Glimpse into the past – Trees Have a Habit of Growing

December 17th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

It is said that humans “have a habit of growing.” We grow tall in our formative years, and most of us also grow wider in the later years. We could also say that trees have a habit of growing. Tree species grow to specific heights and widths. Some smaller trees obtain their normal mature size in a few years, while the larger species may grow for years and years. In fact some large forest trees may continue to grow for hundreds of years.

In our urban sites, native conifers are capable of continuing their growth for hundreds of years. Any time the temperatures are in the 40s or above (which happens just about every day of the year here), the chlorophyll molecules are busy manufacturing sugars.

When we visit a park on a regular basis, we are very unaware that the trees we see are growing larger every day. I remember someone once saying, “I visit the Arboretum every year, and the plants have not changed at all over the last 25 years.” Rubbish! The Arboretum changes daily due to this continuous tree growth. The conifers gradually grow larger and larger and suddenly, their size can “ambush” us. I am sure most of us have had the experience of suddenly realizing that the cute little evergreen we planted 20 years ago is now overpowering the house.

View of Section C, Nursery and Seedling beds

1. A view of Section C Nursery and the Seedling Beds where thousands of plants have been started. Fred Leissler, asst. dir. 1935- 37

This series of pictures shows such a progression of growth. The first picture above, taken by Fred Leissler, Assistant Park Director in 1935, shows seedling trees of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)  planted along Section C of the Nursery and Seedling Beds as a screen and windbreak. The picture notes indicate that thousands of plants had been started there in those sunny beds. Note that Arboretum Drive E. is a wide lane.

Pictures 2 and 3, below, show the same trees on January 15, 1950, just 15 years later, and already making a sizeable screen.

46b. Hedge of Western Hemlock, 30 ft., A. macrophyllym, 1-15-1950

Hedge of Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) outside nursery. Trees of Oregon maple (Acer macrophyllum) on left. January 15, 1950. By E.F. Marton, UW

 

Hedge of Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) outside nursery. Tallest specimen about 30 ft. January 15, 1950. By E. F. Marton, UW.

Hedge of Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) outside nursery. Tallest specimen about 30 ft. January 15, 1950. By E. F. Marton, UW.

Along Arboretum Drive, other species of conifers were planted in rows during this time and into the late 1950s. These were mostly native species, such as the Western redcedars (Thuja plicata) in pictures 4 and 5 below.

4. Hedge row of Leyland cypress, December 14, 2015

4. Hedge row of Western redcedar (Thuja plicata), December 14, 2015

 

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5. Hedge row of Western redcedar (Thuja plicata), December 14, 2015

However, one of the final plantings of this type were of the newly introduced Leyland cypress (× Cuprocyparis leylandii), which is a cross between the Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) and the Alaska yellow cedar (Xanthocyparis nootkatensis). These were sent to us from Hillier Nurseries in England via the Institute of Forest Genetics in Placerville, CA. They were planted at the north end of Arboretum Drive E., just to the west of the Greenhouses (and current Plant Donations area).

These trees, while extremely fast growing, have proved to be inferior landscape trees. They have weak, soft wood, and are prone to wind damage. They are best used as a tall sheared hedge and kept under 20 feet. Our trees were planted out in the late 1950s and grew rapidly. One large specimen, shown below in picture 6, toppled on December 10, 2015, probably due to root removal by the lowering of Arboretum Drive for the construction of the Graham Visitors Center in 1985 (west side), and the recent heavy rains. This is an excellent pictorial example of continuous tree growth and how conifers grow and grow and grow. It is also an example of the need for continual evaluation and management of trees and their appropriate placement in the landscape.

6. Toppled Leyland cypress, December 10, 2015

6. Toppled Leyland cypress, December 10, 2015

 

2015 Fall Kayak Tours

September 1st, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Join us for this end of summer tradition at the Washington Park Arboretum as we tour our wetlands by kayaks generously loaned to us by Agua Verde Paddle Club. All proceeds go towards our Saplings Scholarship Fund that enables underprivileged students to take part in our hands-on, science-based school field trip programs.

Learn about the wetland ecosystem, including a little bit of history and little bit of ecology!  It’s great exercise and also simply beautiful.

No experience necessary; kayaks are doubles; max tour size is 12. Spaces are filling fast, so register today!
Suitable for children ages 6+. Children must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
Cost is $35 per person.
Register by emailing tours@aguaverde.com or call 206-545-8570

Dates:

  • Thursday, September 10th                     3pm and 5pm
  • Friday, September 11th                           3pm and 5pm
  • Saturday, September 12th                      9am, 11am, and 1pm
  • Sunday, September 13th                         9am, 11am, and 1pm
Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

Fall Family Fun!

August 25th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

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Visit the UW Botanic Gardens this fall for to see some colorful leaves, and participate in some fun activities for families with kids 2-12 years old!

For families with preschoolers 2-5 we have Family Nature Class – Through science-based exploration and outdoor play preschoolers and their caregivers will experience the UW Botanic Gardens using their senses. Above all, we will explore and let the natural curiosity of the young ones direct our adventures. Interested, but have an older child? Try our Friday Afternoon class from 1-3pm for families with children ages 4-8.

For families with children 5-12 we have Park in the Dark – 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.

Families with children 6 and up can try out a Kayak Tour – Join us for this end of summer tradition at the Washington Park Arboretum as we tour our wetlands by kayaks generously loaned to us by Agua Verde Paddle Club. All proceeds go towards our Saplings Scholarship Fund that enables underprivileged students to take part in our hands-on, science-based school field trip programs.

Family Nature Class

WHO: Children ages 2-5 and their caregivers. The group maximum is 12 children.
WHEN: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday from 9:30-11:30am for 2-5 year olds
OR Fridays, 1-3pm, for 4-8 year olds.
WHERE: Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle)
ENTIRE SERIES: Sign up for 6 or more classes (any day of the week) $14/class for 1 adult and 1 child. Additional child: $7/class (children must be attending with the same adult to receive the second child discount). Additional adults are free!
INDIVIDUAL CLASSES: $18/class for 1 adult and 1 child. Additional child: $9/class (children must be attending with the same adult to receive the second child discount). Additional adults are free!

Park In The Dark

2015 Fall DatesNight Hike Image

  • Saturday, September 12, 7-8:30pm
  • Saturday, September 26, 6:30-8pm
  • Saturday, October 10, 6-7:30pm
  • Saturday, October 24, 5:30-7pm

Cost is $8/person.

Meet at the Graham Visitors Center at the Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle)

Register for both programs over the phone (206-685-8033), or online!

Fall Kayak Tours

No experience necessary; kayaks are doubles; max tour size is 12. Spaces are filling fast, so register today!
Suitable for children ages 6+. Children must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.
Cost is $35 per person.
Register by emailing tours@aguaverde.com or call 206-545-8570

Dates:

  • Thursday, September 10th                     3pm and 5pm
  • Friday, September 11th                           3pm and 5pm
  • Saturday, September 12th                      9am, 11am, and 1pm
  • Sunday, September 13th                         9am, 11am, and 1pm
Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

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

 

 

Yoga_Sarah_Belisle02

September Kayak Tours at the Arboretum

August 26th, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Join us for this end of summer tradition at the Washington Park Arboretum as we tour our wetlands by kayaks generously loaned to us by Agua Verde Paddle Club. All proceeds go towards our Saplings Scholarship Fund that enables underprivileged students to take part in our hands-on, science-based school field trip programs.

Learn about the wetland ecosystem, including a little bit of history and little bit of ecology!  It’s great exercise and also simply beautiful.

No experience necessary; kayaks are doubles; max tour size is 12. Spaces are filling fast, so register today!
Cost is $35 per person.
Register by emailing tours@aguaverde.com

Dates:

  • Thursday, September 4th                    3pm and 5:30pm
  • Friday, September 5th                           3pm and 5:30pm
  • Saturday, September 6th                     10:30am, 1pm, and 3:30pm
  • Sunday, September 7th                         10:30am, 1pm, and 3:30pm
Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

Photo Credit: Ethan Welty

Fieldtrips in Fall…

October 12th, 2012 by Lisa Sanphillippo

are going like gangbusters! Between the months of September and November, we have over 1300 kids signed up for fieldtrips.

Our guides have been loving the mild weather and teaching and learning from these budding naturalists. The Arboretum is such an amazing place to explore; all of the senses can be engaged, well, except for taste! Those of us in the field are so fortunate to be able to teach a variety of topics to kids based on what they are learning in class. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve done so far:

Plant Parts – kids act out each part and then work together to show how a tree’s parts function together to form a whole organism

Seed Dispersal – we go on a seed hunt, look at all of the seeds with magnifiers, then categorize each seed into methods of dispersal such as eaten by an animal, wind, water, propulsion, hitchhikers and fire

Native Plant Identification – we learn how to identify native plants and use artifacts made by Ethnobotanist, Heidi Bohan, to demonstrate how those plants can be used to help people thrive and survive

Producers, Consumers and Decomposers – kids learn that life can be grouped into these three main categories by playing a running game and observing, recording and organizing the organisms they find on a hike

Aquatic Dip – kids get to take a look at the aquatic macro-invertebrates that live in our very own Lake Washington and think about how these small creatures contribute to the overall health of a wetland ecosystem

Here are some of the things students have been saying about their time here at the Arboretum:

“I love it here at the Auditorium.”

[I overheard two kids talking to each other on our walk]

“I wish we could come every week.” “I wish we could come here everyday!”

[At the end of the field trip, we ask the students what they liked or learned, here’s a few quotes]

“I like when you gave us 2 minutes of free style!”

“I liked looking at spiders.”

“I liked looking at all of the trees.”

Here are some quotes from a packet of thank you letters from Seattle Country Day School:

“I learned Arboretum means tree place. I think it was really fun when we made a tree out of our bodies!”

“It was fun being the bark and chanting we are bark please keep out.”

“Thank you for showing us around the Arboretum. My favorite part was when we planted a seed. I learned that you need the perfect temperature to grow a plant.”

“I learned that plants help us breathe.”

You know, you don’t have to be a student on a field trip to get out into the Arboretum! Take off your adult worries and slip into a more comfortable and comforting environment. Re-engage your sense of wonder by smelling some soil or hugging a tree. You might just see us with a group of students doing the exact same thing.