November 14th, 2012 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin
Written by Cassie Benz
On October 18, 2012, UW Botanic Gardens and the Arboretum Foundation celebrated their volunteers with an annual Volunteer Recognition event. We enjoyed fabulous food, from delectable appetizers to yummy barbecue to delicious desserts. Directors Sarah Reichard and Paige Miller graciously honored our volunteers, speaking of their dedication and importance to UWBG and the Foundation. This past year UWBG volunteers contributed 6,258 hours and Foundation volunteers contributed 13,931 hours.
Sharlene Walsh was the Arboretum Foundation Volunteer-of-the-Year. Molly Cleland received the annual Brian O. Mulligan UWBG Volunteer Award. Many thanks go to Sharlene, Molly and all our volunteers.
Become a volunteer and join the fun!
November 9th, 2012 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin
Members of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association joined forces at their 2012 Community Enhancement Day to spiff up the Center for Urban Horticulture. Projects included invasive plant removal, small construction projects, painting, planting and much more.
Hoop-houses were rebuilt, Stairs from the McVey Courtyard to the Event Lawn were built, and the weed-prone gravel paths were replaced with stamped concrete in the Soest garden (photo right).
UWBG director, professor Sarah Reichard, remarked: “Of special interest to the faculty and students: the wet beds are rebuilt and look gorgeous. Get that wetland research going now!”
CUH is sparkling now thanks to our NAIOP friends, community members and the UWBG Horticulture staff.
Watch the action:
Video posted with permission.
November 6th, 2012 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant
The WPA guides and education staff recently visited Seattle’s Dunn Garden on one of our enrichment tours. We visit local gardens regularly as part of our commitment to further education so that we, as guides, can provide WPA visitors a great tour experience.
The Dunn Garden, like the arboretum, was designed by James Dawson of the Olmstead Brothers landscape design firm, While the WPA was designed in the 1930’s as a natural park to house the plant collection, the Dunn Garden is a private formal garden surrounding residences and predates our park by almost 30 years.
The two gardens have other connections. Ed Dunn, son of garden founder Arthur Dunn, served as the Arboretum Foundation president in the late 1950’s and was instrumental in the installation of the Japanese Garden. Many of the plants Ed Dunn installed in his garden were species he acquired through the WPA, purchased as extras by him when the arboretum would receive new collection plants.
Other similarities occur – I noticed that the Dunn, like the WPA, also featured some Douglas Firs with Hydrangea anomala vines growing up their trunks. I asked our docent if this was a Dawson design feature and was told that this was the influence of Elisabeth Miller, who was very involved the both gardens and founded the CUH’s Miller Library.
One of the most amazing features of the Dunn is the presence of many mature East Coast specimen trees like Sugar Maples, European Beech, and the largest Magnolia I have ever seen personally. The garden covers several acres separated in a variety of styles and is beautiful even in late autumn. I plan to return in the spring when flowers will be in their glory because I can only imagine how breathtaking it must be. The Dunn Garden is closed for the winter, but open again for tours in April, 2013. I highly recommend a visit . For more information their web site is www.dunngardens.org.
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.
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.
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
February 8th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan
I had the pleasure of attending the NW Flower & Garden Show Preview Gala last night, hosted by the Arboretum Foundation in partnership with Seattle Audubon. It was a good time and I was given the honor or saying a few words to drum up donor support for the UWBG Education & Outreach Program here at the Arb. One of the questions that Dick, the emcee, fired my way had to do with the value of getting kids outside into places like the WPA. I fumbled a bit, but said something about how being in nature can at once calm the mind while stimulating it, and how volumes have been written about the benefits associated with being outdoors.
I thought about this question some more on my bike ride to work this morning (when I normally do my best thinking). It dawned on me that the ultimate goal of environmental education has got to be establishing a sense of belonging to something bigger than oneself – to feel a kinship with the world around us. We humans are not above or separate from life on earth; we’re merely part of it, “cogs in a wheel” as Aldo Leopold would say.
The value of getting kids outside and allowing them to explore the world around them is crucial in establishing this kinship. When it doesn’t happen, a disconnect results and we end up with a citizenry that thinks food comes from grocery stores, and energy from light switches. We end up with economies based on perpetual growth that don’t calculate true costs and carrying capacities. And we end up with governments that only look out for their own best interests; forests, reefs, and ice-caps be damned! Contrary to popular practice, natural resources like clean air/water/soil, petroleum/wood/fish, are not limitless. Those who see the birds and trees as equals know this and act accordingly, but unfortunately, we are a minority.
But we’re still here and we’re recruiting! If you’re picking up what I’m putting down, join us in any way that works for you. Send your kids to our upcoming Spring Break Camp; take a Weekend Walk with us any Sunday of the month; volunteer with us to lead School Fieldtrips or remove invasive weeds; become an Arboretum Foundation member; or simply step outside and take a hike! John Muir perhaps said it best, “in every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” And after receiving, think about how you can give back to ensure that generations to come have something to receive as well.
September 26th, 2011 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan
Each fall, the Washington Park Arboretum Education and Outreach Program provides training for new and veteran guides who lead school field trips and/or Weekend Walks. This fall, guides learned firsthand about current plant-related research at the University of Washington. Hyde Herbarium Collections Manager and School of Forest Resources (SFR) graduate student Katie Murphy spoke about fall plant physiology and offered pointers for leading groups in the field. SFR graduate student Shawn Behling, whose research focuses on plant morphology, gave an inspiring walk and talk on forest ecology. Shawn has a keen eye for seeing how a plant’s architecture reflects its environmental conditions (and vice versa) and we enjoyed watching her “geek out” at the myriad tree/plant forms contained within the Arboretum.
Joyce LeCompte-Mastenbrook, doctoral candidate from the Department of Anthropology, and active volunteer at the Bernie Whitebear Ethnobotanical Garden at Discovery Park’s Daybreak Star Center, joined us last Tuesday and facilitated a lively discussion on Coast Salish culture to prepare guides to lead our very popular “Native Plants & People” fieldtrip. One of the new tid-bits I gleaned from Joyce was how important a role “networking” plays in Coast Salish culture. This networking was crucial in establishing good relationships among various groups that, among other things, enabled trade between upland and lowland villages. We wrapped up training on Thursday with a review of our “Wetlands 101 & 201” fieldtrips followed by a ducks-eye view of our Foster Island Wetland, courtesy of Agua Verde Paddle Club. The highlight of the paddle was watching a Great Blue Heron ingest a fish that looked way too big for its mouth/throat. You can check out some low-quality video footage here: http://youtu.be/Ms54ZQ0T9Z4
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer guide, it’s not too late! Email: email@example.com for more information.
May 29th, 2011 by Jake Milofsky - UBNA RA
This spring quarter wrapped up a wonderful season of restoration events in the Union Bay Natural Area, with fantastic progress being made on several projects. Tallying 177 individual visits in the spring quarter, students and community members collectively donated over 400 hours of their time to the restoration efforts being made in UBNA!
The northern end of Yesler Swamp saw a major improvement with the removal of a large monoculture of Himalayan blackberry. UW students and the UWBG partnered with the Friends of Yesler Swamp to complete this work and install a suite of native plants including Indian plum, red-flowering currant, snowberry, Douglas hawthorne, ocean spray and live willow stakes. Maintenance will continue in the coming months as volunteers return to weed this area and support the growth of these newly installed plants.
A community volunteer helps remove bindweed from live willow stakes in Yesler Swamp
A large amount of effort was put forth this season in the newly established woodland at the western end of Wahkiakum Lane as well. What had seemed like an impenetrable sea of Himalayan blackberry during the winter quarter was tamed by the efforts of many students in UW’s Environmental Science course. As they supplemented their course work with these service learning opportunities in ecological restoration, they also saw many native species appear from below the blackberry as they cut, pulled, and dug it out of the ground.
A big thanks goes out to everyone who participated in this year’s efforts!
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.