May 23rd, 2014 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer
Pacific Coast Hybrid Irises, Yucca Filamentosa, and many varieties of Hebe are just a few of the plants you’ll see in the newly planted beds around the Stormwater Garden. The garden is irrigated from an underground cistern fed by roof runoff as well as from filtering and stormwater collection pools at the bottom of the garden.
The garden is located just off the McVay courtyard at the Center for Urban Horticulture and features a solar fountain. Come check it out!
Gabion walls allow water to drain while retaining the slope soil. Pacific coast hybrid irises are charming perennials that flower in May.
May 23rd, 2014 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer
Did you know that the Miller Library has fresh seed packets collected from Hardy Plant Society of Washington member gardens? And that they are only $1 per packet? And that proceeds benefit the Miller Library? Come get them before they are gone!
May 18th, 2014 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (May 12 – May 25, 2014)
“That’s Ancient History”
1) Cedrus libani (Cedar of Lebanon)
- The Cedar of Lebanon has been prized for its high quality timber, oils and resins for thousands of years.
- It was used by the Phoenicians and Egyptians and was mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
- Because of its significance, the word “cedar” is mentioned 75 times in the Bible, and played a pivotal role in the cementing of the Phoenician-Hebrew relationship.
2) Helleborus niger (Black Hellebore, Christmas Rose)
- Helleborus niger is commonly called the Christmas rose due to an old legend that it sprouted in the snow from the tears of a young girl who had no gift to give the Christ child in Bethlehem.
- During the Siege of Kirrha in 585 B.C., Hellebore was reportedly used by the Greek besiegers to poison the city’s water supply. The defenders were subsequently so weakened by diarrhea that they were unable to defend the city from assault.
3) Laurus nobilis (Bay Laurel, Sweet Bay)
- Bay Laurel was used to fashion the laurel wreath of ancient Greece, a symbol of highest status. A wreath of bay laurels was given as the prize at the Pythian Games because the games were in honor of Apollo, and the Laurel was one of his symbols.
- In the Bible, the Laurel is often an emblem of prosperity and fame. In Christian tradition, it symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.
4) Rhododendron ponticum
- Xenophon described the odd behavior of Greek soldiers after having consumed honey in a village surrounded by Rhododendron ponticum during the March of the Ten Thousand in 401 B.C.
- Pompey’s soldiers reportedly suffered lethal casualties following the consumption of honey made from rhododendron deliberately left behind by Pontic forces in 67 B.C. during the Third Mithridatic War. Later, it was recognized that honey resulting from these plants has a slightly hallucinogenic and laxative effect.
5) Taxus baccata (English or European Yew)
- One of the world’s oldest surviving wooden artifacts is a Clactonian yew spear head, found in 1911 in Essex, U.K. It is estimated to be about 450,000 years old.
- A passage by Caesar narrates that Catuvolcus, chief of the Eburones poisoned himself with yew rather than submit to Rome (Gallic Wars 6:31).
May 9th, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
Enjoying our snacks and tea while learning about trilliums
Our latest offsite tour to the Cottage Lake Gardens was a resounding success! The treats and tea were delicious, (and the trillium-themed china was exquisite), the presentation was informative and entertaining, and rain held off until the very end of the tour!
We toured the woodland garden of Susie Egan, owner of Cottage Lake Gardens and self-described “Trillium Lady”. Her lovely gardens had not only all 46 species of Trillium but also a wonderful assortment of other spring ephemerals and other shade loving plants. Her passion for all things Trillium was evident as she showed us around her well-marked and -tended garden, answered any and all questions, and even struck a few bargains at the end of the tour.
Everyone left feeling happy, full, and best of all, going home with a few trilliums or other rare plants of their own. Susie was a gracious host, and if you ever get a chance to visit her garden or bed and breakfast, you will not be disappointed!
Everyone had a good time!
May 7th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff
Wonder what goes on in the labs of Merrill Hall or in the study plots sprinkled throughout Union Bay Natural Area? Find out at the annual UW Botanic Gardens graduate student research review May 9 to June 13 in the Library.
Want to meet the researchers? Then join us for the public reception Friday, May 9 from 5 to 7pm. Light refreshments will be served. The public is invited to this free event.
Participating students and research topics
May 6th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff
By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus
This photograph, taken on April 4, 1950, is located somewhere to the left of the location of the Lookout Shelter. It points southwest. Originally, the hillside held a large collection of Ceanothus, but they were killed during severe winters and never replaced. If one looks closely you can see “tracks” on Azalea Way, the outline of Arboretum Creek, and East Lake Washington Boulevard. It appears there is one house on the lower level of Interlaken Boulevard East, and of course, many homes on the slopes of Capitol Hill are easily seen.
Looking southwest to Lake Washington Blvd and Capitol Hill from Ceanothus area by the Lookout Shelter
The kiosk at the intersection of East Lake Washington Boulevard and Interlaken Boulevard East is visible. Note how open the area is with small collection plantings and few towering native trees. This was taken before the construction of the Japanese Garden.
May 6th, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Joseph Rock’s Peony has been prized by gardeners and avid collectors for decades. Botanist and plant explorer Joseph Rock earned the honor of having this exquisite flower named after him.
Peonies are divided into two basic types; the bush or herbaceous peony and the so-called tree peony. With similar flowers, the main difference between the two are their bloom times and their growth habit. Herbaceous peonies die back down to the ground each winter and bloom later in the season (May-June) whereas the tree peony, which isn’t really a tree, is more like a shrub with stems and branches that do not die back to the ground and flower mostly in May. Paeonia rockii is a tree peony.
Tree peonies are long-lived shrubs with exquisite flowers, but they take careful placement and a lot of patience until they’re well established.
They are best planted in the autumn so they are able to start forming new roots over the winter and it’s critical that they are planted in a location with full/part sun, well drained soil, good air circulation, and protected from strong winds that could damage the brittle branches. They can take several years to get established to consistently bloom each year and they also resent being transplanted.
Common Name: Joseph Rock’s Tree Peony
Location: Pacific Connections – China Entry
Origin: Gansu, China
Height and Spread: 6-8′ tall and about 5-7′ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: Early-Mid May
A few selections of P. rockii can also be found growing at the Seattle Chinese Garden.
May 4th, 2014 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant
Paulownia tomentosa, Common name Empress Tree
Right now this tree’s large purple panicled flowers, which look similar to foxglove flowers, are blooming and the scent is wonderful. There are several in the UWBG collection, most located at the North end of the park where the wetlands trail begins.
It is a very fast growing tree that can reach 80 ft. in height, and is prized for its large heart-shaped fuzzy leaves. The large size of young growth can be enhanced if the tree is pollarded yearly; the pruning encourages growth of leaves up to 16” across.
It is classified as an invasive plant in the Southern United States, where it sends out invasive roots and can take over the area it is planted in. The Paulownia here in the Pacific Northwest do not behave invasively, probably due to our cooler climate.
The name Paulownia is in honor of the Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia, with tomentosa being derived from the Latin meaning ‘covered in hairs’.
Paulownia is cultivated as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens. It has earned the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
In its native China, an old custom is to plant an Empress Tree when a baby girl is born. The fast-growing tree matures when she does. When she is eligible for marriage the tree is cut down and carved into wooden articles for her dowry. Carving the wood of Paulownia is an art form in Japan and China. In legend, it is said that the phoenix will only land on the Empress Tree and only when a good ruler is in power. Several Asian string instruments are made from P. tomentosa, including the Japanese koto and Korean gayageum zithers.
May 3rd, 2014 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (April 28 – May 11, 2014)
1) Rhododendron spp. Azalea
- Azaleas are in the genus Rhododendron, with evergreen azaleas in the subgenus Tsutsusi and deciduous azaleas in the subgenus Pentanthera.
- The Olmstead Brothers originally planned for 11,000 azaleas to be planted along Azalea Way. More than 3,100 have been planted and over 2,000 remain.
- Azalea Way contains 21 species of azalea and more than 200 hybrids.
2) Tsuga heterophylla Western Hemlock
- Our native western hemlocks are currently laden with new female cones which are deep purple when immature.
- Currently, a scientific experiment is being conducted as a collaboration between the Washington Park Arboretum and the University of Massachusetts, using the collection of T. heterophylla and T. canadensis.
- We are studying the predator/prey relationships among the hemlock Wooly Adelgid, eastern and western hemlocks, and the predator species that prey on the Adelgid.
3) Syringa oblata var. dilatata, S. patula Lilac
Close-up photo of newly-forming female cone on Larix decidua
- Our Lilac Collection contains more than 14 species along with several more hybrids.
- Our primary lilac display is on Azalea Way, just south of the Woodland Garden.
4) Larix decidua, L. kaempferi Larch
- Now is a great time to admire many conifers for their display of young and old cones on the same branch.
5) Rhododendron ‘El Camino’ Halfdan Lem hybrid
- Our Puget Sound Rhododendron hybrid bed is located on Azalea Way south of our Lilac Collection.
- This bed contains plants from local hybridizers dating back to the early 1940s.
April 24th, 2014 by UWBG Horticulturist
Earth Day 2014
On Saturday, April 12th, over 220 people joined together at Washington Park Arboretum to celebrate Earth Day with SCA! The day began with Seattle mayor Ed Murray, SCA founder Liz Putnam, current SCA student Diana Furukawa, and others celebrating the day and imploring volunteers to consider the effects of climate change and to take action in their communities. SCA youth lead eight volunteer groups around the park. Together volunteers accomplished the following:
- 14,044 sq ft invasive plants removed
- 40 cubic yds mulch spread
- 205ft trail maintained (graveled)
- 94 plants potted
Check out amazing photos from the day here!
Check out the project map:
Text and photos contributed by SCA