A Kiwi Botanist in our Mist

October 31st, 2013 by Kathleen DeMaria, Arboretum Gardener
Bec shows Kathleen how the Maori harvest Muka, the inner fibers of Harakeke (Phormium tennax) to be used in the fabrication of  various fibers used as rope, roofs, shoes, etc.

Bec shows Kathleen how the Maori harvest Muka, the inner fibers of Harakeke (Phormium tennax) to be used in the fabrication of various fibers used as rope, roofs, shoes, etc.

The misty October revealed a great surprise to New Zealand horticulturist Kathleen DeMaria while she was installing signs for the new ‘Lookout Loop Trail’ near the recently restored Lookout Gazebo.  Kathleen and fellow horticulturists Rhett Ruecker and Roy Farrow peeked through the fog and barely saw a highly engaged woman taking notes on the new New Zealand Forest.  As it turns out, this woman was Rebecca Stanley,  Auckland Botanic Gardens Education Officer and former plant ecologist with the Auckland Regional Council. Bec, visiting the US west coast on holiday, graciously offered to spend some time with Kathleen in the garden on the following Saturday. The two plant-geeks spent 4 hours walking through the foggy New Zealand forest. Bec’s encyclopedic knowledge regarding the ethnobotanic uses of plants and the cultural requirements of plants was astonishing, and her willingness to share it all, as well as her educational delivery style were delightful. She offered sources for seed, suggestions for books, names, emails and information about who she knows throughout New Zealand that would be interested and willing to help UWBG grow our own New Zealand forest.  Personally, and as a representative of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, I would like to thank Rebecca for all of her time and information, it was a delightful walk in the garden topped off with a delicious lunch at Cactus Cafe and a visit to the downtown library. Thanks so much, Bec! All photos courtesy of Julie Postma.

Dew  on Phormium tennax in the New Zealand garden

Dew on Phormium tennax in the New Zealand garden

Bec helps Kathleen assess the health of Olearia nummulariifolia in the NZ forest

Bec helps Kathleen assess the health of Olearia nummulariifolia

Bec discussing perecipitation patterns in the Otago region of NZ

Bec discussing precipitation patterns in the Otago region of NZ

One theory for the 'New Zealand Dead Look' of so many plants: Moa, wingless birds now extinct, were thought to have poor eyesight, so plants would mimic dead plants to avoid predation by these voracious herbivores

One theory for the ‘New Zealand Dead Look’ of so many plants: Moa, wingless birds now extinct, were thought to have poor eyesight, so plants would mimic dead plants to avoid predation by these voracious herbivores

seed capsule of Leptospermum scoparium, or mānuka, the tea tree. This name arose because Captain Cook used the leaves to make a 'tea' drink when he and his scurvy sickened crew arrived in New Zealand

Seed capsule of Leptospermum scoparium, or mānuka, the tea tree. This name arose because Captain Cook used the leaves to make a ‘tea’ drink when he and his scurvy sickened crew arrived in New Zealand

Light breaks through the fog on our walk back to the Visitors Center

Light breaks through the fog on our walk back to the Visitors Center

View from the woodland garden...deciduous trees are rare in New Zealand so Bec was delighted by our spectacular fall color

View from the woodland garden…deciduous trees are rare in New Zealand so Bec was delighted by our spectacular fall color

 

 

 

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A glimpse into the past – remembering the original New Zealand garden

September 10th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

by Dr. John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

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Sign for original 1993 New Zealand High Country garden.

In mid-September, 2013, we will dedicate the “The New Zealand Forest”, the largest-ever built garden in the Washington Park Arboretum. It is one of the new gardens in the ever growing “Pacific Connections” area.  On November 21, 1993, which was a rainy blustery Sunday afternoon, we dedicated “The New Zealand High Country”, the first Arboretum garden of New Zealand natives. The Honorable Denis McLean, New Zealand ambassador to the United States, and Mrs. McLean, along with many Kiwis were present. It was followed with a party in the Graham Visitors Center hosted by the Seattle-Christchurch Sister City Committee, one of the garden’s sponsors. It was the beginning of a dream, now being manifested, by Dr. H. John Bollard, New Zealand Consulate and also Garden contributor and his supportive wife Eve. Eve made cucumber sandwiches for the event and we lavished on New Zealand wines and cheeses.

The planting was designed to mimic the appearance of a subalpine tussock grassland, complete with a trail meandering through a small “pass” created by boulders. It was planted with 93 individual plants, representing 29 taxa. Patterned after an idea from Timothy Hohn, curator, from his collecting trip to New Zealand, and Lynda Ransley, Edcuation Coordinator, the actual garden was implemented by Christina Pfeiffer, horticulturalist ; Tracy Omar, recorder;  and Barbara Selemon, propagator;  and assisted by Ian Robertson, landscape architect.

The Garden was built entirely by the UW Grounds staff. On that November Sunday, the high temperature  was 50 degrees F, falling to 27 degrees F that night. Twenty-one mm of rain (24.5 mm = 1 in) fell that night, and on Monday, the high was 28 degrees F, and low, 22 degrees F. The staff rushed to wrap up all the plants like burlap holiday presents. The week ahead was unseasonably cold. This was the beginning of hardiness testing for New Zealand plants.

The idea of eco-geographic collections in the Arboretum began with discussions between Clement Hamilton, Center for Urban Horticulture director and associate professor of taxonomy, and Timothy Hohn, curator. It later became one of the foci in the Master Plan, approved in 2001. I specifically remember Dr. Harold Tukey, founding  CUH director, in a earlier visit of New Zealand dignitaries whom John Bollard often proudly led through the Arboretum, waving his hand over an area in the south central part of the Arboretum and enthusiastically saying “this is where the eventual New Zealand Garden will be.” Although not in that exact location, it certainly will become a destination for future generations to enjoy.

The New Zealand Forest contains a reconstructed and expanded version of the Bollard-sponsored garden, a continuing living tribute to a man who never gave up his dream. Although now dimmed by the infirmities of age, hopefully he will still feel his legacy. We do! Don’t miss any of the celebratory activities for this new Garden in September!

program scan.

The program to the 1993 dedication of the New Zealand High Country garden at the Washington Park Arboretum.


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Celebrate New Zealand Forest at opening Sep. 15

September 5th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

New Zealand Forest 2013The Arboretum Foundation, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and the University of Washington Botanic Gardens invite the public to join us to celebrate the official opening of the New Zealand Forest in Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Drive East, Seattle) on Sunday, September 15, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Opening Celebration—organized in partnership with the Seattle-Christchurch Sister City Association and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture—will pay homage to New Zealand’s culture and ethnobotanical history. It will feature a traditional Maori “haka,” or war dance, and a dedication ceremony with special guest Caine Tauwhare, a Maori wood carver from New Zealand who carved the slats for a park bench in the new forest.

Event Schedule:

  • 11:00–11:15 AM: Welcome
  • 11:15–11:20 AM: Haka dance performance by Te Tini A Maui.
  • 11:20–11:40 AM: Speeches by Darryl Smith (Deputy Mayor of Seattle), Jeffrey M. Riedinger, J.D., Ph.D., (Vice Provost for Global Affairs, University of Washington), Craig Trueblood (Arboretum Foundation Board President), and Rachel Jacobson (New Zealand Honorary Consul).
  • 11:40–11:45 AM: Procession from the Pacific Connections meadow to the New Zealand Forest.
  • 11:45 AM–12:00 PM: Ribbon-cutting ceremony, led by Jack Collins, chair of the Arboretum and Botanical Garden Committee chair.
  • 12:05–12:20 PM: Performance by Te Tini A Maui.
  • 12:25–12:50 PM: Poi and haka workshops by Te Tini A Maui.
  • 1:00–1:15 PM: Bench dedication with Maori carver, Caine Tauwhare.
  • 12:35–2:00 PM: Tours, family activities, and refreshments.

nzfoposter

Full press release.

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August 2013 Plant Profile: Cortaderia richardii

August 6th, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Cort habitIn recognition of the installation of New Zealand’s focal forest at the Pacific Connections Garden, we highlight a stunning ornamental grass that certainly attracts attention at this time of year. The “toe toe” grass is a relative of the more common, but often troublesome Pampas grass (C. selloana).

C. richardii is far more elegant and their plumes arch and sway in a gentle breeze making a dramatic impact in the landscape. It takes full sun and is quite adaptable to poor soils. It is best used as a single specimen or as a grouping of 3-5 clumps so you can admire its form and habit.

Cort 2Like a few Ornamental grasses, it has the potential to re-seed in warmer climates, but it hasn’t been considered invasive here in the Pacific Northwest. Like any plant we’ve accessioned at UWBG, we will closely monitor its habit and take appropriate action should it ever become a problem. For now, we will enjoy it’s striking presence in the New Zealand entry at the Pacific Connections Garden and the South Slope of the Soest Perennial Garden.

Cort 1

Common Name: Toe Toe Grass, Plumed Tussock Grass
Location: Soest Garden – South Slope, WPA Pacific Connections New Zealand
Origin: New Zealand
Height and Spread: 5-7′  high x 5ft. wide
Bloom Time:  July with plume lasting through the winter months.

 

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Planting Party in the New Zealand Garden

July 16th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

Placing plantsPacific Connections Garden Stewards made history on June 20th when they planted the New Zealand High Country plants into the new Bollard Garden in the new  forest. They planted several species well over 20 years old. These include Nothofagus solanderi, Griselinia littoralis, Phyllocladus alpinus, Phormium colensoi, and Dodonaea viscosa. In addition to the Bollard Garden (aka The New Zealand High Country Display), the garden will include the Hebe Meadow, the Griselinia Bush, the Mountain Tussock, Snow Tussock, the Silver Beech Forest, the Phormium Fen and the Mountain Beech Zone. It’s looking like the New Zealand Garden is on track to open by September 15, 2013. Here are some pictures that Pacific Connections Steward Rhonda Bush took during the planting project.

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Along Azalea Way with Dennie Fee

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Neil Bonham moving Phormium

 

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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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Building the New Zealand Forest, Pacific Connections Update

March 11th, 2013 by UWBG Horticulturist

The 2.5 acre New Zealand  forest construction project is scheduled to be completed by the end of June.  W.S. Contractors LLC  is currently finishing up infrastructure details, including the future bus turnaround and toilet area located across Arboretum Drive from the NZ  forest in the future Australia exhibit. Irrigation system installation will begin later this month through May. Planting will begin in June. There will be approximately 10,000 total plants representing over 90 taxa for the 9 plant communities that will be represented.  Garden dedications have been tentatively set for September 13 and 14.

In tandem with the 2.5 acre NZ focal forest project, the Lake Washington Blvd street lighting upgrade through WPA is completed. The Olmsted inspired lamps installed with modern LED bulbs is a huge aesthetic and vehicular safety improvement.   Also, the lower section of the Chilean Gateway re-do will be wrapping up with new plantings in the coming weeks. Our goal for the lower Chilean Gateway is to make it uninviting for pedestrians to walk curbside and trample our plants. We accomplished this by creating raised “fingers” and small berms close to the curb by adding over 120 yards of soil amendment. The well-draining soil-mix will also provide much better growing conditions for the Chilean blue wheatgrass, Elymus megellanicus, than before.

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Seasonal Horticulture Update: “The Summer of Our Content”

November 3rd, 2012 by UWBG Horticulturist

Hydrangea by Harpa KarinUWBG Horticulture and Plant Records staff had a very busy, productive and satisfying summer. A cold wet June and early July pushed extraordinary plant growth, and, oh my, the WEEDS…Then, just as quickly as we could say, “No summer in Seattle”, the heavens went dry and lo and behold, we experienced an historic dry spell extending our summer to October 12. See King 5 news story starring, horticulturist and new plant care team member, Neal Bonham.

http://www.king5.com/news/local/If-today-stays-rain-free-driest-August-on-record-168165016.html

In hindsite, this weather pattern was just what the plant doctors ordered. A prosperous longer than usual planting window followed by a longer than usual dry period enabled us to plant into late June and then complete several landscaping projects into October.

For example, the contractor hired for constructing our 2.5 acre New Zealand eco-geographic display in the Pacific Connections Garden lucked out big time grading the steep, fortunately dry glacial-till slopes with heavy equipment. On a smaller scale, we were able to sneak a new berm in the hollies, which will eventually accommodate new specimens in the American clade. If you visit, check out the new interpretive signage.

It was all about NAIOP’s 22nd annual community enhancement project on the other side of the water at CUH. Early on in the planning stages, our associate director, Fred Hoyt, kept saying this event could be a game-changer for us. As time wore on and the project scope was scaled-back, it began to seem his prognostication would not come to pass. Now, after all is mostly said and done, if not a game-changer, it was most certainly HUGE for much needed improvements and indeed a springboard for potential future projects on our CUH campus, gardens and UBNA that will be appreciated by all for years to come.

I’m particularly excited about the huge effort that went into upgrading our plant production and corps yard area behind DRC. It’s amazing what laying down new gravel and paint can do for a tired looking nursery and storage space. And, just in the nick of time, we will now be able to overwinter lots of plants in a completely restored hoop-house.

Time now to blow the horn, as I would be remiss as a supervisor by not extending praise to my hard-working dedicated staff. Everyone contributed greatly to the enormous summer’s contents worth of planning, preparing, implementing and, of course, maintaining the grounds, gardens and plant records, including all the volunteer programs we’re involved with, throughout our botanic gardens. Here are a few of our summer accomplishments, not previously mentioned, and in no particular order:

  • A newly installed Winter Garden drainage system in the recently renovated SE quadrant. This was a joint operation between UWBG and City Parks crews. Implemented due to waterlogged soils not foreseen in the original bed renovation. May all our efforts pay off for healthy Winter Garden displays in the future!
  • A complete unabridged inventory and review of our plant collections within the Japanese Garden. Believe it or not, this is the first inventory taken since the UW gave up managment of the Japanese Garden to Seattle City Parks and Rec in 1981!
  • The Soest lawn has been renovated. Long overdue. You shoulda seen the thatch pile!
  • The incredible planning and installation for the “Music of Trees”!  Last weekend before UWBG arborist, Chris Watson, and the artist, Abby Aresty, begin the tedious task of dismantling the complex engineered designs.
  • Forest ridge middle-trail restoration in WPA. An Eagle Scout project and another joint operation between UWBG and City Parks staff.
  • Brubaker Quaking Aspen Grove maintenance project. Ask arborist assistant, Darrin Hedberg, where to find it.
  • Another successful and fun “Day of Caring”! Joint operations between all three arboretum partners: AF, UWBG and City Parks.
  • Completion of our 4th year of our 5 year DOE Garden Loosestrife grant. Although we are making headway, there are big challenges that lay ahead for this noxious weed.

And now that it is indeed officially fall and a surprising colorful one at that, it’s onward marching soldiers to another ambitious fall/winter planting season…Coming attractions include continuing McVay courtyard renovation and a Capstone REN project in the hollies to name a few.

Happy Holidays blog readers! Stay warm and cozy and renew your gardening senses by visiting UWBG!

 

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