Elisabeth C. Miller Garden and Washington Park Arboretum staff walk, talk and gawk

January 11th, 2014 by Kathleen DeMaria, Arboretum Gardener

The Washington Park Arboretum (WPA)  staff was delighted to host the staff and interns from the Elisabeth C. Miller garden for an educational walk and talk Wednesday January 8th. The wind and rain didn’t stop this intrepid group of horticulturists from walking the Pacific Connections Gardens and the ever-changing,  always stunning Joe Witt Winter Garden.  The Miller Garden staff was gracious enough to bring several plants to gift to the WPA, continuing the Miller family’s legacy of supporting the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. A big thank you goes out to Roy Farrow (a former Miller garden intern and current WPA horticulturist) for coordinating this meeting of  plant-world minds.

 

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UW Student Reflection

January 9th, 2014 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

My experience as a volunteer at the UW Arboretum…

It was the first quarter of my freshman year at the University of Washington. I was enrolled in an environmental studies class, and we, the students, were given an option between doing a book report and volunteering for “service learning.” Man, was I glad I chose to volunteer, because my time at the arboretum was great.

The arboretum is an escape from the city without leaving the city. There you are, standing in a metropolis, but you’re surrounded by tall trees, whistling birds, and sweet silence; it’s oxymoronic. I was living in a dormitory at the time, and the constant shuffle of neighbors, or the bumping music of the guys four doors down, kept me on-edge, not relaxed. But, once in the arboretum, all that white noise was gone. Even though I was there to volunteer and to work, I found myself energized upon leaving.

Philip & his fellow volunteers worked to give our Pollination Garden some much needed love during fall quarter.

Phillip & his fellow volunteers worked to give our Pollination Garden some much needed love during fall quarter.

My time at the arboretum was mostly spent in the vegetable garden and in the pollination garden. Some days I would pull weeds, till soil, and flip compost, others I would dig up cobblestones and carry gravel. But everything I did was not strenuous. It was simply a light task. Other volunteers had similarly stress-free work. Some were assigned to lead field trips and tours around the park and others researched plant species that would suit the habitat.

I have not been to a place with more polite people than the arboretum. Everyone from the lady at the front desk to Patrick, my supervisor, greeted me with a smile each time I came by. If you happen to see Patrick when you’re there, ask him about his travels in South America; he’s got some cool stories.

If you’re thinking about volunteering, I highly encourage you to do so. My experience at the arboretum was exactly what I was looking for: chill, soothing and stress-free.  

-Phillip Janecek

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Seeds that pop!

January 4th, 2014 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant
Euonymus europaeus 'atrorubens'

Euonymus europaeus ‘atrorubens’

Tucked away behind the Cedrus knoll in the Arboretum’s Pinetum is the Euonymus europaeus ‘atrorubens’. At this time of year it is showing off its colorful seed pods, which hang all over the defoliated branches. A plant that has pink and orange fruits really catches your eye when you pass by.
This shrub is native to Europe and Western Asia and its common names are Spindle Tree and Cat Tree. It grows to 8′-10′ making it a good plant for a sunny spot in an urban garden. The flowers are borne in the spring and are insignificant, but the plant is used ornamentally for its red fall color and brilliant winter seed pods.

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New Winter/Spring Courses Are Out!

January 3rd, 2014 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

 

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Our new course catalog for Winter/Spring is out and ready for registration. Whether you are a novice gardener, or an experienced horticulturist, you will find something to interest you.  Why not take up watercolor or drawing, learn to be a beekeeper, forage for your own foods, or learn about our very own seed vault right in Seattle.

 

 

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Interested in the background and stories of the Botanic Gardens? Go behind the scenes with our Curator Talks series, and discover the history of the Gardens’ most remarkable collections. Or if you feel the need to get outdoors, why not sign up for Wednesday Walks with John Wott?

 

 

 

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Maybe take a tour with the Botanic Gardens! We will be touring the Elisabeth C Miller Botanical Garden to discover spring ephemerals and taking a trillium tour at the Cottage Lake Gardens in Woodinville (where we will get tea and snacks!).

 

 

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For our professionals and advanced gardeners out there, we have the Master Pruner series,  Woody Plant Study Group, and First Detector: Pest and Disease Diagnotics. These classes focus on material relevant to professional horticulturists, and include pruning for trees, vines, and roses, woody plant selection for location and aesthetics, and pest detection, identification and monitoring.

 

 

 

flickerPlants not your thing? Local birding expert and author Connie Sidles will be doing a 4-part bird series with us this year, kicking off with Avian Tools.

 

There you have it! There really is something for everyone this year. And you can sign up for any of them by registering online, or calling 206-685-8033.

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Medicinal woody plants growing in the Washington Park Arboretum

December 30th, 2013 by Kathleen DeMaria, Arboretum Gardener
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Bark from the Pacific Yew, Taxus brevifolia

1) Taxus brevifolia (Pacific or Western Yew)

  • Native from southern Alaska to central California
  • Chemotherapy drug Taxol was derived from the bark
  • All parts of the plant are toxic except the fleshy red aril surrounding the little green cones

2) Salix (Willows)

  • Aspirin is derived from Salicylic acid (component of Willow-bark extract)
  • Medicinal use dates back to at least the 5th century BC when the Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed it to ease pain and reduce fevers.
  • Lewis and Clark used willow bark tea as a remedy for crew fevers

3) Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel)       

  • Leaves and bark contain hamamelitannin believed to be responsible for astringent properties, hemostatic properties, and antioxidant activity
  • North American Indians distilled bark, leaves and twigs to make eyewash, treatment for hemorrhoids, internal hemorrhages, and gum inflammation.

photo4) Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree)

  • Considered a living fossil, Ginkgo  is native to China
  • Chinese people appreciate the dry-roasted nuts as a treatment for lung qi deficiency

5) Thuja occidentalis (Eastern arborvitae)

  • One of the four plants of the Ojibwe medicine wheel
  •  Rich in vitamin C, thought to have cured many bouts of scurvy in mariners

Source: Moerman, Native American Ethnobotany; Van Wyk and Wink, Medicinal Plants of the World; Schafer, The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm

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Fiddleheads Winter Series

December 19th, 2013 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

A new year brings new faces, fresh starts, and a new Fiddleheads series! Join Teacher Kate this winter in exploring the Washington Park Arboretum using all of our senses. Each week will be a different theme including:

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  • Rain, Water and Mud!
  • Ice and Snow
  • Hibernation
  • Nature Through Our Noses
  • Sounds of the Forest
  • Roots, Shoots, and Bark
  • Decomposers Are My Friends
  • I Can Be A Scientist
  • Dinosaurs and Fossils
  • Signs of Spring
  • Turtles, Beavers, and Wetlands
  • How Animals Move

 

So this winter, join us for a class of nature connection activities and outdoor play. Each week’s activities include art projects, games, learning stations focusing on fine and gross motor and pre-literacy skills based around the theme, as well as hiking and exploring the park and letting the children’s interests lead the way. Fun for parents and their preschoolers!

Classes meet Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays from 10am-12pm at the Washington Park Arboretum. More information about the classes.

$18/class for 1 adult and 1 child. Additional child: $9/class.

Discount for 6 or more classes! ($14/class, $7 for additional child)

Register online or call 206.685.8033

 

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

December 16th, 2013 by Pat Chinn-Sloan
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (December 9 - 23, 2013)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (December 9 – 23, 2013)

1)   Abies balsamea   (Balsam fir)

  • Pitch from almost every conifer is used to seal and protect wood.
  • “Canada Balsam” from the Balsam Fir is used to cement together the lens elements in optical equipment and to mount specimens for microscopy.
  • It is North America’s most popular Christmas tree, but only newly planted in the Arboretum in grid 42-4W.
  • Native to eastern North America

2)   Cedrus libani   (Cedar of Lebanon)

  • “Cedar oil” is distilled from several conifers, mostly not Cedrus, the “true cedar”.
  • Cedar oil has insecticidal properties, was used in ancient embalming, and is currently used as immersion oil in microscopy and to mask surface flaws in emeralds.
  • Several of our true cedars – Cedar of Lebanon, Atlas Cedar, and Deodar Cedar are located along the Lynn Street entrance, west of the Wilcox foot bridge.

3)   Picea sitchensis   (Sitka spruce)

  • Before the introduction of chicle, North Americans (both natives and immigrants) chewed spruce gum.
  • Spruce roots are used for stitching bark canoes and weaving hats and baskets.
  • The famous “Spruce Goose” was not spruce but acquired its alliterative sobriquet because early airplane builders valued spruce’s high strength-to-weight ratio.
  • Our best Sitka spruce is in 15-B on Azalea Way.

4)   Pinus monticola   (Western white pine)

  • The Lower Kootenay Band of the Ktunaxa Nation made bark canoes from white pine bark.   See the website: sturgeon-nose-creations.com
  • Industrially, pine extracts make pine tar, turpentine, pitch, and rosin for violin bows, ballet shoes, baseball bats, and soldering flux.
  • Pinus monticola is in the Pinetum in grid 35-6W.

5)   Quercus suber   (Cork oak)

  • Quercus = oak, suber = cork. Location: Rock Roses on Arboretum Drive.
  • Any questions?
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December Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

December 1st, 2013 by Pat Chinn-Sloan
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (November 26, 2013 - December 9, 2013)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (November 26, 2013 – December 9, 2013)

“Berry Best from Hollywood”

1)   Ilex aquifolium   ‘Ferox Argentea’   (Variegated Porcupine Holly)

  • This “Punk” star is a sterile male with spiny leaves, but obviously no berries.
  • But this means it doesn’t contribute to English holly’s invasiveness in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Old cultivar in England, first reported in 1662 (Galle).
  • Specimen is located in the Eurasian clade (family), W. berm, of the Ilex Collection.

2)   Ilex maximowicziana var. kanehirae

  • This “Mod” diva has a tidy upright form with black berries.
  • Native to China and Japan
  • Has gone through many name changes, intermediate between I. crenata and I. triflora.
  • Specimen is located in the Asian/North American clade of the Ilex Collection.

3)   Ilex opaca  ‘Boyce Thompson Xanthocarpa’

  • An American holly celebrity which dares to be different, sporting yellow berries.
  • Reported to have been discovered in the wild, Mount Vernon, VA, late 1920’s.
  • Specimen located in the American clade, S. berm, of the Ilex Collection.

4)   Ilex verticillata  ‘Winter Red’     (Winterberry cultivar)

  • You don‘t always need to be dressed in leaves, says this scarlet actress.
  • Reliable shrub with heavy, bright red fruit set and good berry retention.
  • A nice thicket is found along Azalea Way, just north of Lookout Pond.

5)   Ilex x  ‘Nellie R. Stevens’

  • This mischievous leading lady has been nothing but trouble!
  • Claiming English holly parentage, but also Chinese holly parentage. In any case, no denying she certainly resembles English holly in my book.
  • Specimen is located in the Eurasian clade, N. berm, in the Ilex Collection.
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“Wanna Touch the Sap with Me?” A Parent’s Perspective

November 18th, 2013 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

By guest blogger Karah Pino

“Wanna touch the sap with me?”

This is the question posed by my 3-year-old every Tuesday and Thursday morning when he gets to Fiddleheads Forest School in the Washington Park Arboretum. It is his first stop before each class and he excitedly invites me or anyone else who is around to join him. The sap he is investigating comes from an extraordinary source, just outside of Forest Grove, the preschool center. A tall ponderosa pine tree whose bark has bubbled and buckled from some kind of fungus beneath the surface creates constant streams of sap pouring down in a slow-moving waterfall from 20 feet up its trunk. The sap is moving so slowly we have found spider webs build in the crevices of the bark with a lone drip suspended in the silk.

I encourage Alvin to dust his hands in dirt before touching the sap to make it easier to remove later, but he doesn’t always remember. That’s ok with me, though, because the fragrant scent of pine sap reminds me of my own childhood in New Mexico, playing in the pine trees and junipers. It also reminds me of why I started looking for an outdoor preschool two years ago to give my son the opportunities I had to explore nature free from the ever-present boundaries and dangers of the urban environment we are surrounded by in so much of Seattle.

IMG_7995When I discovered that Fiddleheads was expanding to a full year preschool located in the middle of the Arboretum, I felt as if the universe had bent around to fulfill this dream! I knew it was perfect when I discovered that forest grove is just across from the ancient Sequoia grove I loved to visit as an undergrad at the University of Washington when I lived near the Arboretum. The colors of autumn have been incredible to view each week driving to the school and the wide variety of leaves, berries, nuts and seed pods seems unending. After drop off or before pick up, I make some time for myself to enjoy the smells, sounds, sights and sightings alongside my child, so we can share the magic of the of the forest together. (I’m sure I saw a coyote tail bouncing in the brush one day!)

Occasionally, I will hear the sounds of little voices adventuring along as I am on my own walk and feel their excitement and wonder well up inside of me. I love to watch from afar as they gather sticks to build a “fire” or leaves to pile up and roll in and I inwardly thank all the forces, voices and advocates who came together to create this fantastic program.

Although my favorite sequoia grove is protected by a fence now to protect the fragile roots, their giant trunks and strong presence are a perfect example of why the Arboretum is such a treasure for Seattlites of all ages and I hope there will be many more classes of preschoolers and homeschoolers and every other age of schoolers out in appreciation all year round in this wonderous place!

(Karah Pino, MAcOM is the delighted parent of a Fiddlehead’s Forest student, the social media coordinator for the Women of Wisdom Foundation and she manages the blog Unwind your Mind and Get Creative!

 

 

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

November 18th, 2013 by Pat Chinn-Sloan
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (November 12 - 25, 2013)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (November 12 – 25, 2013)

Got Greens?

1)   Fokienia hodginsii     (Fokienia)

  • Native to China, Vietnam, and Laos
  • Extremely slow growing outside of native range
  • Specimen located in Rhododendron Glen

2)   Keteleeria evelyniana     (Keteleeria)

  • Native to China, Vietnam, and Laos
  • Thrives in warm climates, but may be considered an “herbaceous perennial” in northern climates
  • Specimen located in north Pinetum area

3)   Taiwania cryptomerioides     (Coffin Tree)

  • Native to Taiwan, China, and Vietnam
  • Considered “critically threatened” in native range
  • Specimen located near East Newton Street entrance to the Pinetum area

4)   Thujopsis dolabrata     (Lizard Tree)

  • Native to Japan
  • Thrives in moist, shady areas with rich soil
  • Specimen located among Acer Collection in the Woodland Garden

5)   Torreya taxifolia     (Stinking Cedar)

  • Native to southeastern U.S. (Florida)
  • Very rare in native range due to a fungal pathogen
  • Specimen located between Loderi Valley and the Woodland Garden
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