Glimpse into the past – Arboretum Club House

June 23rd, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Arboretum Club House, March 27, 1959

Arboretum Club House, March 27, 1959

In the early days of the Washington Park Arboretum, the Arboretum Club House and Floral Hall exhibit space was the venue for many flower shows, exhibits and functions.  It was the only facility where public functions could be held in the Arboretum.

 

Conifer Exhibit in the Floral Hall exhibit space, November 21, 1955

Conifer Exhibit in the Floral Hall exhibit space, November 21, 1955

On April 7, 1968, a fire was discovered at 7:00 a.m. in the Club House.  Vernon E. Kousky, a UW student walking through the Arboretum, reported it to Pablo Abellera, who lived in the foreman’s house (which currently houses the education offices).  They called the Safety Division on campus, which notified the Seattle Fire Department who had extinguished the fire by 7:50 a.m.

The entire south half of the building was gutted and the rest was badly scorched and charred.   It was not worth trying to repair the remainder.  Scorched books belonging to the Seattle Garden Club were removed by Mrs. Rex Palmer.  Crockery and cutlery belonging to the Arboretum Foundation were salvaged from the cupboards.

Fire debris, April 8, 1968

Fire debris, April 8, 1968

The UW Physical Plant removed the remainder of the building the following week.  The cause of the fire was apparently an electric motor used to drive a pump for the sewage system located under the SE corner of the building, where the fire apparently started.

Brick from the Club House fireplace, one day after the fire

Brick from the Club House fireplace, one day after the fire

The Summer 1970 issue of the Arboretum Bulletin contained a lengthy description of a plan to replace the Floral Hall complex, approved by the UW Board of Regents.  It would be a multi-use building complex providing office space, floral exhibit space, laboratories, an auditorium, a library, an herbarium, a visitor center, greenhouses and other supporting facilities.  The projected cost was $1,200,000.  Obviously this became mired in the politics of the day and never moved forward.   The current Graham Visitor’s Center was finally constructed in 1985, after approval in the earlier Jones and Jones Arboretum Plan.

Conceptual image of the proposed Floral Hall complex, 1970

Conceptual image of the proposed Floral Hall complex, 1970

 

 

 

Glimpse into the past – Changes in the Landscape

June 1st, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Currently there are many physical changes occurring in the north end of the Washington Park Arboretum, due to the construction of new SR-520 bridge. Local residents often remark that these changes will “disfigure” the natural landscape which has always been there. The truth is, this area has been greatly changed and altered over the past one hundred years, ever since the level of Lake Washington was lowered.  In fact, there is little left of its “original” shape. It has been dredged, moved, filled, planted and re-planted.

Many of the boggy areas in Washington Park, even starting from Madison Street north, have been filled with debris and served as neighborhood dumping sites. The areas north of Foster Island Drive/Lake Washington Blvd. E. were all fill sites. Now as the ramps come down and new changes occur, it will change once again.

The following photos show some of the changes in the 1940’s.

Photo looks north over the former city dump off of E Miller Street, across Union Bay, toward Laurelhurst, soil being added and plowed in.  March 1947.

Photo looks north over the former city dump off of E. Miller Street, across Union Bay, toward Laurelhurst, soil being added and plowed in.  March 1947.

Photo shows area being covered with soil.   November 1947.

Photo shows area being covered with soil.   November 1947.

Photo across fill…present location of ramps….looking west toward Simon poplars (Populus simonii ‘Pendula’).  November 1947.

Photo across fill…present location of ramps….looking west toward Simon poplars (Populus simonii ‘Pendula’).  November 1947.

Photo after seeding.   November 1947.

Photo after seeding.   November 1947.

Photo looking toward lagoon area where many lindens are planted.   November 1947.

Photo looking toward lagoon area where many lindens are planted.   November 1947.

Photo with more plantings. January 1, 1949.

Photo with more plantings. January 1, 1949.

 

Faculty Spotlight: Tom Hinckley

May 25th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Tom Hinckley

Tom Hinckley no doubt kept his much younger graduate students challenged to  keep up as he climbed to over 7000′ on Snowshoe Mountain in the North Cascades. It was there he chose to conduct research on the effects of environmental stress on three species of native trees.

Hinckley needed that energy as he served both as Director for the UW Botanic Gardens’ Center for Urban Horticulture (1998-2004),  and as researcher, teacher and mentor at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, where he is now emeritus professor.

“I first came to Seattle in March 1964 to ski in the Cascades, and I must have gotten hooked,” he says, “because I returned two years later to attend graduate school.”

Hinckley received a B.A. in Biology from Carleton College in Minnesota (1966) and his PhD in Forest Ecophysiology from the UW in 1971.  Despite his science focus, he reports that his favorite course in college was actually American History because “it was taught extraordinarily well.”

After time spent teaching in Missouri, Hinckley returned to the University of Washington in January 1980 to join the faculty.  Many of his colleagues, with whom he co-taught and worked on joint research projects, were the initial faculty cohort at UW-Botanic Gardens (James Clark, Barb Smit-Spinks, Deane Wang, Kern Ewing).

With Kern Ewing and others he was involved in launching the Restoration Ecology Network (UW-REN).  UW-REN is now a regional center for the study of ecological restoration and conservation, creating new undergraduate research and curricula, much of it taking place at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

“Now that I am retired, I am a regular visitor to the Soest Garden– my favorite place to walk and take in nature the the Center,” he says, “and I am also active in helping find financial resources to maintain and grow the garden.”

Hinckley is still an avid skier, hiker and photographer.  And when asked about his favorite plant, he had a clear preference:

Abies amabilis,” he clamoured.  This tree, also called Pacific silver fir or “lovely” fir because of the softly silver undersides on the needles and gorgeous purple-hued cones that stand upright on the branches. Hinckley loves the looks of this tree, its mountain habitat and, “the fact that it got me my first job teaching at the University of Missouri.”

 

Glimpse into the past – Trees need Tractors

April 20th, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Managing a large garden requires large equipment. Often tractors and trucks can be kept in great working order for many years, but eventually they too will need to be replaced. Shredders, mowers, and machinery with many working parts need to be replaced every few years. Machinery costs were once totally covered in state and city budgets. In years past, tractors and trucks were also sometimes leased. With the severe budget cuts over the last several decades, staff has to now improvise and find creative ways to obtain and use larger equipment.

1949_Fleet

The photo on the left above, from 1949, shows the UW Arboretum fleet of four trucks and a Ford Tractor. The photo on the right shows the Ford Tractor , brand new in March 1948, hooked up to a new Hardie sprayer. In those days, widespread spraying for all types of pests was common. This equipment was obtained and supported through UW (State) budgets.

JohnDeere

This next set of photos shows Arboretum Foundation President Steve Garber proudly delivering a new John Deere tractor and loader – a $35,000 gift of the Arboretum Foundation on September 14, 1995. The photo below shows the same tractor helping to lift a new Drimys winteri into its planting site just last month, on March 18, 2016.

Tractor_2016

Both the UW Botanic Gardens and Seattle Parks and Recreation staff now also use a number of modern efficient carts in their daily operations (photo below).

Gator_2016

The funding need for equipment, both large and small, is never ending. Excellent working equipment lessens the work load for staff, and leads to more efficient maintenance. It too is part of the cost of Arboretum maintenance.

 

* Editor’s note: Learn about ways to support the equipment budget and other needs, crucial to the maintenance of UW Botanic Gardens, on our Donate page.

 

 

Glimpse into the past – A Tale of Two Kames

March 27th, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

Almost no one is aware that the Washington Park Arboretum is the location of two kames. “Kames, what is that?” everyone asks. Wikipedia tells us that “a kame is a geomorphological feature, an irregularly shaped hill or mound composed of sand, gravel and till that accumulates in a depression on a retreating glacier.”

Located just east of Lake Washington Boulevard E. and just north of the intersection with Boyer Avenue S., the two kames were given the names Honeysuckle Hill and Yew Hill. They were originally the planting sites of collections for plants in these families. To clarify the taxonomy, this is the Caprifoliaceae/Adoxaceae (Honeysuckle/Adoxa) family. If you find a plant with opposite leaves and pithy stems (the inside of the stem looks like stryofoam), this is the family. The yew family is known as the Taxaceae family, a coniferous family which includes mostly smaller evergreens. These site names were originally noted on the 1936 Dawson Plan for the Arboretum, completed by the Olmsted Brothers firm.

View across Azalea Way, west to Honeysuckle mound. April 14, 1948

View across Azalea Way, west to Honeysuckle mound. April 14, 1948

The photo above depicts a view looking west across Azalea Way, toward Honeysuckle Hill, on April 14, 1948. Notice that there is very little vegetation along Azalea Way, and the kame has been almost entirely mowed and covered with grass. A few remnant native trees remain. (Note: the photographs labeled by then-director Brian O. Mulligan called them mounds rather than hills or kames.)

View north from Honeysuckle mound to Yew mound. April 7, 1959

View north from Honeysuckle mound to Yew mound. April 7, 1959

The second photo, taken on April 7, 1959 (ten years later), is a view north from Honeysuckle Hill toward Yew Hill. Notice already how much taller the trees are and how many more trees are present. Today, these kames are almost entirely obscured by the vegetation and barely noticed by visitors. Nevertheless, they are an important geological legacy in the Arboretum.

 

Glimpse into the past – The UW Plant Laboratory Complex

March 2nd, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

The Center for Urban Horticulture officially began in 1980 with the arrival of Dr. Harold B. Tukey as the founding Director. He was given an office in the northeast corner (first floor) of Winkenwerder Hall in the College of Forestry Dean’s complex. His administrative assistant, Sally Dickman, was nearby.

When the first two new faculty arrived in 1981– John A. Wott (April) and James Clark (June) – the University/College had “dusted off,” painted, washed the windows, and added heat in the complex of unused buildings known as the Plant Laboratory and Laboratory Annex on Stevens Way N.E., near the Botany Greenhouse. These buildings had been built and used by the Medical School during the exciting programmatic days of studying medicinal plants for human uses.  Hence the close proximity of the Medicinal Herb Garden, still in existence today.

Rear of Plant Lab complex Greenhouse, Annex, Laboratory

Rear of Plant Laboratory complex: Greenhouse, Annex, Laboratory

Two weeks ago, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and document these buildings before this area is razed for the new Life Sciences Complex. As you currently drive along W. Stevens Way N.E., on the UW campus, these buildings are now barely visible, obscured by plants.

Lab Annex through the “bushes”

Lab Annex through the “bushes”

I well remember those first three years in that small wooden building, with no foundation and no insulation, making it quite cold in the winter and impossible to cool in the summer, and often with a few furry friends and plenty of spiders. Visitors entered off the wooden front porch, always a bit creaky.  You knew someone was coming as soon as they stepped onto the shaky boards. Inside were two rooms, one large one in which Professor Clark and Diana Pearl, our secretary, worked. I had the smaller office on the north side.

The creaky front porch

The creaky front porch

It was here that the first graduate students and staff hires were interviewed and approved, before having their fate sealed by Dr. Tukey in the “big building.”  This included potential graduate students, Professor Sarah Reichard – now UW Botanic Gardens Director – being one of them. David Zuckerman, a former Purdue student of mine and now Manager of Horticulture at UW Botanic Gardens, surprised me on a fall day. He was looking for job, and after I sent him to see Joe Witt, Curator, he was hired. It was also here that I first met Sharon Buck and Cindy Maitland, the first two graduate students who created the “flamingo mascot” idea for the Center for Urban Horticulture.

Pathway to Stevens Way N.E. and to Winkenwerder Hall

Pathway to Stevens Way N.E. and to Winkenwerder Hall

Program and building plans were discussed and dreams for an internationally-significant new program were formulated. I also remember a very dark rainy Friday afternoon when a call came from the Provost’s office wanting to know how we were going to cut a major portion of our budget due to a state budget crisis. I wondered for weeks if the entire new program would be eliminated, but alas we were spared, although we were told to raise our own money in order to survive.

Plant Lab Headhouse and Laboratories

Plant Lab Headhouse and Laboratories

When Van Bobbitt was hired in 1982, we dusted off an office in the Plant Lab Annex, just off the head house for the small attached greenhouse. We found that the previous building occupants had basically walked out the door and left everything sitting on the shelves, floor, etc. It took days to clean up the materials. Soon after, we hired staff to assist in cleaning and retrofitting the greenhouse. As additional faculty and staff arrived, we “descended” into the dungeon-like basement labs, removing glassware, chemicals, as well as much dust. In fact, much of that glassware was eventually moved into the new Merrill Hall labs.

Stairs to Basement “dungeon” labs

Stairs to Basement “dungeon” labs

The head house space was our meeting space, eating space, and the location of monthly birthday parties, usually with a cake baked by myself. The now forsaken paths around the buildings were then our daily home. We revitalized the old red and yellow roses as well as the lavender plants along the paths. Needless to say, when we moved into the newly completed Merrill Hall in April 1984, it was like moving from a log cabin into Windsor Castle. Today, thirty-five years later, change is still afoot, but these physical structures of the past will soon be just a memory and a photograph!

Greenhouse

Greenhouse

 

For more information about the greenhouse and construction of the new Life Sciences Complex, visit http://www.biology.washington.edu/about-us/facilities/greenhouse

 

Glimpse into the past – Seeps and shifting soils

February 3rd, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Last month we discussed how rapidly trees grow and change the landscape.  It is interesting how physical landscapes also change and often actually shift and move due to changes in temperatures. Visitors to the Pacific Connection Gardens, specifically the New Zealand Forest, have seen the renovation of the Lookout which restored its former shape and size. It is perched high above a steep bluff which looks northward over Azalea Way and the large pond with the University of Washington in the distance.

The steep wall was buttressed by stone work, and originally a pathway allowed visitors to precariously descend from the area of the Lookout to the green grassy basin surrounding the pond.

Bank before reconstruction, 7/2/1967

Bank before reconstruction, 7/2/1967. Photo by B. O. Mulligan.

This entire hillside “sheds” much water and after every rain, it is quite squishy and treacherous. In fact, sometimes you can even see slippage cracks. The Works Progress Administration men laid a series of wooden pipes to assist in drainage but these have almost totally failed. Thus it has been a challenge to manage this entire rockery and drainage system.

Originally built in the 1940s, the photos shown here detail a reconstruction project of the bank and pathway in July 1967. The first photo above is before reconstruction.  The others detail the new path and stone work, all taken on July 13, 1967.

Upper portion of new steps, 7/14/1967. Photo by B.O. Mulligan.

Upper portion of new steps, 7/14/1967. Photo by B. O. Mulligan.

 

New steps down bank, 7/14/1967. Photo by B.O. Mulligan.

New steps down bank, 7/14/1967. Photo by B. O. Mulligan.

 

New steps constructed on bank, 7/13/1967. Photo by B. O. Mulligan.

New steps constructed on bank, 7/13/1967. Photo by B. O. Mulligan.

 

Top of bank after clearing and new rock work. Photo by B. O. Mulligan.

Top of bank after clearing and new rock work. Photo by B. O. Mulligan.

As you can see, it has very uneven steps, typical of the designs of that day. Over the years, there have been many slippages and the path has been closed due to safety issues.  Currently there is no easy way to ascend/descend that slope.

The current photo taken on January 24, 2016, shows a view of the rockery which obscures most of its beauty.

Current view of rockery, Lookout above, 1/24/2016. Photo by John A. Wott.

Current view of rockery, Lookout above, 1/24/2016. Photo by John A. Wott.

The last photo shows water gushing from old pipes and seepage ways.

Water gushing from hill side and banks, 1/24/2016. Photo by John A. Wott.

Water gushing from hill side and banks, 1/24/2016. Photo by John A. Wott.

UW Botanic Gardens staff is currently reviewing this entire area in order to restore its integrity, handle the drainage issues, and eventually make it all more easily accessible.

 

Glimpse into the past – Trees Have a Habit of Growing

December 17th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

It is said that humans “have a habit of growing.” We grow tall in our formative years, and most of us also grow wider in the later years. We could also say that trees have a habit of growing. Tree species grow to specific heights and widths. Some smaller trees obtain their normal mature size in a few years, while the larger species may grow for years and years. In fact some large forest trees may continue to grow for hundreds of years.

In our urban sites, native conifers are capable of continuing their growth for hundreds of years. Any time the temperatures are in the 40s or above (which happens just about every day of the year here), the chlorophyll molecules are busy manufacturing sugars.

When we visit a park on a regular basis, we are very unaware that the trees we see are growing larger every day. I remember someone once saying, “I visit the Arboretum every year, and the plants have not changed at all over the last 25 years.” Rubbish! The Arboretum changes daily due to this continuous tree growth. The conifers gradually grow larger and larger and suddenly, their size can “ambush” us. I am sure most of us have had the experience of suddenly realizing that the cute little evergreen we planted 20 years ago is now overpowering the house.

View of Section C, Nursery and Seedling beds

1. A view of Section C Nursery and the Seedling Beds where thousands of plants have been started. Fred Leissler, asst. dir. 1935- 37

This series of pictures shows such a progression of growth. The first picture above, taken by Fred Leissler, Assistant Park Director in 1935, shows seedling trees of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)  planted along Section C of the Nursery and Seedling Beds as a screen and windbreak. The picture notes indicate that thousands of plants had been started there in those sunny beds. Note that Arboretum Drive E. is a wide lane.

Pictures 2 and 3, below, show the same trees on January 15, 1950, just 15 years later, and already making a sizeable screen.

46b. Hedge of Western Hemlock, 30 ft., A. macrophyllym, 1-15-1950

Hedge of Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) outside nursery. Trees of Oregon maple (Acer macrophyllum) on left. January 15, 1950. By E.F. Marton, UW

 

Hedge of Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) outside nursery. Tallest specimen about 30 ft. January 15, 1950. By E. F. Marton, UW.

Hedge of Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) outside nursery. Tallest specimen about 30 ft. January 15, 1950. By E. F. Marton, UW.

Along Arboretum Drive, other species of conifers were planted in rows during this time and into the late 1950s. These were mostly native species, such as the Western redcedars (Thuja plicata) in pictures 4 and 5 below.

4. Hedge row of Leyland cypress, December 14, 2015

4. Hedge row of Western redcedar (Thuja plicata), December 14, 2015

 

46e 0151214_141442

5. Hedge row of Western redcedar (Thuja plicata), December 14, 2015

However, one of the final plantings of this type were of the newly introduced Leyland cypress (× Cuprocyparis leylandii), which is a cross between the Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) and the Alaska yellow cedar (Xanthocyparis nootkatensis). These were sent to us from Hillier Nurseries in England via the Institute of Forest Genetics in Placerville, CA. They were planted at the north end of Arboretum Drive E., just to the west of the Greenhouses (and current Plant Donations area).

These trees, while extremely fast growing, have proved to be inferior landscape trees. They have weak, soft wood, and are prone to wind damage. They are best used as a tall sheared hedge and kept under 20 feet. Our trees were planted out in the late 1950s and grew rapidly. One large specimen, shown below in picture 6, toppled on December 10, 2015, probably due to root removal by the lowering of Arboretum Drive for the construction of the Graham Visitors Center in 1985 (west side), and the recent heavy rains. This is an excellent pictorial example of continuous tree growth and how conifers grow and grow and grow. It is also an example of the need for continual evaluation and management of trees and their appropriate placement in the landscape.

6. Toppled Leyland cypress, December 10, 2015

6. Toppled Leyland cypress, December 10, 2015

 

Glimpse into the past – a Surplus of Cedar

November 24th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor
1937, splitting cedar fence uprights

1937, WPA splitting cedar fence uprights

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

One of the four primary forest trees of the Pacific Northwest is Thuja plicata, or the Western red cedar. There are “giants” of this species still growing after hundreds of years in protected sites in this state, but most were logged in great quantities as the lumber mills in the Pacific Northwest grew. The Washington Park Arboretum land, originally owned by the Pope Lumber company, was logged in the late 1880s and then basically clear cut of any remaining harvestable trees a few years later. Realizing that the city was growing up the hill, Pope sold the “developable” property and gave the drainage valley (now known as Arboretum Creek) to the City as open space in exchange for utilities which are all contained in the famed “Wilcox Bridge” over Lake Washington Boulevard East.

1937, WPA setting fence posts

1937, WPA setting fence posts

The red cedar produces many seeds and thus seedlings, and is an early invader of forest lands. It can germinate and grow under the dense shade of the big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum). Since these trees are evergreen with many needles full of chlorophyll, they can photosynthesize every day of the year. They grow rapidly and tall. In the early part of the last century, Western red cedar seedlings flourished and produced many young trees in the fledgling Arboretum.

1937, WPA sawing cedar logs

1937, WPA sawing cedar logs

The University of Washington Arboretum (its original name) officially began in 1934. These were depression times, and there was little money to develop any of the ideas in the Dawson Plan which had been accepted. However, federal funds obtained through the State brought hundreds of men to work here through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Even though fences around the Arboretum have been a subject of controversy, there seems to have always been some type of fence along the eastern side, bordering Broadmoor Golf Course.

1937, WPA puttingup fence uprights

1937, WPA putting up fence uprights

These photos from 1937 show men (often in their hats and reasonably dressy clothes) working through the WPA sawing, spitting and building a tall cedar fence. Since cedar is an extremely durable wood for use in northwest climates, the fence lasted for years as shown in a picture from 1951. Eventually it deteriorated and has been replaced by a tall rather unsightly wire fence.

When an inventory of the native matrix of trees was conducted in the 1990s, it was obvious that there was a ten year dearth of missing cedar trees, proving that the lumber for the fence was cut in the Arboretum. Another side bar is that many of the original drainage pipes were hollow cedar logs, some of which are still in use in the Arboretum. What a novel idea, using our own ecosystem for beauty as well as worth.

1951, from Sequoia to Deutzia, Phila.....note fence

1951, from Sequoia to Deutzia, Phila…..note fence

Glimpse into the past – Remembering Joan Pirzio-Biroli

October 26th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

JPB

Joan Pirzio-Biroli

On August 19, 2015, one of the original staff members of UW Botanic Gardens (Washington Park Arboretum) left this earth to tend to her new garden “in the sky.” Joan Pirzio-Biroli, known to everyone as “Jan” or “JPB” was officially employed as a research/extension program assistant at the University of Washington from November 10, 1980, until her retirement on November 1, 1991.

Jan was born in Davenport, Iowa, and was proud of her Midwestern heritage. She met her husband, Giacomo Pirzio-Biroli (Jimmy) in Baltimore, where she was an art historian at the Baltimore Art Museum and the National Gallery of Art. Her passion for art often showed through in her later editing and designing of early Washington Park Arboretum/Center for Urban Horticulture newsletters and posters. The couple moved to Mercer Island in 1952 where Jimmy became one of the founding doctors for Overlake Hospital. They had a life-long passion for each other and for the earth.

In the northwest, Jan shifted her passion to botany. It began with her own garden, which started as a thicket of pussy willows and maple saplings and was transformed over 50 years into an Eden of beauty and wonder. Early on, she volunteered at the Washington Park Arboretum, where she made life-long friends with both people and plants. Later she went back to the UW for a master’s degree in Botany, which she obtained in 1981. She was an extremely acute botanist and worshiped “Hitchy,” the revered Northwest botanist C. Leo Hitchcock. Jan and Jimmy raised a son and daughter who eventually married and built homes on the family property; she cared for her mother as she aged and was an editor of the Arboretum Bulletin. She threw show-stopping Christmas Eve parties, and we had many Washington Park Arboretum/Center for Urban Horticulture gatherings at their home. As a volunteer and employee of the Arboretum, she was respected by colleagues and friends alike for her passion for plants. She mentored many young botanists who admire her to this day. After her retirement from the Arboretum, she returned as a volunteer, continuing to lead her popular educational tours of the park.

Jan started work with Joe Witt in the crowded original Arboretum office. She also assisted Brian Mulligan with plant identification. She soon became the person answering questions, giving tours, identifying plants, and being Joe’s personal assistant. She felt that Joe was greatly overworked. It seemed like she knew the location and botanical information on every plant in the Arboretum. She was the first one to begin the arduous job of transferring all the huge hand-written plant curation cards to a new computer system, under the supervision of Timothy Hohn. Later this was taken over by volunteers, most notably Eileen MacDonald.

When I arrived here in 1981, I became Jan’s supervisor and I found her to be a talented, spirited, and most trustworthy employee. She was adamant about my needing to understand that gardening in the Northwest was not the same as in the Midwest. She was right! There was no way I could ever keep up with her encyclopedia of plant knowledge.

On my first July 4th weekend in Seattle in 1981, Jan and Jimmy asked me to accompany them on their new 38 ft sailing yacht moored in Anacortes. This was a delightful adventure….she had prepared fried chicken, fresh baked breads, salads galore, plenty of drinks, and every evening we caught our Dungeness crabs for dinner. I certainly learned about sailing. During the last night near Friday Harbor, the waters became very rough, and when Jimmy loosened the ropes the next morning, we took off at break neck speed, scraping the bottom of the boat on rocks, thankful later that it was not a severe problem. The winds eventually calmed and we smoothly returned to port. I will never forget that trip!

Jan wrote many plant articles, she published monthly newsletters of public activities in the Arboretum, and she led legendary Explorer Walks for years. She was extremely accurate as a writer and editor, but somehow the word “Arboretum” always seemed to be misspelled. I remember the horror the first time it appeared in bold headlines…Abroretum. From then on, I tripled checked every future newsletter to Jan’s great glee as well as embarrassment.

For many years, she supervised our Index Seminum Seed Exchange between botanical gardens around the world, supervising a large contingent of volunteers. She and Jimmy led several public class tours to eastern Washington to explore the eastern Washington plants and geology. I have returned over the years to several of these locations. I always will remember the exploration trips to set up the tours, one especially when we were trying to find a bog on Weyerhaeuser land, only to get totally lost with two frustrated leaders (a spirited Italian and a spirited Iowan)! But after finding the bog and stepping on submerged logs, we all accidentally slipped into it up to your hips, necessitating a very wet trip home. The trip returned to frivolity.

Upon her retirement in 1991, Prunus (Sato-zakura Group) ‘Ukon’, Accession number 273-91-A, was dedicated in her honor “for her 11 years of service as an Arboretum staff member. It was noted as being 6’ high when measured that December, and is planted in 60-3E, right across Arboretum Drive E from the Graham Visitors Center. The tree is still there, although now impacted by huge overstory trees and the Cherry Bark Tortrix.

R.I.P Jan….it was through dedicated spirited people like you, that UW Botanic Gardens exists today.…..your legacy lives on!

Jan receiving her 10-year service award from Director Harold B. Tukey Jr.

Jan receiving her 10-year service award from Director Harold B. Tukey Jr.

 

Jan hard at work on the Index Seminum

 

Jan sharing information at an open house in 1987

Celebrating Jan's 65th birthday

Celebrating Jan’s 65th birthday