October 2014 Plant Profile: Amaryllis belladonna

October 1st, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

IMG_7256A large indoor bulb that’s forced to flower in time for the holidays is often what gardeners think of when we say “Amaryllis.”  Those large, almost dinner plate-sized flowers are actually the genus Hippeastrum. The true Amaryllis, depicted here, is a fall-blooming plant. Though its growth habit is similar to Hippeastrum, it can be grown outdoors in the Pacific Northwest

Native to South Africa, they thrive in Mediterranean type  climates with full sun and well drained soil and are best left undisturbed once planted as they can take several years to flower from bulbs that are regularly available for planting in the spring.

 

 

Family: AMARYLLIDACEAE
Genus: Amaryllis
species: belladonna
Common Name:  Naked Ladies
Location: McVay Courtyard
Origin: South Africa
Height and Spread: 15-18″ tall stems and forms clumps 3-5ft. in width over time
Bloom Time: August-October

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Stormwater Garden gets new plants

May 23rd, 2014 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

McVay_Stairs_DesignPacific Coast Hybrid Irises, Yucca Filamentosa, and many varieties of Hebe are just a few of the plants you’ll see in the newly planted beds around the Stormwater Garden. The garden is irrigated from an underground cistern fed by roof runoff as well as from filtering and stormwater collection pools at the bottom of the garden.

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The garden is located just off the McVay courtyard at the Center for Urban Horticulture and features a solar fountain. Come check it out!

IMG_20140507_145416Mehlin

Gabion walls allow water to drain while retaining the slope soil. Pacific coast hybrid irises are charming perennials that flower in May.


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Winter Wrap-Up: Certainly NOT Boring…

March 29th, 2013 by UWBG Horticulturist

According to Cliff Mass, UW meteorologist, our past winter of 2012-2013 was the most “boring” on record. There were no major weather events such as wind storms, artic blasts, snowfalls in the lowlands or major flooding. This was indeed good news for the UWBG horticulture staff. Instead of spending the winter cleaning up after storms and worrying about how many plants would be affected from cold hardiness issues, we were able to focus on scheduled and planned work projects for a seasonal change of pace.  Here’s a rundown of several of these projects we were able to accomplish during this most boring winter.

Reclaimed View of Azalea Way from Lookout

Reclaimed View of Azalea Way from Lookout

An adjunct to the current Pacific Connections Garden – New Zealand construction work was taking on the long overdue renovation of the Lookout rockery and reclaiming the lost vistas from the Lookout viewpoints. Arguably the most interesting rock work in the arboretum, the rockery was essentially lost under overgrown plant collections. The crew certainly wasn’t bored with the thought of what new and exciting discoveries lay under the next pruning cut. When the Lookout gazebo reopens to the public, visitors will be able to see the pond and Azalea Way from inside the newly restored structure and experience the original 1941 design intent. In other words, the Lookout is once again a lookout. Also, check out the new  Rhododendron species planted along the Lookout trail in honor of Ben and Margaret Hall’s 80th birthdays. They are major supporters and donors of UW Botanic Gardens.

Raoulia australis close-up

Raoulia australis close-up

McVay Courtyard  Raoulia australis grndcvr

McVay Courtyard
Raoulia australis grndcvr

The McVay Courtyard renovation is mostly completed now thanks to Riz and Annie and contains many new additions. The original designer, Iain Robertson,  specified renewing the 3 distinct plant groups: Bulbs, Groundcovers and Shrubs. The existing grove of Acer palmatum ‘Aconitifolium’ which were carefully worked around and a few Osmanthus are all that remain of the original tree and shrub palette  Iain’s new design incorporates elements of interesting plant architecture, habits and striking bark. Hence his use of several types of Arctostaphylus, the unusual divaricating shrub, Corokia, Rhododendron moupinense, Rh schlippenbachii, and several tidy groundcovers that mimic inanimate forms, such as Raoulia and  Bolax. For the bulk of color, Iain chose a wide-range of spring and summer flowering bulbs.  Though the garden looks a bit austere at the moment, as any newly planted landscape does, we’re looking forward to a quick and healthy establishment and growth period this spring and summer. For those that miss the striking habit of the Nolinia, no need to panic, they were successfully transplanted  to the adjacent cistern slope and new stairs  to the south.
Washington Park Arboretum is once again a UW-Restoration Ecology Network capstone site. The student group known as the “A-Team” has designed a weir system in the north “wet” zone of the holly collection. They will be continuing construction and planting this spring. Ryan and company decided it’s better to flow with nature rather than fight it. This new feature will, over time, become a healthy wetland area and will immediately reduce both UWBG and City Parks maintenance input, i.e., mowing and weed control.

"A-Team" installing weirs

“A-Team” installing weirs

The Winter Garden was in showcase form as it should be during the winter. Roy has been busy procuring new plants primarily for the new drainage area in the SE quadrant of the garden. We’re looking forward to having an updated brochure and map next winter. There’s still time to catch some of the late winter, early spring flowering plants such as Corylopsis and Magnolia.
Gardeners, Rhett and Preston, took on the tatty northeastern most corner of Rhododendron Glen. Pruning out several years worth of Rhododendron rootstock growth and removing deadwood in the grove, removal of several poor or dead specimens, and lots of sheet mulching! Wow, I’ve never seen it so good and I’ve been around these parts a long time.

Chris and Darrin spent several days up at the double parking lot along the Broadmoor fence tackling deferred storm damage cleanup and improving view corridors. I would expect ne’erdowells will think twice about using this area for their dirty deeds for quite some time.

Adding soil to Chilean Gateway via conveyor belt system along LWBlvd


Adding soil to Chilean Gateway via conveyor belt system along LWBlvd

The Lake Washington Blvd curbside area along the Chilean Gateway is vastly improved as a result of over 120 yards of new soil  brought in to create “fingers” at the toe of the slope. This new design will hopefully deter pedestrians from walking through the Gateway and stepping on our plants. Also, with improved drainage, we now can grow Elymus magellanicus without drowning its roots. There are also several new Chilean taxa planted throughout the Gateway that over time as they get bigger will create that Wow! sensation, either up close or from a distance. They include: Gunnera magellanica, Ourisia coccinea, Mitraria coccinea to name a few.

Will spring be as boring too? The UWBG horticulture staff certainly hopes so.

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CUH Update – Sprimmer 2011: There is NO summer!

August 2nd, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Things certainly ramped up since my last post on here hence the absence of updates, but it’s been a busy past few months here at the Center for Urban Horticulture Grounds. There are several exciting new projects underway and our regular summer regiment is in full swing with regular volunteers that have helped what is now a two person crew to oversee all of CUH Grounds since our third colleague left. It’s been stressful, at times disheartening, to see colleagues leave or hours cut because our budgets are whittled down to the point where “do less with less” is the new mantra.

Like I’ve said before, plants and nature move on and grow and so we should do the same. There’s so many beautiful things in the garden right now such as our bizarre and highly unusual “Plant Profile” for August, but the weather has been so variable and relatively cool as things are incredibly late this year. Comparing photographs from previous years, we’re easily three, even four weeks behind where we were last year. We wonder if our late season bloomers will ever mature in time as leaves are sort of beginning to change color and gardeners joke that we could have frost as soon as tomorrow! Slowly things are catching up, but that doesn’t mean we’re ahead either. Weeding has been constant and certain areas just have to sit until we are able to get to them. My thanks to those who have left neat little piles of fireweed and thistle for us to pick up. =)

The number of projects we have is certainly overwhelming, but at the same time, very exciting and much anticipated! One of those projects is certainly an exciting endeavor that will hopefully get the UW Community more involved. A site just Northwest of the main CUH complex is being prepared as an expansion of the current Seattle Youth Garden Works site as a partnership between Seattle Tilth and the UW Farm. Seattle Youth Garden Works has been farming at CUH for almost 10 years  and recently teamed up with the UW Farm to expand production.  With its humble origins along the Burke-Gilman trail adjacent to the UW Botany Greenhouse in campus, the UW Farm been encouraged to expand in the hopes of growing the program and having a far greater impact not only for those taking part, but for the surrounding communities that would benefit from their hard work producing organic, sustainably grown produce. You can purchase produce from the site at the Seattle Youth Garden Works booth at the U-District farmers market. For more information on the partnership between Seattle Tilth and the UW Urban Farm, please contact Robert Servine, SYGW Farm Coordinator – robertservine@seattletilth.org or (206)633-0451 x102 and Michelle Venetucci Harvey, UW Student Farm – michelle@uwfarm.org

Just north of their site is the run-down “Soundscapes” Garden that has received very little attention over the years. Once a demonstration garden, it has been overtaken by blackberries, horsetail and other unwanted weeds. Some of the original woody plants still add structure , but it is in dire need of a revamp as it is essentially the  front door to the center. A few months ago, the newly formed Hardy Plant Society of Washington proposed to take over the site to design, install, and regularly maintain the garden. A group of plant savvy, highly passionate gardeners is required to refurbish that site and it will be no easy task. Negotiations are underway, but we are all anxious to give this part of CUH a much needed face-lift.

Speaking of face-lifts, these prominent gardens will see some dramatic changes in the next couple of months:
The McVay Courtyard is undergoing a re-design by the original designer, UW landscape-architect professor Iain Robertson. He aims to have more architectural elements and much needed color interest. Like any large project, it will be done in phases and it will depend a lot on events scheduled and, of course, the budget.

Artists painting watercolors of the Soest Garden on a rare sunny day this summer.

The Soest Garden will see one of its large Parrotia persica trees removed this fall to be replaced with a different species. The trees have outgrown their space in the raised beds. Its been overdue for a revamp because the original plan was to replant shade trees every ten years to showcase different species that serve the purpose of providing shade to  perennials growing underneath.


On a smaller scale, we have another project installed and through the 1st phase of its completion and that’s the rain garden at the base of the south-facing Stormwater slope. Students and volunteers have prepared the site and have begun planting natives to take advantage of an ideal situation to collect excess stormwater and by having plants there, they improve the water quality of surrounding bodies of water by reducing the amount of potential pollutants flowing through. For more information on this project please contact David Zuckerman
Neighborhood support and involvement has also grown as Friends of Yesler Swamphave had several work parties these past few months. A Union Bay East Basin development grant is in progress and is currently in a design phase.

A lot going on and a lot to look forward to, that’s for sure. Please take some time to visit us and witness our slow progress and if you’ve got some time to share your expertise, there are volunteer opportunities both here and at Washington Park Arboretum.

I hope everyone has a great “sprimmer” and we’ll catch up again come Autumn!

Cheers,

Riz (and Tracy…thanks for the links and edits!)

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April 2011 Plant Profile: Osmanthus delavayi

April 8th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
 

One of the most useful and attractive evergreen shrubs for the Pacific Northwest, this fragrant, spring blooming gem is hardy, easy to grow and highly adaptable to our climate. Left alone, it’s a loose and airy background shrub with clusters of densely packed tubular flowers in early spring. It also responds well to regularly pruning and shearing as a specimen or hedging plant. This is often done after flowering to stimulate growth that puts forth next year’s bloom.

Common Name: Delavay Tea Olive
Family: Oleaceae
Location: Fragrance Garden. McVay Courtyard
Origin: Western China
Height: 6-8ft. tall and
Spread: 10-15 ft. wide
Bloom Time: Late March into April
Bloom Type/Color: White, axillary, tubular flowers. Scented
Exposure/Water/Soil: Sun-Part Shade. Moderately moist and well draining soil.

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February 2011 Plant Profile: The Genus Galanthus

February 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Galanthus nivalis by R. Reyes

Galanthus nivalis in the Fragrance Garden

We have several forms of the dainty and delicate snowdrop growing here at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Of all spring emphemeral bulbs, Galanthus have been revered and loved for many centuries and have always been the harbingers of spring as their noses poke up and their gentle blossoms push through the snow. It’s quite a dazzling image.

The popularity of Galanthus have suaded plant collectors, more specifically known as “Galanthophiles”, to seek out the rares forms and long lost hybrids that mostly exist amongst growers in the United Kingdom.

Supposedly, a single bulb of a exceedingly rare variant of Galathus was sold on eBay for well over $500 as stated in this article. The facts about the actual plant and terms of sale was somehow not clear.
The exceptionally large flower of Galanthus plicatus ‘EA Bowles’ that sold for £357 at auction

Not everyone need pay close to that amount to enjoy the sparkling beauty of snowdrops in the late winter. Often you can purchase a bag of bulbs (Most commonly available species G. nivalis and G. elwesii) in the fall or purchase potted plants blooming right about now at specialty nurseries. They naturalize and multiply when left undisturbed and they thrive in sun or shade in well drained soils.

An unusual double-flowered Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'

Come see them now in full bloom here at CUH!

Common Name: Snowdrops
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Location: CUH: Soest Garden, Fragrance Garden, McVay Courtyard (double flowered forms)
Origin: Original species come from Eastern regions of Europe.
Height: 3-6″ tall
Spread: mature colonies of bulbs can cover a square foot or more.
Bloom Time: Mid-Winter-Early Spring
Bloom Type/Color: Composed of tepals prodominantly white in color with various variations
Water/Soil: Moist to moderately dry. Drought tolerant once established.

Pure white


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CUH Update – December 2010: Overcoming November’s Cold Spell

December 15th, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Several weeks after an unusual early snow and cold snap, the grounds at CUH have looked like a bomb was detonated and we’re just now cleaning up the aftermath. OK, it wasn’t that bad, but the clean-up continues as the holiday season is well underway and we’re doing our best to keep things clean and presentable to our many guest this time of year.

Having the snow was actually quite a sight as it emphasizes the strength of the structure, or so called “bones” of a landscape, so beautifully.


Here you can see some of the changes made to the Fragrance Garden this past year as we thinned out a few plants and transplanted several specimens to allow more room for certain species to really thrive.

Nolina nelsonii in the McVay Courtyard

Always the stand-out in every season is our stunning Nolina from Mexico. Dusted in pure white powder, it withstands the cold and remains such an iconic plant in a garden that will undergo a slight facelift as we reconfigure some of the plantings and add some for floral interests come spring.

Container composition up against Issacson Hall.

Even the effective composition of an evergreen container is emphasized by winter’s snow. During the growing season, this Osmanthus heterophyllus, flanked by a prostrate Podocarpus, Heuchera ‘Purple Petticoats’ and a maidenhair fern. In the shade for the majority of the day, it isn’t all that exciting. But as the snow arrives, it instantly becomes a sight to behold.

Helleborus argutifolius 'Silver Lace'

The same could be said of this fairly new selection of Helleborus argutifolius called ‘Silver Lace’. It’s been a plant that not many people really take note of unless it’s paired with a contrasting color or texture in the garden, but the added snow creates a most unusual and beautiful effect.

Phlomis ruselliana seedheads

With so much clean up, cutting back and dead-heading to do in the fall, you just can’t quite get to everything, but once the weather doesn’t cooperate to allow you to finish your work, the resulting image in the landscape can be quite enchanting. This Jerusalem Sage was never cut back after blooming, but capped in a light dusting of snow, it is truly elegant.

NOW, COMES THE HARSH REALITY OF IT ALL:

Persicaria in the Soest Garden

“Overcooked spinach” is what one visitor said to describe the mess a cold spell can bring. A task that I meant to do a few weeks back suddenly rises up on the priority to-do list.

Cold damaged Daphne bholua

For the third year in a row, our poor Daphne bholua has, once again, suffered from an early frost and cold damage. This species typically begins blooming around Christmas time for us, but the past few winters have been so unforgiving, we just pray that it recovers and is allowed to branch out and flower again next year.

Cold Damaged Edgeworthia chrysantha

A relative of the Daphne is the beloved Chinese Paper Bush or Edgeworthia. Each winter, since it was planted, the cold seems to damage the buds as they form so very few flowers are produced. Ideally, the plant would have formed its buds over the summer and into autumn, the foliage yellows and drops and by then, the plant is prepared for the onset of cold temperatures and the buds continue to develop and flower beginning in early February or so. The problem has been: the foliage never fully yellows so the plant isn’t allowed to go into a proper dormancy before the cold sets in; therefore, the buds are further damaged. Seeing these fuzzy undeveloped buds that still look plump and firm gives us hope that they’ll mature properly, but the fact that it isn’t even officially winter yet worries me.

There’s a lot to see and observe at CUH right now, but one of the highlights is a exciting brand new plant (you didn’t think I’d end this report on a sad note, did you?) we’ve acquired as a container specimen for Merrill Hall Commons. Though being advertised as hardy and suited for our mild Seattle climate, this relative of a fairly common houseplant has been the talk of plant aficionados around as the grower who was introducing it accidentally “leaked” a few specimens to local nurseries and we managed to secure one prior to its wide distribution. This is the stunning and elegant Taiwanese Umbrella Tree botanically known as Schefflera taiwaniana.

Schefflera taiwaniana

Like any new and exciting plant we acquire for our collections, I like to think of each one as a gift to the public: our visitors who come near and far to enjoy the surroundings and admire the work we do here at CUH.

I want to dedicate this Schefflera to you all and hope you have a chance to see it here or acquire it for your own garden in the near future.

On behalf of UWBG and the entire grounds staff here at CUH, I want to wish you all a warm and happy holidays and an exciting new year!

Cheers,

Riz Reyes
Soest Perennial Display Gardener
UW Botanic Gardens – Center for Urban Horticulture

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CUH Update May 2010

May 7th, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

May is always an abundance of activity in the garden. Whether April’s on and off showers played much of a role in how many plants are blooming right now, each year we’re overwhelmed with the work as temperatures begin to warm up and just about everything calls our attention; people make requests for things (they ask more questions and are more curious and observant about a lot of things like the endless weeds we’ve been trying to stay on top of) and even the plans themselves demand that they get the cutting back, pinching, top-dress of compost and irrigation they require in order to perform their best. It’s an ongoing challenge and with three part time gardeners overseeing all of CUH Grounds and the Union Bay Natural Area, we truly try our best with the time and resources we have.

The Fragrance Garden in early May 2010

Amidst the chaos of choking weeds and a flurry of events and activities that occur at this time of year, the gardens and the plants themselves somehow manage to put on a tremendous show and visitors are constantly delighted by it all. With our recent changes and game of “musical plants”, the Fragrance Garden is looking fuller and far better defined. It still has a ways to go and a few minor planting schemes have yet to be implemented, but for the most part, plants are more appropriately placed and most everything is thriving very well. The Soest Garden next door continues to be the signature piece of CUH Grounds with its beautiful borders and captivating selection of plants. Bed 7 has got to be the most exciting bed as a jewel box packed with treasures. Epimedium ‘Lilafee’ is absolutely at its peak as are the dramatic stems of Disporum ‘Night Heron’ that seems to draw a lot of attention. We are also expecting the blossoming of a rare variety of the Giant Himalayan Lily (Cardiocrinum giganteum v. yunnanese).

Bed 7 of the Soest Garden in early May 2010

Here is some eye-candy that should prompt a visit to CUH very soon because in a few weeks, they’ll be gone:

Tulipa batalinii 'Bright Gem'. A charmingly true and perennial tulip

Bergenia 'Bressingham White'. Lovely evergreen foliage and a nice floral showing in early spring.

Anemone Vestal

Anemone nemorosa 'Vestal' growing in the dry shade bed of the Soest Garden

The McVay Courtyard is in dire need of attention and direction as it needs to move forward with the next phase of its evolution. Phormium has had the toughest time the last two winters and I’m beginning to question their status as a perennial plant for the Northwest. Many people have begun to write it off as an evergreen perennial and simply treat it as an annual or a container subject. Even if phormiums die back down, they are fully capable of returning, but it takes a full growing season to actually get a substantial specimen and at that point, winter has returned. There are many potential substitutions and ideas for replacement. So, stay tuned and find out what takes place in the next few months.

With a few weeks delay, we are still preparing for the arrival of a set of new introductions from Bloom of Bressingham. The beds themselves are really coming along with many cultivars under evaluation in full bloom for people to see. I would very much like to get a set of volunteers to help with these evaluations and perhaps help maintain the beds as well. If this sounds at all interesting to you, please contact David Zuckerman, our horticultural grounds supervisor at dzman@u.washington.edu. If you’d like to learn more about what would be involved in evaluating and maintaining “BLOOMS”, please feel free to email me: rhr2382@uw.edu. I will post our report on 2009 plants next week and, hopefully, the new plants will have arrived by then!

Well, the weeds are calling and the lawn is SCREAMING to be mowed and edged. I hope the two classes and meeting in Isaacson Hall and conference in NHS don’t mind the noise too much. The two weddings and 3 outdoor workshops this weekend will thank them.

Cheers,

Riz

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