CUH Update – February 2011: Show Time

February 22nd, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Apologies for the delay in getting an update posted. We’ve had several little projects we’re trying to complete and we are getting numerous volunteer applications, which we have been going through and contacting interested individuals who are interested in helping us out in grounds.

Late winter brings with it a lot of planting and transplanting projects and our major one so far this year has been the relocation of an established specimen of Edgeworthia crysantha from the McVay courtyard to a new location just north of the Miller Library.

Transplanted Edgeworthia in a bed just North of the Merrill Hall

Like its close relative, Daphne, Edgeworthia resents being moved around and the fact that it’s also recovering from the hard freeze of last November with just a few buds remaining to open, we did our best to get the largest rootball possible and replanted it immediately into its new location. Cross your fingers!

With more severe winter cold predicted to come our way again, we are keeping our eye out on a few plants that could suffer. Obviously, Edgeworthia is on that list along with the two large Osmanthus we have in the Fragrance Garden. Our poor Daphne bholua doesn’t deserve another hit; this poor plant hasn’t flowered for us in three winters.


Then there are the Azara microphylla, which are just starting to flower that could be hit with cold and the remaining buds zapped and our massive Cordyline australis on the south side of Issacson Hall is already a sorry looking site. So, basically, anything spectacularly fragrant is being monitored.  Hehe

Our first accessioned plant for 2011 has been planted here at CUH in a large Chinese container donated by a special donor that once held a beautiful cascading Japanese maple, but when it became too troublesome to keep up the watering and the foliage would crisp up in the summer sun, we had to replace it.

Detail of the fierce branches of Citrus ‘Flying Dragon’

The maple has moved into a new home in the Woodland Garden over at Washington Park Arboretum and, for awhile, the pot was empty until it was decided that we would seek out a specimen of Poncirus (Citrus) trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, a hardy citrus, to fill that void. Bloom River Nursery down in Oregon was able to provide us with a standardized specimen that’s been trained for ten years. It now graces the pot with its exquisite and somewhat sinister looking branches. It is highly unusual and will definitely be a conversation piece. Now we have to determine an under-planting so it doesn’t look so bare below.

Spring is definitely in the air when the sun decides to show itself and bulbs begin to bulge out of the ground and bloom their little heads of. Our annual show of yellow, cheerful, daffodils are just days away.

But for a real show, the 2011 Northwest Flower and Garden Show is finally here and UWBG has a most unusual booth this year thanks to our friends at Agua Verde Café and Paddle Club.

Rey Lopez generously donated a kayak for our display with one end cut off so it would stand and then it was planted up to make it look as if it had traveled to both sides of UWBG. Native flora and accessioned plants represented the Arboretum while more natives , including red-twig dogwoods and cattails complete with a “blue-tube” represent Foster Island and UBNA, while more exotic garden plants represented CUH.

Planted kayak that’s been through Lake Washington having collected materials from UWBG along the way

February is flying by so quickly with many activities taking place. The next few weeks should be spectacular (barring any serious cold snaps that will do certain plans in).

Cheers,

R

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CUH Update April 2010

April 1st, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

April 2010

It’s finally beginning to feel like spring. Yes, we have our occasional bouts of cool temperatures that threaten the tender young growth steadily coming to the fore, but in true spring fashion, plants flaunt the floral frenzy that this season is known for. A new wave of spring flowering bulbs can be admired and adored here at CUH as they fill the air with their potent perfume. A mass of daffodils and fawn lilies take center-stage in the Fragrance Garden and the Daphnes are still going at it strong as they aren’t only blooming, but also pushing new vegetative growth for more blooms next season!

Nearby NHS Hall, we have a lovely, but often overlooked relative of the kiwi fruit, Akebia quinata ‘Alba’, that is so elegant and deliciously scented, no one really notices it. It is a vigorous deciduous vine (in very mild winters it can be semi-evergreen), but it is easily manageable.

In our efforts to promote and encourage research and education, a section of CUH grounds has been designated for a test plot we’ve referred to as the “Climate Change Garden”. Spear-headed by Prof. Soo-Hyung Kim, his graduate students and CUH grounds staff have begun to install beds that will feature genetically identical species selected for their biological responsiveness to temperature. Read more about it here.

Things are picking up momentum as I type so I’m eager to get outside and get on top of our cutting back and dive into some serious weeding. If we have a break in the weather, the Soest lawn is crying out for another haircut!

Ornamental grasses have begun to push their new growth so it’s time to get most of them cut back to allow them to develop. As always, we use our hedge trimmers to shear the grasses down to make the job go more quickly. Those trimmers are then put to use on the hedges themselves as our stunning Osmanthus delavayi also gets a haircut following their wonderfully scented white blooms.

April is also the month we turn on our irrigation system. In the next couple of weeks, the irrigation crew from UW Campus will meet with our irrigation specialist, Annie Billota, to check that heads are working properly and we cover the areas we need to be watered. We then set the frequency and just tweak it during the season as needed.

It is an absolutely great time to visit CUH as there’s so much to see, smell and admire. As many gardeners begin to brainstorm for their landscapes this year, our gardens are a wealth of ideas and fascinating plants!

Riz

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CUH Update March 2010: “Wow! Things are early!”

March 5th, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

“It’s crazy!”, a visitor commented as I carefully weeded around emerging tulips and blooming lungworts busting out blooms and color we didn’t come to expect until later this month. It kind of has been crazy, but I told her to just enjoy and soak it all in.

I’m a bit irritated that I’m in the office writing this update when it’s bright and remarkably warm outside. haha. But it’s important that I get the word out to encourage EVERYONE to visit the Center for Urban Horticulture this month. So many of our winter blooming treasures are still present while a surge of spring bloomers are coming up WEEKS ahead of their usual bloom times.

The Magnolias (M. ‘Leonard Messel’) are in full peak bloom as are the daffodils in the Soest Garden. Our plant pick-of-the-month is a gorgeous kaufmanniana species tulip called ‘Ancilla’, also in the Soest (Bed 6). Of course, we have to keep in eye out for those plants just coming up that present themselves as a buffet to pesky snails and slugs that can dessimate a stand of plants. We use the safe and environmentally friendly slug bait called “Sluggo” to keep them at bay.

The Fragrance Garden is getting a bit of a makeover as we play “musical plants” and redesign the beds for a more cohesive appearance and to ensure that plants are appropriately placed for best growth. Come see the changes and watch this garden continue to evolve as you savor the wonderful aromas this landscape exudes. Right now, the daphnes take center stage and the vanilla/white chocolate scent of Azara microphylla is absolutely mouth-watering as it drifts in the warm spring air.

We have a new large specimen that has just recently been installed in the west entry of CUH. A mature Carpenteria californica was transplanted from the Aboretum and founds its new home here at CUH. It is somewhat gangly in appearance, but we hope it establishes well for us to prune it later on so it can continue to thrive. Carpenteria californica is a native of California, obviously, and it is an evergreen shrub with clouds of single white flowers that almost resemble species roses that bloom in early summer. It also has exquisite exfoliating bark and it is quite drought tolerant once established.

Our famous grove of Cornelian cherries (Cornus mas) is in full, bright-yellow bloom and seems to slow traffic along NE 41st. Street! Soon these will leaf out and charge the whole character of the landscape!

Please drop by soon as the spring show is well underway. I’d hate for you all to miss it!

Riz

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