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: urbhort@uw.edu 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






Autumn in the Soest Garden

October 31st, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Have you ever visited the Soest Garden and wondered what kind of work goes into making it thrive year round? Join Soest Gardener Riz Reyes for a morning of hands-on instruction, fun and fall perennial care. Learn how he keeps this garden glowing even in the winter months!



In this exclusive class, you will get down and dirty in the garden with Riz while he shares his favorite “tried and true” selections for fall interest as well as tips and techniques for keeping your own garden beautiful even in the rainiest, grayest months.






Instructor Riz Reyes has worked at UW Botanic Gardens since 2004 and has run his own garden consultation business, RHR Horticulture, since 2003. He is a regular contributor to many local horticultural publications and also writes a monthly feature on the UW Botanic Gardens website. Earlier this year, Riz won the Founder’s Cup for Best Show Garden at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Recently Riz has been working in the Soest Garden at the Center for Urban Horticulture, a garden designed to help local gardeners select plants appropriate to a variety of site conditions commonly found in Pacific Northwest urban gardens.

For more information on Riz, check out his website and blog!

Participants should bring their own hand-pruners, gloves, and hori-hori soil knife, and dress for the weather.

Date: Saturday, November 9th, from 10am-12pm

Fee: Early Bird Discount: $25; $30 after November 2

Register online, or call 206-685-8033

October Dispatches From the Fiddleheads Forest School

October 30th, 2013 by Kit Harrington

Bucket OIMG_7597IMG_6859

What is it about the autumn that generates so much nostalgia? A season evoking such emotion somehow always manages to pass in a blur. It marks the end of lackadaisical afternoons and the start of the annual decent into the cooler, more introspective months.  The way I see it, fall is the natural steward of the New Year. We begin afresh: in school, in season, in time. Fall is about possibility, and that being given, there is no lovelier place to be than surrounded by preschoolers.

EzraThese past weeks in the Forest Grove have been filled with observations of our changing surroundings.  Children this age are just beginning to have an awareness of the passage of time, and autumn therefore provides the perfect canvas for that initial introduction. We literally see the passage of time echoed in the ever sooner sunsets, the coming of the rain showers, and most particularly, in the changing and falling of the leaves and the mushrooms that burst through them on the forest floor. Contrary to life in a traditional classroom, in the forest school the change in seasons literally alters our landscape. Bug HuntTaking the time to draw attention to these changes and allowing the children the opportunity to explore and experience them first hand encourages the development of a heightened ability to discriminate the subtle nuances of the environment, and is therefore a very important part of our curriculum indeed. When we bury ourselves in giant maple leaves, or collect seedpods with different size tongs, or compare and contrast mushrooms, or close our eyes and listening to the new sounds of migrating birds, or choose a specific tree to visit weekly, we are ensuring that these changes do not pass unnoticed.

In addition to the science of our IMG_7586surroundings, children in the forest school have been learning to discriminate feelings, thoughts and the social and emotional need of individuals as well as of a group. We have begun using “The Incredible Flexible You!” social thinking curriculum to better understand why we choose to act in certain ways, and how that impacts those around us. I never cease to delight in the expression of independence and pride on the face of a child who for the first time verbalizes a feeling and then is able to follow that up with an explanation of “why I feel that way.”

These thoughts and ideas are powerful, not only for children but for adults as well. Sarah and I have learned at least as much about social interaction as the children have- there is so much to know! Remy makes nature stickersRecently, we have read the books “Thinking Thoughts and Feeling Feelings,” and “The Group Plan,” and have incorporated activities in regard to these topics into our daily lesson plans. Here in the forest grove, we can already see the impact it is having on the children, who ask to hear the stories again and again and who have begun using their hand to demonstrate a “thought bubble” whenever they discuss a thought they’ve had.

In the Magnolia class we’ve seen an incredible group dynamic develop. The children take on large-scale projects together and successfully navigate complex imaginative games. It is exciting to experience the change that has occurred as these preschoolers become increasingly less reliant on us and more reliant on one-another. There is a sense of independence, responsibility, and pride among all of the students, and it is reflected in the way they interact. They shout out roles and tasks and pass them back and forth, taking turns without needing to be asked. They incorporate new members into the play as they arrive. photo7They take time to solve conflicts and listen to one another’s words. These are self-confident, self-directed kids, and they go out of their way to help one another problem solve and achieve success. In so doing, they are able to take on new and greater challenges, and take full advantage of the educational experiences available to them. As a teacher, it is absolutely thrilling to stand back and observe each morning as everyone greets one another with a hug or a smile and then get right to work- these kids don’t need to be told what the important work of the day is- they are creating it themselves.

The Cedar class has been taking advantage of all the outdoor classroom has to offer. They really want to know everything about their classroom and how to engage with it. We go on spider-web hunts and are astounded at how many are to be found high in the cedar trees above us. We learn that Native Americans used cedars to make shelter, fishing gear, and even clothing, and then we fashion braided bracelets from long cedar “ropes.” We collect a menagerie of mushrooms by the nurse log and make spore prints with them, discussing the how and why of the images left behind. We work together to fill a basket with heavy stones, use our combined power to heft it upundefined high, check to make sure that the “danger zone” is clear, then laugh and clap as it comes thundering down to the ground with a satisfying “thunk.” On a walk we find a print in the ground and throw out suggestions as to what it might be- a lion? a dog? a coyote? -We decide that it probably isn’t a lion and continue on, hunting for more clues as though they were our prey. In the mud pit we’re moving our bodies to accommodate one-another, making space while making mud-cakes. We join together to roll a large log up a hill, then collapse exhausted on the ground. We build fairy houses and furniture for our fort. We use binoculars to spy into the trees and search for birds, discovering a chickadee nest outside the classroom boundaries. We sing songs as a group and take turns singing songs for one another. We are learning and growing by the minute.

WalkingDespite the speed with which the autumn blazes past, we have accomplished much these past weeks in the forest grove, and have loved every second of it. The funny thing I’ve come to realize about this quirky season is that indeed, time passes quickly, but if you take the time to really stop and appreciate them, the moments within seem to last forever.

Kit Harrington and Sarah Heller



The Garden at Rest

October 7th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

You may think fall and winter is a time for rest for your garden. Get prepared this fall so your garden will be supercharged come spring!

Register Online, or call 206-685-8033!


Putting Your Garden to Bed

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Protecting tender plants

In this FREE class taught by a Master Gardener, find out what you should do in your garden in the fall to prepare it for winter and make your garden chores easier come spring. You can help give it a gentle transition into the winter season by performing a few important tasks that will not only make the winter garden more appealing but also able to better handle the cold temperatures ahead.
By doing these simple things, your garden will be ready for winter and further ahead for next spring.

Join us on Saturday, October 26th from 10-11 to see how to put your garden to bed!


November Garden Tasks: Ensuring a Healthy Flower Garden Next Year


Soest in the Fall and Spring

Join the Soest Garden gardener Riz Reyes for this hands-on workshop on fall perennial garden care.  Walk the extensively planted beds and learn about which plants to cut back now, and which ones to leave until spring.  Learn how to divide and transplant specific types of plants, and some tricks and techniques for maintenance practices that create visual appeal for the dormant season.  Riz will also share his favorite “tried and true” selections for fall interest.
Participants should bring their own hand-pruners, gloves, and hori-hori soil knife, and dress for the weather.

Join the class on Saturday, November 9th, from 10am-12pm; $25/person.

The Hidden Side of Plants

September 30th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Want to delve a little deeper into the plant world? This series of classes will take you below the surface, looking at small, overlooked or under-appreciated plants. I guarantee that taking one of these classes will open your eyes, and you will notice a whole new world every time you step out in your backyard or walk in the park!

Register online or call 206-685-8033


A small sample to show the diversity of seeds.

As a former seed technician, I can’t tell you how cool seeds are. The wild and whimsical forms, the variation, and the functionality inherent in a seed are always fascinating to me, not to mention the straight up beauty. Seeds can range from the dust-like seeds of orchids, to the largest seed in the world, the coco-de-mer ( a 40 pound whopper!) Learn a little about seeds in our upcoming class, Spectacular Seeds!

What: Spectacular Seeds!
When: Sunday, October 6th, from 1-3pm
Where: Washington Park Arboretum
Cost: $30

wild salad

Does this salad taste as good as it looks?

If seeds aren’t your thing, maybe food is! Did you know that some of the weeds you pull from your lawn and garden are edible and taste pretty darn good? Kill two birds in one stone: weed your garden, and prepare a salad for dinner. Harvest the untapped potential in your yard!

What: Urban Foraging: Weeds and Wild Foods
When: Saturday, October 5th, from 1-3pm
Where: Washington Park Arboretum
Cost: $35




What is this lichen trying to tell us about air pollution?


And don’t overlook the lowly lichen! And although they are not technically a plant, (lichens are a symbiotic growth of a fungus and an algae) these little guys are everywhere once you start looking for them. They can tell you valuable information about the climate and air quality, and add visual interest to your trees and rocks!

What: Cemetery Lichens
When: Saturday, October 26th, from 10am-12pm
Where: Mount Pleasant Cemetery, 700 W Raye St, Seattle, WA 98119
Cost: $25

Register online or call 206-685-8033