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.

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.

 

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.

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.

UW Student Restoration Ecology Program featured in BGjournal

March 8th, 2013 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

BGjournal 10.1The January 2013 edition of BGjournal features an article on the restoration work UW students have accomplished as part of the Restoration Ecology Capstone course sequence. The capstone works with community partners to accomplish restoration projects in and around Seattle. Capstone projects have helped to restore 15 acres of the Union Bay Natural Area, a former landfill.

To learn more, read the full article:

BGjournal 10.1

Work parties to restore nature

February 22nd, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

The students involved with UW Restoration Ecology Network need the public’s help restoring degraded natural areas in urban sites. Join a work party to rip out invasive weeds, build trails, spread mulch and many more invigorating tasks.

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

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Click for work party details

Yesler Swamp Trail

Proposed dates

Training Dates Announced

January 16th, 2013 by Lisa Sanphillippo

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UWBG School Programs serve over 6,000 kids a year and we could not possibly do it without the help of our volunteers. We are hiring volunteer Garden Guides now and have two dates to get folks started on their journey to engage kids in the great outdoors.

Saturday February 9th from 11:00 – 3:00 pm and
Saturday February 16th from 11:00 – 3:00 pm

Guides need only attend one training, but are welcome to both. Both trainings will cover an introduction to the University of Washington Botanic Gardens as well as round table and in the field discussions about class management, interpretation techniques and age appropriate teaching.

2-way viewer for Paige

February 9th we will focus on our Plants 101 and 201 programs and February 16th we’ll focus on Wetlands 101 and 201. New guides will learn what the big ideas of each program are, how the student’s age affects the level and amount of information given and how to use the props and activities in the field.

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If you would like to fill nature with children and teach them about plant science, ecology and more, contact Lisa Sanphillippo at 206-543-8801 or lsanphil@uw.edu for more information.

We value our volunteers for their time, experience and dedication! We hold enrichments, training and other educational opportunities regularly. Call or email now to become a treasured part of our team.

Grad student’s thesis work benefits rare plants

December 26th, 2012 by Wendy Gibble
Ivy Clark plants Castilleja seedlings (photo by Wendy Gibble)

Ivy Clark plants Castilleja seedlings (photo by Wendy Gibble)

Reprinted from the Rare Plant Press

Graduate student Lauren “Ivy” Clark has been knee deep in seeds ever since
she started her Master’s work at University of Washington. She first came to work with Rare Care in 2009 to develop protocols for propagating ten shrub-steppe species from seed for a project Rare Care was working on with BLM. Having developed an interest in germination ecology, Ivy also started working with Rare Care’s rare plant seed collection, conducting germination tests on collections held in the Miller Seed Vault. This ongoing work dovetails nicely with her thesis work, in which she explores the potential for hybridization between golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) and harsh Indian paintbrush (C. hispida).

Both Castilleja species occur on Puget Sound prairies, and hybridization has been observed in a nursery setting. Recent golden paintbrush reintroductions have resulted in both species growing in close proximity to one another at out-planting sites. After ascertaining that the same pollinator species frequent both species, Ivy collected seeds from both species where they co-occur and is propagating them in the greenhouse. She will evaluate morphological features of the progeny to determine whether and to what extent hybridization is occurring at these reintroduction sites and whether the risk of hybridization is reduced by increasing the distance between neighboring individuals of the two species.

Ivy has had an interest in plants for as long as she can remember. Growing up in Texas, her interest in the natural world was nurtured by her parents. She’s held a variety of jobs since becoming a biologist, many of them restricting her to laboratories. Finding that she really enjoys being in the field, she hopes to use her skills and degree to work in the restoration ecology field. In the meantime, we are delighted to have her working on Rare Care projects and caring for our ex situ collection.

Leaves, Paint Swatches and Nature Connection: A Student Perspective

December 18th, 2012 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

Written by Mackenzie Urquhart, UW Service Learning Student

I had so much fun participating in the Fiddleheads Program these past couple of months. Through out the sessions we play games, explore, do arts and crafts, and teach the kids about their surroundings.  What is special about this program is the kids get to interact with the nature they are learning about directly instead of reading it from a textbook or in a classroom.

On our first walk through the Arboretum we taught the kids about fall and how the environment changes during that time period.  We explored how the leaves change colors and how the leaves eventually fall off the trees.  The kids were able to see the changes happening with their own eyes.  Through out the walk we gave them each a brown bag and they were to fill it with the leaves that fell off the trees.  At the end of the walk we reminded them why they fell off the trees and had them each do a leaf rubbing so they could take it home and have it be a reminder of what happens during fall.  All through out the walk the kids were asking questions, interacting with nature, feeling the leaves, and touching the trees.

One of my favorite games we played with the kids was called the color game.  Sarah and I each gave the kids a paint swatch and they were to find a plant, animal or anything in nature that was the same color.  This was a unique and fun way to get the kids to explore nature.  The kids were running all around and would show us what they found that matched their paint swatch.  If they didn’t know what the species or plant was we would tell them and have them share it with the other kids so they could all learn about each others.

Another game the kids loved was called the matching game.  Sarah and I laid out a bunch of leaves two of each kind and had the kids play a matching game and at the end we would have them guess what the name of the leaf was.  Then we would circle as a group and talk about each leaf and point out what the tree looked like that the leaf came from. In that kind of setting the kids are able to learn about the environment in a fun and stress free environment.  They retain the information better and see how humans and other species directly impact the environment.   Each session has an overall theme so the kids are constantly learning about different issues and topics related to nature.

Check out the Fiddlehead Forest School website for more information and to register for classes.

In the Arboretum with the total station and other milestones

November 30th, 2012 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

The Leica Builder theodolite is a central part of the total station.

In August 2012 UWBG was awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to create a georeference database of the living collections. The first phase involves surveying in the Washington Park Arboretum.

Where are the monuments?

On a sunny autumn day a team of UW students, UWBG staff and team leader Jim Lutz headed down the East Arboretum trail to the Meadow with a shiny, new total station. They were on a mission to track down monuments that define the grid used to map Arboretum plant accessions. Once a monument was found they used the total station to determine the location in real space. (more photos below)

Total what?

A total station is a collection of equipment, such as a Leica Builder theodolite, tribrach, tripods, and prisms, that is used to measure distance and slope. A team of two or three people use it together to measure coordinates. Most of us have seen a total station in use by transportation survey crews. Low tech equipment like measuring tapes and marking paint are also used to do the job.

Making progress: georeferenced database project milestones

After months of preparation the  Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium records are now integrated into the BG-Base plant records database which means that a search now returns records for both plant accessions and vouchers. Vouchers are pressed plant material that serve to document and archive living collections while also supporting species identification.

Another milestone completed was scanning the print copies of grid squares. These print maps record where individual trees and shrubs grow with a dot and accession ID number. As plants are added, moved or removed the print maps are redrawn with updated information. As grid corner monuments are surveyed the corresponding scanned map will then be imported as a layer into ArcGIS Desktop and each plant accession will be clicked to essentially digitize the print map.

This is a portion of grid 35-2E. The scanned maps will be digitized the information incorporated into the georeferenced database.

The green dots represent the monuments recently surveyed and entered into an ArcGIS Map project with layers of city streets, park trails, an aerial view and the Arboretum grid map.

November 10th day in the field photos