Safer Digs For Osprey Now In Union Bay Natural Area

June 12th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist

An Osprey nesting pole was installed yesterday in Union Bay Natural Area (UBNA). Located near Carp pond in the SE corner of UBNA loop trail. UW Athletic Dept funded the project when it was realized Osprey were being attracted to nesting in ball fields’ lighting across the way. Hopefully now, people will be safe from falling branches and Osprey will have more appropriate digs to settle into.

Jim Kaiser, consulting wildlife biologist and owner of Osprey Solutions, was hired to do the install. Jim has installed over 300 Osprey nesting poles in the PNW. He is one of the most knowledgeable biologists on Osprey and has quite a fascinating and experienced repertoire in creating new homes for them.

For more information on Osprey and their nests, please visit:

Osprey fact sheet

Attaching nesting platform to pole

Attaching nesting platform to pole

Erecting Nesting Pole

Erecting Nesting Pole

Looking south along UBNA loop trail

Looking south along UBNA loop trail



Runoff Now Feeds Prairie Rain Garden at Center for Urban Horticulture

May 1st, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

Malcolm Howard standing in the prairie rain garden in its first spring after planting, looking west across the Union Bay Natural Area.

What to do about muddy puddles caused by rain runoff in the middle of a trail used by hundreds of people every day? Could a garden solve the problem?

Masters of Environmental Horticulture graduate student Malcolm Howard choose this problem area as his MEH project. He explains how the site was chosen: “The rain garden was placed along the trail to intercept runoff from the nearby parking lot. Instead of water ponding on the trail after rains, the rain garden helps retain this runoff and convey the remaining water under the trail.”

The prairie rain garden was installed just south west of the parking lot that is on the west side of Merrill Hallat the Center for Urban Horticulture. The trail leads to the popular Union Bay Natural Area where visitors enjoy watching birds and feeling immersed in a wild place.

What does Malcolm expect to accomplish with the Prairie Rain Garden? “I hope that the garden can help improve trail conditions, while displaying some interesting native prairie plants for people to enjoy and learn about.”

The Prairie Rain Garden received a small project grant from the UW Sustainability Fund in January 2015.

Prairie Rain Garden Summary with plant list.

MLK Day of Service: UBNA Work Party in Review

January 20th, 2015 by Elyse Denkers


On Jan, 19, also known as the MLK Day of Service, a group of 7 volunteers helped remove ivy from cottonwood trees near the Union Bay Natural Area waterfront.
Just along the UBNA loop trail at the waterfront viewing area, many of the cottonwood trees have been suffocated by invasive English ivy. These trees may become a safety hazard for trail-users as ivy foliage weighs down branches.

Our goal was to create “life-rings” around the impacted trees by 1) cutting ivy at a 5 ft height around the tree, 2) peeling the ivy back off the tree, and 3) digging the ivy roots out of the ground around the tree base.
The ivy still hanging on the tree will eventually die without a soil sources.


P1010224 We finished our goal of creating life-rings and removing some ground ivy, but we still have more ground ivy to remove in this area.
Another work party we be scheduled in the next few weeks to finish this area and move on to rescuing the cottonwood trees across the trail.

If you are interested in helping finish this project, please see the UW Botanic Gardens volunteer calendar. New volunteer events will be posted there. You may also contact Elyse Denkers, UBNA research assistant, directly at


June 2014 Plant Profile: Philadelphus lewisii

June 3rd, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Philadelphus lewisii portrait 1The beginning of June boasts boisterous and abundant blooms and this native shrub is no exception. Starting in late May, an otherwise nondescript shrub begins to draw attention as masses of single white flowers suddenly begin to pop open creating a blizzard of deliciously scented clusters that cover a straggly shrub from top to bottom.


P. lewisii growing in the upland forest restoration site out in UBNA.

P. lewisii growing in the upland forest restoration site out in UBNA.

Found in open forests in low-mid elevations, Philadelphus lewisii is highly adaptable to the garden where it becomes a large shrub and requires only well-drained soil, moderate moisture, and full sun to part shade. It seems to tolerate competition from other plants very well, but requires some pruning to keep its size in check and to remove dead or non-productive  wood.

A established specimen in full bloom along the entrance into UBNA

A established specimen in full bloom along the entrance into UBNA

Philadelphus lewisii portrait 2


Common Name:  Lewis’s Mock Orange
Location: Union Bay Natural Area
Origin: Pacific NW Native
Height and Spread: 6-7′ tall and about 5-7′ wide
Bloom/Fruit Time: Late May – Early July

Art Exhibit: A Wetlands Affair, Drawings by Juliet Shen

January 29th, 2014 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer


Artist Juliet Shen has adopted the Union Bay Natural Area as her outdoor studio, drawing there from her small folding stool through all four seasons. Her drawings of the area will be on display at the Miller Library from February 22 – March 31, 2014.

Please join us for the artist’s opening reception on Friday, February 28, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.

A portion of the proceeds from artwork sales benefit the Library.






Kids’ Photo Contest Winners!

October 16th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

We had a remarkable showing this year at the 2013 Kids Photo Contest.  A big thanks and round of applause to all the great kids that entered! We have selected our winners in 5 categories.

Artwork will be displayed at in the Graham Visitors Center on a rotating basis, and for the month of November, the photos will be on display at Katy’s Corner Cafe located at 2000 E Union St Seattle, WA 98122. Although not everyone who entered won a category, every contestant will have a photo printed and displayed.

See all the pictures in our Flickr Group Pool!


Dylan Totten 4 color

Taken by Dylan, Age 4


Logan Cox land

Taken by Logan, Age 10


John Totten 5 arch

Taken by John, Age 5


mystery kid 3 animal

If this is your picture, please email with your name and age!

New Places

Maeve Anderson 16 ArchTaken by Maeve, Age 16


Wahkiakum Lane closed Sep. 16-20

September 16th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

The Wahkiakum Lane trail between the Center for Urban Horticulture and the E5 parking lot (and the IMA) is closed September 16-20, 2013. Work crews will be making improvements to the heavily used trail. The detour is to go north on Mary Gates Memorial drive then west on Clark road, then go south on either Canal road or Walla Walla road.

WSDOT installing monitoring equipment in Union Bay Natural Area

April 8th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

WSDOT_UBNA_monitoringBeginning as soon as the week of April 15, WSDOT will perform geotechnical investigations in the Union Bay Natural Area (UBNA). Crews will be taking soil samples and installing monitoring well equipment in and around the parking area to study soil and groundwater conditions. The information gathered helps us better understand the composition and characteristics of the ground in this area to prepare for future wetland mitigation work.

What can you expect?

  • Monitoring well installation will begin as soon as April 15, 2013, and last up to one week. The wells will be in place through summer 2014.
  • Work will occur on weekdays between 7 a.m.and 6 p.m.
  • The primary impact will be temporarily reduced parking (up to four spaces per well) during drilling and monitoring well installation.

More information: April 2013 SR520_UBNA_Fieldwork_Flyer

Call WA DOT at:
SR 520 Fieldwork Hotline: 206-708-4657
Join the e-mail update list by sending a message to:

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.


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