flowers petals. Kalmia cultivars ‘Star Cluster’, ‘Olympic Wedding’, and ‘Minuet’ are especially desired by enthusiasts for these markings. The genus Kalmia was named by Carl Linnaeus for his pupil Peter Kalm who authored a famous 18th century book Travels into North America.1

Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Kalmia
Species: Kalmia latifolia
Common Name: Mountain Laurel, Calico Bush
Location: Grid 30-3E at the intersection of Arboretum drive and the south Woodland Garden trail

kalmia photo

kalmia photo

1. Bean, W.J. Trees and Shrubs hardy in The British Isles, eighth edition. London: The Royal Horticultural Society, 1978. Print.

Volunteer Spotlight: Heidi Lennstrom

April 29th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Heidi_Tree cholla Santa Fe 2015Heidi volunteers at the Hyde Herbarium, working with pressed plants and the plant database.  She holds a PhD in archaeology, specializing in paleoethnobotany–the study of plant remains from archaeological digs.  She spent many years at the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, where she was also a science educator and creator of an ethnobotany garden and webpage. 

“I love to organize things,” says Lennstrom, “so working with the seven cabinets of duplicate specimens at the Herbarium is perfect for me!”

Heidi carefully identifies which of the specimens are duplicates, confirms they have been entered into the Botanic Garden website and  then determines which ones are kept and which ones need to be shared with other herbaria.

Although originally from Seattle, Heidi lived in Minneapolis and later, Honolulu for many years.  She returned to Seattle in 2007 to be closer to family.  She loves to travel with family, work with digital photography and cook.

When in college, Heidi always favored the classes where she got to be outdoors–archaeology field studies, geology of the Pacific Northwest and plant identification.  Now that she is working in an Herbarium she admits that she doesn’t get outside into the Botanic Gardens nearly often enough.

Heidi loves the conifers of the Arboretum but it is perhaps the simple lily that is her favorite plant.  “Its so elegant!”

Earth Day Celebrates Nursery Expansion

April 26th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

 

Hoophouse

A pair of dedicated and highly organized graduate students succeeded in obtaining a grant to significantly expand the Society for Ecological Restoration-UW’s (SER-UW) native plant nursery at the UW Botanic Gardens.  The SER-UW nursery provides low cost plants to the Arboretum, UW planting projects and many restoration efforts on campus initiated by SER-UW.

Anna Carragee, a graduate student in Environmental Horticulture (at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences) and her classmate Kelly Broadlick have been managing the nursery during their graduate tenure, which will end in June.  The two realized that there was a compelling need to significantly expand the plant inventory to serve all these purposes.  So the students appealed to the Campus Sustainability Fund for a grant to build a new hoop-style greenhouse, fund manager positions, and buy plant production materials.

The students were awarded the $54,000 grant last June and have recently completed the structure thanks to over 50 volunteers and 400 hours of labor over winter quarter.

The UW Construction Management department oversaw the construction of the new hoop house, which provides a new “home base” for the nursery that will lead to cost savings as well as space for 60% more plants.

“The unique shape of this hoop house will ensure that if we do get significant snowfall in winter, the hoop house will not collapse under the weight,” says Carragee, “a problem with a previous hoop house, which actually collapsed.”

The nursery is an important source of plant material for the two primary restoration projects of SER-UW – Whitman walk on the main campus and Kincade Ravine near the Burke Gilman trail.

The nursery grows plants from seed, from cuttings and from salvage—“saving” plants from development sites across King County that will be destroyed once construction begins.

The nursery is the home for these plants, as well as those started in Native Plant Production plant classes at the UW.

“The nursery collaborates with the other UW classes to ensure the plant starts thrive until ready to be used.  We teach nursery skills here, horticulture skills and ensure that the plants that are harbored here promote genetic diversity at their eventual planting sites,” notes Carragee.IMG_4321

Carragee and Broadlick were careful with the funds they were granted and through a generous use of volunteers they were able to realize a cost savings.  This allowed them to construct a lovely potting bench of rough-hewn wood, which will keep the new plants organized.
“But we want the new bench and workspace to be beautiful as well,” says Carragee.  “So we devised a contest for a mural to be created on top of the bench!”

UW art students will vie for the $200 prize and rights to decorate the new potting bench with art, which will then be covered by an epoxy glaze to preserve both the art and the wood table from the elements.

The nursery is a great example of how so many University departments can work together to achieve a common purpose-horticulture, restoration scientists, native plant students, art students as well as the numerous UW facilities that will utilize the plants.

Seems only fitting that on Earth Day, we celebrated the completion of the hoop house with a grand party.

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