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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Rhododendrons in bloom – Everywhere!

June 4th, 2012 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

Walking through the arboretum’s forested middle area, one is greeted with bursts of color on the hybrid Rhododendrons in our collection. Within this forest understory are many of the almost 1800 Rhododendron species and hybrids in the collection. Its cool and green and quiet on these forested paths, a lovely walk on any day, but this time of year the added beauty of the Rhody flowers is a seasonal treat.
Or if you prefer to be out in the open, take a walk along Azalea Way where hundreds of shrubs blossom along it’s borders. My favorites, the deciduous Azaleas, are at their peak right now. Their variety of colors in citrus shades which complement and contrast each other is stunning.

 

For more information on our Rhododendrons on this web site go to: Home, Gardens, then click ‘plant collections’ in left column under Washington Park Arboretum.
For list of all Rhododendron species in the arboretum collection on this web site go to: Home, Gardens, Living Plant Collection and search under ‘Rhododenron’.    Catherine Nelson

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Early Rhododendrons Blooming at the Washington Park Arboretum

February 28th, 2012 by UWBG Horticulturist

cuttings photo
1)  Rhododendron arboreum hybrid

  • The earliest, longest blooming rhododendron in the Arboretum (November-March!)
  • Due to its floriferous nature, even in the coldest winters when it sustains bud blast from a deep freeze, it usually never fails to flower afterwards.
  • Located in Witt Winter Garden, this rhododendron is worthy of naming and becoming a WPA plant selection.

2) Rhododendron ‘Cilpinense’

  • Hybrid between parents of two Chinese spp., Rh. ciliatum and Rh. moupinense
  • Compact, low-growing rhododendron that blooms in late February into March
  • Nice grouping located in Winter Garden, bed F

3) Rhododendron mucronulatum ‘Cornell Pink’

  • My personal favorite harbinger of spring rhododendron
  • Species is native to Korea, a.k.a. Korean rhododendron
  • Can’t miss ‘em beginning to flower at north end of Azalea Way, x from GVC

4)  Rhododendron ririei

  • Large rhododendron, best in partial-shade for vivid magenta-purple color to show
  • Native to Mt. Omei, W. Szechwan and flowers late February – early March.
  • This specimen is located in Loderi Valley, southwest bed with hemlock cvs

 5)  Rhododendron strigillosum

  • Rare, rich red flowering rhododendron in late February – early March
  • Stiff, bristly leaf-stalks and narrowly-oblong leaves provide added texture and show

Several new specimens located in Witt Winter Garden.

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