UW Botanic Gardens Summer Camps

March 17th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

It’s that time of year again when we pull out our calendars and begin to think about summer plans. Consider signing your child up to play and learn outside all summer! We are offering ten weeks of outdoor, nature-based summer camps at the Washington Park Arboretum. New themes have been added like Bird is the Word! and Bug Safari, and kept some of our favorites like Tadpoles and Whirligigs and Northwest Naturalists.

Weeks available as of 3/17/2015

Week 1st-3rd available 4th-6th available
June 22 1 1
June 29 1 6
July 6 Full 4
July 13 Full 4
July 20 Full 5
July 27 Full 4
August 3 Full 9
August 10 Full 9
August 17 Full Full
August 24 Full Full

Interested in working at our summer camp? We have multiple opportunities available!

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Summer Garden Guide

Preschool Camp Assistant & After-Camp Specialist

Preschool Camp Garden Guide

 

 

 

Fiddleheads Forest Grove Dispatch: Sunny Days, a New Science Unit, and an Exploration of Friendship

March 6th, 2015 by Kit Harrington

The sun is shining, mosquitoes are buzzing, and blossoms are bursting open everywhere we look; it could just as easily be June in Seattle, but the calendar still tells us it’s winter no matter how incongruous that may seem. Students at the Fiddleheads Forest School are taking full advantage of the seasonal changes. The warm weather has meant that we are continuing to discover lots of mushrooms and fungus in and around the forest grove classroom. Stout slimy red-capped mushrooms and skinny stemmed little brown ones abound, but we are still uncovering occasional surprises here at the Washington Park Arboretum, like the astoundingly bright burst of buttery yellow caps we discovered off Azalea Way with the Magnolia class or the bulky purple mushroom we discovered growing under a spruce in the Mountain Ash Meadow with the Cedar class.

 

Despite temperatures more  suited to May, Fiddleheads still enjoyed learning about the "art of contrast" in the Winter Garden

Despite temperatures more suited to May, Fiddleheads still enjoyed learning about the “art of contrast” with Sarah in the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden.

We have also noticed an uptick in bird activity in and around the forest grove. Children in both classes spent a week in late January mimicking bald-eagle calls and behavior and incorporating it into their play. The eagles were going through a courtship phase, right on track with last year when we noticed the same sort of activity. Many of the children are remembering and looking forward with excitement to the time when the owls will hatch their little ones. Sarah recently uncovered a roosting spot for one of our barred owl friends, and we now stop to peek in on our sleepy owl friend whenever we take the trail to the stone castle. We’re anticipating the moment when those baby eagles and owls to start fledging in just a few months and have our fingers crossed that mama and papa owl will bring their little ones back to the forest grove again this year!

In science, we started out the year with a unit on our bodies before delving into the vertebrates theme that we will be continuing throughout the winter and spring. In early childhood we teach from the concrete to the abstract, and work to make new concepts as accessible as possible by relating it to the direct experience and world of each child. Therefore we began our study of mammals by examining humans specifically. We introduced numerous materials to the classroom for different learning levels and interests. We started by learning the major external parts of the body with a 3-part card matching activity. To complete this material, children matched the picture and then the word to a card featuring both. In this way, students not only learn the parts of the body, but also strengthen the discriminative ability that is a perceptual underpinning of early literacy development.  A picture-to-picture body-part matching work gave the children the opportunity to name and match the body parts with the rest of the body. Games and songs like “Simon Says,” “Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes,” and “The Hokey Pokey” help to reinforce kinesthetic as well as cognitive awareness of body parts and helped to our hearts pumping and our bodies warm on the cold, wet days.

Our unit on bodies segued quite nicely into discussing difference during the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. After drop-off, each of the children used a stamp pad to make a thumb print on a card with their name. We laminated these cards and used a magnifying glass at to examine them at circle. After taking the time to look at each Kit asked the class what they noticed about the fingerprints. In both the Cedar and Magnolia classes the immediate answer was “They’re different!” The children learned that indeed every human has his or her very own special, unique fingerprint and that no two prints are the same. We discussed the many ways in which our bodies our different, our voices are different, our needs and interests are different, and our families are different.

Taking a closer look at fingerprints.

 

Children naturally approach the concept of “difference” in a very straightforward and earnest way; as they see it, difference is interesting and remarkable and important and very worthy of discussion. It is, after all, what makes each of us unique, and how we define ourselves in relation to others. In both classes the children agreed that different hair, or skin, or eyes is just that—different. It doesn’t make us any better or worse than anyone else, they noted, it’s just who we are. The children also felt very strongly as a group that difference is important, and that if we were all the same “we wouldn’t be able to tell who anybody was from each other!” as one student exclaimed at circle.

Building a body from the bones up.

Building a body from the bones up.

We continued the conversation about difference as we learned about our internal organs and the important jobs they do. The children appreciated that no matter how different we are on the outside, we all have the same organs inside our bodies, and remarked upon it as they completed different activities. We used a model of the human body  in an object to picture matching work where children learned the names and functions of the brain, lungs, heart, stomach, liver, kidneys, and large and small intestines. A giant puzzle of the human skeleton and musculature offered us an opportunity to work together and problem solve as a group.  The favorite new material by far was a felt work with which the students built a person from the skeleton up; personalizing it with different skin, clothing and hair.

Throughout all of this we reinforced an awareness of the many things that our bodies are capable of—climbing, crawling, jumping, and running through our forest surroundings. The increased awareness of our bodies allowed us to develop new extensions in other areas as well. For example, we recently began engaging in mindfulness practice before heading to our magic spots, and one of our favorite new activities is to use our “mind flashlight” to think about and focus on how different parts of our bodies are feeling. This sort of understanding helps children to develop a heightened awareness of themselves and their own needs.

 

 

After spending a month learning about human bodies, the transition into our current mammals unit has been fairly straightforward. We began by learning the characteristics of mammals with the first verse of a song about animals that we’ll continue to add to throughout the spring:

Mammals have lungs that breathe the air

Warm blooded bodies that have skin and hair

Mammals give birth to their living young

Mothers feed milk to their daughters and sons!

We accompanied our lesson about characteristics with the chance to see and feel the fur of a real mammal, a very old Peruvian Jungle Cat pelt that Kit brought in. We learned that almost all mammals have some kind of hair or fur; even whales and dolphins. As a group we worked together to sort pictures and objects representing animals. Many children have taken the time to do the work on their own, and then color and complete an accompanying worksheet of mammals of the Pacific Northwest.

Kit explains how to look for signs that mammals might leave around the arboretum.

Kit and a group of students discuss characteristics of  some of the mammals they might find signs of around the arboretum.

In and around the forest grove we’ve been actively searching for and identifying mammals and looking for clues that mammals have left behind, such as middens of dove fruit scraps left by squirrels, or muddy tracks and scratched tree branches from raccoons. We’ll continue learning about mammals and how they are alike and different from ourselves, as well as the sort of homes they occupy, their life cycles, and their prey and predators. Sarah will be teaching us all about animal tracks, and we’ll focus on finding and identifying different mammals that we might encounter on a daily basis here at the arboretum.

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“What zone are you in?”

In our social and emotional curriculum, we have been continuing to build upon our knowledge of zones and feelings with a “Zones Check In” chart. Children have the opportunity to put how they are feeling up on the chart each morning they are at school. The chart reinforces the children’s awareness of the Zones and offers an opportunity for the children to discuss their feelings with the group. We’ve also replaced the old zones necklaces with new ones that feature feelings on them. These further reinforce the connection between different zones and feelings and have created renewed interest in the material. We are continuing to work on developing executive functioning skills by practicing setting goals, making and sharing plans, and using flexible thinking. Throughout the day children are encouraged to work as a team, and when something goes awry, we remember that by “working together, we can make it better.”

 

As we move into the second half of the school year the children are approaching friendship in new and increasingly developmentally advanced ways. We have been incorporating a number of different activities, materials, and discussions that explore and reinforce the concept of friendship in preschool. As a group we have been singing songs about friendship including “The More We Get Together,” and “I Think You’re Wonderful.” At circle we read and discussed the books “Join in and Play” by Cheri Meiners and “How to Be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them” by Laurie Krasny Brown.

Valentine’s Day was a perfect opportunity to practice looking outward, and we introduced a friendship bracelet activity where children practice braiding and then give away half of what they made. We recently read the book “I am Generous” by David Parker, and are continuing to introduce new activities that focus on making our friends feel good. As teachers we are modeling and highlighting and reinforcing that doing something for another person often feels better than simply engaging in an activity for our own satisfaction.

Friendship bracelet braiding encourages the development of fine motor skills

Friendship bracelet braiding encourages the development of fine motor skills

In the coming weeks we will continue to focus on activities that support the development of empathy. In addition, we will begin building an inventory of tools that we can use to help navigate unexpected situations- our social skills “toolbox.” We’ll also be continuing to expand upon our mindfulness practice and take it out into the wide world around us. The sights and sounds and smells of spring are here, no matter what the calendar says, and we are looking forward to following the progress of fiddlehead fronds, sniffing stinky skunk cabbage, and spying new sprouts and saplings as they surge out of the mud. As weather allows we’ll begin documenting more of what we are seeing by nature journaling as a group. February may just have ended, but already it’s shaping up to be a spectacular spring here in the forest grove.

Best Wishes,

Kit and Sarah

A Day in the Life

August 20th, 2014 by Lisa Sanphillippo

imagine
you are outside. The sun is shining, illuminating the new growth on the western red cedars. It’s been a great growing season and the plants at Washington Park Arboretum are thriving. The backdrop of evergreen trees is a lovely frame to all of the native and non-native plants in the collection. Now, if they would just get here!

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Photo by Lisa Sanphillippo

Just when you thought you couldn’t wait any longer, here comes the bus holding 60 scheduled school-aged children just bursting with energy and excitement to be out of school and outside on such a fine day as this. Today, you will be teaching 15 of them the Native Plants and Native People program. What is native? What is invasive? Who was born in this state? Who are the Puget Sound Salish People? The kids get engaged by the questions you ask. You are showing them their participation and input is valuable.

You will focus some of their amazing energy into a running game about what it is people need to survive. After they have run out some of their shenanigans, you might point out that most everything folks need to survive comes from plants. And with the Puget Sound Salish People, they didn’t just use any old plants; they used plants that are native – original to this place.

Photo by Jacob Smithers

It will surprise you how many of them know what a western red cedar looks like. The J-shaped branches and the flat leaves are very familiar to most of them. But, you can still teach them about western hemlock and its different length needles and puzzle-piece bark. Douglas fir might be new to them, too. Though, once the children see the deep and creviced bark and the way-up high branches, it will be hard for them to forget. Maybe you will tell them the story of the mouse looking for a safe home during a forest fire using the cones of each to differentiate and describe the three trees. You know that story will create a great memory for them about how to identify all three trees.

You will show them artifacts made by local Ethnobotanist, Heidi Bohan. They will get a chance to touch and hold a model of a cedar weaving, fishing spear or canoe bailer. Each made to demonstrate how plants can be used to create a beautiful and useful object that could help a person survive and thrive. When you ask the kids what they use in their everyday lives that is made from plants, you are impressed that the list they give you is so long.

Photo by Jacob Smithers

When you show them to salal and Oregon grape plants and tell them about how berries from each were mixed together along with huckleberry to make a delicious berry cake sort of like a fruit roll up, you can see that they are almost ready for lunch! To distract them, you get them going on the hands-on activities.

This is your favorite part, because they have to work together as a team – just as Puget Sound Salish people of the past and present – to understand how to use a fire bow and drill or to build a single wall of a plank house or to learn how to cook food below the ground. It’s a great distraction because they’ve forgotten about their hunger for a moment as they dig in to the task at hand.

Jacob Smithers

It’s nearly the end of the program, now. You gather them together and ask each person to tell you something they learned or liked from the field trip. It is thrilling how many of them remember that the western hemlock makes sunscreen, how Douglas fir has mouse butts in the cones or that homes can be made without nails.

You thank them and walk them back to the start where their bus will come for them and take them back to school. You hope they will remember today as a positive and fun day. You hope the time here will aid them in their classroom work. Most of all, you hope they will continue to love and learn about plants and one day be a person who advocates for and serves the environment.

You head back to the work room to talk with your fellow guides about the kids and their chaperones and to put away the activities and props from the program. You are tired – sheesh, kids take it out of you – but you are proud to be a part of something important and worthy.

This is the kind of day we get to have at University of Washington Botanic Gardens Washington Park Arboretum. Is it the kind of day you might like?

Our Volunteer Garden Guides bring their knowledge and skills to teach about native plants, forests, pollination, photosynthesis, wetland plants and animals, ecosystems and habitat. We provide training, curricula and enrichments so each person is confident and comfortable teaching.

Consider donating your valuable time and expertise to connecting kids to nature through field trips. We welcome you to be a part of our incredible team of staff and volunteers. We can tell you will fit right in.

  • UW Botanic Gardens Volunteer Garden Guide Training begins September 5th with a kayak tour of the Washington Park Arboretum and continues the following week.
  • For more information about becoming a volunteer and training, please contact Lisa Sanphillippo, School Programs Coordinator, at 206-543-8801 or lsanphil@uw.edu.

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!

Buzza-Ruzza, Buzza-Ruzza: A Visit from The Bee Lady

June 9th, 2014 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

FFS6Most have us have been stung by a wasp or bee at some point in our lives, and many of us have an innate fear of flying insects with stingers. Personally, I was stung almost every year of my life between about the ages of 5 and 18. It never swayed me from spending all my free time outside, but I did cower at the familiar buzzing sound of nearby wasps.

At Fiddleheads Forest School we are lucky enough to be a short walking distance from an apiary located in the UW Botanic Gardens’ pollination garden. We inquired with the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association (PSBA), who manages and maintains the apiary, if they’d be able to come teach us about the bees. On May 29th & 30th Elaina Jorgensen from the PSBA taught both Fiddleheads Forest School classes all about bees. She affectionately became known as “The Bee Lady” and her enthusiasm was contagious. As we settled down on the grass in front of the garden Elaina put her hand in her shirt pocket and said, “Can you guess what I have in here?” as she slowly pulled out a small jar with a queen bee inside! She showed the bee around and told us that this bee was just a few hours old, it had just been born. Then she reached into her other pocket and pulled out another queen bee and this one was only a few minutes old!FFS1

When we asked what their favorite part of the bee lesson was, the kids responded with:

–          Holding the boy bee (drone bee)

–          Seeing the queen bees

–          Watching baby bees hatch in the observation hive

–          Learning about bee predators

 

 

My favorite part of the experience? Seeing all the kids dress up as little beekeepers:FFS3FFS4

These lessons immediately inspired dramatic play involving all the kids and the teachers too. As we were walking away from the pollination garden to the nearby vegetable garden to wait for parents, kids were choosing their roles in the hive. Once we got to the vegetable garden some kids curled up as larva bees, other kidsFFS2 took on the role of nurse bees to care for the larva and another set of kids took off as worker bees to collect pollen and nectar for the hive. The queen bees established themselves in different areas (for different hives) and the nurse bees brought them food too. This imaginative hive scene has returned day after day back at the Forest Grove. Now, larva bees change and grow into nurse bees, the nurse bees change into worker bees and so on. Comb structures have been built for the baby bees to be in and also to make honey in.

The kids asked Elania if bees have any predators because we’ve been experiencing a lot of predator/prey relationships with our owl family feeding their 4(!) new babies and observing our praying FFS5mantises hunt (all for a future blog post). The Bee Lady told us about bears, wasps, and birds. Guess what stuck with the kids? BEARS! So now some kids choose to be bears that raid the hives of honey every once in a while. The kid-bees know that bees only sting once and then they die so they do a lot of buzzing and chasing of the bear, but very little stinging. This is an aspect of the bee-play that feels heavily informed by the bee lesson because pre-bee lesson all the kids could talk about was how bees sting.

One of the big take-a-ways for all of us is that the girl bees (nurses, workers, and queen bees) are the ones with stingers. The daddy bees (drones) do not have stingers. During the lesson we got to hold a daddy bee and for those of us with some bee-fear this was quite exhilarating! The kids have been teaching everyone they can what they learned, but this key fact – that there are bees without stingers – is most often shared.

The UW Botanic Gardens’ Pollination Garden is located at the Washington Park Arboretum just behind the greenhouses south of the Graham Visitor Center. The hives are maintained and managed by the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association. We’re lucky to have such hard working pollinators on site and an incredibly valuable educational resource.

FFS8Puget Sound Beekeepers Association (PSBA) was founded in 1948 and exists to promote common interest and general welfare of beekeeping, to protect honey bees, to educate beekeepers, encourage good bee management practices, and to encourage good relations between beekeepers and the public. If you’re interested in learning more about what they’re all about check out their website.

Thank you Elaina (aka The Bee Lady) for taking the time to teach us all about BEES!

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…

 

 

 

compost

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!

A Treasure Trove of Trilliums!

May 9th, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Enjoying our snacks and tea while learning about trilliums

Our latest offsite tour to the Cottage Lake Gardens was a resounding success! The treats and tea were delicious, (and the trillium-themed china was exquisite), the presentation was informative and entertaining, and rain held off until the very end of the tour!

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Trillium cuneatum

 

 

We toured the woodland garden of Susie Egan, owner of Cottage Lake Gardens and self-described “Trillium Lady”. Her lovely gardens had not only all 46 species of Trillium but also a wonderful assortment of other spring ephemerals and other shade loving plants. Her passion for all things Trillium was evident as she showed us around her well-marked and -tended garden, answered any and all questions, and  even struck a few bargains at the end of the tour.

Ladyslipper Orchid

Ladyslipper Orchid

 

 

 

Everyone left feeling happy, full, and best of all, going home with a few trilliums or other rare plants of their own. Susie was a gracious host, and if you ever get a chance to visit her garden or bed and breakfast, you will not be disappointed!

 

 

 

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Everyone had a good time!

Education Team Honored at DSAs

April 8th, 2014 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan
from left to right:  Lisa Sanphillippo, Patrick Mulligan, Wendy Gibble, Sarah Heller, Kit Harrington,  Jessica Farmer, Sasha McGuire

from left: Lisa Sanphillippo, Patrick Mulligan, Wendy Gibble, Sarah Heller, Kit Harrington, Jessica Farmer, Sasha McGuire

Last Thursday, the UW Botanic Gardens’ Education Team was honored at the UW’s annual Distinguished Staff Award Reception held at the HUB Ballroom.  The team, seen posing above at the reception, was 1 of 11 teams nominated to receive this year’s DSA.  Both individual and team winners will be chosen in the coming month and honored at the Annual Awards of Excellence on June 12th in Meany Hall Auditorium.  On behalf of the team, it was a great honor simply to be recognized for the work that we do for the University.  We feel that our work is valuable – it’s why we get out of bed in the morning, but it’s nice to know that our colleagues feel the same way.

During the reception, all nominated individuals and teams were announced and brief descriptions given of their work.  It was remarkable to learn about the great variety of pies the UW has it’s fingers in – everything from streamlining information systems to developing cutting edge treatments for kidney stones.  The UW is a beehive of activity doing great work in all realms of society, and we’re happy to be a part of it.  Wish us luck as final decisions are made regarding this year’s winners.

Fiddleheads Forest School: Spring Dispatch from the Forest Grove

April 2nd, 2014 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

Discussing the importance of earthworms and what they do.

The word spring comes from the old English springen, meaning “to leap, burst forth, fly up; spread, to grow.” This is a marvelous description of what we’ve been seeing happen to the minds, hearts, and bodies of students in the forest grove these past few weeks. The new growth in the forest has paralleled a very different sort of growth among the children’s minds. There is a certain level of attunement to one’s surroundings that we have been encountering with the children on an increasing regular basis.

“Teacher Sarah! Teacher Kit!”- We’ll see a head peek up as a child shouts with exuberance: “I noticed something!” Often it is somObservation recordingething related to a concept we’ve been discussing- buds on trees or mushrooms in grass- but more and more the children are engaging with their environment on a very particular level. They are learning to see things that most of us do not get the time or perceptual experience needed in order to perceive. They are becoming expert observers, small naturalists in the making. Few of us have the opportunity to reach this point at any point in our lives, so it is exciting to see it come to fruition among minds still so full of possibility.

And speaking of minds, the children have been learning quite a bit about their brains lately. In addition to Joanne Deak’s excellent book “The Fantastic Elastic Brain”, students in the forest grove have been examining a model of the brain, and discussing the way they’ve “stretched” their brain on a daily basis. They giggle about the word “hippocampus” and point out the cerebellum on a pretzel bitten carefully into the shape of a brain at snack. Most importantly, there is excitement at the idea that they can shape their own brain by learning new things. Whenever we hear a child exclaim- “I made a mistake- but that’s ok because mistakes are the best way to learn!” our hearts leap with joy. This knowledge is often what gives them the confidence to confront a problem or admit a poor choice so that they can resolve a conflict with a friend or work to succeed at an activity in which they’d struggled at first.

In the natural sciences, children have been using their observational skills to explain the changes they’re observing in the grove as well as the surrounding environment. Learning about the parts of the bean was like a ticket into a secret world- one where eacIMG_9429h seed holds the possibility of tiny life within it. Many children have been going home and opening up their beans or peas at dinner to display the first leaves and tiny radicle hidden within! They’ve been collecting big leaf maple sprouts around the classroom and watching as the seed coats peel away and the new leaves burst forth. Tending to our tiny garden of baby maples in the fairy village has been all the more impressive in that we can compare this miniscule plants to the giant big leaf maple above that produced them.

We have also been learning about the parts of the plant. We examined ornamental strawberry plants, from root to leaf before planting them in the entrance to the forest grove. Children carefully dug holes for the roots, placed the plants, then covered and made protective barriers for the young shoots. Next, we read a book about the parts of the plant that allowed us to see each part individually as well as in relation to the rest of the plant through a series of overlays that combine to show all the separate plant parts. This has allowed us to discuss the plant life cycle as a whole and learn about how flowers swell and change to produce fruits, which provide protection and a method of disseminating new seeds. In the coming weeks we will learn more about these when we explore the parts of the flower, the process of pollination, and the parts of the fruit.

AHolding a new maple sprout before plantings we look toward the last 3 months of school, we are excited to continue building on our knowledge of our surroundings. The warmer weather offers new possibilities for learning activities, and children are excited to be able to sit and do new sorts of work involving extended concentration. After we finish up our botany unit, we’ll begin learning about the cardinal directions and maps, using our skills to assist us as we explore new and different areas of the arboretum. With so much to see and do, the possibilities for learning are endless!

Author: Kit Harrington, Fiddleheads Forest School Director and Lead Teacher

Spring and Summer Classes

March 17th, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Are you getting excited about warmer weather and experiencing sunlight? Finally, things are starting to grow, and green is a welcome relief from the grays and browns. There is even a smell to spring, a warm breeze carrying the scent of growing things and earth. Springtime always gets me excited about plants, and what better way to celebrate the new season than by learning a new topic!

Edible Seaweed

Browse our Spring/Summer Course catalog and see what catches your eye. Whether you are a novice gardener or an experienced horticulturist, there is a class for everyone. We offer a wide range of topics from garden design, wild sea vegetables, and summer pruning.

 

 

 

Succulent Seaweed courtesy of Melany Vorass Herarra

millergarden03

 

 

 

Feel like getting outside, walking or discovering a new place? Join us in our continuing tour series, including Wednesday Walks, tours of the Miller Garden, a trillium garden or a lavender farm.

 

 

 

 

 

40-Ton Bed, courtesy of the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden 

 

 

 

We even have free classes, courtesy of the King County Master Gardeners. These hour -long classes contain useful tidbits of gardening information, including composting, veggie gardening, and what to do with that unsightly boulevard!

 

 

Designed by Kim Rooney, Instructor of Practical and Creative Landscape Design

 Registration is easy, go online, or call 206-685-8033 to register by phone. 

Hope to see you there!