By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus
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.