A Subtle Side of Spring

March 28th, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist

Spring is not typically known for its subtlety around these parts, but upon its early awakening many plants warrant a closer look. Enjoy!

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum, March 21, 2016 - April 4, 2016

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum,
March 21, 2016 – April 4, 2016

1)  Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’                     Katsura Maple

Close-up of Acer palmatum 'Katsura'

Close-up of Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’

  • One of the first Japanese maples to leaf out each spring. The small, five-lobed leaves emerge pale yellow-orange, with brighter orange margins.
  • Found in the semi-dwarf group of Japanese maples.
  • Specimen 19-10*A is located in grid 30-4E.

2)  Ginkgo biloba                     Maidenhair Tree

  • Emerging leaves are “mini-mes” of the actual size.
  • Also seen are emerging male cones.
  • This sample is taken from the Graham Visitor Center specimen located in the northwestern corner of the parking lot.

3)  Larix laricina                     Tamarack or Eastern Larch

  • Deciduous conifer native to eastern North America
  • Cutting sample shows newly emerging needles and last year’s cones.
  • Specimen is located in grid 33-5W, Pinetum.

4)  Photinia beauverdiana var. notabilis

  • Rose family deciduous shrub from China
  • Hairy, white newly-emerging leaves and flowers on cutting sample
  • Specimen is located in grid 33-5W, Pinetum.

5)  Ribes sp. (maybe R. menziesii)                     Gooseberry (maybe Canyon Gooseberry)

  • Though this Ribes sp. has not been positively ID’d, it is indeed a gooseberry because it has spines.
  • Not the eye-catching Ribes sanguineum flowers, but beautiful nevertheless.
  • Thicket is located behind the Stone Cottage.

Glimpse into the past – A Tale of Two Kames

March 27th, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

Almost no one is aware that the Washington Park Arboretum is the location of two kames. “Kames, what is that?” everyone asks. Wikipedia tells us that “a kame is a geomorphological feature, an irregularly shaped hill or mound composed of sand, gravel and till that accumulates in a depression on a retreating glacier.”

Located just east of Lake Washington Boulevard E. and just north of the intersection with Boyer Avenue S., the two kames were given the names Honeysuckle Hill and Yew Hill. They were originally the planting sites of collections for plants in these families. To clarify the taxonomy, this is the Caprifoliaceae/Adoxaceae (Honeysuckle/Adoxa) family. If you find a plant with opposite leaves and pithy stems (the inside of the stem looks like stryofoam), this is the family. The yew family is known as the Taxaceae family, a coniferous family which includes mostly smaller evergreens. These site names were originally noted on the 1936 Dawson Plan for the Arboretum, completed by the Olmsted Brothers firm.

View across Azalea Way, west to Honeysuckle mound. April 14, 1948

View across Azalea Way, west to Honeysuckle mound. April 14, 1948

The photo above depicts a view looking west across Azalea Way, toward Honeysuckle Hill, on April 14, 1948. Notice that there is very little vegetation along Azalea Way, and the kame has been almost entirely mowed and covered with grass. A few remnant native trees remain. (Note: the photographs labeled by then-director Brian O. Mulligan called them mounds rather than hills or kames.)

View north from Honeysuckle mound to Yew mound. April 7, 1959

View north from Honeysuckle mound to Yew mound. April 7, 1959

The second photo, taken on April 7, 1959 (ten years later), is a view north from Honeysuckle Hill toward Yew Hill. Notice already how much taller the trees are and how many more trees are present. Today, these kames are almost entirely obscured by the vegetation and barely noticed by visitors. Nevertheless, they are an important geological legacy in the Arboretum.

 

Construction Started to Expand Public Access at Arboretum

March 25th, 2016 by UWBG Communication Staff

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

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

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

Detail of the construction map. Source: City of Seattle

Detail of the construction map. Source: City of Seattle

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

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

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

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

Volunteer Spotlight: Kirsten Rasmussen

March 25th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Kirsten Rasmussen

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Tour Spring Ephemerals at the Miller Garden

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

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

What: Tour of the Miller Garden

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

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

Cost: $25

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

 

miller_garden_2014-008

Student Spotlight: Daniel Sorensen

March 18th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan_Sorenson_2

Spring Family Nature Classes

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

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

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

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

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

kids with binos

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

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

Meet our teachers!

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

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

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

More information…

Boraginaceae; the family that makes little blue flowers

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

omphalodesverna2

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

Lung Wort / Pulmonariapulmonaria

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

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

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

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

Sources

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

Staff Spotlight: Rebecca Alexander

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

Rebecca in the Washington Park Arboretum

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

My beautiful picture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 4th, 2016 by UWBG Communication Staff

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

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

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

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

hummingbird and lonicera

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

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

photo

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

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