Fiddleheads Forest Grove Dispatch: Sunny Days, a New Science Unit, and an Exploration of Friendship

March 6th, 2015 by Kit Harrington

The sun is shining, mosquitoes are buzzing, and blossoms are bursting open everywhere we look; it could just as easily be June in Seattle, but the calendar still tells us it’s winter no matter how incongruous that may seem. Students at the Fiddleheads Forest School are taking full advantage of the seasonal changes. The warm weather has meant that we are continuing to discover lots of mushrooms and fungus in and around the forest grove classroom. Stout slimy red-capped mushrooms and skinny stemmed little brown ones abound, but we are still uncovering occasional surprises here at the Washington Park Arboretum, like the astoundingly bright burst of buttery yellow caps we discovered off Azalea Way with the Magnolia class or the bulky purple mushroom we discovered growing under a spruce in the Mountain Ash Meadow with the Cedar class.

 

Despite temperatures more  suited to May, Fiddleheads still enjoyed learning about the "art of contrast" in the Winter Garden

Despite temperatures more suited to May, Fiddleheads still enjoyed learning about the “art of contrast” with Sarah in the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden.

We have also noticed an uptick in bird activity in and around the forest grove. Children in both classes spent a week in late January mimicking bald-eagle calls and behavior and incorporating it into their play. The eagles were going through a courtship phase, right on track with last year when we noticed the same sort of activity. Many of the children are remembering and looking forward with excitement to the time when the owls will hatch their little ones. Sarah recently uncovered a roosting spot for one of our barred owl friends, and we now stop to peek in on our sleepy owl friend whenever we take the trail to the stone castle. We’re anticipating the moment when those baby eagles and owls to start fledging in just a few months and have our fingers crossed that mama and papa owl will bring their little ones back to the forest grove again this year!

In science, we started out the year with a unit on our bodies before delving into the vertebrates theme that we will be continuing throughout the winter and spring. In early childhood we teach from the concrete to the abstract, and work to make new concepts as accessible as possible by relating it to the direct experience and world of each child. Therefore we began our study of mammals by examining humans specifically. We introduced numerous materials to the classroom for different learning levels and interests. We started by learning the major external parts of the body with a 3-part card matching activity. To complete this material, children matched the picture and then the word to a card featuring both. In this way, students not only learn the parts of the body, but also strengthen the discriminative ability that is a perceptual underpinning of early literacy development.  A picture-to-picture body-part matching work gave the children the opportunity to name and match the body parts with the rest of the body. Games and songs like “Simon Says,” “Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes,” and “The Hokey Pokey” help to reinforce kinesthetic as well as cognitive awareness of body parts and helped to our hearts pumping and our bodies warm on the cold, wet days.

Our unit on bodies segued quite nicely into discussing difference during the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. After drop-off, each of the children used a stamp pad to make a thumb print on a card with their name. We laminated these cards and used a magnifying glass at to examine them at circle. After taking the time to look at each Kit asked the class what they noticed about the fingerprints. In both the Cedar and Magnolia classes the immediate answer was “They’re different!” The children learned that indeed every human has his or her very own special, unique fingerprint and that no two prints are the same. We discussed the many ways in which our bodies our different, our voices are different, our needs and interests are different, and our families are different.

Taking a closer look at fingerprints.

 

Children naturally approach the concept of “difference” in a very straightforward and earnest way; as they see it, difference is interesting and remarkable and important and very worthy of discussion. It is, after all, what makes each of us unique, and how we define ourselves in relation to others. In both classes the children agreed that different hair, or skin, or eyes is just that—different. It doesn’t make us any better or worse than anyone else, they noted, it’s just who we are. The children also felt very strongly as a group that difference is important, and that if we were all the same “we wouldn’t be able to tell who anybody was from each other!” as one student exclaimed at circle.

Building a body from the bones up.

Building a body from the bones up.

We continued the conversation about difference as we learned about our internal organs and the important jobs they do. The children appreciated that no matter how different we are on the outside, we all have the same organs inside our bodies, and remarked upon it as they completed different activities. We used a model of the human body  in an object to picture matching work where children learned the names and functions of the brain, lungs, heart, stomach, liver, kidneys, and large and small intestines. A giant puzzle of the human skeleton and musculature offered us an opportunity to work together and problem solve as a group.  The favorite new material by far was a felt work with which the students built a person from the skeleton up; personalizing it with different skin, clothing and hair.

Throughout all of this we reinforced an awareness of the many things that our bodies are capable of—climbing, crawling, jumping, and running through our forest surroundings. The increased awareness of our bodies allowed us to develop new extensions in other areas as well. For example, we recently began engaging in mindfulness practice before heading to our magic spots, and one of our favorite new activities is to use our “mind flashlight” to think about and focus on how different parts of our bodies are feeling. This sort of understanding helps children to develop a heightened awareness of themselves and their own needs.

 

 

After spending a month learning about human bodies, the transition into our current mammals unit has been fairly straightforward. We began by learning the characteristics of mammals with the first verse of a song about animals that we’ll continue to add to throughout the spring:

Mammals have lungs that breathe the air

Warm blooded bodies that have skin and hair

Mammals give birth to their living young

Mothers feed milk to their daughters and sons!

We accompanied our lesson about characteristics with the chance to see and feel the fur of a real mammal, a very old Peruvian Jungle Cat pelt that Kit brought in. We learned that almost all mammals have some kind of hair or fur; even whales and dolphins. As a group we worked together to sort pictures and objects representing animals. Many children have taken the time to do the work on their own, and then color and complete an accompanying worksheet of mammals of the Pacific Northwest.

Kit explains how to look for signs that mammals might leave around the arboretum.

Kit and a group of students discuss characteristics of  some of the mammals they might find signs of around the arboretum.

In and around the forest grove we’ve been actively searching for and identifying mammals and looking for clues that mammals have left behind, such as middens of dove fruit scraps left by squirrels, or muddy tracks and scratched tree branches from raccoons. We’ll continue learning about mammals and how they are alike and different from ourselves, as well as the sort of homes they occupy, their life cycles, and their prey and predators. Sarah will be teaching us all about animal tracks, and we’ll focus on finding and identifying different mammals that we might encounter on a daily basis here at the arboretum.

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“What zone are you in?”

In our social and emotional curriculum, we have been continuing to build upon our knowledge of zones and feelings with a “Zones Check In” chart. Children have the opportunity to put how they are feeling up on the chart each morning they are at school. The chart reinforces the children’s awareness of the Zones and offers an opportunity for the children to discuss their feelings with the group. We’ve also replaced the old zones necklaces with new ones that feature feelings on them. These further reinforce the connection between different zones and feelings and have created renewed interest in the material. We are continuing to work on developing executive functioning skills by practicing setting goals, making and sharing plans, and using flexible thinking. Throughout the day children are encouraged to work as a team, and when something goes awry, we remember that by “working together, we can make it better.”

 

As we move into the second half of the school year the children are approaching friendship in new and increasingly developmentally advanced ways. We have been incorporating a number of different activities, materials, and discussions that explore and reinforce the concept of friendship in preschool. As a group we have been singing songs about friendship including “The More We Get Together,” and “I Think You’re Wonderful.” At circle we read and discussed the books “Join in and Play” by Cheri Meiners and “How to Be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them” by Laurie Krasny Brown.

Valentine’s Day was a perfect opportunity to practice looking outward, and we introduced a friendship bracelet activity where children practice braiding and then give away half of what they made. We recently read the book “I am Generous” by David Parker, and are continuing to introduce new activities that focus on making our friends feel good. As teachers we are modeling and highlighting and reinforcing that doing something for another person often feels better than simply engaging in an activity for our own satisfaction.

Friendship bracelet braiding encourages the development of fine motor skills

Friendship bracelet braiding encourages the development of fine motor skills

In the coming weeks we will continue to focus on activities that support the development of empathy. In addition, we will begin building an inventory of tools that we can use to help navigate unexpected situations- our social skills “toolbox.” We’ll also be continuing to expand upon our mindfulness practice and take it out into the wide world around us. The sights and sounds and smells of spring are here, no matter what the calendar says, and we are looking forward to following the progress of fiddlehead fronds, sniffing stinky skunk cabbage, and spying new sprouts and saplings as they surge out of the mud. As weather allows we’ll begin documenting more of what we are seeing by nature journaling as a group. February may just have ended, but already it’s shaping up to be a spectacular spring here in the forest grove.

Best Wishes,

Kit and Sarah

Glimpse into the Past – Celebrating the Founder of the Center for Urban Horticulture

March 5th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John Wott, Director Emeritus

In those divisive times of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, many new ideas began to form regarding how to live on, properly use, and safeguard the resources on our earth. This included groups from the “flower children” to academics. Learned horticulturists, botanists, and academics in the Northwest created a plan which called for the creation of a new academic unit at the University of Washington to be called the Center for Urban Horticulture. It would be different from traditional production horticulture which had been taught for hundreds of years.   Instead it would bring disciplines together which seldom or never interacted.

The Center for Urban Horticulture, the first of its kind in the world, and thereafter copied around the world, officially began its life when Professor Harold B. Tukey, Jr, from Cornell University arrived as its founding director in May 1980. Dr. Tukey’s family, including father and brothers, were well known in the horticulture academic arena. He first worked along with an administrator, Sally Dickman, in an office in Anderson Hall on the UW campus. He also was UW director of the Washington Park Arboretum and directed that staff, headed by Joseph A. Witt, curator. In 1981, two new faculty arrived: myself, John A. Wott, from Purdue University in April, and James A. Clark, from Rutgers University in June.

The initial promise of full state funds soon evaporated as the State of Washington rapidly slipped into a recession and all hope of state funds for building and future program building was futile. Never daunted, Dr. Tukey, aided by the good will of Provost George Beckman (who did provide what seed money he could), along with community horticulture stalwarts such as Elisabeth Carey (Betty) Miller began a campaign to raise the millions of dollars needed privately. As you now see today, they were successful. CUH, now a part of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, is an invaluable resource in the Northwest as well as nationally and internationally.

The accompanying pictures show scenes from the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the original Merrill Hall in 1983.

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Elisabeth Carey Miller, Prentice Bloedel, Dr. Harold B. Tukey Jr. with their Champagne glasses at the ground breaking ceremony for the original Merrill Hall, 1983

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Front row: Eulalie Merrill Wagner, Virginia Merrill Bloedel, Prentice Bloedel, Mary Gates, Marilee Boyd, Elisabeth Miller, George Beckman, William Gerberding, Mrs. Harold Tukey.
(center 2nd row, Marvin Black)

Last Week of Grow the Farm Crowdfunding Initiative

March 4th, 2015 by Jenelle Clark

UWFarm-winter-2015Recently, the UW Farm embarked on an exciting crowdfunding initiative to help expand and improve their facilities this year. Through the site USeed, the UW Farm is hoping to raise enough funds during their current campaign to:

  1. Build additional hoop-style greenhouses
  2. Build a better wash station
  3. Build a cob oven and install a new shelter at the Center for Urban Horticulture

The crowdfunding initiative is already off and running, so by joining in with your donation you can help to ensure that the UW Farm meets these goals, thereby bringing greater awareness of sustainable food production and educational opportunities to both the UW community and to Seattle. Visit the initiative at USeed today to learn more about the Farm’s current impact and future goals, and to lend your support to the UW Farm this year.

DIY Landscape Design

March 4th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Nancy_Tom_02It is that time of the year again! There are a few days here and there where it’s getting warmer, even some clear days. The plants are getting ready, and so are you. Big plans for the garden this year, right?!

Get those plans started and solidified with our Landscape Design class. This 6-part weekend program is for those gardeners who want to design a fabulous garden, but don’t want to pay the big bucks to hire a professional. Learn from environmental horticulturist Nancy Tom to develop a site analysis, measure, site a house on a plan, draw to scale, design workable hardscaping, consider color and texture, choose plants that are suitable for your soil, microclimate and home, lighting, drainage, trellises and arbors, and vegetable gardens.

You will come home with a planting plan that is custom-fit to your yard, needs, and personal preference. Need a patio for entertaining? No problem! Want to create a bird and wildlife paradise? Sure thing! Looking for low-maintenance native garden? Let’s get started! Call to register (206-685-8033) or go online!

 

 

 

 

WHEN Saturdays, March 14-25 (no class 3/28), 2015, 9:30am – 12pmNiehl_PlantingPlan

WHERE UW Botanic Gardens – Center for Urban Horticulture, Douglas Classroom, 3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105

COST $185; $200 after March 7

WHAT 6-part hands-on landscape design series. Each class will include both lecture and time to work. First class is lecture only; we will discuss supplies at this class.

WHO Nancy Tom is a licensed, bonded and insured Environmental Horticulturist and a Master’s degree in art history. She has been designing landscapes in the greater Seattle area since 2000. She currently designs under the name of PlantPicks; see her website for projects and planting ideas, plantpicks.com.

HOW Register online, or call 206-685-8033

 

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All photos courtesy Nancy Tom and plantpicks.com.

 

Tour New Zealand’s Gardens

March 3rd, 2015 by Jenelle Clark

NEW ZEALAND GARDEN TOUR
with University of Washington Botanic Gardens
Led by Director Sarah Reichard
November 1-16, 2015
Registration deadline: July 29, 2015

 

 

Famous for its incredible landscapes and natural beauty, New Zealand’s geographic isolation over millions of years has resulted in unique native flora: roughly 80% of the country’s trees, ferns, and flowering plants are endemic. This remarkable plant life combines with unusual fauna and a vibrant cultural history to create the magical, welcoming atmosphere for which New Zealand is known. During this 16- day program, you’re invited to explore the country’s must-see botanical treasures and view impressive specialty collections. Travel among pristine lakes, green valleys, glaciers, and mountains while enjoying activities and visits to sites of natural and cultural importance for an in-depth journey into the “Land of the Long White Cloud.”

March 2015 Plant Profile: Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Sentinel’

March 3rd, 2015 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Arctostaphylos 'Sentinel'The manzanita is one of the most iconic of all West Coast native trees and shrubs, yet they are rarely ever seen in gardens. Like their famous relative, Arbutus menziesii (The Pacific Madrone), they’ve earned a reputation of being slow and difficult to establish. But with a strong emphasis in introducing more of our native flora into our gardens and the constant demand for drought tolerant plantings, the wide range of Manzanita species and hybrids have really started to come to the fore and gardeners are rediscovering their unique and stately presence in the landscape.

We have several specimens slowly getting established the Center for Urban Horticulture’s McVay Courtyard and one of the standouts is A. densiflora ‘Sentinel’. An upright grower discovered in Sonoma County, CA, it is one of the faster growing selections and it is also one of the most adaptable of the genus. The clusters of pink-to-white, urn-shaped flowers appear in later winter into spring like many in the genus, but the year round attraction is the evergreen foliage and the smooth and dramatic trunks with the often peeling, russet red bark. The older the specimen, the better they become.

Manzanitas require full open sun and very well drained soil that’s relatively lean. Avoid adding too much organic material to your soil and though they are drought tolerant, regular irrigation and fertilizer the first 2-3 years will get them going. They highly resent heavy root disturbance so take care when planting and avoid having to transplant it once its established in the ground. Staking of younger plants during planting is beneficial until they fully root in and settle.

 

Family: ERICACEAE
Genus species ‘Cultivar': Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Sentinel’
Common Name: Sentinel Manzanita
Location: McVay Courtyard – CUH
Origin: CA, USA
Height and Spread: 4-6′ height x 6′ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: Late February-March

 

 

2015 Spring Park in the Dark Dates

February 26th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

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. Programs are designed for families with children aged 5-12 though all ages are welcome! We will meet at the Graham Visitors Center (2300 Arboretum Dr E)
Hikes are always from 7:30-9pm on the Saturday nights listed below:

2015 Spring DatesNight Hike Image

  • April 11th
  • May 9th
  • June 13th

Cost is $8 per person
Register online or call 206-685-8033

Pre-registration is required. This allows our instructor to properly plan and prepare for each class so that you and your family can get the most out of it. Drop-ins are not accepted.

Fill your shelves at the Garden Lovers’ Book Sale!

February 25th, 2015 by Jenelle Clark

Come to the 10th annual Garden Lovers’ Book Sale to select choice titles on garden design, plant selection, horticulture, edibles, and pest control among others.
booksale-books
The tips, inspiration, and vital information contained in these books will keep you inspired and on track as you plan and enjoy your garden this year.

The fun begins on Friday, April 3th at 5 pm at the Preview Party. Tickets cost $25 and include hors d’oeuvre and wine plus first crack at the books. Purchase in advance by calling 206-543-0415.

On Saturday the doors open at 9:00 am. The public sale is free. Bring your own bags or boxes to load up on great deals.

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Why are these women smiling? Because they are thrilled with the fantastic plant & garden book deals!

Sale is at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105.

  • Preview party: April 3, 5-8pm, $25.00
  • Public sale: April 4, 9am-3pm, free.
  • All proceeds benefit the new materials budget for the Miller Library.

February Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

February 22nd, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (February 17 - March 1, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (February 17 – March 1, 2015)

1)  Camellia japonica      ‘Nina Avery’

  • Due to this year’s mild winter thus far, many plants here have begun flowering much earlier than normal, and Camellias are certainly no exception. Many specimens can be seen in bloom along Arboretum Drive near Rhododendron Glen.

2)  Camellia x williamsii      ‘Mary Christian’

  • Soon after C. saluenensis began to flower it was crossed with C. japonica, notably by J. C. Williams at Caerhays. One of the first plants raised there was named ‘Mary Christian’.
  • Trumpet-shaped, single, carmine-pink flowers are currently on display.

3)  Larix kaempferi      Japanese Larch

  • The needle-shaped leaves of L. kaempferi are just beginning to emerge.
  • Native to Japan and able to reach 80-100 feet in height, this species was introduced by John Gould Veitch in 1861.
  • A member of the family Pinaceae, this specimen is located in the Pinetum near the Stone Bridge.

4)  Magnolia      ‘Royal Crown’

  • This is a popular clone with dark red-to-violet flowers, white on the inside. It was first hybridized by D. Todd Gresham of Santa Cruz, California, who sometimes referred to plants of his cross as the “svelte brunettes” because of the dark color and sleek form of the flowers.
  • Located along Arboretum Drive within the Magnolias.

5)  Symphoricarpos orbiculatus      Coralberry

  • A dense, bushy shrub with ornamental fruit currently on display.
  • Native to the United States.
  • Specimen located within the Viburnums.

Announcing a Crowdfunding Campaign to Grow the UW Farm

February 10th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

The UW Farm has launched a USEED crowdfunding campaign with the goal of raising $9,000 to build a new cob oven and structure, a new wash station, and reusable and portable hoop houses. These projects will build on the capacity of the UW Farm, increase their educational opportunities, and give them an amazing space to gather for pizza bakes and community gatherings.

UW Farm at CUH

Based at the Center for Urban Horticulture, the UW Farm is a student-driven urban farm that inspires students to think critically about our food system, while also providing them a physical space to experiment and learn about urban agriculture. Please help us GROW!

USEED@UW is a powerful tool for fueling initiatives through crowd-sourced philanthropic giving. It provides a platform in which people can partner with the University on any number of projects and share the news with their friends, family and colleagues. Together, we can provide a dynamic learning environment and embrace the spirit of discovery, innovation and community involvement at the heart of the UW.