Two New Ways to Experience the Arboretum

We are excited to introduce two new ways of experiencing the Arboretum. For a more active person, we are offering Arboretum Running Tours. We’ll combine exercise, education, and entertainment on a fun running tour through the Arboretum, one of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks and home to the University of Washington Botanic Gardens’ world-class plant collections. You’ll learn about the history and design of the park, a few choice plants, and traditional or modern uses of various plants along the route. 

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January 2018 Plant Profile: Salix fargesii

Salix fargesii buds

Species: Salix fargesii Family: Salicaceae Common Name: Chinese willow, Farges willow Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society: 2012 This very attractive willow was “discovered” by Isaac Henry Burkill in 1899 and introduced to the west from central China in 1910 by E.H. Wilson. In 1908 Wilson collected his specimens in the woodlands near Fang Hsien at an altitude of 6000 feet. 

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December Plant Profile: Liquidambar styraciflua

Common Name: Sweetgum  Family: Altingiaceae Locations: there are 12 of these trees in our collection: for specific locations check our Living Collections database We also have some of the Asian species; Liquidambar acalycina, Liquidambar formosana and Liquidambar orientalis Origin: Eastern, southeast and lower central United States, Mexico and Central America. Height and Spread: to150 feet in the wild and 60-80 feet in cultivation After our last couple weeks of wind storms most of the leaves have been blown from the trees. 

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Glimpse into the past - Duck Bay and Shoreline Restoration

Establishing new shoreline

The water level in Lake Washington dropped an average of nine feet in 1916, when the complete set of canals and locks for increased shipping were completed. Much more land around the edges of Union Bay was then exposed, all of it soft and boggy. The City of Seattle had long used the low spots in various parks as dump sites, which is why artifacts are often found in low areas throughout Washington Park Arboretum. 

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July Plant Profile: Hydrangea integrifolia

Originally posted July 1, 2014 An evergreen hydrangea?!!  You betcha! There are very few evergreen vines for gardeners in the Pacific Northwest, but this gorgeous gem from Asia is  becoming more readily available and it’s simply one of the coolest flowers you’ll ever get to witness opening. From plump, peony-like buds, they begin to slowly crack open, a froth of fertile flowers begin to form and over the course of a few days, a flat umbel “lacecap” begins to form. 

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Glimpse into the past - an old pond and a new garden in the works

When visiting the Washington Park Arboretum on a regular basis, it is usually not evident that changes occur in both the plants themselves as well as the land forms.  However it is easy to see when you compare the photographs over a period of years.  This is particularly true when there is water movement involved. This summer, there will be a new garden constructed near the large southern-most pond along Azalea Way.   

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June "Plant" Profile: Discovering Slime Molds

Fuligo septica by Flickr user Scot Nelson

This month, instead of profiling a plant, we’ll be profiling a completely different kind of organism… slime molds! In the fall of 2015, the Elisabeth C. Miller Library at the Center for Urban Horticulture held an art exhibit about slime molds: Now You See It, the Slime Mold Revelation! I had never head of these organisms and was intrigued by the art display and the amazing enlarged photographs of their fruiting bodies. 

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Glimpse into the past - What a difference a day makes!

Aerial view of University of Washington Campus, 1940

There is a song which I used to sing all the time, “What a Difference a Day Makes”! Every day, the news is filled with stories about new plans to increase density and building heights in the city of Seattle, and especially in the University District. The University of Washington has just released a new Campus Master Plan which also increases building density and height. 

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Participate in a Seattle Parks Study

Seattle Parks and Recreation is undertaking a project to learn of ways to improve the specialty gardens in the Park system, including the Washington Park Arboretum. The project is funded by the Specialty Gardens division of the Seattle Parks Department and is being conducted by HR2 Research and Analytics. HR2 Research and Analytics are conducting focus groups, with a $25 compensation (participants must confirm attendance with Haley Brown at hbrown@hr2researchandanalytics.com or 425-777-6718 -to receive compensation and ensure seating). 

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March 2017 Plant Profile: Corokia cotoneaster

Corokia cotoneaster may not be the first plant that you notice in the landscape, but it might be the plant keeps your attention the longest. This plant’s divaricate branching (having branches of wide angles) and its tiny dark evergreen leaves give it a sparse and angular look which is not a common sight among the green gardens in the Pacific Northwest. 

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