January Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

January 11th, 2015 by Kathleen DeMaria, Arboretum Gardener
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum        (January 5 - 18, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (January 5 – 18, 2015)


“Piercing, sucking and galling!”

1)  Mites (on Sasa Bamboo and Skimmia)

  • Stippling and yellowing of leaves are often indicative of the presence of mites.
  • Feed by piercing underside of leaves and sucking chlorophyll out decreasing photosynthesis, reducing plant vigor and compromising the appearance.
  • Mites are not insects; they are arachnids.

2)  Galls (on Willow and Rose)

  • Abnormal plant growths caused by various organisms (insects, mites, fungi, etc.)
  • Galls are formed by increased production of normal plant hormones as response to feeding, egg-laying or disease infiltration and are often not harmful to the plant.
  • Galls can be on leaves, stems, twigs, buds, flowers and roots

3)  Blights (on Hazelnut and Cherry)

  • Refers to a symptom affecting plants in response to infection by a pathogen.
  • Blights come on rapidly and can cause complete chlorosis and browning of plant tissues such as leaves, branches and twigs; plant death is not uncommon.
  • Aided by cool, moist conditions and limited air flow to plants…perfect for the Pacific Northwest!

4)  Phylloxera (on Oak)

  • Microscopic, yellow sucking aphid relatives that feed on leaves and buds.
  • Yellowish spots on leaves in spring turn to brown by summer and defoliate.
  • Repeated defoliation abates photosynthesis and can lead to plant death.

5)  Armillaria root rots (shown on Bigleaf Maple, but many trees are susceptible)

  • Fungus cause stunted leaves, chlorotic needles, dieback of twigs and branches and eventually death.
  • Identified by white mats of fungal mycelium between the inner bark and wood and honey-brown mushrooms growing on or around the base of the tree.
  • A big threat to the lumber industry as the wood is unsalvageable.

Living the Pura Vida in Costa Rica

January 9th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff
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Iguanas bask in a tree near a rest stop where we got amazing ice cream.

On the morning of January 7th, after our typical breakfast of amazing fresh fruit, eggs, and gallo pinto, the national breakfast dish made of yesterday’s leftover rice and beans, we headed out to the Organization for Tropical Studies field site, La Selva. In 1991 I took the 2 month field course in tropical ecology and much of the time was at La Selva. It looked much the same, with the same bridge high over the Rio Puerto Viejo, the same dining hall, and the same space where feverish students struggled to make sense of the data they had collected earlier in the day. We had a local guide with us, but our guide, Jimmy, used to work there and also knew the place well. Right away we saw some peccaries, a sort of wild pig, that can be smelled before seen (a sort of skunky smell). They seemed to know we were no threat, since they lived on a very large natural preserve, and just did their thing. We first hiked in second growth forest, which is obvious not just by species composition, but also by density of understory. Primary rainforests have little understory and that is mostly palms. On this hike we observed a very poisonous eyelash viper from a very safe distance. We also enjoyed watching a pale-billed woodpecker industriously remodeling his hole in  a tree snag.

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A pale-billed woodpecker grooms his home.

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Peccaries root around the forest floor.

After lunch, we went to a place where we learned about the indigenous people of the region. A local woman, Irma, is from a tribe native to Costa Rica, though not necessarily the group from the Rio Sarapiqui area. I had always heard that the indigenous people were not as productive and interesting as the Mayan, for instance. But Irma told us that the three tribes in the region came from Colombia, based on linguistics, but that they all developed their own syntax and customs. The group from Rio Sarapiqui were notable because they were matriarchal and polyandrous (women, especially high-ranking women, could have more than one husband). They also had interesting burial customs, burying the dead in a part of their conical-shaped hut.

From there it was a short walk away to La Tirimbina Reserve. There we hiked a bit and came to a hut where where we were told about the discovery of chocolate and our guide took us through the history of how it developed. We got to taste the goo around the fresh bean (very tropical fruit tasting), and then every step of the drying and roasting. They demonstrated making traditional hot chocolate (no milk, but spices like pepper, nutmeg, chili, etc).  We got to make our own custom blend. They then beat cocoa butters into it to make smooth and very delicious dark chocolate syrup. Then we got to taste solid milk and dark chocolate made there. It was a great afternoon!

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Janka Hobbs learns how to grind the roasted beans.

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We make our own custom blends of hot chocolate.

This morning we headed to Volcan Arenal. This Volcano was active for many years, but has been silent for about 5 years. When I was here in 1991 it was VERY active, spewing huge boulders out at us very stupid students who decided hiking up it was a good idea. After lunch and looking around La Fortuna, we headed up slope. We passed countless HUGE hotel complexes that were built during the active years and now are struggling. We kept going up and up, and then came to the entrance to our hotel, the Arenal Lodge. We then kept driving up their private drive anticipating our arrival. We were probably 15 minutes on this narrow winding road and were giving up ever arriving and then suddenly it was there. We were welcomed with a special cocktail (the gatekeepers had called to say were were on the way up, so they had plenty of time to prepare them…). We then went to our rooms, which are gorgeous and have what is probably an amazing view of Arenal, but we are socked in with mist right now. Hopefully it will clear up in the morning, when we have an early morning bird walk.

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Volcan Arenal, visible during a rare break in the clouds.

Tomorrow there are canopy walks (rumors of a zip line) then on to one of the many hot springs in the area. Knowing Holbrook’s knack for finding the best of the best, we are anticipating a very special afternoon and then dinner at the hotel where the spa is located. Just another day of what the Ticos (Costa Ricans) called the Pura Vida.

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Mother and kit racoons raid a bird-feeding station, just like at home. Seattle and Costa Rican racoons have much in common.

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Primary rainforest with a palm understory.

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Deadly eyelash viper.

Costa Rica Dispatch

January 7th, 2015 by Sarah Reichard, UW Botanic Gardens Director

Wow. Just wow. We have been here less than 48 hours and it feels like a week! In a good way!

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A beautiful tropical valley.

We gathered together Monday morning, many of us meeting for the first time. We set off early, doing some cultural site-seeing. For instance, we saw the world’s largest ox-cart and a church made out of steel in the late 1800s. Then we were off to Else Kientzler Botanical Garden to start acquainting ourselves with the native flora. We then headed over the mountains from the Pacific side to the Caribbean, stopping at a couple of places that did a great job of attracting a variety of birds. We saw about 8 species of hummingbirds just on the first day (there are 48 species in the country, so still a ways to go). We also saw a new Gunnera species, well, new to me, Gunnera insignis. I loved it! I don’t think we can grow it but it was nice to add it to my life list. Then we landed at Selva Verde, an eco-resort owned by Holbrook Travel, the company we have used for our trips. It is a large parcel of second-growth forest, with lots to see and do. After a night walk that revealed the glowing eyes of a caimán and other interesting critters like a transparent frog, we settled down to hard rain beating on the metal roof that put us to sleep.

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Gunnera insignis! This was in a lovely park.

Many of us got up early for a bird walk, then after breakfast we set off for another hike through the forest, seeing interesting birds and plants. A highlight of this walk were the lovely plants in the coffee family known as “Hot Lips,” for the red sepals that attract pollinating birds. But as usual, sigh, it was a bird that stole our hearts. A large semiplumbeous hawk posed for us, while looking disdainfully down at us.

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A large semiplumbeous hawk.

This afternoon, my husband, Brian, Janka Hobbs, and I opted for an adventure river rafting down the Rio Sarapiquí. With all the heavy rain last night, the river was high and we had some good adrenaline rushes, without much danger. We saw several howler monkeys with their young in the trees above the river, and large orange iguanas sunning themselves high in the trees. The rest of our group opted for a more genteel cruise on a milder part of the river. They are not back yet, so their adventures are yet to be heard. Stay tuned! Tomorrow we visit a primary rainforest, which will reveal many interesting plants and animals!

 

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Our group scoping birds in the early morning.

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The world’s largest ox-cart!

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Gunnera insignous beside a beautiful waterfall.

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This church is made entirely of steel.

January 2015 Plant Profile: Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Shooting Star’

December 31st, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Helleborus Shooting StarThe first of the year starts off with a bang with a most wonderful hellebore hybrid to ring in the new year showing the first blossoms of the season. Here at the Center for Urban Horticulture, we’ve acquired quite a selection of hellebores thanks to Skagit Gardens and Northwest Garden Nursery. ‘Shooting Star’ is one that’s been under our watchful eye for its third season now and we’ve been impressed with its excellent foliage and vigor along with the early flower power it possesses in the garden. We have it growing in three different locations at the Center for Urban Horticulture and each specimen is thriving, making it a stand-out in the winter landscape.

All types of hellebores are beginning to pop up at local nurseries. Many will be in full bloom, so you can select from hybrid seed strains or clones such as ‘Shooting Star,’ which will be all identical compared to the seed-grown strains. Hellebores make wonderful container plants and can be potted up or safely planted into the garden as long as the ground is not frozen.

‘Shooting Star’ opens to a pale blush pink with just a hint of green. As it ages, it slowly turns greener and the pink is accentuated. These “antiqued” blooms last into March.

Companions: Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (black mondo grass), Cyclamen coum, Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’ (sweet flag), Pulmonaria hyrbids (Lungwort)

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Family: RANUNCULACEAE
Genus: Helleborus
Species: × ericsmithii
Cultivar: ‘Coseh 790′   Shooting Star  USPP #22424
Common Name: Lenten Rose
Location: Douglas Parking Lot, Soest Garden South Slope, Miller Library North Foundation Plantings
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and Spread: 10-12 inches high and about 1.25 feet wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: Late December-early March

 

 

 

 

New Zealand Beckons: Join us for a Garden Themed Tour

December 31st, 2014 by Sarah Reichard, UW Botanic Gardens Director

I have a confession to make. For the last three years I have been living and breathing the New Zealand flora, as we prepared and then dedicated our new 2.5 acre New Zealand garden for the Washington Park Arboretum. I have met with people from the Seattle/Christchurch sister city organization and plotted celebrations, and I have described the flora to interested people, taking them on tours through the new garden, spouting off scientific names. I have even see the Hobbit movies and tried to recognize the various species of plants in the scenes depicting Middle Earth.

But I have never been to New Zealand.

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Coromandel, New Zealand. Photo by Aftab Uzzaman

Well, all of that is going to change in November. The University of Washington Botanic Gardens is pleased to officially launch a very special tour of New Zealand in November of 2015! Our partners at Holbrook Travel have developed a very special trip for all of us. We will see birds, gardens, forests, and more. It looks like the trip of a lifetime!

We will start out in New Plymouth, where will see the amazing Pukeiti, a rhododendron garden set in a rain forest (remember, it will be spring in the southern hemisphere, so we will see them in flower!). There are more than 10,000 rhododendron plants, with more than 2,000 varieties. While in New Plymouth, we will also visit Pukekura Park, a garden known for its diversity of plants and landscapes.

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New Zealand sunset. Photo by Chris Gin

We will then journey to Auckland, where we will visit Ayrlies Garden, world famous for the beautiful garden Bev McConnell developed. We will even be having lunch with Ms. McConnell. While in Auckland we will visit other gardens and a large park surrounding the cone of an extinct volcano. We will be able to take in some Maori culture, hopefully seeing an example of a haka dance. On our last day in Auckland, we will do the activity that may turn out to be my favorite of the trip – we will take a ferry to Tirtiri Matangi Island. It is an amazing example of ecological restoration, turning long-time farms into native bushland and habitat for birds and other animals. We will be lead around the island by a Department of Conservation staff person.

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Larnach Castle. Photo by Russellstreet

We will then leave the North Island and head south to Dunedin, on the southeast coast of the island. I am really excited that we will be staying at Larnach Castle and Gardens. The castle is 100 years old and the gardens are known to be beautiful. The scenery is spectacular! In Dunedin we will be learn about albatross and yellow-eyed penguin conservation. We will take the Oroklonui Express train, which hugs the coast, to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary. These 750 acres of protected habitat have very rare plants, birds, and reptiles and we will be guided so that we will see more species.

Heading north, we will visit Mount Cook for one night, where we will have the opportunity to explore the area around our hotel or to take a separate expedition to the base of the Tasman Glacier!

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Caine Tuawhare carving a bench in the New Zealand Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum.

We will be finishing our adventures in our sister city, Christchurch. After suffering a 6.3 earthquake in 2011, the city is rebuilding, including restoring the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, a place where many people sought refuge after the earthquake. Our sister city officials there have promised us a special welcome! After visits to other gardens in the area, we will visit the workshop of Caine Tauwhare. Caine carved Maori symbols on the very special back slats for a bench in our New Zealand garden. The sister city organization brought Caine to our 2013 garden dedication, where he explained and demonstrated his carvings and performed a mesmerizing ceremony that allowed representatives of the Muckleshoot Tribe to welcome him onto their ancestral lands.

So come with me! We will have so much fun reveling in the rich flora, fauna, gardens, and culture that abound in New Zealand. We will make new friends and have new adventures to last a lifetime! And when we come back, we will visit the garden in the Washington Park Arboretum and remember when and where we saw the beautiful plants that we now share with our visitors.

ITINERARY with cost and full details.

When and Why to Cut Leaves Off Epimediums and Hellebores

December 30th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff
Showy Epimedium 'Lilafee' flowers with fresh new spring leaves.

Showy Epimedium ‘Lilafee’ flowers with fresh new spring leaves.

Busy gardeners appreciate the early spring flowers and minimal care required of evergreen perennials such as epimediums and hellebores. They don’t need dividing or staking or fertilizing, they just do their thing without much gardener intervention. Yet a little attention in late winter will improve the appearance and show off newly emerging flowers.

Roy Farrow, one of the UW Botanic Gardens horticulturists, attends to enormous swaths of epimedium and hellebore in the Washington Park Arboretum’s Witt Winter Garden. When and why does he trim the leaves off? “We attempt to cut down all our Epimedium [foliage] by flowering time – which translates to late winter to make sure we  don’t miss the window. The reason we don’t do it any earlier is either they are good evergreen ground covers or they have particularly colorful foliage in the winter.” Sometimes due to less than ideal cultural conditions, epimedium foliage can look bedraggled by November. The leaves can be cut off then, but that carries risk as well. Roy observes: “[people] love to trample all over areas that have plants about to come up.”

Helleborus x hybridus (H. orientalis) foliage gets cut back earlier in the year at the Arboretum, but some established patches that are particularly hardy rarely receive attention. The main reason to remove foliage is to focus attention on the new flowers emerging from the center of the plant. However, Roy reports, “In some gardens they get botrytis quite badly and look terrible by the end of fall and it’s a good idea to cut down the foliage to keep the inoculum down. Sometimes it’s aphids that drive people to cut down foliage and then flowers later on.” The Winter Jewels series plants have been especially susceptible to disease.

Hellebore x hybridus flowers emerge from the center of the plant and look best with ratty old foliage removed.

Helleborus x hybridus flowers emerge from the center of the plant and look best with ratty old foliage removed.

Hellebore species, such as H. argutifolius and H. foetidus flower on stems that grew the previous year and then decline later in the year. This type of hellebore should be left alone in winter.

A glimpse into the past – a remarkable issue of the Arboretum Bulletin

December 27th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

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Cover of Arboretum Foundation Bulletin , Winter 1945.

Recently I was given a copy of the Arboretum Bulletin, Volume VIII , no. 4, Winter 1945, by Lyn Sauter, who was the first librarian for the collection of books that became the Miller Library. Lyn started her cataloging work in the early 1980s. The editor was John Hanley, the first director of the University of Washington Arboretum.  Arboretum Foundation membership was five dollars, the phone number was SEneca 0920 and the address was 516 Medical Arts Bldg., Seattle 1, Washington.

The issue of 32 pages was devoted to rhododendrons.  The Table of Contents, on the cover, included articles by R.H.M. Cox – foremost horticulturist in Great Britain; G.G. Nearing – one of the few rhododendron authorities in the USA; letters from three prominent award-winning rhododendron growers in Washington State; a  most interesting report on the details about planting Azalea Way by Paul D. Brown;  Iris Weber – enthusiastic UW student studying rhododendron fertilization;  Lord Aberconway on magnolias;  a most intriguing short history about the Arboretum and the University of  Washington Campus; a detailed article on Rhododendrons by Dr. Hanley; and a List of recommended Rhododendron Hybrids compiled by the Seattle Garden Club members.  In this issue, there were extensive indexes as well the obituary of Col. F. R. S. Balbour.

The feature article contained 8 black and white photographs of rhododendrons: “The following group of rhododendron pictures, taken in the beautiful garden of Mr. and Mrs. Donald G. Graham, is displayed through their kindness and courtesy.”  I have included copies of the two of the featured pictures, although the texture of the paper is quite grainy.  Copies of the Arboretum Foundation Bulletins are archived in the Miller Library as well as with the Arboretum Foundation.

 

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“Azalea mollis ‘Primrose Yellow’ [sic],  Rhododendron ‘Pink Pearl’, Magnolia grandiflora, and Clematis montana.”

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“Mixed grouping of Azalea Hinomayo [sic], Rhododenron Mrs. E.C. Stirling, Kalmia latifolia, and Clematis montana.”

(Editor note: Listen to a oral history clip from Donald Graham Jr about his dad’s interest in the Arboretum and rhododendrons)

Arboretum Event Rentals on Sale

December 23rd, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

We are offering 10% off the room rental fee if you hold a new event* at Graham Visitors at the Washington Park Arboretum between December 2014 and April 2015.

GVC Patio at Arboretum

Call 206-221-2500 to take advantage of this offer and to book your next event!

*This promotional discount is good for one meeting or social event per customer. Weddings or wedding receptions do not apply to this offer.

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A glimpse into the past – Leissler’s 1934 design for the Arboretum

December 3rd, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

An historic document connected to the early “life” of the Washington Park Arboretum has been found.  It is the (believed) first design for the Arboretum, prepared in 1934 by Frederick Leissler, landscape architect in the Seattle Department of Parks.

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Copy of the Leissler Plan for Washington Park Arboretum

Scot Daniel Medbury in his M.S. thesis The Olmsted Taxonomic Arboretum and its Application to Washington Park, Seattle (1990), documents this plan (pg 99). Scot was able to interview Mr. Leissler shortly before his death.  Notes from these interviews are located in the Miller Library and UW Library Special Collections.  Medbury states “[Leissler’s] design was monumental in the Beaux-Arts style, and included a gigantic conservatory rising above an axial and symmetrical series of planting beds.”  Medbury reported that Leissler had adapted a design he made when he was a student that won a national prize for the first Arboretum plan.  The plan called for an intensive development and as Leissler himself was later to recall, “the plan would have cost a fortune to build.”  In a later draft, Leissler emphasized three main rock gardens, the “Alaska Rock Garden,” the “Northwest Rock Garden,” and the “Rock Garden of the Orient.”

It’s an interesting story of how I learned of the document’s existence. Leissler passed the original copy (signed by both Frederick Leissler and Hugo Winkenwerder, Dean of the UW College of Forestry) to Jon Stewart, a friend and colleague at Oregon State University. Recently, Mr. Stewart shared it with Raymond Williams, professor emeritus from OSU and a personal acquaintances from my time at Purdue University.  It so happens that Steve Garber, a long-time Arboretum Foundation member, former Foundation president and Japanese Garden Society officer is Raymonds’s brother-in-law.  Mr. Garber, in turn, brought it to my attention, and all of us are now involved with finding a permanent home for the document.

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Raymond Williams, professor emeritus, Oregon State University; Jon Stewart, owner of the document and donor, friend of Frederick Leissler; Steve Garber, Washington Park Arboretum long-time supporter. Taken August 2, 2013

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Steve Garber; John Wott, Director Emeritus, UWBG; Brian Thompson, Miller Library Manager and Curator of Horticultural Literature; Julie Coryell, Japanese Garden Society enthusiast and long time supporter.
Taken July 9, 2014

Tool rules from a seasoned horticulturist for home gardeners

December 3rd, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

UW Botanic Gardens Horticulturist Neal Bonham has been gardening at the Washington Park Arboretum for years. He’s the go to person on staff for power tool repair. When asked if he had any rules for home gardeners for optimal tool use he grew philosophical, “I’m reminded of the anecdote of someone asking a Taoist butcher how often he sharpened his knife. He answered ‘I never sharpen it. I only cut between the joints.'”

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Use the right tool for the job for best results.

Neal’s practical rules for hand tools are:

“Use stainless steel tools whenever possible – they don’t need care.

“Never lay tools on the ground – that’s how you lose them.

“Don’t fight nature. That is, if a branch is too big for your pruners, use a saw. If your shovel or fork hits an object you can’t move with one hand, stop trying. Nature will win and your tools will lose.

“The old adage is ‘there’s a proper tool for every job.’ The value there is that is that you will appreciate the abilities of each tool.”