“Happy Thanksgiving!”
Native Plants of Cape Cod

November 23rd, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum, November 16 - 29, 2015

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum, November 16 – 29, 2015

1)  Arctostaphylus uva-ursi                                                   ‘Vancouver Jade’            Kinnikinnick or Bearberry

  • Broadleaf evergreen and creeping groundcover with circumpolar distribution in northern hemisphere often found growing in association with Pitch Pine
  • If there were still bears on Cape Cod, it would be a favorite food source for them.
  • This cultivar, ‘Vancouver Jade’ is growing in containers outside the Graham Visitor Center.

2)  Juniperus virginiana  ‘Blue Coast’                               Eastern Red Cedar

  • A low growing, blue form of the Eastern Red Cedar
  • Pioneer species found in mixed stands with Pitch Pine, reclaiming abandoned farms and grasslands
  • Found growing under Pines in grid 36-4E, along nursery road

3)  Morella pensylvanica                Bayberry

Photo demonstrating the straightness of Arrowwood stems and their usage in making arrows

Photo demonstrating the straightness of Arrowwood stems and their usage in making arrows

  • Berries boiled to extract sweet-smelling wax used to make clean-burning candles
  • Found growing in dry open sites along with Bearberry, Eastern Red Cedar and Pitch Pine
  • Mass growing in Oaks Collection in grid 43-B

4)  Pinus rigida                Pitch Pine

  • Rigid cone scales and stiff needles, hence its Latin specific epithet
  • Used during days of wooden ships due to its resistance to decay
  • Several young specimens in our Pinetum, grid 37-4W

5)  Viburnum dentatum var. pubescens                Arrowwood

  • Large deciduous shrub with fruit a food source for songbirds
  • Common name refers to Native American use of straight young stems as arrow shafts
  • Old specimens located in southeastern Viburnum bed, grid 24-4W

Reference: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/



2016 Family Nature Classes Open for Registration

November 18th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Join us for a Family Nature Class and make connections with the natural world that will last a lifetime! Through science-based exploration and outdoor play preschoolers and their caregivers will experience the UW Botanic Gardens using their senses. We’ll explore sight, hearing, touch and smell, as well as delve into mud, trees, and what exactly happens in winter!

Here is what some previous families have said about Family Nature Class:

kids with binosI liked everything! I thought it was great how all the books and games during each class was specific to the topic of the class.”

“We all had a wonderful time. You had so many engaging activities for the kids and I liked how you had creative ways to incorporate the adults into the fun as well.”

“We really found the class inspiring and fun.”

Come see what all the fuss is about!

WHO: Children ages 2-8 and their caregivers.

WHEN: Thursday, Friday or Saturday from 9:30-11:30am  for 2-5 year olds
OR Fridays, 1-3pm, for 4-8 year olds.
WHERE: Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle), under the white tent behind the greenhouse

SERIES: Sign up for 6 or more classes (any day of the week) $14/class for 1 adult and 1 child. Additional child: $7/class (children must be attending with the same adult to receive the second child discount). Additional adults are free!

INDIVIDUAL CLASSES: $18/class for 1 adult and 1 child. Additional child: $9/class (children must be attending with the same adult to receive the second child discount). Additional adults are free!

Register Online, or call 206-685-8033.

More information…

November Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

November 11th, 2015 by UWBG Arborist, Chris Watson
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (November 2 - 15, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum
(November 2 – 15, 2015)

1)  Berberis fortunei             Fortune’s Mahonia

  • Native to China, this shrub sports deep-red new growth when grown in sunnier locations.
  • The mature size is 6-12 feet tall and just as wide.
  • This specimen is located in the Sino-Himalayan Collection (Grid 25-1W).

2)  Buxus wallichiana             Himalayan Boxwood

  • A large shrub or small tree native to the northwestern Himalaya and known for very dense, hard wood.
  • Trained as a small tree, our specimen is nearing its mature size at 10 feet.
  • This specimen is located in the Pinetum near the Wilcox Footbridge (Grid 39-4W).

3)  Illicum henryi             Henry Anise Tree

  • Native to China, this evergreen shrub has excellent, glossy foliage and small-but-noticeable red flowers that turn to unique star-shaped fruit in the fall.
  • This species is related to the plant from which the anise spice is derived.
  • This specimen is located along the Ridgetop Trail near the Magnolia and Asiatic Maple Collections (Grid 24-1W).

4)  Lithocarpus henryi             Henry’s Stone Oak

  • An evergreen tree native to China, the large, lance-shaped leaves give this tree a unique appearance.
  • This tree can reach heights of 60 feet in its native range.
  • This specimen is located along the service road, east of the Sino-Himalayan Collection (Grid 24-B).

5)  Stachyurus yunnanensis             Yunnan Stachyurus

  • The new growth of this Chinese shrub emerges pinkish-red and fades to green throughout the summer.
  • The new stems remain red until the following spring.
  • Located in the Sino-Himalayan Collection (Grid 25-1W)

Fiddleheads Forest School Fall Fair

November 5th, 2015 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

Walking with Parents through the woodsFiddleheads Forest School is hosting a Fall Fair at the Graham Visitor Center from 1-3pm on Nov. 14th!

Currently enrolled families and those interested in being a part of our Fiddleheads community are welcome to attend, rain or shine. The fair is family friendly and will feature:
-Fall Crafts
-Fiddleheads Science and Exploration Activities
-Hot Cedar Tea and Treats
-Forest Grove tours throughout the morning

Support our efforts and learn about: SPrOut (Study of Preschoolers Outdoors), a new research opportunity developed by Dr. Pooja Tandon of Seattle Children’s and the University of Washington in collaboration with Sarah Heller and Kit Harrington of Fiddleheads. Families enrolled or interested in Fiddleheads with preschool-age students will have the opportunity to participate this spring, 2016!

Fiddleheads is committed to developing evidence-based practice and encourages research efforts to better understand the benefits and impacts of outdoor learning and the Fiddleheads approach to education

Please share our event and help spread the word!

Fall Fair Flyer (image)Fall Fair Flyer

November 2015 Plant Profile: Danae racemosa

November 3rd, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

By Roy Farrow

Danae racemosa photoNovember, I’ve found, is a difficult month to choose a garden highlight. The glory of autumn color is passing as the storms of our historically wettest month remove the most stubborn holdouts from the branches of our Acer, Stewartia, Oxydendrum and Fothergilla. Those same storms presage the return of honest-to-goodness mud, while the uplifting gems of winter such as Helleborus, Galanthus, Cyclamen and Hamamelis are still just distant dreams. Most people of sound mind are driven inside at this time for a much deserved break from the garden.

However, it is just these conditions that can spotlight the rare jewel for people still out and about. Danae racemosa is just such a jewel. During the summer months, its only request is that you keep it out of full sun. In the right shade, Poet’s Laurel is a fine, arching, bamboo-like mass of lush green foliage all year. Take a closer peak at the “foliage” and you might notice something odd. The leaves are actually just flattened stems called phylloclades. Danae spreads slowly by rhizomes.

A monotypic genus, Danae has but the one species. Currently listed in the family Asparagaceae, it has previously been located within Ruscaceae and even Liliaceae. Danae is closely related to Ruscus which also uses phylloclades rather than leaves, though Danae has terminal racemes of 1/8 in. flowers rather than have the flowers and fruit magically appear in the center of the “leaf” as with Ruscus. While the foliage of both Danae and Ruscus is quite long lasting even when cut, the fruit set of bright orange-to-red berries of Danae tends to be much more impressive than Ruscus, mostly because Ruscus requires both a male and female plant to be present, while Danae does not.

Come visit the Witt Winter Garden and you will see Danae racemosa growing in close proximity to both Ruscus hypoglossum and Ruscus aculeatus.

Name: Danae racemosa

Family: Asparagaceae (prev. Ruscaceae, Liliaceae)

Common Name: Alexandrian Laurel, Poet’s Laurel

Location: Witt Winter Garden, Washington Park Arboretum

Origin: Turkey, Iran

Height and Spread: 3’x4’

Danae racemosa with berries

Danae racemosa in the garden

October Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum (Part II)

October 20th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (October 19, 2015 - November 1, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (October 19, 2015 – November 1, 2015)

1)  Cupressus (Hesperocyparis) bakeri                               Modoc Cedar

  • A moderately-sized coniferous tree with greyish-green scale-like foliage that is dotted with white resin. It is native to the Siskiyou and Sierra Nevada Mountain ranges. A slow growing tree, usually under 90 feet over many decades.
  • Considered vulnerable to extinction in the wild in the medium term.
  • Located in the Pacific Connections Garden Cascadia Focal Forest above the Chilean Gateway.

2)  Euonymus myrianthus                Evergreen Spindle Tree

  • A member of the same family as burning bush, this large shrub was discovered in western China and introduced into cultivation by famed plantsman, E.H. Wilson.
  • This plant has insignificant flowers in spring and bares conspicuous yellow fruit in fall, which persist well into winter.
  • Located with the Asiatic Maples collection, north of where the upper and lower trails meet.

3)  Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. densiflorus                Tan Oak

  • Native to the mountains from southwestern Oregon through central California.
  • A natural source of tannin, Tan Oak bark was used in the process of tanning leather.
  • This species is particularly susceptible to “sudden oak death” Phytophthora ramorum.
  • Located in Pacific Connections Garden Cascadia Focal Forest above the Chilean Gateway.

4)  Picea breweriana                             Brewer’s Weeping Spruce

  • Native to the Siskiyou Mountains, this large coniferous tree is slow growing and adapted to extreme cold. The tough flexible branches are held horizontally, forming curtains of foliage. The stiff flattened needles are dark green with two white bands of stomata on the undersides.
  • Located in the Pacific Connections Garden Cascadia Entry Garden near Arboretum Drive.

5)  Magnolia grandiflora ‘Monlia’                Southern Magnolia

  • A medium-sized evergreen tree to 50 feet, it has large green leaves with brown indumentum covering the undersides. Large fragrant white flowers in summer are followed by large upright fruit. The species is native to the southeastern United States.
  • Located at the south end of the Graham Visitors Center parking lot.

October Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

October 7th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (October 5 - 18, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (October 5 – 18, 2015)

1)  Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’                Blue Atlas Cedar

  • A large coniferous tree with vivid, glaucous blue foliage, making it easy to identify.
  • Native to Algeria and Morocco on the Atlas Mountains, these specimens can grow up to 100 feet tall and beyond.
  • Located in the Pinetum near the Lynn Street play area.

2)  Cunninghamia lanceolata                China Fir

  • Members of the family Taxodiaceae, these trees are named after James Cunningham, who originally found C. lanceolata on the Island of Chusan in 1701.
  • Cunninghamias are closely related to the redwoods (Sequoia), although the foliage is similar to that of the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana).
  • Located in the Pinetum near the Newton Street entrance.

3)  Picea engelmannii ssp. Mexicana                       Engelmann Spruce

  • Conical tree with bluish-green to steel-blue needles.
  • Native to the mountains of western North America from Alberta and British Columbia (where it attains its greatest size) and south to New Mexico and Arizona.

4)  Picea pungens ‘Glauca’                Blue Colorado Spruce

  • P. pungens is allied to P. engelmannii, differing in its glabrous shoots, and in its bluer, more pungently pointed leaves.
  • Native to the Rocky Mountains and southern China.
  • Located in the Pinetum.

5)  Sequoia Sempervirens ‘Henderson Blue’                Coast Redwood

  • Native to a narrow belt of the California coastline, where summer fogs off the Pacific Ocean are frequent and mitigate the seasonal heat and drought.
  • Located in the Pinetum near 26th Ave. East and East McGraw Street.

Glimpse into the past – the Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree

September 22nd, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor
David Zuckerman and the Centennial Tree in 2003, just after transplanting.

David Zuckerman and the Centennial Tree in 2003, just after transplanting.

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

On Thursday, October 29, 2015, the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington will honor Daniel J. Evans, on his 90th birthday, for his public leadership, scholarship, and service.  What an opportune time to mention the Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree at the Washington Park Arboretum…a coast redwood  (Sequoia sempervirens) which he planted in the south Pinetum as part of the Washington State Arbor Day program.   This tree has grown from a propagule (cutting) from the original tree named in 1989 during the State Centennial.  That tree was located at 201 Union Avenue SE, Olympia, WA, centered on a small knoll on property originally owned by Russell O’Brien, an Irish immigrant, and occupied by three generations of family thereafter.  The site is now called Centennial Park.  The tree was about 50 feet from the foundation of the old house that originally occupied the site, near a newer smaller home. (At this date, I have not been able to determine if the tree is still there, although I personally have visited it several times over the last 33 years.)

In 1998, the parent tree was at least 100 years old, 148 feet tall, and 67.2 inches in girth.  Ken Russell, Forest Pathologist, cored the tree and determined its age and wrote a description (1988) which is attached to our accession record. Other specific information can be found in the Washington State Historical Society records.  It is unknown how the tree arrived in Olympia and why it was planted on the O’Brien property.

Original certificate for the tree.

Original certificate for the tree.

In 1995, as Arboretum Director, I received an inquiry from Shelley Farber, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, asking if we would be interested in a propagule, since the DNR had several rooted trees which they wished to establish throughout the State of Washington. The official certificate is signed by Shelley on February 27, 1995 at 3:20 p.m.

The Arbor Day planting of the tree took place in a very heavy rain storm on the Washington State Arbor Day, April 12. 1995.  (The Washington State Arbor Day is a different day than the National Arbor Day).  The ceremony was attended by Dean David Thorud, UW College of Forestry, Clement Hamilton, Director of the Center for Urban Horticulture,  dignitaries from DNR, area high school students, and arboretum staff, myself included.  The arboretum staff (Christina Pfeiffer and David Zuckerman) had prepared a great planting site, with the tree (Accession #245-95) patiently waiting in its plastic pot.  After appropriate speeches, and with great gusto, the young tree was passed to David for planting preparation.  He lifted and tugged on the pot only to discover that it was totally pot bound, necessitating slicing off the pot.  Of course the roots were found to be one solid round core.   We all stood patiently for several minutes in the rain while David struggled to cut and loosen the roots, wanting to make sure the tree would survive. It has!  Finally, Governor Evans was able to plant the tree and we all quickly retreated for drier locations, leaving the staff to finish the planting job.

Governor Evans at the Arbor Day tree planting, April 12, 1995.

Governor Evans at the Arbor Day tree planting, April 12, 1995.

The Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree being transplanted, 2003.

The Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree being transplanted, 2003.

The tree flourished well, but on September 23, 2003, it was moved a few feet north, thus giving it more space.  Todd Holm, from Olympic Tree Farm, was the tree spade contractor. The tree has continued to flourish. In 2003, it was measured by Randall Hitchin at 30 feet tall, with a 6 inch dbh.  Today, it is 70 feett tall with 20 inch dbh.

I often see Governor Evans enjoying a milkshake at one of his favorite haunts, Burgermaster.   Occasionally we chat about his tree, and he tells me that he regularly visits it with his family, including his grandchildren.   This in indeed a superb tribute to a great man with a great tree which will remain a legacy for at least another 100 years, a milestone he himself is within 10 years of achieving.

Cool Seeds Abound

September 11th, 2015 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 1.26.25 PMPterocarya stenoptera, common name Chinese Wing Nut, has gorgeous lime green seed catkins 12-14″ long each bearing up to 80 seeds. That’s pretty amazing in itself but when these seed catkins are dripping off of each limb of a tall tree the effect is stunning.

The Wing Nut genus resides in the walnut family, or Juglandaceae, and is used for ornamental purposes in gardens around the world.   Its native habitats are in China, Japan, and Korea, growing in areas from sea level to elevations of about 1500 feet.  Like its cousin nut trees – the Walnut, Pecan & Hickory – this large deciduous tree has pinnate leaves and grows quickly with a rangy habit.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 1.26.59 PM

We have a few different Pterocarya species in the Washington Park Arboretum collection.  I like to stop and admire the large P. stenoptera specimen along Azalea Way; it was acquired in 1951 and is now about 60′ feet tall.   Because it has many low-hanging limbs, you can touch the seed catkins, which are surprisingly rigid and tough.

You can learn about this tree and many others in our collection if you join our Free Weekend Walks for September.  Our tour theme is “Fruits, Nuts & Seed Pods” because right now is the time to marvel at the bounty which is the result of spring pollination.  Guides meet visitors at the Graham Visitors Center every Sunday at 1:00 pm and off you go to explore our great park.

A Wind in the Willows (and Cedars, Firs, Maples…)

September 5th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist

How some trees react to high winds.

A broken <em>Acer macrophyll </em> (Big Leaf Maple) um stem located at the east end of Loderi Valley in the Washington Park Arboretum

A broken Acer macrophyllum (Big Leaf Maple) stem located at the east end of Loderi Valley in the Washington Park Arboretum

1)  Pseudotsuga menziesii                Douglas Fir

  • The detritus lying on the ground following a wind event in the Pacific Northwest provides ample evidence of how P. menziesii defends itself against wind.
  • The wood of P. menziesii is brittle and can snap. When a strong wind acts on a Douglas Fir, the tree sacrifices small pieces of foliage to shed the wind’s energy.

2)  Thuja plicata                Western Red Cedar

  • In contrast to Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar limbs are fibrous and tenaciously strong. Long, bendable limbs whip and swing in the wind, but rarely break.
  • The wind’s energy is transferred to the trunk and the cedar relies on its massive girth and extensive root system to keep it upright.

3)  Populus trichocarpa                Black Cottonwood

  • In growth, P. trichocarpa sacrifices strength for speed.
  • Just to the northwest of our Overlook Pond, a massive black cottonwood demonstrates how weak wood tends to shatter under stress.

4)  Salix spp.                Willow

  • Often growing in wet bottomlands, the roots of willows can be shallow mats that are relatively easy to peel up when a strong wind levers a tall tree.

5)  Acer macrophyllum                Big Leaf Maple

  • The wood of Acer macrophyllum is strong but heavy. The massive, reaching limbs can shatter mid-limb when wind pulls on the sail-like leaves.
  • A recent example is located at the east end of Loderi Valley just above Arboretum Drive, although many of our big-leaf maples are festooned with “storm stubs.”