Introducing – Free First Thursday Tram Tours

November 23rd, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor
Photo by Cit-E-Car electric vehicles

Photo by Cit-E-Car electric vehicles

We are excited to announce the arrival of a new 13-passenger tram at the Washington Park Arboretum. This tram will allow visitors with limited mobility to explore more of the Arboretum, and will offer all riders the chance to travel from the Graham Visitors Center to the Pacific Connections Garden (and other south-end collections) in less time and with more comfort! With the arrival of the tram, we are piloting free tours on the first Thursday of each month, starting in December 2015 and running through March 2016. The tram is open-air and does not have a heater, so riders will want to bundle up!

**UPDATE 2/4/16: We will be continuing the First Thursday Tram Tours throughout 2016, and likely beyond. Check our events calendar for upcoming dates and to register.

What: Free First Thursday Tram Tours

When: 11:00am – 12:00pm on the first Thursday of each month

Where: Meet at the Graham Visitors Center, Washington Park Arboretum, 2300 Arboretum Drive E, Seattle, WA 98112

Why: Sit back and enjoy the ride! Learn about our seasonal highlights, new plantings, Arboretum history and educational programs.

How: Register through our public class registration page. Space is limited to 13 participants per tour.
Your registration helps us plan for the space. Please only register if you will be here. Registration will be open until 8:30am the morning of the tour.

In addition to our previously offered walking tours, groups may now choose to schedule a private tour on the tram. All tours are led by knowledgeable tour guides, and pricing is based on the size of the group. Learn more about booking a private tour for your group.

“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

Glimpse into the past – Remembering Joan Pirzio-Biroli

October 26th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

JPB

Joan Pirzio-Biroli

On August 19, 2015, one of the original staff members of UW Botanic Gardens (Washington Park Arboretum) left this earth to tend to her new garden “in the sky.” Joan Pirzio-Biroli, known to everyone as “Jan” or “JPB” was officially employed as a research/extension program assistant at the University of Washington from November 10, 1980, until her retirement on November 1, 1991.

Jan was born in Davenport, Iowa, and was proud of her Midwestern heritage. She met her husband, Giacomo Pirzio-Biroli (Jimmy) in Baltimore, where she was an art historian at the Baltimore Art Museum and the National Gallery of Art. Her passion for art often showed through in her later editing and designing of early Washington Park Arboretum/Center for Urban Horticulture newsletters and posters. The couple moved to Mercer Island in 1952 where Jimmy became one of the founding doctors for Overlake Hospital. They had a life-long passion for each other and for the earth.

In the northwest, Jan shifted her passion to botany. It began with her own garden, which started as a thicket of pussy willows and maple saplings and was transformed over 50 years into an Eden of beauty and wonder. Early on, she volunteered at the Washington Park Arboretum, where she made life-long friends with both people and plants. Later she went back to the UW for a master’s degree in Botany, which she obtained in 1981. She was an extremely acute botanist and worshiped “Hitchy,” the revered Northwest botanist C. Leo Hitchcock. Jan and Jimmy raised a son and daughter who eventually married and built homes on the family property; she cared for her mother as she aged and was an editor of the Arboretum Bulletin. She threw show-stopping Christmas Eve parties, and we had many Washington Park Arboretum/Center for Urban Horticulture gatherings at their home. As a volunteer and employee of the Arboretum, she was respected by colleagues and friends alike for her passion for plants. She mentored many young botanists who admire her to this day. After her retirement from the Arboretum, she returned as a volunteer, continuing to lead her popular educational tours of the park.

Jan started work with Joe Witt in the crowded original Arboretum office. She also assisted Brian Mulligan with plant identification. She soon became the person answering questions, giving tours, identifying plants, and being Joe’s personal assistant. She felt that Joe was greatly overworked. It seemed like she knew the location and botanical information on every plant in the Arboretum. She was the first one to begin the arduous job of transferring all the huge hand-written plant curation cards to a new computer system, under the supervision of Timothy Hohn. Later this was taken over by volunteers, most notably Eileen MacDonald.

When I arrived here in 1981, I became Jan’s supervisor and I found her to be a talented, spirited, and most trustworthy employee. She was adamant about my needing to understand that gardening in the Northwest was not the same as in the Midwest. She was right! There was no way I could ever keep up with her encyclopedia of plant knowledge.

On my first July 4th weekend in Seattle in 1981, Jan and Jimmy asked me to accompany them on their new 38 ft sailing yacht moored in Anacortes. This was a delightful adventure….she had prepared fried chicken, fresh baked breads, salads galore, plenty of drinks, and every evening we caught our Dungeness crabs for dinner. I certainly learned about sailing. During the last night near Friday Harbor, the waters became very rough, and when Jimmy loosened the ropes the next morning, we took off at break neck speed, scraping the bottom of the boat on rocks, thankful later that it was not a severe problem. The winds eventually calmed and we smoothly returned to port. I will never forget that trip!

Jan wrote many plant articles, she published monthly newsletters of public activities in the Arboretum, and she led legendary Explorer Walks for years. She was extremely accurate as a writer and editor, but somehow the word “Arboretum” always seemed to be misspelled. I remember the horror the first time it appeared in bold headlines…Abroretum. From then on, I tripled checked every future newsletter to Jan’s great glee as well as embarrassment.

For many years, she supervised our Index Seminum Seed Exchange between botanical gardens around the world, supervising a large contingent of volunteers. She and Jimmy led several public class tours to eastern Washington to explore the eastern Washington plants and geology. I have returned over the years to several of these locations. I always will remember the exploration trips to set up the tours, one especially when we were trying to find a bog on Weyerhaeuser land, only to get totally lost with two frustrated leaders (a spirited Italian and a spirited Iowan)! But after finding the bog and stepping on submerged logs, we all accidentally slipped into it up to your hips, necessitating a very wet trip home. The trip returned to frivolity.

Upon her retirement in 1991, Prunus (Sato-zakura Group) ‘Ukon’, Accession number 273-91-A, was dedicated in her honor “for her 11 years of service as an Arboretum staff member. It was noted as being 6’ high when measured that December, and is planted in 60-3E, right across Arboretum Drive E from the Graham Visitors Center. The tree is still there, although now impacted by huge overstory trees and the Cherry Bark Tortrix.

R.I.P Jan….it was through dedicated spirited people like you, that UW Botanic Gardens exists today.…..your legacy lives on!

Jan receiving her 10-year service award from Director Harold B. Tukey Jr.

Jan receiving her 10-year service award from Director Harold B. Tukey Jr.

 

Jan hard at work on the Index Seminum

 

Jan sharing information at an open house in 1987

Celebrating Jan's 65th birthday

Celebrating Jan’s 65th birthday

 

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.