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:


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…


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…





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…






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.


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 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!

Trillium cuneatum Bed 03G (2) 600x399 107KB

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!





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





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!

2014 Urban Forest Symposium

February 24th, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Announcing the 6th Annual Urban Forest Symposium! Registration is now open for this year’s symposium, focusing on Climate Change and the Urban Forest.

Learn about the climatic changes our region can expect and strategies that can be used to plan and manage for a healthy and resilient urban forest. Presenters will discuss the expected changes to the climate, urban forest responses, and what urban foresters and advocates can do to prepare. Presentations will be relevant to urban foresters, landscape professionals, restoration ecologists, tree care professionals, consulting arborists, sustainability professionals, urban planners, landscape designers, landscape architects, municipal managers, and tree advocates.

Professional credits will be available.

Date: Wednesday, May 28, from 9am-4:30pm
Location: UW Botanic Gardens – Center for Urban Horticulture, NHS Hall
3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105
Cost: $75 per person. Lunches available for $15.

Registration now open.

Contact: or 206-685-8033

Presenters include:

Greg McPhersonResearch Forester, Urban Ecosystems and Social Dynamics – Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service
Jim Robbins, journalist and author of The Man Who Planted Trees
Nick Bond, Washington State Climatologist and Principal Research Scientist for the UW Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean
Nancy Rottle, RLA, ASLA, Associate Professor at University of Washington and founding Director of the UW Green Futures Research and Design Lab
Tom Hinckley, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
Drew Zwart, Ph.D. Plant Pathology and Physiology, Bartlett Tree Experts
Municipal representatives discussing urban forest strategies for climate change adaptation
Link to more information.


Elisabeth C. Miller Garden and Washington Park Arboretum staff walk, talk and gawk

January 11th, 2014 by Kathleen DeMaria, Arboretum Gardener

The Washington Park Arboretum (WPA)  staff was delighted to host the staff and interns from the Elisabeth C. Miller garden for an educational walk and talk Wednesday January 8th. The wind and rain didn’t stop this intrepid group of horticulturists from walking the Pacific Connections Gardens and the ever-changing,  always stunning Joe Witt Winter Garden.  The Miller Garden staff was gracious enough to bring several plants to gift to the WPA, continuing the Miller family’s legacy of supporting the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. A big thank you goes out to Roy Farrow (a former Miller garden intern and current WPA horticulturist) for coordinating this meeting of  plant-world minds.



New Winter/Spring Courses Are Out!

January 3rd, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant





Our new course catalog for Winter/Spring is out and ready for registration. Whether you are a novice gardener, or an experienced horticulturist, you will find something to interest you.  Why not take up watercolor or drawing, learn to be a beekeeper, forage for your own foods, or learn about our very own seed vault right in Seattle.






Interested in the background and stories of the Botanic Gardens? Go behind the scenes with our Curator Talks series, and discover the history of the Gardens’ most remarkable collections. Or if you feel the need to get outdoors, why not sign up for Wednesday Walks with John Wott?






Maybe take a tour with the Botanic Gardens! We will be touring the Elisabeth C Miller Botanical Garden to discover spring ephemerals and taking a trillium tour at the Cottage Lake Gardens in Woodinville (where we will get tea and snacks!).






For our professionals and advanced gardeners out there, we have the Master Pruner series,  Woody Plant Study Group, and First Detector: Pest and Disease Diagnotics. These classes focus on material relevant to professional horticulturists, and include pruning for trees, vines, and roses, woody plant selection for location and aesthetics, and pest detection, identification and monitoring.




flickerPlants not your thing? Local birding expert and author Connie Sidles will be doing a 4-part bird series with us this year, kicking off with Avian Tools.


There you have it! There really is something for everyone this year. And you can sign up for any of them by registering online, or calling 206-685-8033.

Fiddleheads Winter Series

December 19th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

A new year brings new faces, fresh starts, and a new Fiddleheads series! Join Teacher Kate this winter in exploring the Washington Park Arboretum using all of our senses. Each week will be a different theme including:


  • Rain, Water and Mud!
  • Ice and Snow
  • Hibernation
  • Nature Through Our Noses
  • Sounds of the Forest
  • Roots, Shoots, and Bark
  • Decomposers Are My Friends
  • I Can Be A Scientist
  • Dinosaurs and Fossils
  • Signs of Spring
  • Turtles, Beavers, and Wetlands
  • How Animals Move


So this winter, join us for a class of nature connection activities and outdoor play. Each week’s activities include art projects, games, learning stations focusing on fine and gross motor and pre-literacy skills based around the theme, as well as hiking and exploring the park and letting the children’s interests lead the way. Fun for parents and their preschoolers!

Classes meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays from 10am-12pm at the Washington Park Arboretum. More information about the classes.

$18/class for 1 adult and 1 child. Additional child: $9/class.

Discount for 6 or more classes! ($14/class, $7 for additional child)

Register online or call 206.685.8033



Master Pruner Series

November 13th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

PruningComing this winter to the University of Washington Botanic Gardens is the Master Pruner Series, held in cooperation with PlantAmnesty. This 12-course series will highlight techniques and tools for quality pruning from a number of professional instructors.

Register online or call 206-685-8033.

Master Pruner 2014 Flyer