Glimpse into the Past – Thirty Years of Horticultural Outreach

March 31st, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus.

When the Center for Urban Horticulture was established in the early 1980s, one of the programmatic goals was to create and carry out a comprehensive public outreach program into the community for gardeners and professionals. The University of Washington is not part of the federal land grant system and thus receives no federal or state monies for such programs, as is the case for Washington State University. Thus any resources and programs developed had to be self-supporting.

Private funds were found to assemble the buildings on the UW East campus, which were built from 1984-1987. The addition of the Graham Visitors Center in 1986 at the Washington Park Arboretum added an additional site for Arboretum focused programs.  As programs grew, so did the staff to support them.  In the late 1980s and 1990s,  the annual total number of participants in classes, facility inquiry visits, tours, school programs, telephone inquiries, public open houses, library visits, as well as community lectures and tours at both the Center for Urban Horticulture and Washington Park Arboretum reached into the thousands.

The addition of Washington State Master Gardening clinics, classes and lectures greatly expanded both community gardening and professional landscape and nursery programs.  The school programs increased at the Washington Park Arboretum. Both programs became year round.  In the 1990’s, we often boasted that we were “second” in UW community outreach numbers, although quite some distance behind the UW Athletic events.

Since the beginning and continuing today, these programs have been lead by a talented group of staff.   Many people have started their careers with us and then gone onto “greener pastures,” making their mark throughout the country.

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Early outreach staff at the Center for Urban Horticulture in 1992: Jean Robins – Office Coordinator and Administrator; Larry Vickerman – graduate student and Class Coordinator; Dave Stockdale – Outreach Coordinator; Lynda Ransley – GVC Manager and Washington Park Arboretum Program Leader; Fran (Trinder) Myer – Budget and Fiscal Analyst; Rebecca Johnson – Building Rental Coordinator

In thirty years, there have been changes in the horticulture outreach environment:  public budgets have decreased; there is now a plethora of gardening information on the internet; and there is increasing emphasis on environmental, conservation, and restoration issues.  The baby boomer generation is retiring and today’s consumers have less interest in large gardens although they are more food and environmentally conscious.

Annual reports of specific numbers and program themes are archived in both the Miller Library and UW Archives.  The included photos are one glimpse of the continuing education and outreach staff  taken in December 1992.

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Early staff for Center for Urban Horticulture outreach program in 1992: Jean Robins – Office Coordinator and Administrator; Larry Vickerman – grad student and Class Coordinator; Professor John Wott, Faculty Supervisor; Lynda Ransley – GVC Manager and Washington Park Arboretum Program Leader; Fran (Trinder) Myer – Budget and Fiscal Analyst; Rebecca Johnson – Building Rental Coordinator.

Encouraging Native Pollinators at the UW Farm

March 27th, 2015 by Jenelle Clark

University of Washington graduate student Nicolette Neumann Levi is looking for ways to bring more native pollinators to the UW Farm. Nicolette recently obtained a $1,000 UW Campus Sustainability Fund (UWCSF) grant to help support the installation of several new native pollinator plantings at the UW Farm, Center for Urban Horticulture site. Nicolette is embarking on this endeavor as part of her thesis project as a candidate for the Master of Environmental Horticulture degree. Her funding will support the installation of a herbaceous perennial garden with plantings specifically chosen to attract native pollinators, as well as a pollinator hedge that will further provide food and habitat for beneficial pollinator insects.

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Recently Nicolette had the opportunity to meet with UWBG curation staff and horticulturists to discuss plant choices, especially options that would be easy to grow and maintain while providing the most benefit to the pollinators. Some of the preliminary plant ideas include grasses, violets, trilliums, sunflowers, and irises for the herbaceous perennial gardens, and evergreen huckleberry and grasses for the hedgerow. The concept is to use all local, native plantings in these gardens to lower maintenance needs and avoid the requirement to directly irrigate.

Work on the project will start this spring with the preparation and planting of two patches at the north end of the farm for perennial flowers. Over the summer, Nicolette also plans to install plastic film to solarize the areas at the southern edge of the farm where the pollinator hedge is slated to be planted. This will utilize passive solar heat to remove pests and pathogens prior to planting.

Working with Native Pollinators

By planting exclusively native plants, Nicolette hopes to attract a wide variety of the native pollinators found in the Seattle area. “The idea is to use native plants to attract what would naturally be around the [local] area.” she explains. Some of the local pollinators she is hoping to see more of at the Farm include honey bees, orchard mason bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. While each of these pollinators have specific native plants that they prefer, Nicolette is utilizing a diverse palette of plants with blooming times staggered throughout the growing season to try to consistently attract as many pollinators as possible. “Overall it’s healthier to have a more diverse mix of insect,” she explains.

Nicolette is hoping that by bringing in a diverse mix of pollinators it will have measurable impacts on the Farm’s overall crop yield too. She will be measuring this impact as a part of her thesis work, as well as continuing to do frequent pollinator counts to see if her efforts are making a difference. Nicolette does have high hopes for the impact the perennial gardens and pollinator hedge will have on the UW Farm:

“Many farms will have to bring in on a yearly basis a box of bees. By trying to attract the native pollinators you don’t have to do that and spend all that money every year. You can maintain the populations and have a place for them to overwinter. It saves money.”

Not only will the plants in the garden and hedge provide pollen for the pollinators, they will also be chosen to support these beneficial insects in their various life-stages (i.e. larval, such as a caterpillar) and provide food, habitat, shelter, and hiding for adults. The hope is that these new plantings will also provide over-wintering habitat for the pollinators so that the Farm can start to grow a larger base population of pollinators right where they need them

A Network of Green Spaces

One of the challenges facing pollinators today, especially in urban areas like Seattle, is habitat fragmentation and the loss of green spaces. An exciting possible benefit of this project is its ability to provide a vital patch of habitat, for many types of pollinators, right in the heart of the University District. “The flight range or movement [for pollinators] between different patches is not so big, so you end up with these isolated patches,” Nicolette explains. “You miss out on the opportunity to have pollinators moving through a mosaic of habitat patches. Having one more pollinator garden adds one more place for the population to move to and grow”.

Pollinator Garden

National groups such as the Pollinator Pathway and the Xerces Society are working to bring awareness to the importance of habitat patches and are focused on promoting more urban gardens with plantings tailored towards the needs of native pollinators. Home gardeners can get involved too and help to provide vital habitat patches by fine-tuning their own growing spaces to meet the needs of more pollinators. Nicolette recommends that home gardeners, “try to use plants that would naturally be growing [in our region] and blooms that are in a variety of colors.” She also encourages, “using plants that bloom at different times during the growing season,” to consistently attract pollinators throughout the season. Bee boxes, such as those made for mason bees, could be something a home gardener could use.

The most important thing is to make sure that the plants chosen match up well with the needs of our local pollinators. Starting with native plants is a good place to begin, but Nicolette also recommends checking with your local nursery or gardening outreach program (like the Center for Urban Horticulture) to get more ideas and guidance with setting up your own pollinator garden.

The Elisabeth C. Miller Library has a list of recommended books on Pollinators and Pollination.

Glimpse into the Past – Celebrating the Founder of the Center for Urban Horticulture

March 5th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John Wott, Director Emeritus

In those divisive times of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, many new ideas began to form regarding how to live on, properly use, and safeguard the resources on our earth. This included groups from the “flower children” to academics. Learned horticulturists, botanists, and academics in the Northwest created a plan which called for the creation of a new academic unit at the University of Washington to be called the Center for Urban Horticulture. It would be different from traditional production horticulture which had been taught for hundreds of years.   Instead it would bring disciplines together which seldom or never interacted.

The Center for Urban Horticulture, the first of its kind in the world, and thereafter copied around the world, officially began its life when Professor Harold B. Tukey, Jr, from Cornell University arrived as its founding director in May 1980. Dr. Tukey’s family, including father and brothers, were well known in the horticulture academic arena. He first worked along with an administrator, Sally Dickman, in an office in Anderson Hall on the UW campus. He also was UW director of the Washington Park Arboretum and directed that staff, headed by Joseph A. Witt, curator. In 1981, two new faculty arrived: myself, John A. Wott, from Purdue University in April, and James A. Clark, from Rutgers University in June.

The initial promise of full state funds soon evaporated as the State of Washington rapidly slipped into a recession and all hope of state funds for building and future program building was futile. Never daunted, Dr. Tukey, aided by the good will of Provost George Beckman (who did provide what seed money he could), along with community horticulture stalwarts such as Elisabeth Carey (Betty) Miller began a campaign to raise the millions of dollars needed privately. As you now see today, they were successful. CUH, now a part of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, is an invaluable resource in the Northwest as well as nationally and internationally.

The accompanying pictures show scenes from the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the original Merrill Hall in 1983.

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Elisabeth Carey Miller, Prentice Bloedel, Dr. Harold B. Tukey Jr. with their Champagne glasses at the ground breaking ceremony for the original Merrill Hall, 1983

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Front row: Eulalie Merrill Wagner, Virginia Merrill Bloedel, Prentice Bloedel, Mary Gates, Marilee Boyd, Elisabeth Miller, George Beckman, William Gerberding, Mrs. Harold Tukey.
(center 2nd row, Marvin Black)

Fragrance Garden renovation enters phase two

December 3rd, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

The Fragrance Garden at the Center for Urban Horticulture is being refreshed with help from partner the Seattle Garden Club. The declining stripe bark maple will be removed and new scented plants will be added.

Fragrance Garden at CUH 11-2014Manager of Horticulture David Zuckerman said the Acer capillipes has been declining for years. David explained: “it may have verticillium wilt, but more likely to be causing the decline are symptoms of over exposure (sun, temps) during the course of its life in the entry garden. In general, stripe bark maples are forest edge trees, somewhat short lived and do not do well when grown in exposed conditions.”

A few of the new plants going in include:

  • Magnolia virginiana ‘Moonglow’
  • Itoh peonies
  • Berberis x media ‘Winter Sun’
  • Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’
  • Azara microphylla
  • Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’
  • Chimonanthus praecox

Grand Cajun Yesler Swamp Ribbon-Cutting Celebration!

September 9th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

AugustThirtyFirst-47-300x200The Friends of Yesler Swamp have been working for years to turn a weed choked corner of the Center for Urban Horticulture into a safe, accessible, natural area that supports wildlife.

On Sunday, September 21, 2014, 2 – 4pm they will host a public event to celebrate recent progress building a boardwalk.

Help us celebrate completion of the first phase of boardwalk construction through Yesler Swamp.

The Cajun band Folichon will be playing. We’ll have food, beer and wine plus tours of the swamp. Everyone is invited–all ages welcome. We will have a short program to thank the many organizations and friends whose generosity has made the Yesler Swamp Trail possible. Donations will be accepted to help finish the Trail. Free!

Explore! Art, Bugs, Mosses and Sustainable Landscapes!

August 5th, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

2014Catalog_Summer_Fall_Cover_smallGrab a copy of our new Summer/Fall catalogand try your hand at botanical art, discover the microscopic worlds of insect and moss identification, or learn how to turn your backyard into an sustainable, eco-friendly paradise!

Landscape for Life: Sustainable Home Gardening

Are you a homeowner who wants to create and maintain your own healthy, sustainable landscape? Through instructor-led presentations, class discussions, and activities, this 4 part class will deepen your understanding of how to get the most out of water in your garden, build healthy soils with minimal outside inputs, use native and climate-adapted plants for the Pacific Northwest, and find the most environmentally-friendly landscape materials. Students will analyze their own home landscape focusing on soils, water, plants, and use of materials.

Four Thursday evenings, starting September 25, 6-8:30pm
More information…

Register online or call 206-685-8033

 

 

Botanical Watercolor or Botanical Art Weekend Workshop

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Botanical Watercolor:  7 Tuesdays – starting September 23, 7 – 9:30pm
Learn how to create stunning watercolor portraits of your favorite flowers or trees with this class taught by long-time instructor Kathleen McKeehen. Topics covered include drawing, measurement, color mixing, controlled washes and dry-brush techniques.  Whether you are just starting out, or have taken some classes before, all skill levels are welcome.

More information…

Register online or call 206-685-8033

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Botanical Art Weekend Workshop: Saturday and Sunday October 4-5, 9am – 5pm
Learn the basics for creating botanical illustrations from professional botanist, illustrator, and teacher, Dr. Linda Ann Vorobik. Through lecture, demonstration and hands-on work, this class provides instruction in pencil drafting, pen & ink, and watercolor. All skill levels welcome.

More information…

Register online or call 206-685-8033

 

 

bugBugs: Bad, Beneficial, and Beautiful

Have you ever wondered about the 900,000 species of insects that roam the earth? Discover a few of them in this 4-part course on Thursday evenings. Learn about ID, life cycles, and how to live with the beneficial and bothersome insects that you may come across in your daily life. This class won’t be just lectures, though; we will have hands on periods, with practical demonstrations, specimens to examine, and reference resources. Don’t miss this fascinating class taught by Evan Sugden, entomologist, teacher, and illustrator!

Thursday, October 30, 7 – 9pm
More information…

Register online or call 206-685-8033

 

Introduction to Mosses

mossesWhile strolling in the woods, or walking around town, are you intrigued by the tiny green plants along the way? Do you wonder exactly what they are? Here is an opportunity to take a closer look at one group of small plants, the mosses.  This workshop, designed for beginners, will help you understand the basics of moss structure and biology, as well as the characteristics useful for identification. In the morning we will work in the class room for about 3 hours. After lunch we’ll take a walk in the Arboretum, and then finish up in the classroom.

Saturday, October 25, 9am – 3:30pm
More information…

Register online or call 206-685-8033

Want to see what else we have going on this season? Check out our full catalog!

Summer Classes at the Botanic Gardens

June 6th, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Summer is the perfect time to learn about plants. Once you are finished with your class, you can actually put your new knowledge to work, whether its learning about unusual hydrangeas to add to your landscape, maintaining your trees or shrubs, or just getting outside to enjoy a farm tour!

Register Online!

Take a look at some of our upcoming classes:

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Enjoying the wonderful scent of lavender on last years tour!

Woodinville Lavender Tour

What could be better than smelling the scent of a bouquet of lavender? Smelling 3 acres! Join Tom Frei, Master Gardener, on his lavender farm and learn a little about the uses, the care and types of lavender. There will even be lavender teas and cookies as we listen to Tom, then a tour of the 25 varieties of lavender grown there.

Here’s what people had to say about last years tour:

“I really enjoyed this session. It was gorgeous, relaxed, useful, the snacks were tasty and the store was full of things I wanted.”

“I had a thoroughly enjoyable experience just learning more about lavender. Loved discovering this new gem and will definitely be back to visit the farm in the future!”

More information…

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One of the many lovely hydrangeas from the Washington Park Arboretum

 

 

Curator Talks: Hydrangea Family

Go behind the scenes and learn about the interesting and unusual members of the Hydrangea family. Curator Ray Larsen will discuss the rare, the weird, and his favorite members of the Hydrangea family. Take notes on the handy map that will be provided, and find them on your next trip to the Arboretum!

More information…

 

 

 

Hedges are often pruned in the summer

Hedges are often pruned in the summer

 

Pruning Shrubs and Trees: The Summer Advantage

Is your garden looking overgrown? Are you unsure of how to manage it? Summer may be the best time to prune it! Learn what can and can’t be achieved through pruning in the summer with certified arborist Chris Pfeiffer. This is a 2 part class that includes a lecture and a trip to a homeowner’s residence where we will have a practical demonstration! Let us know if your garden may be a potential candidate for the field demonstration section of the class.

More information…

 

 

 

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The “black gold” of the gardening community.

The Hows, Whys and Uses of Kitchen & Garden Composting

Take a quick tour into the world of compost! Join Master Gardener and compost enthusiast Fred Wemer for a look into the hows, whys and what you can do with compost made from your kitchen or garden in this FREE class.

More information…

 

 

 

 

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Part of the New Zealand Garden

Wednesday Walk with John Wott: Touring the Pacific Connections Garden

 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could travel through Cascadia, Australia, China, Chile and New Zealand all in one day? In the Washington Park Arboretum’s Pacific Connections Garden, you can! In this garden, you will find amazing plants from five countries connected by the Pacific Ocean. In addition to the beautiful entry gardens, you can venture more deeply into the plantings of Cascadia and New Zealand, and learn about the ongoing progress and future plans for the newest and largest project in the Arboretum this century.

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The strange-looking Monkey Puzzle Tree

Join John Wott, Professor Emeritus and former Arboretum Director, for a new series of walking tours at the UW Botanic Gardens’ Washington Park Arboretum. Dr. Wott will discuss the history of the Arboretum, overall design, and changes over time. Throughout the year, each walk will feature plants that offer us seasonal highlights. These walks take routes that are well-suited for visitors with limited mobility.

More information…

Class dates, locations and pricing can also be found our class catalog as well as additional classes.

You can always call 206-685-8033 or email urbhort@uw.edu with questions; we are happy to answer them!

Register online!

Stormwater Garden gets new plants

May 23rd, 2014 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

McVay_Stairs_DesignPacific 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.

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The garden is located just off the McVay courtyard at the Center for Urban Horticulture and features a solar fountain. Come check it out!

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Gabion walls allow water to drain while retaining the slope soil. Pacific coast hybrid irises are charming perennials that flower in May.

NHS Spring Plant Sale – March 7

February 28th, 2014 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

1912242_712998182064027_770195739_nJoin us for the Spring Ephemeral Plant Sale on March 7 with selections from  more than 20 local nurseries. Dan Hinkley will present a special lecture, “Favorite Vignettes of Spring:  Noteworthy Plant Combinations for the Pacific Northwest.” Tickets to the lecture ($5) go on sale at 8:30 am.

The sale runs from 9am – 3pm at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Proceeds from the sale benefit the Elisabeth C. Miller Library.


A Glimpse into the past: Dedicating the Douglas Research Conservatory

January 6th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

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Douglas Research Conservatory in May 1989

On June 29, 1988, the Douglas Research Conservatory was dedicated.  It was a state-of-the-art facility for plant propagation, research, and horticultural education. The facility was made possible through a one million dollar donation from the estate of the late Neva Douglas, daughter of the University’s Metropolitan Tract developer, John Francis Douglas. The gift was given in memory of Douglas and his wife, Neva Bostwick Douglas. The facility featured 5000 square feet of glass-house space and 8000 square feet for support facilities. It included a laboratory, classroom, growth chambers, storage, experimental construction spaces, and offices.

The Douglas’ son, James B. Douglas, was the developer of Northgate and many other shopping malls. He was instrumental in directing the gift, along with his son, James C. Douglas of San Diego, CA. It also show-cased innovative computer technology, which monitored and controlled vents, fans, temperatures, and other events throughout the glass houses.

The Metropolitan Tract was given to the University of Washington in 1861 and was its original site until 1895. The Tract has long been the financial heart of downtown Seattle. The Tract’s business success began in 1907. In the ensuing 20 years, the Douglas Metropolitan Building Company constructed 13 major buildings, including the White Building (1909) and the Skinner Building (1927).

The Douglas Research Conservatory was the last major building built and dedicated at the Union Bay site at the Center for Urban Horticulture.