Winter Garden Project: Remodeling the “Living Walls”

August 20th, 2014 by UWBG Horticulturist

Arboretum Tree Removal Notification:

 

The week of 8/25/14, UWBG tree crew will embark on a project located in the Winter Garden (read about project below). 

4 western red cedars will be removed due to negative impact to plant collections and garden encroachment. 

All pedestrian path detours and other safety considerations will be handled by tree crew. 

If possible, cedar logs will be salvaged for future park uses.  

UW professor of landscape architecture and designer of our Winter Garden (1987), Iain Robertson, states it’s time to open up the “room” that has been closing in on the Winter Garden for over 25 years. Continuous growth of the “living walls”, predominantly western red cedars, is now negatively impacting many of the garden’s choice plant collections. Due to this encroachment, the garden “room” is feeling confining. Judicious consideration and deliberation has led to the following curation and horticultural decisions.

Project Scope:

  • Removal of 4 western red cedars to provide needed light and future growing space for plant collections. In all cases, the “room’s walls” will expand, yet filled in by existing trees in the background to continue to provide the experience of being in an enclosed space.Pruning of several other cedars to provide light and future growing space for plant collections.
    • 2 on the west side in the “twig bed”
    • 1 on the south side next to the Chinese red birch grove
    • 1 on the east side growing over several camellias and other collections
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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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Take A Tour!

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

Get out and stretch your legs this spring! The UW Botanic Gardens are going to some familiar and not-so-familiar places this spring. Explore a new garden, and maybe even get some ideas for your own yard!

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Coming up soon is our first Wednesday Walk with John Wott. Dr. John Wott, Professor Emeritus and former Arboretum Director will lead a walking tour and share insights on the history, design, and changes over time of the Washington Park Arboretum. This tour is also well-suited to visitors with limited mobility. This season’s tour will be of the Witt Winter Garden, which will be in full bloom!

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of the Miller Garden

 

 

Our next adventure takes us to the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden, located in the Highland community. This garden has a very limited amount of visitors each year, so this may be your only chance to see this Northwest treasure! The curator, Richie Steffan, will show us how the Miller Garden uses early flowering bulbs and perennials to create a delightful and vibrant spring garden.

 

 

 

trillium

 

 

 

 

Have spring ephemerals caught your attention this year? Come visit the Cottage Lake Gardens in Woodinville to immerse yourself in one of the most famous, the trilliums! We will be having an elegant tea, followed by a talk and a tour of the gardens, which features all 48 species of trillium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition, we always offer our Free Weekend Walks every Sunday, starting at 1pm, and meeting at the Graham Visitors Center at the Washington Park Arboretum.

You can register online for any or all of these lovely tours, or call 206-685-8033.

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Winter Blooms Abound

February 2nd, 2014 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

Hamamelis flowerThe winter blooming shrubs Hamamelis, or Witch Hazels, are currently at peak bloom sending out their lovely aroma and luring visitors into The Witt Winter Garden. This plant and other winter bloomers will be featured during the month of February on our Sunday Free Weekend Walks.
This large shrub or small tree is native to North America, Europe and Asia and features the species Hamamelis virginiana, H. ovalis, H. venalis, H. japonica & H. mollis.
The origin of the plant’s common name comes from the Old English word ‘Wych’, meaning ‘bendable,’ and has evolved into the modern spelling of ‘Witch.’ The limbs of this plant were traditionally used for Dowsing which is how it came to be know as Water Witching.
Hamamelis is Latin for “together with fruit” which refers to the simultaneous occurrence of flowers with maturing fruit from previous year. These fruits can split explosively at maturity, ejecting seeds up to 10 meters.
Native Americans used Witch Hazel bark to treat sores, tumors, bruising and skin ulcers. Boiled twigs were used to treat sore muscles and a tea was used to treat coughs, colds and dysentery
The nutty seeds from the Witch Hazel were also a Native-American favorite because of their flavoring, which is similar to pistachios.

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Winter Wrap-Up: Certainly NOT Boring…

March 29th, 2013 by UWBG Horticulturist

According to Cliff Mass, UW meteorologist, our past winter of 2012-2013 was the most “boring” on record. There were no major weather events such as wind storms, artic blasts, snowfalls in the lowlands or major flooding. This was indeed good news for the UWBG horticulture staff. Instead of spending the winter cleaning up after storms and worrying about how many plants would be affected from cold hardiness issues, we were able to focus on scheduled and planned work projects for a seasonal change of pace.  Here’s a rundown of several of these projects we were able to accomplish during this most boring winter.

Reclaimed View of Azalea Way from Lookout

Reclaimed View of Azalea Way from Lookout

An adjunct to the current Pacific Connections Garden – New Zealand construction work was taking on the long overdue renovation of the Lookout rockery and reclaiming the lost vistas from the Lookout viewpoints. Arguably the most interesting rock work in the arboretum, the rockery was essentially lost under overgrown plant collections. The crew certainly wasn’t bored with the thought of what new and exciting discoveries lay under the next pruning cut. When the Lookout gazebo reopens to the public, visitors will be able to see the pond and Azalea Way from inside the newly restored structure and experience the original 1941 design intent. In other words, the Lookout is once again a lookout. Also, check out the new  Rhododendron species planted along the Lookout trail in honor of Ben and Margaret Hall’s 80th birthdays. They are major supporters and donors of UW Botanic Gardens.

Raoulia australis close-up

Raoulia australis close-up

McVay Courtyard  Raoulia australis grndcvr

McVay Courtyard
Raoulia australis grndcvr

The McVay Courtyard renovation is mostly completed now thanks to Riz and Annie and contains many new additions. The original designer, Iain Robertson,  specified renewing the 3 distinct plant groups: Bulbs, Groundcovers and Shrubs. The existing grove of Acer palmatum ‘Aconitifolium’ which were carefully worked around and a few Osmanthus are all that remain of the original tree and shrub palette  Iain’s new design incorporates elements of interesting plant architecture, habits and striking bark. Hence his use of several types of Arctostaphylus, the unusual divaricating shrub, Corokia, Rhododendron moupinense, Rh schlippenbachii, and several tidy groundcovers that mimic inanimate forms, such as Raoulia and  Bolax. For the bulk of color, Iain chose a wide-range of spring and summer flowering bulbs.  Though the garden looks a bit austere at the moment, as any newly planted landscape does, we’re looking forward to a quick and healthy establishment and growth period this spring and summer. For those that miss the striking habit of the Nolinia, no need to panic, they were successfully transplanted  to the adjacent cistern slope and new stairs  to the south.
Washington Park Arboretum is once again a UW-Restoration Ecology Network capstone site. The student group known as the “A-Team” has designed a weir system in the north “wet” zone of the holly collection. They will be continuing construction and planting this spring. Ryan and company decided it’s better to flow with nature rather than fight it. This new feature will, over time, become a healthy wetland area and will immediately reduce both UWBG and City Parks maintenance input, i.e., mowing and weed control.

"A-Team" installing weirs

“A-Team” installing weirs

The Winter Garden was in showcase form as it should be during the winter. Roy has been busy procuring new plants primarily for the new drainage area in the SE quadrant of the garden. We’re looking forward to having an updated brochure and map next winter. There’s still time to catch some of the late winter, early spring flowering plants such as Corylopsis and Magnolia.
Gardeners, Rhett and Preston, took on the tatty northeastern most corner of Rhododendron Glen. Pruning out several years worth of Rhododendron rootstock growth and removing deadwood in the grove, removal of several poor or dead specimens, and lots of sheet mulching! Wow, I’ve never seen it so good and I’ve been around these parts a long time.

Chris and Darrin spent several days up at the double parking lot along the Broadmoor fence tackling deferred storm damage cleanup and improving view corridors. I would expect ne’erdowells will think twice about using this area for their dirty deeds for quite some time.

Adding soil to Chilean Gateway via conveyor belt system along LWBlvd


Adding soil to Chilean Gateway via conveyor belt system along LWBlvd

The Lake Washington Blvd curbside area along the Chilean Gateway is vastly improved as a result of over 120 yards of new soil  brought in to create “fingers” at the toe of the slope. This new design will hopefully deter pedestrians from walking through the Gateway and stepping on our plants. Also, with improved drainage, we now can grow Elymus magellanicus without drowning its roots. There are also several new Chilean taxa planted throughout the Gateway that over time as they get bigger will create that Wow! sensation, either up close or from a distance. They include: Gunnera magellanica, Ourisia coccinea, Mitraria coccinea to name a few.

Will spring be as boring too? The UWBG horticulture staff certainly hopes so.

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March 2013 Plant Profile: Edgeworthia chrysantha

March 7th, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

photo 3I always attempt to showcase a different plant , but for the second year in a row, I simply couldn’t resist mentioning a species that people who visit UW Botanic Garden’s  Center for Urban Horticulure at this time will be asking about because it’s looking the best its ever looked for us.

Making a grand return this month is Edgeworthia chrysantha all by itself!

I paired it with its close relative Daphne odora last year, but with the mild winter we’ve had, both of our specimens came through beautifully and it’s just starting to bloom its heads off! And like it’s relative, it is WONDERFULLY FRAGRANT!

They can be finicky to get established. Make you you choose a spot with sun/part shade, and it benefits from a protected location as well as it’s not as hardy as the Daphnes here in the Pacific Northwest. Rich, well drained soil is a must along with regular irrigation during the summer and fall while buds are setting and avoid moving it around as with most daphnes, mature specimens will sulk if transplanted.

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Common Name: Chinese Paper Bush, Yellow Daphne
Location: CUH-Fragrance Garden, Miller Library North beds
Origin: China
Height and spread: 6ft. high and 6-7ft. wide (usually smaller)
Bloom Time: Winter

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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.

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February 2013 Plant Profile: Cyclamen coum

February 1st, 2013 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Cyclamen coum portraitWho says there isn’t much color in the landscape in the winter time? The month of February is peak bloom for one of the most delicate, yet tough plants in the winter garden. Hugging the ground with it’s rounded foliage often mottled and marked with silver patterns, this prolific tuberous perennial sends out multiple buds that gently emerge and, all of a sudden, burst  into bloom.

What makes Cyclamen coum so charming are their diminuitive size and the diversity of leaf color and patterns on the foliage and the vibrant colors that seem to appear in the ground as if a child had spilled a bag full of candy! They come in wonderful whites, pinks, purples,  lavenders and an occasional darker colored “eye” giving a bi-color effect.

Through the rigors of winter, whether it be  gloomy and wet or  bitter cold, these delicate charmers are as tough as can be.  Even gardeners with winters temperatures dropping down to -15F can enjoy these cheery flowers once the snow melts and the weather warms.

 

They are wonderful under deciduous trees and shrubs or even scattered about in a lawn where you don’t want children and pets playing in during the winter.

 

Cyclamen coum Common Name: Winter Cyclamen

Location: Soest Garden – Bed 7

Origin: Eastern Europe/Turkey/Caucasus

Exposure: Part sun – shade

Height and spread: 2-3ft. tall x 5ft. wide

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Horticulture Vignettes from a Busy Spring in the Gardens

June 25th, 2012 by UWBG Horticulturist

“Something old…”

OK, so there’s the “old”, as in “enough already”, cold wet spring weather that seems to be continuing into summer and creating a monster weed season for us. And, there’s the “old” as in a staff milestone reached in age by none other than Riz Reyes, Soest Gardener.  Sure, compared to most of our seasoned horticulture staff, he’s still just a sapling in the woods at 30, but ever so slowly, he’s beginning to put down roots and develop heartwood, true elements of perennial long-life. Happy BD Riz! It’s about time….

In our special gardens: “Old” as in “they only flower once, set seed and then die”, a condition known as monocarpism. We are fortunate to have 7 giant flowering stalks, of our Cardiocrinum giganteum, Giant Himalayan lilies, ready to open. This is a “do not miss opportunity” found in the China entry garden of Pacific Connections! Don’t delay, check ‘em out today…

Giant Himalayan Lilies ready to flower

 

“Something new…”

We just completed what I consider to be an unprecedented year of planting in the Botanic Gardens. A total of 375 plants, includes transplants, representing 157 taxa (different kinds) have been planted out for the 2011/2012 planting season. Highlights include significant additions to our core collections: maples, hollies, oaks and conifers; as well as, our special gardens, Cascadia focal forest, Woodland and Winter Garden. Of note, there were 21 large, mature specimens, mostly witch-hazel family members, transplanted by Big Trees Inc of Snohomish, from our current Pacific Connections construction project footprint to various other gardens throughout arboretum grounds. If interested in viewing our 2011/2012 planting roster, please contact dzman@uw.edu

Also, exciting new interpretive signage has been installed in our Winter Garden and Holly collections. Winter Garden signage was funded by Lake Washington Garden Club, Unit III and includes 4 interpretive signs and 1 place ID sign. The holly signage was funded by our partner Century Link Pioneers for their centennial project of 2011 and includes 5 interpretive signs and 1 place ID sign.  These new signs follow our 2004 Interpretive and Wayfinding Plan that can be viewed on-line at: http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/docs/finaliwplan.pdf

New Interpretive Sign in Hollies

“Something borrowed…”

Thanks to being able to borrow Iain Robertson’s precious time, we now have a renewal plan for the McVay courtyard. This spring, CUH horticulture staff and volunteers, re-graded and replanted the westernmost bed, closest to the Commons. We hope to be able to implement the rest of the plan in September when the NAIOP group comes in to give CUH a new facelift! We’ll keep our fingers crossed…

Perhaps a stretch here, but certainly an important arboretum story, is the latest on the fate of the original ‘Joe Witt’ maple located along Arboretum Dr E in the Peony section. We fear it is not long for this world suffering from a malady of trunk cankers and stem girdling roots.  To make matters worse, we have lost 2 of 3, with the 3rd one barely hanging-on, of the newly planted ‘Joe Witt’ cuttings in the renovated Winter Garden bed. We have asked the Arboretum Foundation’s Pat Calvert propagation group to come to the rescue and establish new cuttings from the original tree this summer. In the meantime, Roy Farrow, just planted a large ‘Joe Witt’ specimen we procured from Molbak’s nursery last week. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that this story has a happy ending.

“Something blue…”

“Blue”  NOT as in the blue trees in Westlake Park downtown or along the Burke Gilman trail or the Blue poppies at Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, but “Blue” as in “I gots da blues…” This column would not be complete without a bit of sad news.

We had to remove one of the City’s largest Henry Lauder’s Walking Stick or contorted hazel-nut specimen located in our Winter Garden last week due to the pervasive Eastern hazelnut blight disease. This specimen was particularly dear to my heart since I was in on the original procurement and planting back in 1993. Alas, it is no longer w/ us, but fond memories will live on in my heart forever. If you want to hear its amazing story, it’ll have to be over a Guinness at my favorite pub…

And, now on to a productive summer of new plant care in the Botanic Gardens…

 

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February 2011 Plant Profile: The Genus Galanthus

February 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Galanthus nivalis by R. Reyes

Galanthus nivalis in the Fragrance Garden

We have several forms of the dainty and delicate snowdrop growing here at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Of all spring emphemeral bulbs, Galanthus have been revered and loved for many centuries and have always been the harbingers of spring as their noses poke up and their gentle blossoms push through the snow. It’s quite a dazzling image.

The popularity of Galanthus have suaded plant collectors, more specifically known as “Galanthophiles”, to seek out the rares forms and long lost hybrids that mostly exist amongst growers in the United Kingdom.

Supposedly, a single bulb of a exceedingly rare variant of Galathus was sold on eBay for well over $500 as stated in this article. The facts about the actual plant and terms of sale was somehow not clear.
The exceptionally large flower of Galanthus plicatus ‘EA Bowles’ that sold for £357 at auction

Not everyone need pay close to that amount to enjoy the sparkling beauty of snowdrops in the late winter. Often you can purchase a bag of bulbs (Most commonly available species G. nivalis and G. elwesii) in the fall or purchase potted plants blooming right about now at specialty nurseries. They naturalize and multiply when left undisturbed and they thrive in sun or shade in well drained soils.

An unusual double-flowered Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'

Come see them now in full bloom here at CUH!

Common Name: Snowdrops
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Location: CUH: Soest Garden, Fragrance Garden, McVay Courtyard (double flowered forms)
Origin: Original species come from Eastern regions of Europe.
Height: 3-6″ tall
Spread: mature colonies of bulbs can cover a square foot or more.
Bloom Time: Mid-Winter-Early Spring
Bloom Type/Color: Composed of tepals prodominantly white in color with various variations
Water/Soil: Moist to moderately dry. Drought tolerant once established.

Pure white


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