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.

Leafless in Seattle

August 14th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (August 3 - 16, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (August 3 – 16, 2015)

1)  Clematis afoliata

  • Native to the dry, eastern side of New Zealand.
  • Now growing in our New Zealand Focal Forest.
  • Eventually becomes a wiry mound with fragrant spring flowers.

2)  Hakea epiglottis

  • Native to Tasmania and growing outside our Education Office.
  • Hakea needs sun and dry, infertile soil.
  • The round “stems” are true leaves despite their appearance.

3)  Phyllocladus aspleniifolius

  • Another Tasmanian native, this tree prefers moist lowlands. Its “leaves” are actually modified stems called “phylloclades”.
  • A related species, Phyllocladus alpinus is native to New Zealand and is growing in our New Zealand gardens.

4)  Ruscus aculeatus               Butcher’s Broom

  • The “leaves” of Ruscus and Danae are called “cladodes”: a subtle and not clearly defined difference from “phylloclades”, but still modified stems.
  • Ruscus aculeatus and Ruscus hypoglossum are both growing in the Witt Winter Garden.

5)  Danae racemosa               Alexandrian Laurel

  • Danae and Ruscus are members of the Asparagus family.
  • Danae is native to Asia Minor and is growing in our Winter Garden.
  • Ruscus is native to the Mediterranean region.

Travel to South Africa – a Biodiversity Wonderland!

August 13th, 2015 by Sarah Reichard, UW Botanic Gardens Director
Photo by Chris Preen

Photo by Chris Preen

I am very fortunate to have traveled to many countries – Chile, Guatemala, Morocco, Australia, many countries in Europe and several others around the world. I am sometimes asked which was my favorite country or trip and it is hard to answer. But I always include South Africa in my top three. Partly that is because of timing – my husband and I had both lost a parent to cancer in the months previous and the worry and grief had taken a toll on us that South Africa helped to release. But it was also because of the amazing plants and animals we saw. The Cape region has very high levels of endemism (plants only found there and nowhere else). We saw species in the lily and iris families that were totally new to us, so many species of heaths we could not believe it (the highest diversity in the genus Erica is there), carnivorous plants, and so many more. Many of these are now being used in the Seattle area and are totally or mostly hardy! There are others that people like Dan Hinkley are working to introduce.

Photo by Salim Fadhley

Photo by Salim Fadhley

We also visited Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. While nothing approaches the University of Washington Botanic Gardens – of course! – this is one of the finest gardens in the world. The physical setting, next to spectacular Table Mountain, is one of the best in the world. Their interpretation, educational programs, gardens – they are all outstanding! And, as I recall, their gift shop was pretty great too…

Surprisingly, the food in South Africa was some of the best I have ever had. Cream of Lotus soup anyone? It was delicious! We had a smoky mushroom soup that was fantastic too. And the wines! South African wines are some of the best in the world, and so reasonably priced.

Photo by Winfried Bruenken

Photo by Winfried Bruenken

With all of these fond memories, it was an easy YES! when our travel partners, Holbrook Travel, proposed a garden/nature themed trip for August/September 2016 (their spring). They have put together an unbelievable itinerary. Our guided tour will take us to see the wonderful Kirstenbosch Garden, but also one of the oldest gardens in South Africa at the University of Stellenbosch and a 300 year old estate winery in Franschhoek. From there we travel to Nieuwoudtville (I am sure our guide will help us with pronunciation!) to hopefully enjoy the native spring bulb display (somewhat dependent on rainfall) and an opportunity to explore a natural area. We will also be visiting Springbok, with the richest bulb flora in Namaqualand – nearly a third of their 3,500 plant species are endemic! We will end our trip at Kagga Kamma, a very unique place, seeing Bushman cave paintings and animals such as ostrich, lynx, and maybe the Cape Mountain leopard. And if you would like, Holbrook can offer extensions to other game reserves, where you might check off your African Big Five.

This will be a trip that will stand out in your top three, I am sure. Come have an African Adventure with me!

Dates: August 23 – September 6, 2016
Cost: $3,795, plus $300 tax-deductible donation to UW Botanic Gardens
Download Itinerary.

Photo by Martin Smit

Photo by Martin Smit

An Artist’s Reception of Color and Wandering

August 7th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

This post is brought to you by our summer communications volunteer, Saffron Hefta-Gaub. Saffron is a sophomore at the Bush School in Seattle, Washington, and we are delighted to share her perspectives on UW Botanic Gardens’ spaces and programs. 

July 23, 2015

Lollie Groth Artist Reception 1
The “Lake, Lattice, Stone: Requiem for a Garden” artist’s reception I went to on this day offered not only a unique opportunity into art, but also insight into the Elisabeth C. Miller Library’s gallery. Before I begin, take note that the reception occurred two weeks ago and I am just now writing about it. BUT the artwork will be shown until September 3rd, so don’t miss the rare opportunity to see Lollie Groth’s amazing work!

First off, I’d like to say my two favorite pieces of art are the Fortune Bird collage and the Perennial Garden viscosity monotype with chine collé. Yes, I had to write down what the specific art form was, I’m not an expert okay? All of the art was beautiful, but I highly recommend you look out for these specific pieces. As for the most interesting art, the monotype with chine collé Alchemy of Place caught my eye, as well as Lake Lattice Stone, a viscosity monotype. My actual experience at the reception, as you will read below, consisted of mostly of me wandering about, and all I really wrote down were these art piece names. As for what else I did, well…

I showed up at the Botanical Garden’s location around 5:30, and wandered into a room of older people I knew I could not make small talk with. So I snagged some snacks, nibbling away as I peered at the art. I was stealing free food, muhahahaha! Also a sparkly water, because the guy who was serving drinks gave me a strange look when I walked up to him and told me which bottle was the water. But really, I did appreciate the art, being a child of a photographer and an artist myself. The people around me gave me odd but hopefully welcoming looks. Soon I saw Jessica, whom I knew was going to be there, and got a sharp, happy burst of not being alone. She introduced me to the artist, the lovely Lollie Groth, who smiled at me and asked briefly about my blog before wandering away. Really, half of the event consisted of wandering. Lollie Groth Artist Reception 2

Jessica also introduced me to a woman who worked at the library, Tracy Mehlin. Clutching my fizzy non-alcohol drink, we retreated to the back corner of the library so I could ask her a few questions about the way the gallery works. She started off with telling me what they tell all possible artists first, they’re “a library first, not a gallery.” Artists often come to them, either by filling out a form on their website, or by coming into the library itself, seeing the art, and inquiring. Sometimes people mention artists whom they contact themselves, but that is rare. After the initial inquiry, the library talks to them about it, and once the artist is ready, they apply. The library looks at the artist’s work, by email or in person. Thematically they look for flowers, landscape, natural in style. Lollie’s art is a more abstract version of that, but has many references to her mother’s garden, in both name and image. Sometimes the art is more literal, with photos of actual flowers and plants, or even birds in the natural area around the library. One more abstract example was once they hosted a quilt exhibit! Abstract and literal are both fine, it’s the theme that takes priority.

As for how Lollie Groth came to the exhibit, she contacted them, as her mother lived in the area and she often visited. The library schedules shows in advance of about a year, so it was difficult for Tracy to properly remember what happened. For sure, Lollie Groth came to the library about a year before, art ready to show.

Tracy’s favorite part of Lollie’s work was the multimedia aspect, the layered collage style. Lollie uses monotype prints, one-time prints that can be assembled into awesomeness. It was hard for Tracy to explain exactly what the best part was because she did not have an artist’s knowledge of specific vocabulary, but the bright color and the images designed within images were her favorite highlight of the art. I agreed that those were some of my favorite aspects as well.

One amusing thing, listening back to the recording of the interview, was that Jessica popped her head in midway to let me know she was leaving, off to a charity concert, and soon after, once the interview was over, with no one else to talk too, I left too (my mom had to wait outside the whole time, which I feel bad about). Before I left, however, I did hover around trying to work up the courage to say goodbye and congratulate Lollie on her art. Unfortunately, I didn’t. This was pre-play Saffron who wasn’t as ready to take chances. Oh did I mention I was in a play? Yeah, that’s what has been taking up my time, time when I should have been writing this.

Sometimes my thoughts are muddled, and I hope I can make some sense and get through to you, the diligent, maybe nonexistent reader. Sometimes I really want to get meta and ramble about stuff because I doubt anyone is reading this. Or maybe they are. Some little part of me wants some random person to find this strange corner of the internet with my blog on the UW Botanic Garden’s website, where in a place one would expect talk of flowers and bookkeeping, there’s teenage me trying to be relatable to everyone (but instead I blabber about tv shows and my attempts at being polite). Wouldn’t it be funny if one day a gardener stumbles in here and I’m rambling about humans’ very existence? It’s fine though, it’s not like anyone is actually reading this, right? Right? Okay, back to actually event discussion.

Except there’s not much event left to discuss. This has been a sadly short post for which I apologize. I hope you have a great day. See, I try to be polite!

August Plant Profile – Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Sioux’

August 6th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist


BloomIf this year’s hot and dry summer is a climate change omen for Seattle and the greater PNW, then here’s the tree of our future: Lagerstroemia spp and its many hybrids and cultivars. Commonly known as crapemyrtles, these trees are tolerant of hot and dry summers and offer appeal throughout the seasons. They have lustrous foliage and large colorful flowers in the growing season (spring and summer); in the dormant season (fall and winter), the foliage and bark provide interest.

‘Sioux’ is a National Arboretum Fauriei Hybrid crapemyrtle introduction from the 1950s that produces an abundance of large, bright pink flower clusters  during summer. Its foliage is the darkest green of any crapemyrtle and turns to a handsome purple color in fall. The bark is tan in color and the twigs have a reddish color. See National Arboretum link below for more information on the Fauriei hybrids.


Common Name: Sioux Crape Myrtle

Location: Center for Urban Horticulture, west end of Douglas Greenhouse parking lot

Origin: National Arboretum Introduction. Name registered May 1, 1992.

Height and Spread: 12′-15′ tall; 8′-10′ wide. Multi-stemmed small tree, large shrub

Bloom Time: Summer, extended out as long as temperatures remain warm.

Specimen at CUH

Specimen at CUH






Yoga in the Arboretum!

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

Yoga_Sarah_Belisle01Saturdays in August mean Yoga in the Arboretum! Take a class (or 4) with instructor Sarah Belisle and enjoy an outdoor yoga class under the trees of the Arboretum. Classes are $20 each, or $60 for all 4 Saturdays in August (8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th). Class starts at 9:30am, and finishes at 11am, and meets at the Graham Visitors Center.

You can find out more or register online. We hope to see you Saturday.

Feel free to contact us with any questions – 206-685-8033 or urbhort@uw.edu




My First Free Weekend Walk

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

This is the first in a series of blog posts we will be sharing from our summer communications volunteer, Saffron Hefta-Gaub. Saffron is a sophomore at the Bush School in Seattle, Washington, and we are delighted to share her perspectives on UW Botanic Gardens’ spaces and programs. 

July 19th, 2015


On this lazy, hot, summer day, I embarked on my first event with the UW Botanic Gardens: the Free Weekend Walk. The great things about the tour are that it’s free, every Sunday, and open to all ages. The walking was brisk, and despite the heat, our guide Catherine kept us entertained. The theme of this day was Hydrangeas and Other Summer Bloomers. Themes like this switch every month to best fit the season.

Because I can’t drive, I was dropped off at the Graham Visitors Center, just before one o’clock. After inquiring at the desk, I waited until our guide came right on time, starting us out with a few introductory facts. I learned that the park was 230 acres, the majority of the land being owned by the city with the collections belonging to the Botanic Gardens. We were a group of twelve, including me, horticulturalists  and tourists alike. To begin, we circled around the parking lot, stopping by the greenhouse to see the large-leafed “dinosaur food” bog plant native to South America, with long, almost Pinecone-esque petalless  flowers. Behind the greenhouse was a gorgeous pomegranate tree, which, with the warm season we’ve been having, bore fruit.

After we looked at the various trees in the bright sun, we circled back around to the main path, which thankfully had patches of shade. It was 90 degrees out, mind you, and I had stupidly forgotten a water bottle. Our guide was good at keeping our minds off the heat, though my thirst for water preoccupied a third of my thoughts. The rest of my mind filtered through facts and phrases for this post, while another small section wanted to be binge watching my favorite show, though I shouldn’t mention that here, have to be professional. 😉

The tour, after all, was focused on the blooming hydrangeas, and the first one we accounted on the path was drooping from the drought. In fact, many of the plants we passed had brown, forgotten leaves. Facts from my 9th grade biology class kept popping up, an unplanned refresher in photosynthesis and the food web. The dead leaves on the underside of the trees were the plants’ way of conserving energy and water; leaves with less light had more energy going into growth than coming out of photosynthesis. We also spotted snag trees, dead plants that had become homes for insects, decomposers who feed off the bark. The insects attract hungry birds and bats, and soon you have full ecosystems on one dead tree.

Back to the hydrangeas: interesting tidbit, there are three kinds of hydrangeas: lace top, mop top, and the cone-shaped paniculatas. The flowerettes around the base of the lace top, when lifted up, are a signal to the bees that pollination should occur, and drop once there is nectar. Nature is amazing!

Next in our walk up the shadow scattered hill were the magnolias. Yet another thing that I learned was that because magnolias, evolutionarily, predate bees; the flowers are shaped and hang in a way so that they can be pollinated by ants and beetles. The magnolias have a nice citrus smell, and because of the unusual heat, many of the trees we passed were on there second bloom of the season, which our guide had never seen before. The magnolias also provided a much needed shade. Another tree we saw was the sassafras tree, the origin of root beer. The cool thing about the sassafras  tree was that was only one of two trees with the three kinds of leaf shapes: mitten, flame, and ghost. Seeing all the differently shaped leaves on this tree and the other species we passed was strange and interesting.


Finally, we got to the large collection of hydrangeas. There were many beautiful bushes, colored blue and white. Catherine informed us that these hydrangeas did in fact change color based on the PH of the soil. We also spotted a hydrangea that grew vine-like on a tree, but in a safe way. By now, it was time to turn back, and we headed on a gravel path through the forest, where it was shady and cool. The final fascinating fact I learned was that many of the magnolias and other “tropical” plants that thrive in the southeast United States are related to the plants of Asia, an offshoot from back when the land was all one continent.

All in all it was a great way to spend my afternoon. Our guide Catherine made it entertaining, educational, and we got in some exercise! All three e’s! The Botanic Gardens have my interest, and I am sure they will have yours if you take the chance to visit. The Arboretum is beautiful, the paths are easy to use, and with these guided tours, navigating and fact-learning is easier. I’d highly recommend it. :)


July Color Appears at the Center for Urban Horticulture

July 25th, 2015 by UWBG Arborist, Chris Watson

Featuring a Selection of Trees at the Center for Urban Horticulture

Selected cuttings from the Center for Urban Horticulture (July 20, 2015 - August 2, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Center for Urban Horticulture (July 20, 2015 – August 2, 2015)

1)  Acer japonicum  ‘Aconitifolium’                         Fern Leaf Maple

  • Grove of six located in McVay Courtyard
  • Planted in 1986, original design element for McVay Courtyard
  • Beautiful leaf texture with extraordinary fall color
  • The most iconic tree at the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH)

2)  Cedrus deodara             Deodar Cedar

  • Two mature specimens located at northeastern entrance to Event Lawn (x from Greenhouse)
  • The only conifers remaining from pre-CUH development
  • Probably planted post-war years (1950s) for UW married student housing

3)  x Chitalpa tashkentensis  ‘Morning Cloud’                                                                           Morning Cloud Chitalpa

  • An inter-generic cross between Catalpa bignonioides and Chilopsis linearis
  • A hardy drought tolerant tree currently in flower, hence its cultivar namesake
  • Several specimens located in bed along NE 41st Street, west entrance to CUH.

4)  Lagerstroemia indica             Crape Myrtle

  • This amazingly resilient and adaptable tree has had three homes in its lifespan.
  • Planted in 1963 around the original Washington Park Arboretum (WPA) buildings,
  • Then moved in 1984 to the WPA Mediterranean beds.
  • Moved to its current resting spot at CUH, south side of Isaacson Hall in 1990.

5)  Juniperus scopulorum             Rocky Mountain Juniper

  • Cuttings would not be complete without featuring a Pacific Northwest native tree at CUH.
  • OK, so it’s not found in the Puget Sound area, but its range does include parts of eastern Washington.
  • This upright specimen can be found anchoring the southeastern corner of the Soest Herbaceous Display Garden.