2014-2015 Wott Fellowship Recipient Named

September 2nd, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

Eve Rickenbaker, graduate student as well as Hyde Herbarium Collection Manager, is the recipient of the John A. Wott Fellowship in Plant Collection and Curatorship for 2014.

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UW Botanic Gardens Director Sarah Reichard, Director Emeritus John Wott, Fellowship recipient Eve Rickenbaker

Eve’s working thesis title is the UW student perception of the Washington Park Arboretum. She is conducting focus groups with University of Washington students in order to understand their motivations and constraints to visiting the Washington Park Arboretum. She says, “My hope is that if students connect to the Washington Park Arboretum now while attending college they will reap the benefits the Arboretum can offer through recreation, relaxation, and education. My long range goal is that their experience will create a deep-rooted respect and admiration for nature and plants, and perhaps they will even become ardent supporters one day of the Washington Park Arboretum as alumni or as leaders at the University of Washington or at similar public botanic gardens.”

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Summer curation internship: getting behind-the-scenes with plant records

August 25th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

By Nichole Sheehan

flower photo

Photo by Nichole Sheehan

Field-testing my classwork and expanding my plant palette as a curation intern

I am wrapping up a fantastic internship experience at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens this week and I’m already scheduling myself to continue as a volunteer. My internship was a wildly fortunate opportunity since I’m not a current student of the University of Washington. Tracy Mehlin of the Elisabeth Miller Library arranged the perfect internship to combine my attention to detail from my Navy service, my research and organizational skills from my MLIS, and my recent horticultural studies at Edmonds Community College.

I had two tasks; assist in the on-going plant inventory in the Arboretum, and help clean-up data for the interactive map (see the post, “Where in the Arboretum . . .”). Keith Ferguson provided me with excellent training for both BG Base and field inventory and Ryan Garrison helped me with the basics of the Arc GIS program. I amended scientific names, solved discrepancies with accession numbers, and linked mapped plants to the BG Base plant database for the arboretum. While I couldn’t solve all the problems, I did evaluate each of the more than 16,500 mapped plants and came up with a short-list of plants that need field checks. In the last program update, my work linked 1,436 mapped plants to the database so proper information can be displayed.

I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes aspects such as reading historical plant condition notes and evaluating plants for health and maintenance using my pests and diseases classwork. The five plant identification courses I had proved extremely helpful for inventorying, and my database work introduced me to hundreds of fantastic cultivars to consider using in the future. My experience here has really helped reinforce my coursework for ornamental landscaping and nursery and greenhouse production.

All of the staff and volunteers I met and worked with helped to make me feel comfortable and part of the team. They are truly the reason I want to stay on and continue helping with the field inventory. I’m grateful for everyone’s help and proud of my work. I strongly recommend others take advantage of this great opportunity to learn in the field and make a difference at the UW Botanic Gardens.

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iSchool Capstone: Improving the visitor experience with an app

June 20th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

By Sarai Dominguez

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Information School graduate students, Anna Sgarlato, Sarai Dominguez and Loryn Lestz, presenting their Capstone poster 6/5/2014.

It has been a great pleasure to work in partnership with the University of Washington Botanic Gardens and Information School to design the future Arboretum mobile app. My team and I had a blast!

After four quarters of information science courses, we were all eager to practice our learning’s in a real-world scenario. Throughout our first meetings with UWBG staff, we learned about the exciting digitization projects at hand. However, we still realized the information need of Arboretum visitors who wanted map and plant information while wandering the park, and not just at home on a desktop computer. We started our project with a research phase (which allowed us to meet and interview volunteers and staff throughout the organization), sketched our ideas, built an interactive prototype and tested our design with Arboretum enthusiasts; it was a hit!

My favorite part of the project was meeting volunteers and staff and noticing how invested in the Arboretum this group is. They truly believe in the Arboretum as a place for retreat, exploration, learning and building valuable friendships. These principles were the inspiration for our mobile app design and we hope that current and future park visitors will experience this in the information tool we have placed in their hands.

Thank you, UWBG, for an incredible capstone experience!

Interactive map of the Arboretum (optimized for desktop computers)

Sketching out the app user experience.

Sketching out the app user experience.

A design comp of the app home screen

A design comp of the app home screen


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iSchool Capstone: Designing an app for Arboretum visitors

June 19th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

By Loryn Lestz

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Information School graduate students, Anna Sgarlato, Sarai Dominguez and Loryn Lestz, presenting their Capstone poster 6/5/2014.

Working with the staff and volunteers of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens to design a mobile app for Arboretum visitors has been a wonderful way to bring my graduate school experience to a close. Everyone my team came in contact with during the design process was not only enthusiastic and supportive of our project but also eager to contribute ideas and provide feedback on the app itself. A number of the usability tests we conducted to confirm our design choices were done with volunteers and the passion they expressed for the Arboretum in my interactions with them was truly inspiring. It was truly encouraging to hear them talk about the ways in which they felt the app would be able to help them and the visitors they interact with to enjoy the Arboretum even more than they already do.

Perhaps the most rewarding part of this project for me as a designer was getting to negotiate a balance between enriching Arboretum visitors’ experience with new technologies and keeping that experience focused on the natural beauty of the Arboretum. As someone who loves coming to the Arboretum and forgetting that I am in the middle of the city for a few hours, I knew this was something we would need to be mindful of as we worked. My team and I were successful at keeping this among our top priorities throughout the design process, and couldn’t be happier with the resulting design. I am looking forward to seeing the app move into the development phase and can’t wait to see (and use!) the final product.

Interactive Map of the Arboretum (optimized for desktop computers)

Sketching out the app user experience.

Sketching out the app user experience.

A design comp of the app home screen

A design comp of the app home screen.


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Student Poster Exhibit 2014

May 7th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

posterExhibit_Kim2008Wonder what goes on in the labs of Merrill Hall or in the study plots sprinkled throughout Union Bay Natural Area? Find out at the annual UW Botanic Gardens graduate student research review May 9 to June 13 in the Library.

Want to meet the researchers? Then join us for the public reception Friday, May 9 from 5 to 7pm. Light refreshments will be served. The public is invited to this free event.

 

 

Participating students and research topics

Crescent Calimpong Elwha Revegetation 2013: A Plant Performance Study
Natalie Footen How do parasites affect prairie plant communities?
Nate Haan Interactions between hemiparasites, hosts, and herbivores
Alex Harwell The Restoration of Sweetgrass (Schoenoplectus pungens) in the Nisqually Delta: An Ethnobotanical Restoration Effort
Kathryn Hill Effects of prescribed fire on the spatial structure of butterfly habitat in South Puget Sound prairies
Eve Rickenbaker UW Student Perception of the Washington Park Arboretum
Kathleen Walter Amphibian Use of Union Bay Natural Area
Christopher Wong The Sisyrinchium Common Garden Study
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UW Student Reflection

January 9th, 2014 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

My experience as a volunteer at the UW Arboretum…

It was the first quarter of my freshman year at the University of Washington. I was enrolled in an environmental studies class, and we, the students, were given an option between doing a book report and volunteering for “service learning.” Man, was I glad I chose to volunteer, because my time at the arboretum was great.

The arboretum is an escape from the city without leaving the city. There you are, standing in a metropolis, but you’re surrounded by tall trees, whistling birds, and sweet silence; it’s oxymoronic. I was living in a dormitory at the time, and the constant shuffle of neighbors, or the bumping music of the guys four doors down, kept me on-edge, not relaxed. But, once in the arboretum, all that white noise was gone. Even though I was there to volunteer and to work, I found myself energized upon leaving.

Philip & his fellow volunteers worked to give our Pollination Garden some much needed love during fall quarter.

Phillip & his fellow volunteers worked to give our Pollination Garden some much needed love during fall quarter.

My time at the arboretum was mostly spent in the vegetable garden and in the pollination garden. Some days I would pull weeds, till soil, and flip compost, others I would dig up cobblestones and carry gravel. But everything I did was not strenuous. It was simply a light task. Other volunteers had similarly stress-free work. Some were assigned to lead field trips and tours around the park and others researched plant species that would suit the habitat.

I have not been to a place with more polite people than the arboretum. Everyone from the lady at the front desk to Patrick, my supervisor, greeted me with a smile each time I came by. If you happen to see Patrick when you’re there, ask him about his travels in South America; he’s got some cool stories.

If you’re thinking about volunteering, I highly encourage you to do so. My experience at the arboretum was exactly what I was looking for: chill, soothing and stress-free.  

-Phillip Janecek

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Academic opportunities at the Botanic Gardens

September 20th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff
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Make connections, gain experience, have fun: get involved at the UW Botanic Gardens!

Welcome UW Students! Make time in your busy schedule to get involved at the Botanic Gardens*. You won’t regret the investment because not only will you gain experience but you will also make connections with professionals and fellow students.

Ways to get involved:

What we do:

  • environmental horticulture
  • restoration ecology
  • public garden management
  • collection development
  • information management
  • communication & social networking
  • marketing
  • curriculum design
  • archives
  • curation
  • arboriculture
  • urban ecology
  • environmental education
  • integrated pest management
  • rare plant conservation
  • continuing education
  • visitor experience & interpretation
  • inventory ground-truthing & GIS mapping
  • surveying

*UW Botanic Gardens has two sites: the Washington Park Arboretum and the Center for Urban Horticulture and includes the Miller Library and Hyde Herbarium. Programs include continuing education for adults, outdoor programs for children plus conservation and restoration projects.

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How would you use an interactive map in the Arboretum?

August 20th, 2013 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

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Georeferenced Database Project Update

After a year of surveying Washington Park Arboretum grid points and digitizing paper maps we have made substantial progress on our georeferenced database project. The first few hundred points were relatively easy to survey. Now remain the most difficult points to find or see with a clear line of sight from a control point. Ground nesting bees and wasps also make getting close to a point challenging to say the least.

We need volunteers! Contact Tracy Mehlin.

UW Botanic Gardens Director, Sarah Reichard, talks with UWTV about her vision for an interactive Arboretum map in this video.

How would you use an interactive map in the Arboretum? What do you want to know about the collections? Leave a comment to let us know.

Click to see photo close-ups

Project accomplishments by the numbers

  • Migrated 20,000 records from the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium database into the BG-Base database
  • 25% of Herbarium database records post migration validated against physical specimens
  • 85% of grid points surveyed
  • 40% of paper grid maps digitized in ArcMap (geodatabase)
  • 6006 out of 18,094 plant specimens have been entered into the geodatabase

Historic Records to be made accessible

The Arboretum Foundation has agreed to give $15,000 to digitize historic paper records from the Curation office. These historic records provide critical clues about the identification and origin of trees and woody plants in the collection. By digitizing the records staff can access the old handwritten note cards and ledgers from their desk and once integration is complete the records will be accessible to everyone. UW Libraries staff will digitize the records and record basic information about each file.

An accession card from 1948.

An accession card from 1948.

This project is funded by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

 

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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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What’s Going on Around the Burnt Tree?

March 12th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

By Andrew Fraser

Preparing the area to be planted with native grasses and flowers near Shoveler's Pond

Preparing the area to be planted with native grasses and flowers near Shoveler’s Pond

If you have walked around Shoveler’s Pond in the Union Bay Natural Area (Montlake Fill) this month you have seen the area undergoing a flurry of activity from plowing to bulldozers moving dirt. This is all part of the ESRM 473 restoration project. Each winter quarter, students in the class design and implement a restoration project in the Union Bay Natural Area. Previous year projects have included mound construction and prairie plant installation around Shoveler’s Pond, trimming the willows and clearing up the area around the large central pond, wetland construction and prairie conversion of the E5 parking lot.

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Planting native grasses near Shoveler’s Pond.

This year is the first of a multi-year process of converting the non-native grassland of UBNA into that of the local South Puget Sound Prairies and Gary Oak Savannas. Students have selected, propagated and purchased a large quantity of plants and seeds of  native flora and have begun installing them this week. The goal of these projects is to help our native flora to get a leg up over the large number of non-native plants in the area and provide an easy view location of some of the beautiful local native grasses and wildflowers. Within the next two years, this year’s project site will change from an open gravel and sand patch to a prairie landscape covered with native grasses such as Idaho Fescue, Blue Wildrye, and Tufted Hairgrass with wildflowers such as Common Camas, White Fawn lily, Chocolate lilies, Prairie lupine, Scarlet Paint Brush, and Broad-leafed Shooting Start blooming in the area from Early Spring to Early Summer.

Please forgive our mess and come see the next stage of UBNA’s transformation from the Montlake Dump to a premier Seattle natural area.

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