July Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

July 15th, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (July 11 - 24, 2016)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum
(July 11 – 24, 2016)

1)  Colutea orientalis                Bladder Senna

  • This deciduous native of northern Iran has delicate bluish-green pinnate leaves.
  • The orange flowers are followed by surprising translucent bladder-like fruit pods.
  • You can find Colutea orientalis in the Legume Collection along Arboretum Drive.

2)  Hydrangea macrophylla  ‘Mme. Emile Mouillere’ Bigleaf Hydrangea

  • Hydrangea macrophylla is native to Japan.
  • This cultivar is an example of the Hortensia group – having mophead flowers.
  • The pure white sterile flowers will age to pink.

3)  Hydrangea serrata  ‘Bluebird’                Tea of Heaven

  • Hydrangea serrata, a.k.a. H. macrophylla subspecies serrata, is native to Korea as well as Japan.
  • This cultivar is a fine, long blooming example of the Lacecap group.
  • Many of our hydrangeas can be found in Rhododendron Glen along Arboretum Drive.

4)  Lomatia myricoides                 River Lomatia

  • Lomatia myricoides is a native of Australia, in the regions of New South Wales and Victoria.
  • The flowers are honey scented.
  • A large specimen is located along the east side of Arboretum Drive opposite our New Zealand Garden.

5)  Taiwania cryptomerioides                Coffin Tree

  • This native of southeast Asia is listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List overall, and ‘critically endangered’ in Vietnam.
  • The wood from this tree has been historically used for coffins.
  • Specimens can be found along Arboretum Drive, on the north side of our Giant Sequoia grove, as well as in the Pinetum.

Summer Arrives at the Washington Park Arboretum

July 3rd, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum, June 27 - July 10, 2016

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum,
June 27 – July 10, 2016

1)  Cunninghamia lanceolata                (Chinese Fir)

  • Bluish evergreen foliage contrasts nicely with its scaly bark.
  • This evergreen tree from China is an important timber tree in its native area.
  • In 1701, James Cunningham (one of the first European plant hunters to visit China) described and collected this tree.

2)  Hydrangea integrifolia                                                      (Evergreen Climbing Hydrangea)

  • A vigorous, evergreen vine climbing to over 40 feet, on the trunk of a mature Douglas Fir.
  • Attractive, large and round creamy buds form prior to the flower opening.
  • Native to Taiwan and the Philippines.

3)  Magnolia grandiflora                (Evergreen Magnolia)

  • The large fragrant blossoms are the highlight of this tree.
  • Native to the southern United States, this tree is popularly planted in urban environments around Puget Sound.

4)  Ostrya carpinifolia                (European Hop Hornbeam)

  • The name Ostrya is derived from the Greek word ostrua, meaning “bone-like”, and refers to the very hard wood.
  • The fruit clusters resembling hops hang from the branches and provide a nice contrast with the foliage and rough bark.
  • Native to southern Europe, Asia Minor and the Caucasus.

5)  Picea koyamae               (Koyama’s Spruce)

  • The immature purplish cones are great color against the green needles.
  • This evergreen tree, from a small mountainous region in Japan, has a threatened status as native stands have been damaged from wildfires and typhoons.
  • Botanist Mitsuo Koyama discovered a small stand of these trees in 1911.

July 2016 Plant Profile: Phormium cookianum

July 1st, 2016 by Kathleen DeMaria, Arboretum Gardener

Phormium cookianum at the Washington Park ArboretumThis smaller, lesser known relative of Phormium tenax is one of only two species found in the genus Phormium, and is credited as the parent that gives the graceful arching form to many hybrids. The plant is a native of New Zealand, where it is widely grown for its valuable fiber; hence the name, Phormium, which is Greek for basket. Māori used the leaves of both species for weaving baskets, mats, ropes, clothing, fishing nets and head-bands. Using a sharp mussel, leaves were cut and the fleshy green substance was stripped off down to the fiber. After the fiber (called Muka) was exposed, several more processes of washing, bleaching, dying and drying would yield fibers of various strengths and softness.

The handmade flax cording and rope had such great tensile strength that they were used to bind together hollowed-out logs to create ocean-worthy canoes. It was also used to make rigging, sails, roofs for housing, and frayed ends of leaves were fashioned into torches for use at night. Roots yielded materials to make medicine, and nectar and pollen were obtained from the flowers to make face paint.

Phormium cookianum at the Washington Park Arboretum

Combining function and form, P. cookianum boasts yellowish-orange flowers on towering spikes that, unlike the vertical flower spikes of P. tenax, angle out from the plant’s crown. The seed pods resemble long black bean pods, and can weigh the inflorescence back nearly to the ground. This Phormium can grow in sun or partial shade and will tolerate fairly dry conditions but prefers moderate water.

This summer is the first year our Phormium cookianum is blooming here in our nascent New Zealand garden, and the show is not to be missed. In the United States we mostly use Phormium as a strong architectural element in the garden and a fantastic hummingbird attractor, but in New Zealand this monocot’s connection to the history of a nation cannot be unwoven.

Botanic Name: Phormium cookianum (syn. Phormium colensoi)
Family: Asphodelaceae
Common Name: New Zealand Flax, Wharariki in Māori
Location: New Zealand Garden in the Pacific Connections, Washington Park Arboretum
Origin: Endemic to New Zealand
Height and Spread: 4-5 feet tall. Mature clumps can be 8-10 feet wide with leaves 2-3 inches wide.
Bloom Time: June/July in Seattle, November in New Zealand

Phormium cookianum at the Washington Park Arboretum

New digital collection created to complement UW Botanic Gardens Oral History

June 27th, 2016 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

graham visitor center at washingto park arboretumPatrons listening to the oral history narrators reminiscing about the Washington Park Arboretum might wonder what the heck they are talking about. Why was there a debate about the purpose of the Arboretum?

In an effort to give listeners historic context the Miller Library invited UW Information School grad student Katie Mayer to create a digital collection drawn from the Library’s archives. Last spring quarter, Katie  listened to a sample of the recordings, selected themes, and explored the archives of the Miller Library, UW Special Collections and the Miller Botanical Garden. In order to keep the project manageable, but also expandable, Katie developed criteria for which documents should be digitized. Finally, she selected the most useful reports, minutes, articles and correspondence, scanned the items and assigned metadata. Metadata (such as dates and descriptions) will help people decide which items they might want to read.

Now the Oral History Complementary Documents allow patrons to listen to narrations and then read the reports to learn the points of view of various decision makers and interested neighbors. Other documents give insight into the influential plantswoman Elisabeth Miller’s passion for public horticulture and her deep interest in plants.


report snippet

A UW report from 1972 proposing a shift toward a traditional botanic garden management system and away from a park model.

 

plant list

A snippet of a plant list Betty Miller drafted to be considered for landscaping the McVay Courtyard from 1985

Glimpse into the past – Arboretum Club House

June 23rd, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Arboretum Club House, March 27, 1959

Arboretum Club House, March 27, 1959

In the early days of the Washington Park Arboretum, the Arboretum Club House and Floral Hall exhibit space was the venue for many flower shows, exhibits and functions.  It was the only facility where public functions could be held in the Arboretum.

 

Conifer Exhibit in the Floral Hall exhibit space, November 21, 1955

Conifer Exhibit in the Floral Hall exhibit space, November 21, 1955

On April 7, 1968, a fire was discovered at 7:00 a.m. in the Club House.  Vernon E. Kousky, a UW student walking through the Arboretum, reported it to Pablo Abellera, who lived in the foreman’s house (which currently houses the education offices).  They called the Safety Division on campus, which notified the Seattle Fire Department who had extinguished the fire by 7:50 a.m.

The entire south half of the building was gutted and the rest was badly scorched and charred.   It was not worth trying to repair the remainder.  Scorched books belonging to the Seattle Garden Club were removed by Mrs. Rex Palmer.  Crockery and cutlery belonging to the Arboretum Foundation were salvaged from the cupboards.

Fire debris, April 8, 1968

Fire debris, April 8, 1968

The UW Physical Plant removed the remainder of the building the following week.  The cause of the fire was apparently an electric motor used to drive a pump for the sewage system located under the SE corner of the building, where the fire apparently started.

Brick from the Club House fireplace, one day after the fire

Brick from the Club House fireplace, one day after the fire

The Summer 1970 issue of the Arboretum Bulletin contained a lengthy description of a plan to replace the Floral Hall complex, approved by the UW Board of Regents.  It would be a multi-use building complex providing office space, floral exhibit space, laboratories, an auditorium, a library, an herbarium, a visitor center, greenhouses and other supporting facilities.  The projected cost was $1,200,000.  Obviously this became mired in the politics of the day and never moved forward.   The current Graham Visitor’s Center was finally constructed in 1985, after approval in the earlier Jones and Jones Arboretum Plan.

Conceptual image of the proposed Floral Hall complex, 1970

Conceptual image of the proposed Floral Hall complex, 1970

 

 

 

The Wonderful World of Monocots

June 7th, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist

Monocotyledons, commonly referred to as monocots, are flowering plants whose seeds typically contain only one embryonic leaf, or cotyledon.  A quarter of the world’s known plants are monocots. They are the most economically important group of plants to humans today in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fiber industries.  Here are a few samples of monocots in our plant collections.

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum or Center for Urban Horticulture (June 1 - 12, 2016)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum or Center for Urban Horticulture (June 1 – 12, 2016)

1)  Allium schubertii                                                                            (Ornamental Tumbleweed Onion)

  • Dried seed heads look like starry tumbleweeds or shooting star fireworks
  • Located in the Soest Herbaceous Display Garden, bed 6 at the Center for Urban Horticulture

2)  Austroderia richardii syn Cortedaria r.                     (Toetoe Grass, Plumed Tussock Grass)

  • Ornamental grass native to New Zealand
  • This “pampas” grass seems to be behaving itself in the Pacific Northwest, unlike others that do seed around and could be considered invasive.

3)  Phormium colensoi                (Mountain Flax, Wharariki)

  • One of two species in the genus Phormium; both are endemic to New Zealand.
  • Fiber from its broad, sword-like leaves, can be made into Maori baskets.

4)  Phyllostachys nigra                 (Black Bamboo)

  • Native to China, but widely cultivated elsewhere
  • Known for its ornamental beauty and prized for decorative woodworking
Close-up photo of fruit from a Chinese Windmill Palm tree

Close-up photo of fruit from a Chinese Windmill Palm

5)  Trachycarpus fortunei                (Chinese Windmill Palm)

  • Only palm that is reliably hardy to the Puget Sound area
  • Dioecious, with male and female flowers produced on separate trees
  • Sample of mature fruit cluster and frond

To locate specimens of these plants, please visit our interactive map:
http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/gardens/map.html.

June 2016 Plant Profile: Primula bulleyana

June 1st, 2016 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 12.42.10 PMPrimula bulleyana was discovered in China in 1906 by Scottish plant hunter George Forrest (1873-1932). It was named in honor of Mr. A. K. Bulley of Ness, Neston, Cheshire, (county in NW England) for whom [Forrest] collected.¹ He described his first sighting as follows: “Where marshy openings occurred, the turf was gaudy with the blooms of a multitude of herbaceous plants, [and] I saw miles, really, of Primula Bulleyana [sic] …”²

The UW Botanic Gardens has much smaller groupings displayed at the Pacific Connections Garden (in the China Entry Garden), but they still make a stunning impact. They are also peppered alongside the small, shaded creek in the Woodland Garden amongst Darmera and Skunk Cabbage.

Primula bulleyana is prized as a garden ornamental and has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. This primrose performs best in damp soils alongside streams or ponds and can take sun or shade. The grouping in the China Entry Garden is in soil with average moisture and full sun and they look particularly healthy, so it seems to be an plant that can adapt to various garden situations. The florets are also fairly tolerant of cold winter temperatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Botanic Name: Primula bulleyana

Family: Primulaceae

Common Name: Candelabra Primrose, Bulley’s Primrose

Location: Woodland Garden, Pacific Connections Garden/China Entry Garden 110-08*A

Origin: Northwestern Yunnan and Southern Sichuan regions of China

Height and Spread: 20-24” tall, up to 12” wide at base. These primroses can spread easily from their seeds.

Bloom Time: Spring

Description: semi-evergreen, herbaceous plant, bearing 5-7 whorls of florets along the stem and lanceolate leaves with a lovely reddish petiole and mid-rib.

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¹ Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh 4(19): 231–232, pl. 39A, 42. 1908.

² http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/primula-bulleyana-bulleys-primula

Glimpse into the past – Changes in the Landscape

June 1st, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Currently there are many physical changes occurring in the north end of the Washington Park Arboretum, due to the construction of new SR-520 bridge. Local residents often remark that these changes will “disfigure” the natural landscape which has always been there. The truth is, this area has been greatly changed and altered over the past one hundred years, ever since the level of Lake Washington was lowered.  In fact, there is little left of its “original” shape. It has been dredged, moved, filled, planted and re-planted.

Many of the boggy areas in Washington Park, even starting from Madison Street north, have been filled with debris and served as neighborhood dumping sites. The areas north of Foster Island Drive/Lake Washington Blvd. E. were all fill sites. Now as the ramps come down and new changes occur, it will change once again.

The following photos show some of the changes in the 1940’s.

Photo looks north over the former city dump off of E Miller Street, across Union Bay, toward Laurelhurst, soil being added and plowed in.  March 1947.

Photo looks north over the former city dump off of E. Miller Street, across Union Bay, toward Laurelhurst, soil being added and plowed in.  March 1947.

Photo shows area being covered with soil.   November 1947.

Photo shows area being covered with soil.   November 1947.

Photo across fill…present location of ramps….looking west toward Simon poplars (Populus simonii ‘Pendula’).  November 1947.

Photo across fill…present location of ramps….looking west toward Simon poplars (Populus simonii ‘Pendula’).  November 1947.

Photo after seeding.   November 1947.

Photo after seeding.   November 1947.

Photo looking toward lagoon area where many lindens are planted.   November 1947.

Photo looking toward lagoon area where many lindens are planted.   November 1947.

Photo with more plantings. January 1, 1949.

Photo with more plantings. January 1, 1949.

 

Spring Pushes Forth at the Washington Park Arboretum

May 23rd, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (May 16 - 30, 2016)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum
(May 16 – 30, 2016)

1)   Ostrya carpinifolia                Hop Hornbeam

  • This small-to-medium-sized tree (40-50’) is native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia.
  • The common name refers to the fruit which resembles the fruit of Humulus (Hops).
  • Ostrya is from Greek, meaning “bone-like” in reference to the trees dense hard wood.
  • Located north of East Foster Island Road, east of the Broadmoor entrance.

2)  Picea mariana ‘Doumetii’                Doumet Black Spruce

  • This selection of Picea mariana is a popular slow-growing shrub with blue green needles and a dense conical growth habit.
  • Located along Arboretum Drive on the north end of the Magnolia Collection.

3)  Pinus x schwerinii                Schwerin’s Pine

  • Schwerin’s Pine is an interspecies cross between Himalayan White Pine (Pinus wallichiana) and Weymouth Pine (Pinus strobus). It was found by Earl Schwerin in his park in Wilmersdorf (near Berlin, Germany) in 1905.
  • Our fine specimen is located north of the Crabapple Meadow near the service road.

4)  Pterocarya macroptera                Large–Winged Wingnut

  • Native to northern China, the Wingnut is a fast-growing, medium height tree to 50-70 feet tall and 40 feet wide.
  • This tree boasts ornamental spikes of fruit with broad wings in long pendulous spikes.
  • This tree can be seen in fruit east of Arboretum Drive and south of the Crabapple Meadow. Look for the long bright green chains before you reach the service road.

5)  Tillia cordata ‘Bicentennial’                Bicentennial Littleleaf Linden

  • This selection of the popular street tree is known for a dense and conical form.
  • Its moderate size makes Tillia cordata useful in areas where space is limited.
  • Littleleaf Linden is known for its sweetly-scented spring flowers. Tillia fruit are held below a stiff bract similar to that on a maple seed which acts like a “helicopter” as it falls.
  • A fine specimen can be seen at the intersection of Arboretum Drive and East Foster Island Road.

May Colors Appear Just in Time for Mother’s Day!

May 7th, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (May 2 - 15, 2016)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum
(May 2 – 15, 2016)

Happy Mother’s Day!

1)  Philadelphus coronarius

  • Native to southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, this shrub is located within the Sorbus Collection. It is perhaps the best-known species of mock orange in gardens because of its sweet smell. The fragrance of its flowers is pleasing out-of-doors, but may become too strong if the plants are numerous or near sitting room windows.
  • Philadelphus is a member of the plant family, Hydrangeaceae.

2)  Rhododendron   ‘Favor Major’

  • Located just west of parking lot #5, this hybrid is showing its yellowish-orange flowers.

3)  Rhododendron   ‘Ruby Hart’

  • Located within the Hybrid Bed, this shrub certainly has been given an appropriate cultivar name.

4)  Robinia x holdtii

  • A member of the plant family, Leguminosae, the genus Robinia contains about
    20 deciduous trees and shrubs confined to North America. The name Robinia
    commemorates Jean Robin, herbalist to Henry IV of France.
  • Specimen is located in the Legumes.

5)  Styrax obassia

  • A broadly columnar deciduous tree bearing elliptic dark green leaves and bell-
    shaped white flowers, S. obassia is native to northern China, Korea, and Japan.
  • This specimen is located along the upper trail near Rhododendron Glen.