Horticulture Vignettes from a Busy Spring in the Gardens

“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. 

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Phytophthora Resistant Port Orford Trials Underway in Washington Park Arboretum

The future health outlook bodes well for what many consider to be our finest native conifer in the PNW, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, Port Orford cedar and its many cultivars.   Port Orford cedars have been under seige for many years from its worst enemy Phytophtora lateralis, a soil-borne pathogen that is especially virulent in wet soils, and essentially spells a death-sentence to this majestic tree once its roots are infected. 

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"Day of Caring" in the Arboretum, September 16, 2011

And the astonishing United Way “Day of Caring”  numbers are in! 103 total volunteers working 417 hours! Representing 4 companies/corporations: AT&T, Japan Business Association, Microsoft, Nordstrom Completing 5 projects: AT&T – Holly Collection 3 truckloads of blackberry and weeds hauled out, roots and all! Native plant bed and holly berm weeded and mulched! Japan Business Association-Pacific Connections Garden, Siskiyou Slope Weeded over 1,100 linear feet of 8’wide pathways and hauled out 3 truckloads of weeds!   

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Boyer Parking Lot Tree Protection

One of the most widespread problems with trees in the urban environment is the failure to recognize the tree’s mature size.  If one doesn’t take into account the space required when the tree grows up, conflicts are sure to arise.  To make matters worse, the tree is often faulted for encroachment! Several trees surrounding the Arboretum’s Boyer Parking Lot have grown up and encroached on the gravel parking spaces.  

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UW Hydrology Study Underway In Holly Collection

If any of you have visited the north end of our holly collection in Washington Park Arboretum recently, you probably observed what appears to be a developing wetland. As you may well imagine, standing water where we’re trying to grow healthy hollies just don’t mix very well. See Chris Watson’s post on “Spring Pruning in the Arboretum“.   Why all the standing water? 

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Mason Bees in the Arboretum

With the goal of enhancing pollination efforts, several mason bee houses have been placed throughout the Arboretum.  What are mason bees?  Well, according to the provider of the pollinators, Dave Richards of JohnnyAppleBeez, LLC: “The charming Mason Bee is a gentle, shiny blue-black metallic bee, and slightly smaller than a honey bee. They are a superior pollinator, but do not produce honey. 

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