Faculty Spotlight: Tom Hinckley

May 25th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Tom Hinckley

Tom Hinckley no doubt kept his much younger graduate students challenged to  keep up as he climbed to over 7000′ on Snowshoe Mountain in the North Cascades. It was there he chose to conduct research on the effects of environmental stress on three species of native trees.

Hinckley needed that energy as he served both as Director for the UW Botanic Gardens’ Center for Urban Horticulture (1998-2004),  and as researcher, teacher and mentor at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, where he is now emeritus professor.

“I first came to Seattle in March 1964 to ski in the Cascades, and I must have gotten hooked,” he says, “because I returned two years later to attend graduate school.”

Hinckley received a B.A. in Biology from Carleton College in Minnesota (1966) and his PhD in Forest Ecophysiology from the UW in 1971.  Despite his science focus, he reports that his favorite course in college was actually American History because “it was taught extraordinarily well.”

After time spent teaching in Missouri, Hinckley returned to the University of Washington in January 1980 to join the faculty.  Many of his colleagues, with whom he co-taught and worked on joint research projects, were the initial faculty cohort at UW-Botanic Gardens (James Clark, Barb Smit-Spinks, Deane Wang, Kern Ewing).

With Kern Ewing and others he was involved in launching the Restoration Ecology Network (UW-REN).  UW-REN is now a regional center for the study of ecological restoration and conservation, creating new undergraduate research and curricula, much of it taking place at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

“Now that I am retired, I am a regular visitor to the Soest Garden– my favorite place to walk and take in nature the the Center,” he says, “and I am also active in helping find financial resources to maintain and grow the garden.”

Hinckley is still an avid skier, hiker and photographer.  And when asked about his favorite plant, he had a clear preference:

Abies amabilis,” he clamoured.  This tree, also called Pacific silver fir or “lovely” fir because of the softly silver undersides on the needles and gorgeous purple-hued cones that stand upright on the branches. Hinckley loves the looks of this tree, its mountain habitat and, “the fact that it got me my first job teaching at the University of Missouri.”

 

Staff Spotlight: Jessica Anderson

May 6th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Jessica_AndersonJessica Anderson is a librarian at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens.  Most days you will see Jessica at the Reference desk, doing research or providing answers to gardening questions.

Jessica moved to Seattle from the Southwest to attend the University of Washington, earning her Masters in Library and Information Science in 2010.  As an undergraduate, Jessica began working at the Natural Sciences Library inside of the Suzzallo-Allen Library on the main campus.  Once graduated, she began volunteering at the Miller Library.

“I became fascinated by all the books on horticulture,” she notes,  “and checked out dozens of books on growing edible plants.  Then I began experimenting at home.”

Jessica is now a full-fledged urban farmer and maintains an edible garden of fruits and vegetables, complete with chickens in her small backyard.

At her work in the Miller library, Jessica performs varied tasks including managing the print and electronic serials collection (subscriptions, renewals, receipt records, claiming, and archiving), supervising volunteers, and tracking purchase orders and library supplies.  Her favorite part of her job is learning new things from the research questions she is asked via the Plant Answer Line Service.

“I feel so lucky to work at a place where I spend my time with patrons answering questions about plants,” she glows.

She also feels fortunate to work next to the Union Bay Natural Area loop trail, where she often walks and, when it is clear, looks out toward the mountains across Lake Washington.

When the weather is not so nice and she is not working, Jessica joins a meet-up group to play board games.  And her favorite plant?  The Saucer Magnolia tree (Magnolia x soulangeana), with its large fragrant blossoms in spring.saucer-magnolia

“Especially after a long winter, it is a welcome sight to see a magnolia in full bloom!”

Volunteer Spotlight: Heidi Lennstrom

April 29th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Heidi_Tree cholla Santa Fe 2015Heidi volunteers at the Hyde Herbarium, working with pressed plants and the plant database.  She holds a PhD in archaeology, specializing in paleoethnobotany–the study of plant remains from archaeological digs.  She spent many years at the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, where she was also a science educator and creator of an ethnobotany garden and webpage. 

“I love to organize things,” says Lennstrom, “so working with the seven cabinets of duplicate specimens at the Herbarium is perfect for me!”

Heidi carefully identifies which of the specimens are duplicates, confirms they have been entered into the Botanic Garden website and  then determines which ones are kept and which ones need to be shared with other herbaria.

Although originally from Seattle, Heidi lived in Minneapolis and later, Honolulu for many years.  She returned to Seattle in 2007 to be closer to family.  She loves to travel with family, work with digital photography and cook.

When in college, Heidi always favored the classes where she got to be outdoors–archaeology field studies, geology of the Pacific Northwest and plant identification.  Now that she is working in an Herbarium she admits that she doesn’t get outside into the Botanic Gardens nearly often enough.

Heidi loves the conifers of the Arboretum but it is perhaps the simple lily that is her favorite plant.  “Its so elegant!”

Student Spotlight: Emma Relei

April 15th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

emmareleiIn Emma Relei’s extensive list of “favorite” plants, one of them is the simple crocus, meaningful for her because of its prominence in a much-loved children’s tale, The Runaway Bunny;  another is Ponderosa pine, because “it smells like vanilla!”

Emma’s energy and enthusiasm for all things extends in many directions, including her work with specimens at the Hyde Herbarium. There she helps sort the 23,000+ species, catalogs them on the database, mounts species for filing and makes greeting cards.

“I love how each specimen has a story and a history to unfold, and that I get to be part of it,” she proclaims.

In addition to her volunteer work, Emma is a senior at the University of Washington studying Environmental Science and Resource Management in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.  Emma is keen on all of her plant-related classes, especially ones that bring her outside into nature.

“I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest,” she notes, “and although I would like to travel more some day, this is a pretty great place to live and study.”

In addition to her studies, and volunteering at the Herbarium, Relei works in a local nursery, watches “tons” of gardening videos and has a small container garden in her tiny home.  She also loves trail running, hiking, camping and kayaking with friends.  She also loves to play piano and read historical fiction.

Whew!  Do you think she ever sleeps?

As for favorite places, Relei mentions of course, the Hyde Herbarium.  But she  also loves the Japanese Garden in the Arboretum as it was where she celebrated her 16th birthday, a day she holds fond memories of even today.

 

 

Glimpse into the past – The UW Plant Laboratory Complex

March 2nd, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

The Center for Urban Horticulture officially began in 1980 with the arrival of Dr. Harold B. Tukey as the founding Director. He was given an office in the northeast corner (first floor) of Winkenwerder Hall in the College of Forestry Dean’s complex. His administrative assistant, Sally Dickman, was nearby.

When the first two new faculty arrived in 1981– John A. Wott (April) and James Clark (June) – the University/College had “dusted off,” painted, washed the windows, and added heat in the complex of unused buildings known as the Plant Laboratory and Laboratory Annex on Stevens Way N.E., near the Botany Greenhouse. These buildings had been built and used by the Medical School during the exciting programmatic days of studying medicinal plants for human uses.  Hence the close proximity of the Medicinal Herb Garden, still in existence today.

Rear of Plant Lab complex Greenhouse, Annex, Laboratory

Rear of Plant Laboratory complex: Greenhouse, Annex, Laboratory

Two weeks ago, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and document these buildings before this area is razed for the new Life Sciences Complex. As you currently drive along W. Stevens Way N.E., on the UW campus, these buildings are now barely visible, obscured by plants.

Lab Annex through the “bushes”

Lab Annex through the “bushes”

I well remember those first three years in that small wooden building, with no foundation and no insulation, making it quite cold in the winter and impossible to cool in the summer, and often with a few furry friends and plenty of spiders. Visitors entered off the wooden front porch, always a bit creaky.  You knew someone was coming as soon as they stepped onto the shaky boards. Inside were two rooms, one large one in which Professor Clark and Diana Pearl, our secretary, worked. I had the smaller office on the north side.

The creaky front porch

The creaky front porch

It was here that the first graduate students and staff hires were interviewed and approved, before having their fate sealed by Dr. Tukey in the “big building.”  This included potential graduate students, Professor Sarah Reichard – now UW Botanic Gardens Director – being one of them. David Zuckerman, a former Purdue student of mine and now Manager of Horticulture at UW Botanic Gardens, surprised me on a fall day. He was looking for job, and after I sent him to see Joe Witt, Curator, he was hired. It was also here that I first met Sharon Buck and Cindy Maitland, the first two graduate students who created the “flamingo mascot” idea for the Center for Urban Horticulture.

Pathway to Stevens Way N.E. and to Winkenwerder Hall

Pathway to Stevens Way N.E. and to Winkenwerder Hall

Program and building plans were discussed and dreams for an internationally-significant new program were formulated. I also remember a very dark rainy Friday afternoon when a call came from the Provost’s office wanting to know how we were going to cut a major portion of our budget due to a state budget crisis. I wondered for weeks if the entire new program would be eliminated, but alas we were spared, although we were told to raise our own money in order to survive.

Plant Lab Headhouse and Laboratories

Plant Lab Headhouse and Laboratories

When Van Bobbitt was hired in 1982, we dusted off an office in the Plant Lab Annex, just off the head house for the small attached greenhouse. We found that the previous building occupants had basically walked out the door and left everything sitting on the shelves, floor, etc. It took days to clean up the materials. Soon after, we hired staff to assist in cleaning and retrofitting the greenhouse. As additional faculty and staff arrived, we “descended” into the dungeon-like basement labs, removing glassware, chemicals, as well as much dust. In fact, much of that glassware was eventually moved into the new Merrill Hall labs.

Stairs to Basement “dungeon” labs

Stairs to Basement “dungeon” labs

The head house space was our meeting space, eating space, and the location of monthly birthday parties, usually with a cake baked by myself. The now forsaken paths around the buildings were then our daily home. We revitalized the old red and yellow roses as well as the lavender plants along the paths. Needless to say, when we moved into the newly completed Merrill Hall in April 1984, it was like moving from a log cabin into Windsor Castle. Today, thirty-five years later, change is still afoot, but these physical structures of the past will soon be just a memory and a photograph!

Greenhouse

Greenhouse

 

For more information about the greenhouse and construction of the new Life Sciences Complex, visit http://www.biology.washington.edu/about-us/facilities/greenhouse

 

Trail Completion to Begin at Yesler Swamp

February 17th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans
Trailhead, Yesler swamp

Trailhead, Yesler swamp

Shovels, picks and hammers will be brought out this month to forge the final section of the Yesler Swamp trail, a much-anticipated finale to years of planning and fundraising.

Yesler Swamp, the 6-acre wooded wetland along the eastern border of the Center for Urban Horticulture has captivated local citizens, restoration ecologists and leaders at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens for close to a decade.

“The Yesler swamp is a perfect outdoor laboratory where students can study, investigate and take their classroom learning into nature,” states Fred Hoyt, Associate Director of UW Botanic Gardens.

And because the area is one of the last remaining swamp ecosystems along the Lake Washington shoreline (a swamp is a wetland dominated by trees and other woody species), scientists are keen to remove remaining invasive species, restore a multilevel canopy and study the natural succession of this marvelous public open space.

Bird watcher at Yesler Swamp

Bird watcher at Yesler Swamp

Hoyt, along with UW professor and restoration ecologist Dr. Kern Ewing, and a dedicated citizen group —the Friends of Yesler Swamp — have brought this amazing project to fruition.  It took an array of donors—from the City of Seattle to King County and numerous individuals—to get it this far.   The Washington Conservation Corps will begin the estimated 8-week project finale at the end of February.  The Friends group also still needs to match $11,000 in donations for the final City grant.

Trail work on new ADA-accessible entry path to Yesler Swamp. Photo courtesy of Friends of Yesler Swamp

Trail work on new ADA-accessible entry path. Photo courtesy of Friends of Yesler Swamp

Part of the trail has been completed in the last few years, so one can now follow a sturdy boardwalk out to the lake’s edge.  Ewing notes that over 200 species of birds have been seen here and in the adjacent Union Bay Natural Area, as well as raccoon, turtle, beaver, coyote and heron.  Last December, crews completed an ADA accessible entry to the path; once this final section is completed it will be a loop trail encircling the entire swamp area.  Graduate students of Ewing continue to study the area, which he describes as a “fantastic outdoor laboratory.”

This is an incredible transformation of an area that was once a sawmill and lumber business for Seattle pioneer and two-time mayor, Henry Yesler.

“The great thing about completing this trail,” says Dr. Ewing enthusiastically, “is that it is really just the beginning.” 

Ewing has numerous plans for future scientific studies, watching the transformation over time:  recently planted western red cedars and Sitka spruce will eventually grow into mature trees, enriching the canopy and species diversity, native plants will take root and crowd out the invasives, and the site will eventually return to a near natural state.

Staff Spotlight: Annie Bilotta

December 28th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

Annie_BilottaAnnie Bilotta is a Gardener, working at the Center for Urban Horticulture. She is originally from New York State, and she moved to Seattle in 1989. Annie started working at the UW Botanic Gardens in 1993 at the Washington Park Arboretum as a Gardener.  She moved over to the Center for Urban Horticulture around 2005.

Annie is especially fond of vegetable gardening. When not gardening, she can usually be found riding one of her four bikes, either on a long road ride or in the mountains.  In the rare times that she can be found sitting still, she likes to knit or weave baskets.

Annie has no formal education in horticulture and received her bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College in music education. One of her favorite classes in college was instrument repair.  It wasn’t apparent to her then but she loves working with her hands. Annie became involved with UW Botanic Gardens when she persistently called for about two years and asked about getting hired on as a gardener at the Arboretum.  When a position opened up in 1993 she applied and was hired.

The thing she likes most about her job is the variety.  A typical day has her checking out the landscape and determining what the most pressing issues are.  Out of the many that she identifies as needing doing ‘Right Now’ she picks one and does it — if she doesn’t get sidetracked by something else.  The things she does the most, in order of frequency, are: weeding, mowing, irrigation, mulching, pruning, and planting. Annie also likes talking to visitors.

Annie’s favorite place at the UW Botanic Gardens is the Union Bay Natural Area because it is calm and peaceful, and has a lot of wildlife. What is Annie’s favorite plant? Well, right now she is most fond of sedums (tender and hardy succulents). She likes the color palette they provide, that they are somewhat drought tolerant, and they’re easy to grow.

Seminar: Reconstructing Natural Areas in the Built Environment

December 8th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor
garden photo

Prairie rain garden, Center for Urban Horticulture

Reconstructing Natural Areas in the Built Environment:

Linking design, function, and long-term performance for natural areas, restoration sites, and trail sides

January 25 & 26, 2016
9:00 am-4:00 pm

University of Washington Botanic Gardens
Center for Urban Horticulture
3501 NE 41st St., Seattle, WA 98105

 

PROFESSIONAL CREDITS: CPH-6/day, ecoPRO-6/day, NALP/WALP-6/day, APLD-4.25/day, ASLA-5.5/day

 

RESOURCES FOR SEMINAR ATTENDEES:

Day One: January 25, 2016

Day Two: January 26, 2016

Additional Resources from Presenters and Attendees

September 2015 Plant Profile: Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’

September 8th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

By Ray Larson, Curator

maple photoIn honor of the annual Elisabeth Miller Memorial Lecture on September 10 in Meany Hall, this month’s plant profile features one of her favorite trees, and perhaps the plant most associated with her:  Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium.’

At the UW Botanic Gardens, we have a grove of 6 planted in the Dorothy McVay Courtyard.  These trees were included at Mrs. Miller’s suggestion when Iain Robertson developed the garden design for the courtyard in the mid-1980s.  Betty Miller’s famous garden just north of Seattle includes over two dozen of the trees, which are among the very best small trees for texture and outstanding fall color.

They begin coloring in late July and slowly build to a crescendo of fiery reds ranging from flame orange to deep maroon.  They are among the most reliable trees for fall color in the Pacific Northwest, and generally at their peak in mid-October.
maple photo

As an added benefit they have small but showy flowers, which appear in early spring right before the leaves unfurl.  The shape of the leaves gives the tree its common name, and the scientific name refers to their resemblance to monkshood foliage (Aconitum).   They grow well in part shade to sun, with longest and best fall color appearing in more sun.  One of the best small trees for urban gardens, either singly or in a grove.  This is the most commonly grown Acer japonicum, but the UW Botanic Gardens has several other varieties, including impressive specimens of A. japonicum ‘O-isami’ and A. japonicum ‘Takinogawa’ in the Woodland Garden.  Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ received an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1984.  It is reputedly hardier than other forms of Acer japonicum, and is rated down to USDA Zone 5.

maple leaf photoCommon name:  Fernleaf fullmoon maple
Family:   Sapindaceae
Location:  McVay Courtyard at the Center for Urban Horticulture
Origin:  The species is native to mountain forests of Japan, Manchuria and Korea.  According to Arthur Lee Jacobson’s North American Landscape Trees, this form was introduced to cultivation around 1888 by Parsons Nursery in Flushing, NY.
Height and spread:  Generally 12-18’ high and as wide
Bloom time:  Late March-early April
Bloom color:  dark red, and showy for a maple

McVay maples photo

Glimpse into the past – Dr. James R. Clark

August 18th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Tukey and Clark
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.