2015 Summer Classes

June 4th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Our new summer catalog!

Our new summer catalog is out, and we have a lot to offer in the next few months! Introducing Yoga in the Arboretum, Botanical Sketching in Ink and Watercolor, new Monday Night Lite free classes, a series on sustainable home gardening, and of course plenty of ProHort classes for our professionals and advanced gardeners.

Here is a taste of what’s coming this summer:

Yoga in the Arboretum

6 class series (the first 2 dates are free!)

Saturdays, July 11 and 18, August 8-29th from 9:30-11am
Join yoga teacher Aliette Frank in the Arboretum for some fun exploration of yoga in outdoor environments. Using elements of breath (pranayama), posture (asana), and focused gaze (drishti), we tune into nature and ground into our environment. Class is great for beginners through advanced practitioners.



Hydrangeas done by instructor Lisa Snow Lady

Hydrangeas done by instructor Lisa Snow Lady



Botanical Sketching in Ink and Watercolor

4 Monday Mornings, 10am-12pm, August 10-24
Capture the essence of flowers and foliage in this 4-part class with simple, quick techniques and portable materials! While using the beautiful perennial beds and borders at the Center for Urban Horticulture as a backdrop, you will be guided in an intuitive approach to sketching with pen, layering watercolor washes, and gathering tips that can be applied to everyday sketching.



Monday Night Lites
These free monthly talks coincide with Monday late-open hours at the Miller Library and the Hyde Herbarium, as well as the clinic offered by King County Master Gardeners. Classes are always from 6:30-7:30pm and feature a variety of topics accessible to all audiences.

  • Planting for Pollinators ( July 6)
  • UW Farm Tour and Talk (August 3)
  • Culinary Herbs (September 14)

Sustainable Home Gardening Practices

Learn to keep your yard looking spiffy the right way.

Don’t forget our professional series (ProHort) for landscape professionals and advanced home gardeners. Professional Credits available.  Topics this summer include:

Experience the UW Farm with our Talk  and Tour in August!

Experience the UW Farm with our Talk and Tour in August!

Going Nutty for Native Plants!

May 7th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
Wild Ginger (Asarum rubrum) thrives in moist shade and its semi-evergreen foliage and deep red flowers smell just like tropical ginger

Wild Ginger (Asarum rubrum) thrives in moist shade and its semi-evergreen foliage and deep red flowers smell just like tropical ginger

Many of our native plants have very ornamental branch structures, flowers, leaves, and berries, making them ideal for incorporating into an established landscape or using as the foundation for a new garden. Native plants are already adapted to our wet winter/dry summer climate and acidic soils, and do not require much fertilizer or supplemental water once established. Adding native plants to your landscape is a great way to increase its year-round beauty without increasing the amount of time and resources you use to maintain it.

This class will provide you with tips for determining which native plants will fit best into your landscape, which plants will also attract birds and beneficial insects to provide natural pest control in your garden, and planting methods for bare-root or containerized natives.


The class will include an indoor presentation with live plants and samples, plus an outdoor tour of mature native plants at the Center for Urban Horticulture!

What: Native Splendor in the Garden

Evergreen Huckleberry also thrives in sun or part-shade, with a reddish tinge to it new leaves and winter foliage, plus tasty berries for you and the birds every fall!

Evergreen Huckleberry also thrives in sun or part-shade, with a reddish tinge to it new leaves and winter foliage, plus tasty berries for you and the birds every fall!

Who: Emily Bishton, of Green Light Gardening

When: Wednesday, May 13, from 6:30-8pm

Where: UW Botanic Gardens – Center for Urban Horticulture, (3501 NE 41st St, Seattle)

How: Register Online, or by phone (206-685-8033)

Cost: $15

What and Where is the Sino-Himalayan Hillside?

May 1st, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
Photo Credit: Scott Zona

Illicium henryi (Henry’s Star Anise)-found on the Hillside. Photo Credit: Scott Zona

Take a closer look at this often overlooked collection from the higher elevations of Western China and the Himalayan foothills. This area of the Arboretum, right off of Azalea Way, showcases some unique and unusual plants, and contains tremendous diversity. A great number of garden-worthy plants that thrive in the Pacific Northwest can be found here as well. You may even get some new ideas for your garden!

Plants found here include Osmanthus, Lithocarpus, Rhododendron, Stachyurus, and Illicium.

Ray Larson, UW Botanic Gardens Curator of Living Collections, will lead you on a journey through some of the most interesting plant collections in the Washington Park Arboretum. Learn about rare and unusual plants, collections based on genetics and eco-geographic habitats, and unusual stories of how these plants have made their way to us over the years. Each class will include both a presentation and walk through the collections.

What: A Closer Look: Sino-Himalayan Hillside
When: Tuesday, May 5th, 6:30-8pm
Where: Washington Park Arboretum, Graham Visitors Center
Cost: Just $5!
How: Register online, or by phone (206-685-8033)


Exciting News at Fiddleheads Forest School!

April 13th, 2015 by Kit Harrington



Listening and responding to the needs of our community is a cornerstone of the Fiddleheads philosophy. Sarah and I were absolutely astounded this year at the outpouring of interest our tiny school received. As word of the Fiddleheads Forest School spread, parents from all over the region took notice of the individualized attention we give to each child, our unique curriculum that thoughtfully integrates the specialized opportunities afforded by the environment to each student, and our remarkable forest grove classroom site where students develop a deep, mindful connection to their environment and to their peers. The result of all this care and consideration is that this year more than 90 families from as far south as Kent and as far north as Edmonds applied to become a part of the Fiddleheads Forest School community. The level of excitement and passion families expressed to us during tours, our open house event, in letters and over the phone had a profound impact on us both, and we knew immediately that we had a responsibility to respond.


The Fiddleheads Forest School provides a unique experience built upon careful observation and reflection, and is unlike any other existing Forest School model. The level of interest in our program this year shows us that families are responding to the quality of experience Fiddleheads creates, and we want to make sure those families feel they are being heard. After our first year we resisted growth, choosing instead to focus our attention on developing our curriculum, community, and infrastructure. At Fiddleheads, we never want to grow just for the sake of it. We understand the extent to which growth can impact a school, and knew from day one that we would only move forward with expansion if we truly believed it was in the best interest of the children, the families, and the teachers. However, after months of careful consideration and reflection we finally determined that we now capable of expanding the Fiddleheads Forest School in a way that is sustainable while continuing to offer the sort of high-quality education that families have come to expect. These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of meetings intended to determine this growth’s direction, and after thorough deliberation we are finally ready to move forward.

SC_150410_680258Today we are excited to announce that in fall of 2015 Fiddleheads will be expanding to a full second site here at the Washington Park Arboretum! The new site is just across the road from the current classroom area and consists of a grove of native trees and plants adjacent to the arboretum’s Mountain Ash meadow. Just as beautiful but with its own unique features, we feel confident that this new grove is an ideal place to grow our program while still remaining connected as a school. As teachers, we will each attend to a separate site in collaboration with a second qualified lead teacher as well as student interns from the University of Washington and surrounding colleges. The two of us will continue to collaborate in our role as preschool directors to maintain a high level of quality and care throughout the program. While the classes will be distinct, children will regularly come together to engage in group activities coordinated by teachers in both classrooms. This expansion will offer increased opportunities for socialization among the students and collaboration among the teachers. We are deeply thrilled to move forward on this path.


This expansion to a second site adds an additional 28 spaces to our roster, meaning that we now have a total of 49 positions for families in our 2, 3, and 5-day programs. This will help us continue to meet demand by allowing us to accept between 18 and 20 new students each year. Over the past week we have begun contacting families already on our waitlist, and we are excited to announce that our second site is already filling up. Because we feel strongly about the developmental importance of maintaining age and gender balance, we are reopening the call for applications to fill a limited number of spots for girls turning 5 years old during the 2015-2016 calendar school year. Families interested in applying for these spots or being added to our current waitlist can fill out an online application. Those families who would like to be added to our 2016-2017 interest list can do so by submitting an email address here. Finally, if you are interested in becoming a part of the Fiddleheads Forest School community we encourage you to follow us on Facebook for up-to-the minute news regarding the school and the arboretum; as well as teacher tips, articles and reflections on the outdoor education movement here in Seattle and beyond. We feel so fortunate that many of you are already a part of the wonderful, supportive community here at the Washington Park Arboretum, and we are looking forward to a fantastic year ahead! Stay tuned for updates and future developments!



Kit and Sarah
Teachers & Preschool Directors
UW Botanic Gardens Fiddleheads Forest School

Heath Family Highlights!

March 20th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
kalmia latifolia_496

Kalmia latifolia, a member of the heath family

Join Chris Pfeiffer to explore the UW Botanic Gardens collections this April. Spring brings flowers of course, and this 4 hour class has a focus on the blooms and habits of the Ericaceae – including rhodies, azaleas, and lesser known plants of the Heath family. You might also recognize blueberries, heather, madrona, and sourwood as belonging to this group.

In addition to identification, we will also look at bloom characteristics, foliage types, landscape functions, care and pruning tips for long-term healthy plants.

Professional credits include ISA, CPH, ecoPRO, ASCA and PLANET, though you don’t have to be a professional to register. Plant nerds and homeowners are welcome!

Learn about this diverse group of plants with instructor Chris Pfeiffer, a horticulture consultant, instructor and garden writer with over 30 years’ experience in landscape management and arboriculture. Sustainable and efficient landscape techniques are a special area of interest and expertise. In addition to her private practice, she is a consulting associate with Urban Forestry Services, Inc. and an active volunteer with local community garden projects. She previously led landscape management efforts for the Holden Arboretum and Washington Park Arboretum. A frequent horticultural speaker, Christina has taught courses in pruning, arboriculture, and landscape management at Edmonds and South Seattle Community Colleges, and at the University of Washington. She holds degrees in horticulture from Michigan State and the University of Washington and is an ISA Certified Arborist. She is co-author with Mary Robson of Month-by-Month Gardening in Washington & Oregon (Cool Springs Press 2006).

Class information:

What: Arboretum Plant Study: Seasonal Plant ID and Culture – Spring Session

When: Thursday, April 30th, 8am-12pm

Who: Landscape professionals, homeowners, gardeners, plant enthusiasts

Where: UW Botanic Gardens – Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle)

Cost: $65; increases to $75 one week before the class

Register: Online, or by phone (206-685-8033)


Picture courtesy Stephanie Colony

Picture courtesy Stephanie Colony

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.


“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

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!

Akoloutheo 4-18-14 36

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


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








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!