Fiddleheads Forest School: Spring Dispatch from the Forest Grove

April 2nd, 2014 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

Discussing the importance of earthworms and what they do.

The word spring comes from the old English springen, meaning “to leap, burst forth, fly up; spread, to grow.” This is a marvelous description of what we’ve been seeing happen to the minds, hearts, and bodies of students in the forest grove these past few weeks. The new growth in the forest has paralleled a very different sort of growth among the children’s minds. There is a certain level of attunement to one’s surroundings that we have been encountering with the children on an increasing regular basis.

“Teacher Sarah! Teacher Kit!”- We’ll see a head peek up as a child shouts with exuberance: “I noticed something!” Often it is somObservation recordingething related to a concept we’ve been discussing- buds on trees or mushrooms in grass- but more and more the children are engaging with their environment on a very particular level. They are learning to see things that most of us do not get the time or perceptual experience needed in order to perceive. They are becoming expert observers, small naturalists in the making. Few of us have the opportunity to reach this point at any point in our lives, so it is exciting to see it come to fruition among minds still so full of possibility.

And speaking of minds, the children have been learning quite a bit about their brains lately. In addition to Joanne Deak’s excellent book “The Fantastic Elastic Brain”, students in the forest grove have been examining a model of the brain, and discussing the way they’ve “stretched” their brain on a daily basis. They giggle about the word “hippocampus” and point out the cerebellum on a pretzel bitten carefully into the shape of a brain at snack. Most importantly, there is excitement at the idea that they can shape their own brain by learning new things. Whenever we hear a child exclaim- “I made a mistake- but that’s ok because mistakes are the best way to learn!” our hearts leap with joy. This knowledge is often what gives them the confidence to confront a problem or admit a poor choice so that they can resolve a conflict with a friend or work to succeed at an activity in which they’d struggled at first.

In the natural sciences, children have been using their observational skills to explain the changes they’re observing in the grove as well as the surrounding environment. Learning about the parts of the bean was like a ticket into a secret world- one where eacIMG_9429h seed holds the possibility of tiny life within it. Many children have been going home and opening up their beans or peas at dinner to display the first leaves and tiny radicle hidden within! They’ve been collecting big leaf maple sprouts around the classroom and watching as the seed coats peel away and the new leaves burst forth. Tending to our tiny garden of baby maples in the fairy village has been all the more impressive in that we can compare this miniscule plants to the giant big leaf maple above that produced them.

We have also been learning about the parts of the plant. We examined ornamental strawberry plants, from root to leaf before planting them in the entrance to the forest grove. Children carefully dug holes for the roots, placed the plants, then covered and made protective barriers for the young shoots. Next, we read a book about the parts of the plant that allowed us to see each part individually as well as in relation to the rest of the plant through a series of overlays that combine to show all the separate plant parts. This has allowed us to discuss the plant life cycle as a whole and learn about how flowers swell and change to produce fruits, which provide protection and a method of disseminating new seeds. In the coming weeks we will learn more about these when we explore the parts of the flower, the process of pollination, and the parts of the fruit.

AHolding a new maple sprout before plantings we look toward the last 3 months of school, we are excited to continue building on our knowledge of our surroundings. The warmer weather offers new possibilities for learning activities, and children are excited to be able to sit and do new sorts of work involving extended concentration. After we finish up our botany unit, we’ll begin learning about the cardinal directions and maps, using our skills to assist us as we explore new and different areas of the arboretum. With so much to see and do, the possibilities for learning are endless!

Author: Kit Harrington, Fiddleheads Forest School Director and Lead Teacher

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A glimpse into the past: the early years of FlorAbundance

April 2nd, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Directory Emeritus

The first major plant sale in Seattle (now called FlorAbundance) was sponsored by the Arboretum Foundation as a fund raiser for what was then the University of Washington Arboretum. The sales were originally held in a small building called Floral Hall, which later burned down. As the plant sale grew, it was moved to the small cluster of buildings on the northern end of the Arboretum.

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An eager crowd of shoppers line up waiting to get into the 1982 FlorAbundance sale. Photo by John A. Wott.

When the Graham Visitors Center and its larger parking lots were opened in 1986, this increased the available sale area. Eventually the sale outgrew this location as well. First, it was moved to an outdoor area on the Naval Station Puget Sound grounds where the volunteers almost froze with the cold winds. Then for several years it was held in the E-1 Parking lot on the University of Washington campus.   Although the parking lot had plenty of space, it also had hot sun, beating winds, and no shelter from heavy rains. It also had little electricity and water. After the Puget Sound Naval Station was “given” to the City of Seattle and become Warren G. Magnuson Park, Building 30 became an ideal home for many years. While that building underwent renovation during 2012 and 2013, the sale returned to the Arboretum. This year, FlorAbundance will again return to Building 30 at Magnuson Park.

For many years, the Plant Sale was managed through the Unit Council, an organized sub-group of the Arboretum Foundation. The many AF Units were represented in the Unit Council. The AF members often raised the plants which were sold, or the chair of each section (e.g. trees, perennials) secured those plants from nurseries. Today it is primarily a vendor’s sale composed of area nurseries and garden centers.

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A sale volunteer decked out in a floristic fancy hat. Photo by John A. Wott

Both pictures were taken by me on May 5, 1982 during the first sale I attended. The first shot shows the line-up of attendees at the entrance from Foster Island Drive onto Arboretum Drive. When the rope was dropped, there was a massive stampede to grab the most unusual plants. For many years, after that, it was my privilege to manage the massive line-ups for the cashiers. The second picture features Lee Clarke, a long-time volunteer (and resident poet). Many of the volunteers loved to dress up and wear fancy hats. They obviously enjoyed the customers and working for the Arboretum and its sales.

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Students: Earth day work party at the Arboretum April 12

March 25th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

SCA2014EarthDayJoin the Student Conservation Association for our annual Earth Day service event while celebrating the 30th anniversary of SCA’s conservation leadership youth program in Seattle! Attending will be Liz Putnam, SCA’s Founder and the first conservationist to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal—the nation’s second highest civilian award! Following a short program in the meadow, volunteers will prune back overgrown vegetation, remove invasive plant species, and re-vegetate areas with native plants.

WHEN: Saturday, April 12th, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
WHERE: Washington Park Arboretum, 2300 Arboretum Dr. E, Seattle, WA 98112
WHAT: Invasive plant removal, planting native species, and spreading mulch
BRING WITH YOU: Please wear weather-appropriate clothing and sturdy shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty
PROVIDED: Whole Foods Market in South Lake Union will provide breakfast. SCA will also provide work gloves and all project supplies.

Please register at earthdayseattle.eventbrite.com to complete the online volunteer waiver.

Questions? Contact Meredith Stone at wanw@thesca.org or 206-324-4649.

Recruit your friends: share this FLYER or this post.

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

March 21st, 2014 by UWBG Horticulturist

“Seeing Red”

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (March 17 - 30, 2014)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (March 17 – 30, 2014)

1)   Acer rubrum      (Red Maple)

  • Specific epithet, rubrum (red), refers to foliage in fall; however, flowers are red too
  • One of the earliest trees to flower, appearing in March, well before the leaves
  • Located at south end of Arboretum Drive East, against the Broadmoor fence
Close-up photo of the Acer rubrum (Red Maple) flowers

Close-up photo of the Acer rubrum (Red Maple) flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
2)   Camellia japonica      ‘Jupiter’

  • Carmine-red flowers with prominent yellow stamens on white filaments
  • Located along Ridgetop Trail at head of Rhododendron Glen

3)   Chaenomeles sp.      (Flowering Quince)

  • Old-fashioned, early spring flowering shrub
  • OK, so this specimen is not the reddest available, but the best I could find.
  • Located behind the Stone Cottage along the public path

4)   Grevillea victoriae      (Mountain Grevillea)

  • This proteaceous plant’s foliage was the feature cutting for the first half of March 2014; now it’s the red flowers.
  • Located in the Pacific Connections – Australia Entry Garden

5)   Rhododendron strigillosum

  • Early maroon-red flowering rhododendron
  • Twigs and leaf stalks on young growth covered with long bristles
  • Specimens located in the Witt Winter Garden, Woodland Garden and Sino-Himalayan Hillside
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Harbinger of Spring in Seattle – Flowering cherries on Azalea Way!

March 20th, 2014 by UWBG Horticulturist

Cherry photoMost visitors experiencing the beauty of our historic Azalea Way flowering cherries from now through May probably have no idea of how intensive maintaining their health and prolonging their longevity truly is for the UW Botanic Gardens horticulture staff.   Just ask our Integrated Pest manager, Ryan Garrison. Ryan with staff support spends many a day throughout the year monitoring and controlling the numerous diseases and insect pests our 175 plus cherries are prone to suffer from. Our rainy climate doesn’t help one bit either, especially when dealing with our most notable disease during blossom time;  a fungus known as Cherry Blossom Brown Rot. Yucko!  The good news is any new cherries we plant need to show a reasonable level of resistance. The not so good news is many of our older earlier bloomers, the ones extremely susceptible to the brown rot fungus,  need to be protected with fungicide applications during their bloom period.  As with all of our pest issues, we start with cultural and mechanical control efforts before resorting to chemical controls. The following Integrated Pest management (IPM) program discusses our best management practices for the control of blossom brown rot.  If you are interested in planting cherries for your home garden, I’ve included a list of cherries recommended for our PNW climate.  All have good to excellent resistance to blossom brown rot.

14 new cherries will be planted along Azalea Way, Spring of 2014! Thanks to the UW being awarded funds from the Nationwide Cherry Blossom Tree Planting Initiative grant co-sponsored by the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle and other supporting local community organizations.

Cherry Blossom Brown Rot - causal fungal agent known as Monolinia fructicola. The fungus overwinters on infected twigs and dried fruit on the tree or ground.  The fungal spores are spread in the spring by wind and rain through the blossoms, causing twig dieback.  As part of the UWBG IPM program, moving toward our goal of eliminating the use of all synthetic pesticides is our ultimate goal.

IPM relies on many strategies to manage plant health care. 

  • Proper ID of the pest and its life cycle
  • Regular monitoring of the plants
  • The use of physical, mechanical, cultural, and biological controls
  • Chemical controls used as a last resort*
  • Least toxic chemicals used

* All spray applications are in compliance with WSDA pesticide regulations.  Sign postings are located at all entrances and Graham Visitor Center. Spray applications are scheduled based on timing and weather. We do our best to apply when public are not present. For more information, pls contact, David Zuckerman at 206-543-8008 or dzman@uw.edu

The cherries are pruned in early fall  to remove infected twigs and improve air circulation.  Tree rings are given a fresh coat of mulch in the fall to bury any infected plant material that may be on the ground.  In our Cherry Replacement program we are only using cultivars that are resistant to Blossom Brown Rot.

Cherries recommended for the PNW:

    • Prunus‘Berry Cascade Snow’
    • Prunus ‘Kwanzan’ syn. ‘Sekiyama’
    • Prunus‘Pink Flair®’
    • Prunus‘Royal Burgundy’
    • Prunus‘Shirofugen’
    • Prunus‘Shirotae’
    • Prunus‘Snow Goose’
    • Prunus subhirtella var. ascendens
    • Prunus x yedoensis ‘Shidare Yoshino’
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March Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

March 9th, 2014 by Pat Chinn-Sloan
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (March 3 - 16, 2014)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (March 3 – 16, 2014)

1)   Berberis fortunei      (Chinese Mahonia)

  • Previously categorized in the genus, Mahonia
  • Characterized by narrow, serrated evergreen leaves
  • Located in the Sino-Himalayan hillside

2)   Grevillea victoriae      (Mountain Grevillea)

  • Australian shrub, growing up to four meters
  • Named for Queen Victoria
  • Located in the Pacific Connections – Australia Entry Garden

3)   Lomatia myricoides      (River Lomatia)

  • Originally placed in the genus, Embothrium
  • Specific epithet refers to foliage similar to the genus, Myrica
  • Located near the Pacific Connections – New Zealand Forest

4)   Morella californica      (California Bayberry)

  • Formerly of the genus, Myrica
  • A Pacific Coast native shrub that is well suited for borders and hedges
  • Located in the Pacific Connections – Cascadia Entry Garden

5)   Podocarpus macrophyllus      (Kusamaki)

  • Japanese conifer, sometimes referred to as Buddhist Pine
  • Known by carpenters for termite resistant wood
  • Located near the junction of the Middle Trail and Lower Trail
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A glimpse into the past: A view of Azalea Way 70 years prior

March 7th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

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Azalea Way from Lake Washington Boulevard. Photo by H. G. Ihrig 1944

This view looks from Lake Washington Boulevard toward the southern end of Azalea Way. The photo was taken by H. G. Ihrig in May, 1944. It shows the opening of Arboretum Creek along Azalea Way as it flows north from the culvert under Lake Washington Boulevard. Note the large weeping willow trees as well as the large open grass path we all know as Azalea Way. The wooden bollards with the long grass growing under them are also noteworthy of the time.

On the extreme left is the entrance to East Interlaken Boulevard. The small kiosk located at the intersection was built by the Works Progress Administration crew. The kiosk was later destroyed and removed.

The intersection appears much the same today, with a few minor changes. Besides being widened, formal concrete curbs along Lake Washington Boulevard have been added.

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Slowing the Clock with Winter

March 5th, 2014 by Lisa Sanphillippo

Before we know it, it will be spring. April will be here and there will be flowers and (more) rain and leaf buds opening. We will continue on with our lives; work, school, exercise, going out and of course, gardening. Time moves on, no matter what, and it feels like it’s moving VERY quickly.

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I think I may have found a way to slow things down. Well, slowed down for an hour, anyway. I went to the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden at Washington Park Arboretum with my camera. It was on a day we were supposed to have rain and didn’t. For the hour I was out in the field, I saw color, smelled sweet and spicy scents, felt soft and hairy flower buds, heard birds sing and declare territory and relished in the form of the naked trees. Time slowed and my senses (including my sense of wonder) took over.

If you don’t already know, the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden is just a short distance from the parking lot near Graham Visitors Center. Walking west of the center and up the graveled ramp, you pass by one of the most fascinating trees, Malus fusca or Pacific Crabapple. This particular tree is at least as old as the Arboretum (1935) and is listed as a State Champion for it’s width. You can see in the picture below how long the side branches are.

Malus fusca

Just a little further down the trail, in the “hallway” to the Winter Garden, are two of my most favorite witch hazels. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ not only has a beautiful flower color, but it’s fall color is also spectacular. I have seen purple, orange, red, green and yellow in one leaf.

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Directly across the trail is Hamamelis mollis, which has my favorite witch hazel fragrance and a brilliant yellow color.

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A few steps more and the the garden and all its beauty presents itself.

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A Townsend’s Warbler in Berberis ‘Arthur Menzies’ – tasting the last of the flowers. Too fast for me to get a great shot.

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The friendly and fuzzy flower buds of a star magnolia.

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The amazing and nearly unbelievable color of Cornus sanguinia ‘Midwinter Fire’.

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The shy (they don’t even lift their ‘heads’ when you walk by) and spicy sweet flowers of the Chimonanthus praecox.

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Mercy! I could go on and on. There is so much to see, smell and touch! Okay, just one more. Helleborus ‘HGC Cinnamon Snow’.

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You must come to the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden for yourself and take the time to be fully rooted in the present. You will feel like you are suddenly living in technicolor after having been in black and white. Don't delay, soon enough we’ll be caught up in spring’s turn to blow our minds with sights and sounds.

(Top picture is a Acer griseum surrounded by two Betula albo-sinensis var. septentrionalis.
All photographs taken by Lisa Sanphillippo, UW Botanic Gardens Education Program Assistant.)

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

February 23rd, 2014 by Pat Chinn-Sloan


“Spring Buds”


Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (February 17 - March 2, 2014)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum             (February 17 – March 2, 2014)


1)   Acer monspessulanum var. turcomanicum
Montpelier maple

  • An elegant, compact tree reaching 23-33 feet tall.
  • Suitable for warm climates and adapted to calcareous and stony soils.
  • A mature individual is growing in the Mediterranean bed along Arboretum Drive.

2)   Magnolia kobus                Kobushi Magnolia

  • Blooms in early spring and bears pleasantly fragrant white flowers.
  • Native to Japan and cultivated in temperate climates.
  • A lovely, large specimen sits in the Arboretum Magnolia Collection.

3)   Rhodondendron ‘Directeur Moerlands’
Azalea ‘Directeur Moerlands’

  • Derived from crosses between Japanese azaleas and Chinese azaleas.
  • Known for their excellent fall color and unsurpassed springs flowers.
  • Azalea Way is loaded with beautiful azaleas just ready to explode for spring.

4)   Ribes sanguineum ‘Henry Henneman’           Henry Henneman Winter Currant

  • Studded with a cap-burst of color at a botanically bereft time of year.
  • Easy to grow, well-mannered and amenable to pruning.
  • The Cascadian Entry Garden boast several cultivars of this wonderful, early blooming shrub.

5)   Sambucus racemosa              Red Elderberry

  • Grows in riparian environments, woodlands and in generally moist areas.
  • Many parts of the plant are poisonous and have been used as an emetic.
  • Native to the Pacific Northwest, elderberry bushes dot the Arboretum. Birds love the seeds.
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February Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

February 6th, 2014 by Pat Chinn-Sloan
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (February 3 - 16, 2014)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum             (February 3 – 16, 2014)

1) Chimonanthus praecox  Wintersweet

  • With exceedingly fragrant yellow flowers borne on the bare shoots in winter, C. praecox has a suitable home here within the Witt Winter Garden.
  • Chimonanthus is the Chinese counterpart of the North American genus, Calycanthus.

2)  Lonicera standishii Winter Honeysuckle

  • A native of China, L. standishii is a perennial favorite because of its charming fragrance.
  • This specimen can be found in the Witt Winter Garden.

3)  Pieris japonica ‘Valentine’s Day’

  • Known commonly as ‘Lily of the Valley’, P. japonica is an evergreen shrub of low habit. The clustered panicles of this particular cultivar are a dark, dusky red color, giving it plenty of mid-winter attraction.
  • Located near the south end of the Lilac Collection along Azalea Way.

4)  Prunus x subhirtella ‘Rosea’

  • Native to Japan, this relatively small flowering cherry has begun to show us its rose-pink blossoms.
  • Several specimens can be found throughout the Arboretum, including one along the trail that leads from here to the Winter Garden.

5)  Viburnum specimens

  • V. farreri ‘Candidissimum’
  • V. foetens
  • V. x bodnantense ‘Deben’
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