More Service Learning at the Arboretum

June 12th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Posted on behalf of Will Pleskow, UW student and UWBG volunteer service learner


 

I never thought weeds would be so endless and time consuming but I certainly have a new perspective on weeding after many back-breaking hours digging out seemingly endless little green plants. All of the planting and weeding that I have done and will do take place right outside the greenhouse in a secluded part of the Arboretum used for plant propagation. The vegetable garden has lain fallow for many months so as you can imagine the weeds were quite healthy at the start of the quarter.  The two primary weeds are shotweed (Cardamine hirsute) and horsetail (Equisetum sp.).  Horsetails were some of the first land plants to evolve on planet earth and continue to make their impact on gardens as well as my back.

Shotweed is a small  plant that has green leaves and sometimes a yellow-white flower budding from the middle. It’s native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It’s part of the mustard family and is the only weed I encountered at the Arboretum that is edible. Shotweed flowers early in the spring up until autumn.  After budding Shotweed develops seeds in pods that are highly sensitive and will often burst upon being touched “shooting” its seeds flying in a close proximity to its mother plant. The easy distribution of seeds is what makes this plant multiply and infest so quickly. Often times removing all of the shotweeds visible with the naked eye is not enough as their seeds may still lie around buried in the soil.  Due to shotweed distinct qualities it makes it a difficult weed to eradicate and is therefore very prevalent in many parts of the world.

Horsetail is about 1 – 2 feet tall and sticks straight up with whisker-like leaves coming off the sides that give it its distinct look and name. Horsetails, like ferns, are plants that reproduce with spores rather than seeds. Despite its irritating affect when dealing with in the garden, this fascinating plant is a “living fossil” and one of the oldest land plants on earth dating back some 375 million years. This remarkable weed is found everywhere in the world except Antarctica. The horsetail prefers wet sandy soils but is adaptable to almost any type of soil. The stalks start deep beneath the ground, which make it hard to dig out, and also very enduring. In addition, it is also unaffected by many herbicides so the only way to remove this weed is by hand. Horsetail along with shotweed makes for a very lethal duo in the garden and creates a situation where one must constantly be weeding to sustain a healthy garden.

With the new experience I have gained by volunteering at the Arboretum this quarter, I plan to grow and cultivate a sustainable and environmentally friendly garden of my own. This ties directly with what we have been discussing in class and the strong importance professor Litfin places on “knowing where your food is coming from.” I hope one day to have a garden of my own where I can grow my own plants and provide food for myself from my very own garden. This service learning project has been a great opportunity to get hands-on experience with growing and cultivating food in an environmentally friendly and healthy way.

Aspiring Plant Geek

June 1st, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

posted on behalf of UW Student and Arboretum volunteer extraordinaire, Lora Mitchell

Aspiring Plant Geek, Lora Mitchell

This quarter I signed up for an environmental studies course that offered service learning. Upon first learning about the service learning program I was intrigued, but slightly hesitant until I saw a position at the Washington State Arboretum. Thrilled at the idea of working with plants the entire quarter I immediately signed up for that position. You see, I’m a biology major who also happened to be talking a lant identification course this quarter as well. I figured working at the arboretum would not only be a great experience in it of itself, but it could also help me learn plant families. My job consisted of making plant ID sheets and eventually tweeting about current plants in bloom around the arboretum. With summer around the corner, being able to walk along hidden paths throughout the arboretum discovering plants I had never heard of or seen before was amazing. Informing the community about native plants is important in building a sustainable future. Some of my favorite discoveries include…

Dove Tree (Davidia involucrata)

The beautiful Dove Tree, part of the family Cornaceae (Dogwoods) was in bloom on my last visit to the arboretum. When first seeing this plant I initially thought it to be a magnolia, but after learning its name discovered it’s actually part of the dogwood family.

Now,  Magnolia sinensis is one of the most beautiful magnolias I had ever seen. It is endemic, or restricted to, China and is being threatened by habitat loss.

 

 

 

The Golden English Oak (Quercus robur ‘Concordia’) glistens in the sun, making it hard not to notice. Native to Europe, with bright golden-yellow leaves, this tree made me stop in my tracks. On that beautiful May afternoon I stood for a while and looked in awe.

Overall, I have enjoyed my experience at the Arboretum this spring quarter. I have learned a lot more about various plants and will definitely make a habit of stopping by from time to just to look around. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be able to help during the summer.

 

Service Learning at the ARB

May 17th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Posted on behalf of Alyce Flanagan, UW student intern

our first planting


This spring one of my classes gave me the option of doing a service-learning project instead of writing a research paper. I jumped at the opportunity to gain some sort of real world experience instead of sitting in the library.  I ended up volunteering in the vegetable garden at the UWBG Arboretum, and it has been an enjoyable experience.  It is great to have an excuse to spend a few hours outside, get dirt on my hands and learn about growing food.  The class that my arboretum service learning is connected to is Global Food Policy.  Modern cultures have become extremely disconnected from our sources of food.  Technology allows for the mass production of cheap food, and working in a garden has given me perspective on how what it takes to grow vegetables.

Food is a vital resource that is frequently taken for granted.  Growing and gathering food is something that was an integral part of our ancestors’ lifestyles.  In recent years, we have grown away from this routine.  Food is bought from the grocery store, and we have only a vague idea of where it was before that. My Global Food Policy class looked at where food was before it got to the store.  Our severe disconnection from the production of the food we eat is unfortunate, but it is a system that we are totally reliant on. Learning about food; where is comes from and how its grown, is the first step to not taking food and this its large scale production for granted.

Food sovereignty is an issue that relates to peoples right to decide what food they eat, where it comes from, and how it is produced.  In America, most people would say that they have the right to choose their food, but in reality, much of our food is under the control of a few big agricultural businesses.  Growing at least some of our own food is an important step towards food sovereignty.

future pickles

The vegetable garden at the UWBG Arboretum is intended to teach children about the process of growing food, and hopefully inspire in them an interest in growing their own food. Volunteering at the Arb has done just that for me.  Watching plants grow over the course of a few months is somehow exciting and motivational.  Hopefully sometime in the next few years I will be able to start a garden and become at least a little less reliant on the mysterious system that produces food that feeds the world.

I am looking forward to visiting during the summer and seeing how the garden has changed.

3 sisters garden

 

UWBG Student Works Poster Exhibit May 11 – 31

May 4th, 2012 by Caitlin Guthrie

Come learn about many of the fascinating graduate student research topics at the annual UWBG Student Poster Exhibit.

Nisqually Delta dike footprint tidal freshwater swamp revegetation. Photo by Caitlin Guthrie.

Join us at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library (at the Center for Urban Horticulture) for the opening reception on Friday, May 11th, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm.  Light refreshments will be served.  All are welcome to come meet the researchers and browse the posters.

Student posters will remain on display in the Library from May 11th to May 30th.

Poster topics include:

  • Elwha Dam Removal Revegetation: Lake Aldwell Seeding Trials
  • Tidal Freshwater Forested Wetlands: Assessing Restoration Effectiveness After Tidal Dike Removal
  • Project E-PIG: Studying the Ecology of Pollinators in Gardens at Multiple Scales
  • Alternate hosts of threatened Castilleja levisecta (golden paintbrush): Improving PNW prairie restoration.

Update on the Music of Trees project

April 24th, 2012 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

Last winter we told you about Abby Aresty, a Seattle-based composer,  sound artist and UW doctoral student in music, who was raising money for a sound installation in the Washington Park Arboretum. She has since met her fundraising goal, and is hard at work recording sounds in the arbortetum. “Through detailed analysis and sonic manipulation, these simultaneous yet distinct layers of sound will be brought into dialogue with one another. The music will then be brought back to the original sites and played back softly through small speakers attached to the trees.” The installation is scheudled to run for 6-8 weeks this fall, and will be free to the public. Visit the project website to learn more, and follow Abby’s progress on her blog.

Student Capstone Experience in Habitat Restoration at Union Bay Natural Area

February 17th, 2012 by Caitlin Guthrie
Yesler Swamp Student Restoration Team

Yesler Swamp student restoration team at a habitat restoration work party. Photo by Lewis E. Johnson.

One of the many engaging courses offered to the undergraduate and graduate students at the Center for Urban Horticulture is the Restoration Capstone Sequence. In this course, students of different academic backgrounds work together to complete a local ecological restoration project. Students plan, design, install, and monitor a restoration project while working in teams over the course of eight months, beginning in fall of each year.

Clients in the community, including local governments, utilities, non-profits and private firms, submit RFP’s (requests for proposals) to the UW Restoration Ecology Network concerning restoration opportunities. This year, students are working on projects at Pierce College Lakewood Campus, Cotton Hill Park, North Creek Forest, Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, Ravenna Park, Yesler Creek (near Burke Gilman Trail) and Union Bay Natural Area.

Yesler Swamp Map

Map of the restoration site from students’ Work Plan. Pie charts show the initial relative cover of invasive plant species. The upper left hand portion of the map is the SE corner of the Center for Urban Horticulture’s parking lot.

A seven-student, multidisciplinary team is partnering with Friends of Yesler Swamp to restore a portion of the Union Bay Natural Area to native Puget Sound forest. The site was highly disturbed and much of it was dominated by invasive plant species, specifically Himalayan blackberry.

For the past few weekends, the team has been hard at work, coordinating and executing habitat restoration volunteer events to remove the invasive plants. Many of their volunteers to date have been undergraduate students with little to no previous exposure to natural systems and the field of restoration ecology.

After completing site preparation, the student team will cover much of the site with organic wood chip mulch and plant a structurally and biologically diverse suite of native forested wetland and upland plant species.

To keep up to date on the Yesler Swamp student restoration project and to join in future volunteer habitat restoration events, check out the Restore Yesler Swamp Facebook page.

For more information on the innovative and award-winning UW Restoration Ecology Network:

UW Restoration Ecology Network Website

Article in Science Magazine on the Restoration Ecology Network capstone program

What does the Arboretum sound like?

December 22nd, 2011 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

Abby Aresty photoSeattle-based composer,  sound artist and UW doctoral student in music Abby Aresty has designed an amazing sound installation for the Washington Park Arboretum planned for autumn 2012. But she needs to raise more money for equipment to build the installation. Abby describes the public art project on the fund raising site KickStarter where backers can donate cash in any amount. But there’s a catch. Abby must raise the $8,000 she needs by February 14th. Funding through KickStarter is all or nothing. If the full amount is not raised by the deadline then the artist receives nothing and the donors are not charged.

Please help Abby realize her vision, become a backer today!

Follow Abby’s progress in her Blog

Hear Abby explain her vision for Path II: The Music of Trees

UW Student Completes Draft for Campus Sustainability Fund Proposal

September 15th, 2011 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

UW undergraduate Jeanine Carlson developed a draft proposal for the Campus Sustainability Fund as her Capstone project. The proposal imagines a cafe and permaculture demonstration garden at the Washington Park Arboretum.

Jeanine shares her vision for the proposal:

The Permaculture Perennial Guild Garden is a display and study of permaculture perennial plant guilds in an event hosting site. It provides visual demonstration, experiential learning, and a place for community to gather in sharing, learning and celebration. With the addition of the Greenhouse Café the site will provide a social hub for students, visitors, University of Washington Botanic Garden (UWBG) patrons and parents of children in educational programs.

Read the rest of the Executive Summary.

Permaculture Perennial Guild Garden Plan Sketch

UW Student Reports on Stormwater Planting at CUH

September 14th, 2011 by Jennifer Youngman, Program Coordinator
Rain garden at CUH

Proud students admiring their hard work planting up the rain garden.

The Arboretum has its bog garden. The Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH) has its rain garden. A new rain garden is part of a larger project designed by Berger Partnership to direct rainwater from the roofs of Merrill and Isaacson Halls to the existing roof garden, an as-yet undeveloped hillside garden, and collection bins (rain gardens). When funding is found to complete the project, the CUH will present a completely integrated water system which collects rain, delivers it to the gardens, and drains to Lake Washington.

Lisa Haglund, a recent graduate with a degree Community, Environment, and Planning  in the UW College of Built Environments, created the planting plan for the rain garden with guidance from the UW Botanic Gardens’ Dr. Kern Ewing, David Zuckerman and Barbara Selemon. In May, students from Maggie Rose’s Ingraham High School science classes prepared the site with Haglund and Patrick Mulligan, after Selemon arranged for Haglund to give a presentation on stormwater at their school. Ingraham currently has no available site for rain garden construction, so the Ingraham students’ trip to the CUH was funded through GROW, a program designed to engage high school students with the UW Botanic Gardens.

Lisa describes her experience working with high school students:

From the first field trip to the last, I saw an awakening interest in plants, planting, maintenance techniques, and natural systems take root in many of these young people. Through experiential learning students gained knowledge of how plants and soils act to capture and filter out the contaminants in runoff, the value of freshwater and freshwater ecosystems, and how each of them can make a difference by implementing Low Impact Development  projects at their homes and schools.

Lisa’s complete LHaglund_Stormwater_GROWProgram with photos. Visit Lisa on LinkedIn.

 

How does your garden grow?

August 29th, 2011 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

The following was submitted by Angela Williams, one of five UW student interns who worked with us this past spring through the Carlson Leadership Center. Angela and co. were tasked with transforming the long neglected “Back 40″ located between Plant Donations and the Greenhouse at the Arboretum into a vegetable garden…

“As a student majoring in public health nutrition, I’ve worked in many food-related service learning/volunteering positions in the past several years. My recent experience as “Greenhouse and Garden Caretaker” at the UW Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, however, was by far my favorite position ever. I so looked forward to my Friday shift each week; it was a welcome break from the classroom as I was outside working in the fresh air tending to the garden. I could hardly wait to get there each week to see how much the plants had grown. Seeds that I had put in the ground only weeks before had evolved into beautiful spinach, kale, pea, beet and tomato plants!
It really was a pleasure working with the staff; Patrick and Cari were so responsive and knowledgeable. They provided great leadership and support, yet also allowed me to work independently and use my own creativity; such as deciding what and where vegetables should be planted. They taught me a variety of organic gardening methods that I have already put to use in my own garden.
I find it especially rewarding to know that the garden I helped establish will be used as a learning garden for field trips and summer camps. It makes me happy to know the sustainable, organic produce grown in this garden will provide many years of delicious education for the thousands of children that visit.”
-Angela