Witch Hazels are in bloom

February 4th, 2013 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

Hamamelis There are several species of Witch Hazel, genus Hamamelis, featured in the Witt Winter Garden, which is in all its glory this month. The colors range from yellow to orange to red and their scent is incredibly heady.
The plant’s common name comes from the Old English word “Wych” which means “pliable”. The pliable branches of this plant were used for water dowsing, which was a way to find underground water, hence this activity also is known as ‘water witching”.
The Witch Hazel and many other winter blooming plants are featured on the Free Weekend Walks held each Sunday at 1:00 pm.


Public Tours for 2013 Starting

January 4th, 2013 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant
Japanese Umbrella Pine

Japanese Umbrella Pine

The Washington Park Arboretum’s free Weekend Walk Program resumes in the new year. These 90 minute guided tours are free and open to the public every Sunday at 1:00 pm. No cost, no registration – just meet up at the Graham Visitors Center.
January’s tour is  Ancient Trees; our guides will show and discuss tree species which have been around for millennia – such as the Japanese Umbrella Pine (see photo).

In February our walks will highlight the Witt Winter Garden in all its blossoming glory.

The March tour is Our Favorite Plants, during which your guide will share plants and garden areas that they enjoy the most.

For further information or questions you can email me at cmn23@uw.edu. More Arboretum tour options.


Autumn is at its peak

October 26th, 2012 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant


The Japanese maple collection in the arboretum boasts more than 90 different cultivars, many of which have been new plantings in the last few years.  This makes our collection one of the largest in the United States.  The Woodland Garden garden itself contains over 70 of these cultivars and the next couple of weeks is the time to see them in all their blazing glory.  The tree pictured is Acer palmatum, cultivar Osakazuki which is at the NE pathway into the Woodland Garden.  This photo does not do the vibrant red leaves justice, but this cultivar is considered to have the most intense crimson color of any of the maples.  It is a hardy grower which does not get much above 8′ tall even in extreme old age and has been listed in catalogs since the mid-1800s.


The name Osakazuki is a reference to its leaves which cup at the base, the literal translation is “saki-cup-like leaf.”

Please join one of our free weekend walks over the next couple weeks and view the amazing fall colors.   All tours meet at 1:00 pm, Sundays at the Graham Visitors Center.


Looking for Autumn Color

October 13th, 2012 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

I walked through the arboretum this week looking for early fall color in the park. This Fothergilla major always seems to be one of our first color transformations and its brilliant  reds and oranges drew me to it as usual.

The Fothergilla major is a deciduous shrub native to the Southeastern U.S. where its common name is Witch Alder. Though not an alder, it is in the Hamamelidaceae family and, like its relative Witch Hazel, is a wonderful deciduous shrub for any garden.

Although the Japanese Maples are not quite turning as of this date, there is still great fall color to be seen in other trees like the Chestnut,Maples, Sumacs and others.
Our Free Weekend Walk topic from mid-October through at least mid-November will be on fall color.  Come on a tour and let us show you the Park in its autumn glory. Join us on any Sunday at 1pm in front of the Graham Visitors Center.


Trees are showing off their fall bounty

September 9th, 2012 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

These 3-parted pods contain the seeds of the Koelreuteria paniculata or Golden Rain Tree. This tree is native to East Asia, China & Korea and is used as an ornamental for its flowers, leaves and seed pods. Although it is considered an invasive in the SE United States. The Arboretum’s free Sunday walks for the month of September will feature the “Fruits & Nuts” of this tree and many others in the collection. Come on our free walk with a knowledgeable guide – every Sunday, 1:00 pm at the Graham Visitors Center


The Montezuma Pine

July 8th, 2012 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

Our free Weekend Walks topic for the month of July is conifers, therefore it seems appropriate to feature one of my favorite trees in the arboretum collection: the Montezuma Pine located in crabapple meadow. The Pinus montezumae var. lindleyi is a stately tree with defined, tiered branches which droop down and then rise back up in a “J” shape at the end where the clusters of needles 10-12” long drape elegantly. It reminds me of a waterfall. This tree was added to the collection in 1965 and is native to Mexico and Central America, where it is called the ‘Ocote’ tree.

One of the websites I visited while researching the Montezuma Pine featured a full picture of our very own arboretum tree!  (my camera could not do it justice).

Please join us on a free Weekend Walk this month to see this and other amazing conifer trees in our collection. Walks meet at Graham Visitors Center at 1 pm every Sunday.


Nature’s Calendar Tours

March 29th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum) on Foster Island

As of February, we’ve started offering our Weekend Walks every Sunday at 1pm. These guided tours are free and open to the public, are 90 minutes in length, and leave from the Graham Visitors Center. Each month we choose a different theme to talk about. The following is a description of April’s theme written by Catherine Nelson, the newest addition to the UWBG Education & Outreach team.

Have you ever dissected a flower to see what they are made of and how pollination really works? Have you ever visited our Pollination Garden to learn about and observe our most over-worked and under-appreciated staff members (from a safe distance of course)? Are you curious about what’s going on in the soil this time of year? Or do you just want to see some amazing spring bloomers on display here in the Washington Park Arboretum and perhaps learn a bit on the way?

Our theme for April’s Weekend Walks is “Nature’s Calendar”. During these tours, we will be focusing on phenology, the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle events (or phenophases). Phenophases include budburst, leafing & flowering, maturation of seeds, emergence of insects & pollinators, and migration of birds. The term phenology comes from the Greek word phaino meaning “to show” or  “appear”.

Spring is the perfect time to be in the WPA looking for various phenophases, and during our “Nature’s Calendar” tours guides will take visitors on a leisurely walk in search of the early flowering trees and shrubs in our collection and discuss what is happening during this phenologically active time of year.

We hope you join us!


Free Weekend Walks

March 3rd, 2011 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

Magnolia by L. ThornbergEvery month on the first and third Sundays get outside and enjoy a free guided tour of the beautiful Arboretum.

Sunday, 11am – 12:30pm and 1 – 2:30pm
Location: Washington Park Arboretum, 2300 Arboretum Dr. East, Seattle.

Our Weekend Walks are led by experienced, trained, knowledgeable and engaging docents. The 11 am tours of each month are themed tours. March’s theme is Harbingers of Spring. Right about now we are all dreaming of spring. It’s not too far away! Get an early glimpse of the bright colors of spring by visiting early blooming Rhodies, Magnolias and Camellias.

Photo by Samantha Kimble