Buy a Beautiful Book and Support UBNA

May 18th, 2011 by Kern Ewing

Marilyn Smith Layton has created a book of images called Seasons of Life in the Union Bay Natural Area, and she is donating the profits from the sale of the book to projects in UBNA. The cost of the book is $60, and $20 of that will go to help the natural area.

You may purchase a copy in the Miller Library (cash or check only). If you would like to purchase by mail, please send a check (written out to Marilyn Smith Layton) to:

Marilyn Smith Layton
c/o UW Botanic Gardens
Box 354115
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

Please include an additional $6 for postage and your mailing address. Books will be sent via USPS.

Seasons of Life has emerged from years of photographing the Union Bay Natural Area:  a sanctuary of renewal and inspiration within the UW Botanic Gardens.

A resident of the nearby neighborhood since 1968, Marilyn walks with camera in hand to capture the lives and light that are forever shifting. When her husband Richard Layton was recovering from a near fatal brain disease in the summer of 2009, they measured his progress by how much of the path he could cover. Slowly he came to walk its full circle again.

Both Marilyn and Richard Layton have close ties and loyalty to the University; Richard graduated in the fifth class of the UW Medical School (1954) and for many years directed a residency program in Family Medicine at Providence Hospital for the university, receiving the 2001 Alumni Service Award from the school. Marilyn completed her doctoral coursework in the UW English Department but a full-time teaching contract from North Seattle Community College prevented her from completing the degree, a choice she has not regretted.

For 40 years until her retirement in December 2008, Marilyn taught writing and literature in the Humanities Division at North Seattle. She continues to serve the college as an executive board member and presently vice-chair of its scholarship-granting Education Fund, and as the secretary of the Seattle Community Colleges Foundation. As an active faculty member, she authored three books, a number of articles, and presented workshops on many topics at
conferences around the country, as well as teaching for short periods in India and Argentina. She has participated in photography and art shows, and a few of her paintings still hang at the college.

Years immersed in a natural history class with science colleagues launched her passion for capturing in photographs the life she observed. She and her husband began to travel widely to wild places like the Antarctic and the Galapagos. Those travels have helped focus her love on what is so close to home: the Union Bay Natural Area.

Proceeds from this book will provide financial support for this well-loved place.

PURPLE MARTIN CONDOS ARRIVE AT CUH

April 28th, 2011 by UWBG Horticulturist

Purple Martin Condos

Condos at CUH by Constance Sidles

 Yesterday the UW Botanic Gardens staff installed some new condominiums west of the greenhouses near the Center for Urban Horticulture. Oh, not for people, but for purple martins.Purple martins, you see, are our largest swallows, and they have been in decline for a long time. They nest in holes, and they like to live together in a colony. Natural habitat that suits them has vanished from our area, and for a while, so did the martins.

Then about ten years ago, one man — a water quality expert and biologist named Kevin Li — began to install houses for purple martins all over Puget Sound. He put up natural gourds for the birds among the pilings near Ray’s Café in Shilshole Bay, at Fort Lawton,  in Edmonds, and many other places. Birders began to see purple martins again in the skies over Seattle.

Before he died in a diving accident in 2006, Kevin tried twice to install gourds at UBNA. Both times, the gourds were stolen by vandals. After Kevin’s death, no one tried again. 

Until now. A couple months ago, Friends of Yesler Swamp  were brainstorming about how to improve bird habitat in the swamp (the easternmost section of UBNA). Kevin’s efforts were mentioned, and everyone immediately realized: Purple martins belong here.

Within days, the word went out to the birding community: We need money to buy purple martin gourds. Birders responded immediately, donating enough to buy eight state-of-the-art gourds. These gourds are specially designed for purple martins. They are molded from real gourds but made of UV-resistant white plastic to resist mold and reflect the hot sun, so baby birds can stay cool inside. The gourds have a little porch for the birds to perch on, and an entrance hole that is ridged so starlings and other pests cannot enter to take over the nest.

In the course of our brainstorming, David Zuckerman of UW Botanic Gardens remembered  seeing an unused cedar log at the Arboretum which could be repurposed to make a perfect stand to hold the gourds. Jerry Gettel of the Friends offered to assemble the gourds when they arrived from the manufacturer, and make a cedar arm for each one, with cordage to raise and lower the gourds so they can be cleaned when nesting season is over. 

Two weeks later, a small group of staffers gathered near the greenhouses to dig a post hole by hand. When it was deep enough, they hefted the 13-foot post with sheer muscle, and lowered it into the hole. Then they hung up the gourds carefully, one by one. We were all thrilled when the pole went up and the gourds started swinging in the breeze. Inside each gourd are clean cedar chips, waiting for a martin passerby to take note and move in. 

When (not if!!) the purple martins establish a colony at our site, we expect you will be able to see them all summer long, coursing over the waters of Yesler Cove in the heart of Yesler Swamp.  Martins love to hunt for insects over water,  and our site is perfect for them: far enough away from possible predators, close enough to a reliable food source, and within sight of comforting people (martins like us to be nearby). 

All together, our community has created a work of art that will, we hope, bring purple martins back to UBNA and Yesler Swamp. No one of us could have achieved this alone. Like everything else here in this special place, our project succeeded because we all helped, because we all respect nature, and most of all, because we try as best we can to balance the needs of people and wildlife.

As human beings, we each have within us the power to create much of our own environment, at least the cultural parts. What we choose to create is up to us — as individuals, but also as people working together. I hope when we each make our choices about how to act in both our natural and cultural worlds, that we choose to better our environment and bring out the best in each other. 

FUN FACTS ABOUT PURPLE MARTINS 

Purple Martin In Flight

• They catch and eat insects on the fly.

• Native Americans have provided nesting gourds for purple martins for centuries.

• Eastern purple martins like apartment-style houses best; western martins prefer gourds.

• Purple martins like to be around people. They are very gregarious.

• Martins are noisy birds with several different songs and calls. Males have a special song they sing at dawn.

• Males look black in dull light and deep, iridescent purple in bright sunlight.

• Females can lay up to five eggs in one gourd.

• Once eggs are laid, they take only a couple of weeks to hatch. Babies are ready to fly a month after that.

• Purple Martins spend the winter in the Amazon Basin.

• Before they migrate, they get together in large groups and then fly south together.

• Thousands of martins used to sit on the powerlines around Green Lake before their population crashed.

Buy a Beautiful Book and Support UBNA

April 18th, 2011 by UWBG Communication Staff

Marilyn Smith Layton has created a book of images called Seasons of Life in the Union Bay Natural Area, and she is donating the profits from the sale of the book to projects in UBNA. The cost of the book is $60, and $20 of that will go to help the natural area.

You may purchase a copy in the Miller Library (cash or check only). If you would like to purchase by mail, please send a check (written out to Marilyn Smith Layton) to:

Marilyn Smith Layton
c/o UW Botanic Gardens
Box 354115
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

Please include an additional $6 for postage and your mailing address. Books will be sent via USPS.

Seasons of Life has emerged from years of photographing the Union Bay Natural Area:  a sanctuary of renewal and inspiration within the UW Botanic Gardens.

A resident of the nearby neighborhood since 1968, Marilyn walks with camera in hand to capture the lives and light that are forever shifting. When her husband Richard Layton was recovering from a near fatal brain disease in the summer of 2009, they measured his progress by how much of the path he could cover. Slowly he came to walk its full circle again.

Both Marilyn and Richard Layton have close ties and loyalty to the University; Richard graduated in the fifth class of the UW Medical School (1954) and for many years directed a residency program in Family Medicine at Providence Hospital for the university, receiving the 2001 Alumni Service Award from the school. Marilyn completed her doctoral coursework in the UW English Department but a full-time teaching contract from North Seattle Community College prevented her from completing the degree, a choice she has not regretted.

For 40 years until her retirement in December 2008, Marilyn taught writing and literature in the Humanities Division at North Seattle. She continues to serve the college as an executive board member and presently vice-chair of its scholarship-granting Education Fund, and as the secretary of the Seattle Community Colleges Foundation. As an active faculty member, she authored three books, a number of articles, and presented workshops on many topics at
conferences around the country, as well as teaching for short periods in India and Argentina. She has participated in photography and art shows, and a few of her paintings still hang at the college.

Years immersed in a natural history class with science colleagues launched her passion for capturing in photographs the life she observed. She and her husband began to travel widely to wild places like the Antarctic and the Galapagos. Those travels have helped focus her love on what is so close to home: the Union Bay Natural Area.

Proceeds from this book will provide financial support for this well-loved place.

Past and Present: Continuing the Tradition of Restoration in UBNA

February 17th, 2011 by Jake Milofsky - UBNA RA

Earlier this season as we were getting ready for a new quarter of restoration work in the Union Bay Natural Area, a friend supplied me with her wonderful collection of photographs from the 2004 planting of UBNA’s “blue tube forest”.  It was a pleasure to be given a look back in time to the beginning of this project, as I have only been familiar with UBNA for a mere 2 years.  During the 2004 project, students planted over 1,000 bare root trees into what was then a grassy field, mulched these new seedlings, and protected them with blue plastic planting tubes.  Today, as anyone who strolls along Wahkiakum Lane well knows, that area is certainly not a grassy field any more!

In addition to the planting, students also participated in a Native American ceremony to bring the bald eagles back to UBNA; an effort whose success our birding friends can attest to.

Let’s have a look back to 2004:

(All 2004 photos courtesy of Katie Murphy)

Looking east from within the planting area

Looking north from within the planting area. The three mature trees just off of Wahkiakum Lane still provide good reference points for this image

Students also participated in a Native American ceremony to bring bald eagles back to UBNA

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Walking through UBNA today, one notices many of these once tiny cherry, poplar, ash, willow, and alder seedlings have matured into healthy saplings, filling in the canopy of this new woodland.  In more recent years, the overall diversity has been increased with supplemental plantings of conifer species such as western red cedar and Douglas fir.

What a difference 7 years can make!

Unfortunately the woodland restoration plot has also been impacted by invasive Himalayan blackberry, which competes with the desired woodland species for important resources and threatens the overall health of this newly established ecosystem.  This invasion has been consistently managed over the years and will remain a perennial effort until the canopy is mature enough to cast shade over the blackberry plants, bringing them under a natural control.

Fortunately, UBNA has many friends in both the UW community and the general public who have given their time over the years to help nurture this newly established woodland, and 2011 has been no different!  During the winter quarter there have already been 3 volunteer work parties, with several more scheduled throughout the rest of the academic year.

UW students and members of the general public alike provide valuable volunteer support in the maintenance of UBNA's restoration sites.

If these efforts sound intriguing, you too can join the efforts to create healthy native ecosystems in the Union Bay Natural Area.  For info on upcoming volunteer work parties, have a look at the UWBG’s volunteer calendar and register for an upcoming event.  You’re guaranteed to leave feeling a sense of accomplishment, and you may even see a bald eagle!

Many Hands Makes Light Work in the Union Bay Natural Area

September 22nd, 2010 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

Between August 2009 and August 2010 the Union Bay Natural Area chalked up 2,050 volunteer service and educational tour hours from student organizations, University of Washington dorm residents, local community groups, the UBNA service corps, and University of Washington courses.  There are numerous opportunities to get involved with the UBNA this academic year through the courses offered as a part of the Restoration Ecology Network, the Society for Ecological Restoration student guild.

Garden Loosestrife – Spray Application Scheduled 9/22

September 14th, 2010 by UWBG Horticulturist

UWBG IPM staff will be out on Union Bay, Wednesday, September 22nd, w/ spray contractor NW Aquatic Eco-Systems. All canoe landings and shoreline trailheads will be posted. This is the second of  two  follow-up spray applications in our effort to control the class A noxious weed, Garden Loosestrife.

Garden Loosestrife Spray Scheduled – Wed., August 18, 2010

August 13th, 2010 by UWBG Horticulturist

Garden Loosestrife (GL) control contractor, NW Aquatic Ecosystems, along with UW Botanic Garden IPM staff, will complete initial 2010 treatment on Wednesday, August 18th. The  Waterfront Trail between Foster Island and MOHAI will be closed early am to public temporarily for contractor access to GL growing near the trail. Signs will be posted on barricades at both trailhead entrances and also staffed during spray period to avoid public breaching the barricades. Trail will be reopened once material has dried on foliage. The remainder applications will be accomplished via boat in and around Marsh and other islands and inlets throughout UW Botanic Gardens managed Union Bay shorelines.

Scheduled pm Kayak tours will not be disrupted. Applications within tour boundaries will be completed in am.

There will be a follow-up treatment later in September. Notice will go out as soon as date is set.

For further information, call 206-543-8800

Invasive Garden Loosestrife Spraying to Restart

July 29th, 2010 by UWBG Horticulturist

Lysimachia vulgaris imageFor a second year, Northwest Aquatic Eco-Systems along with UW Botanic Garden will begin spray work to control Lysimachia vulgaris (garden loosestrife), a state-listed noxious weed occurring along Union Bay shorelines including the Union Bay Natural Area and the Arboretum’s Foster and Marsh Islands the first week of August.  King County requires control of this aggressive and invasive weed, which poses a serious threat to the native character of area wetlands. In 2009, DoE provided a 5-year grant for $75,000 to fund loosestrife control.

In mid-July members of King County’s Noxious Weed Control Program and UW Botanic Gardens staff mapped the extent of the weed in the areas listed above.  Comparison of the maps from year 1 to year 2 demonstrated slight control had taken place.  Once again the weed will be controlled with an aquatically approved herbicide by the contractor, Northwest Aquatic Eco-Systems using airboats and other specialized equipment.

King County Garden Loosestrife Fact Sheet