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.

WPA Historic Event: Tree Transplants for the Ages

November 11th, 2012 by UWBG Horticulturist

90″ root balls ready to go.

I think it’s safe to say that history was made last Tuesday, Nov. 6, and it had nothing to do with election day. It was the day the largest trees ever, 3 “Southern Beeches”, were transplanted in the arboretum to their new homes in the construction of the New Zealand focal forest of Pacific Connections Garden.

Here are the “WOW!” factoids:

  • Big Trees of Snohomish and Magnum Crane from Kent, accomplished the amazing feat.
  • It took a 175 Ton crane to do the job!
  • Their rootballs each weighed between 12,000 and 20,000 lbs!
  • The trees were between 30′- 40′ tall with up to 20′ canopy spreads!
  • Their trunks were between 8″-10″ calipers!

Utube video provided by AF staff, Rhonda Bush

Let’s wish these trees luck in adapting and establishing into their new home.

Hoisting up via crane

Photos taken by Todd Holms of Big Trees this one showing one of these Goliath trees suspended by crane over its new home.

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!

 

Horticulture Vignettes from a Busy Spring in the Gardens

June 25th, 2012 by UWBG Horticulturist

“Something old…”

OK, so there’s the “old”, as in “enough already”, cold wet spring weather that seems to be continuing into summer and creating a monster weed season for us. And, there’s the “old” as in a staff milestone reached in age by none other than Riz Reyes, Soest Gardener.  Sure, compared to most of our seasoned horticulture staff, he’s still just a sapling in the woods at 30, but ever so slowly, he’s beginning to put down roots and develop heartwood, true elements of perennial long-life. Happy BD Riz! It’s about time….

In our special gardens: “Old” as in “they only flower once, set seed and then die”, a condition known as monocarpism. We are fortunate to have 7 giant flowering stalks, of our Cardiocrinum giganteum, Giant Himalayan lilies, ready to open. This is a “do not miss opportunity” found in the China entry garden of Pacific Connections! Don’t delay, check ‘em out today…

Giant Himalayan Lilies ready to flower

 

“Something new…”

We just completed what I consider to be an unprecedented year of planting in the Botanic Gardens. A total of 375 plants, includes transplants, representing 157 taxa (different kinds) have been planted out for the 2011/2012 planting season. Highlights include significant additions to our core collections: maples, hollies, oaks and conifers; as well as, our special gardens, Cascadia focal forest, Woodland and Winter Garden. Of note, there were 21 large, mature specimens, mostly witch-hazel family members, transplanted by Big Trees Inc of Snohomish, from our current Pacific Connections construction project footprint to various other gardens throughout arboretum grounds. If interested in viewing our 2011/2012 planting roster, please contact dzman@uw.edu

Also, exciting new interpretive signage has been installed in our Winter Garden and Holly collections. Winter Garden signage was funded by Lake Washington Garden Club, Unit III and includes 4 interpretive signs and 1 place ID sign. The holly signage was funded by our partner Century Link Pioneers for their centennial project of 2011 and includes 5 interpretive signs and 1 place ID sign.  These new signs follow our 2004 Interpretive and Wayfinding Plan that can be viewed on-line at: http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/docs/finaliwplan.pdf

New Interpretive Sign in Hollies

“Something borrowed…”

Thanks to being able to borrow Iain Robertson’s precious time, we now have a renewal plan for the McVay courtyard. This spring, CUH horticulture staff and volunteers, re-graded and replanted the westernmost bed, closest to the Commons. We hope to be able to implement the rest of the plan in September when the NAIOP group comes in to give CUH a new facelift! We’ll keep our fingers crossed…

Perhaps a stretch here, but certainly an important arboretum story, is the latest on the fate of the original ‘Joe Witt’ maple located along Arboretum Dr E in the Peony section. We fear it is not long for this world suffering from a malady of trunk cankers and stem girdling roots.  To make matters worse, we have lost 2 of 3, with the 3rd one barely hanging-on, of the newly planted ‘Joe Witt’ cuttings in the renovated Winter Garden bed. We have asked the Arboretum Foundation’s Pat Calvert propagation group to come to the rescue and establish new cuttings from the original tree this summer. In the meantime, Roy Farrow, just planted a large ‘Joe Witt’ specimen we procured from Molbak’s nursery last week. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that this story has a happy ending.

“Something blue…”

“Blue”  NOT as in the blue trees in Westlake Park downtown or along the Burke Gilman trail or the Blue poppies at Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, but “Blue” as in “I gots da blues…” This column would not be complete without a bit of sad news.

We had to remove one of the City’s largest Henry Lauder’s Walking Stick or contorted hazel-nut specimen located in our Winter Garden last week due to the pervasive Eastern hazelnut blight disease. This specimen was particularly dear to my heart since I was in on the original procurement and planting back in 1993. Alas, it is no longer w/ us, but fond memories will live on in my heart forever. If you want to hear its amazing story, it’ll have to be over a Guinness at my favorite pub…

And, now on to a productive summer of new plant care in the Botanic Gardens…

 

Cash donation helps vandalized garden recover

May 10th, 2012 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

In early May UWBG suffered a sever vandalism attack of  in the Gateway to Chile garden. This follows similar vandalism last May in the same location and in some cases, the same plants.  KOMO news covered the story with an interview with the Manager of Horticulture, David Zuckerman:

 

Yesterday Director Sarah Reichard received a call from a private banker representing an anonymous donor and by late yesterday UWBG had a check to cover the estimated costs to replace plants and repair the damages – $43,000!

Director Reichard reassured staff in an email announcing the donation that the investigation continues:

“This does not mean we will not continue to assist the police to track down the guilty parties but I hope you feel – as I do – that your faith in human nature at least a little bit restored.”

Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Arboretum Foundation, and the UW Botanic Gardens ask anyone with information about the crime to contact the Seattle Police Department’s East Burglary Unit at 206-684-4300

Donations can be made through the University of Washington Foundation.

Pacific Connections Update: Cascadia Bog Development

July 21st, 2011 by Jennifer Youngman, Program Coordinator
new Cascadia bog

The new Cascadia bog is a perfect solution for a wet spot.

When the Cascadia section of the Pacific Connections Garden was under construction, a natural depression appeared. Recognizing the potential for this poorly-draining area, Jason Henry of the Berger Partnership incorporated a Cascadian bog into the design. Pacific Connections Gardener Kyle Henegar explains, “Creating the bog is a long-term process as the soil conditions mature, the plants are phased in, and as Roy Farrow and I continue to procure and stage snags and rocks to create a more realistic-looking garden. I suggest visitors come visit the bog frequently to see how it ages over time and develops the beautiful patina of a native bog.”

An irrigation system will keep the soil soggy during dry months. Vegetation includes Andromeda polifolia, Ledum glandulosum and Rhododendron occidentale grown from seed collected in the Siskiyou Mountains by Collections Manager Randall Hitchin, and Darlingtonia californica from the UW Botany Greenhouse. Native plants such as huckleberry and maidenhair fern are serving as placeholders while bog plants are being phased in. In addition, the Cascadian Focal Forest contains a Siskiyou seep area along the east side of the first stairway. It too is being phased in and is currently full of container-grown native plants and plants grown from wild-collected seed.

Darlingtonia californica

Darlingtonia californica from the UW Botany Greenhouse

Rhododendron occitentale

Rhododendron occidentale grown from seed collected in the Siskiyou Mountains by Collections Manager Randall Hitchin

Winter Plant Protection in Pacific Connections Gardens

November 22nd, 2010 by UWBG Horticulturist

"Straw Tepees" in New Zealand entry garden

No, aliens haven’t invaded the arboretum. The “straw tepees” (left), as Kyle Henegar, PCG gardener, aptly coins them, are to protect the newly planted Phormiums and other marginally hardy New Zealand plants make it through this cold spell that’s hit Seattle. It just wouldn’t seem fair to let these plants try to make it on their own since they were just planted late last summer and have yet to get their roots established.

The new Chilean Gateway garden also has several box structures dotted along the rockery hillside (bottom right). These wooden frames enveloped w/ shade cloth are protecting our new Chilean wine palms that are indeed cold sensitive.

Box over palm

Sundstrom, Gateway contractor, has also treated the palm’s crowns w/ a copper-based pesticide, to help inhibit the colonization of bacteria and fungal crown rots. If you look inside the structures, you’ll notice straw has been used to blanket the trunks and crowns as well.

Let’s all hope that these extraordinary winter protection measures pay off. We won’t know for sure until late spring or even early summer in some cases. And no, you needn’t worry about alien invasions in the arboretum.

Chile news is good news!

October 21st, 2010 by Jennifer Youngman, Program Coordinator

Monkey Puzzle tree photo“Uno, dos, tres, cut!” cried Paige Miller, the Arboretum Foundation’s executive director. Armed with garden shears, dignitaries clipped the bamboo ribbon, officially opening the Gateway to Chile in Washington Park Arboretum’s Pacific Connections Garden. Bathed in sunshine, and on the heels of the Chilean miners’ safe return above ground, the Oct. 17 Gateway to Chile celebration was triply joyous. Watch a 2 1/4-minute video.

Can’t wait until the monkey puzzle trees and other fascinating plants mature so you can stand immersed in a Chilean forest? Join Dr. Sarah Reichard, professor at UW Botanic Gardens, and Plantsman Dan Hinkley for a breathtaking tour of Chile’s national botanical gardens, parks, nurseries and private estate gardens Jan. 15-30, 2011.

Pacific Connections – “Chilean Gateway” Notice

March 26th, 2010 by UWBG Horticulturist

Upcoming Pacific Connections Phase 2 Construction

33 trees will be removed under the Pacific Connections Phase 2 Project. These trees do not contribute to the horticultural collection.  They are being removed as a management tool and to make way for the new Chilean garden.

Location: Pacific Connections Garden – Chilean Immersion Forest NE quadrant of intersection of Lake  Washington Blvd. and Arboretum Drive.

Timeframe: April 19 -23, 2010

Safety: Service roads and trails near tree removal operations will be clearly signed “Closed” for  this removal and a detour will be set up to route pedestrians around the removal.

Contact: Andy Sheffer, Seattle Parks and Recreation, for  additional information. andy.sheffer@seattle.gov or 206.684.7041