Pacific Northwest 7

BY VALERIE EASTON / Seattle, Washington, USDA Zone 8


Bellevue Botanical Garden

12001 Main Street Bellevue, WA 98005 425-452-2750

The world-famous perennial border at the Bellevue Botanical Garden may seem like a summer destination, but I like it best in springtime, when the paths are visible, shrubs are leafing out in fresh green, and a riot of bulbs emerge from the overlapping tapestry of groundcovers. There are plenty of unusual, or lesser, bulbs, like tiny Iris reticulata, snowdrops, and fritillaria.

A Fresh Center

The Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH) and the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle are undergoing a long-anticipated renaissance, with a new building and the first-stage implementation of a master plan. Most exciting for the Northwest horticultural community, though, is the arrival of British taxonomist and ecologist Dr. David Mabberley, who will take over as director of both institutions.

Dr. Mabberley is a former dean of Oxford University, where he oversaw an arboretum and extensive herbarium. More recently, he’s lived in Sydney, Australia, while consulting around the globe. Author of The Plant Book (considered to be one of the standard authoritative plant dictionaries), Dr. Mabberley is a prolific writer. His range of research and teaching interests spans ecology, conservation, botany, and evolution. His international reputation and fresh perspective will give a real boost to CUH and the arboretum at a vital time, stirring up excitement just when the ambitious master plan is launched and a new building and programs are unveiled.

‘Dr. Mabberley’s appointment couples an internationally renowned taxonomist with a world-class collection of plants,” says Daniel Hinkley, cofounder of Heronswood Nursery and part of the design team working on the arboretum’s master plan. “Most important, he possesses a sincere affection for plants, which will help bring back the polish to our arboretum.rsquo;

Both institutions have languished in recent years; the arboretum’s master planning process has been lengthy, and the Center for Urban Horticulture suffered a devastating fire bombing in May of 2001, which destroyed its flagship building, Merrill Hall. For more than three years the staff worked out of trailers, the public squeezed into a much-diminished library and herbarium space, and the faculty carried on as best they could without their labs and offices. With the arrival of Dr. Mabberley, the center and the arboretum seem back on track.

The Washington Park Arboretum has some of the country’s most extensive and varied woody plant collections, as well as an enviable lakeside site in the heart of Seattle. Visitors will see new ecogeographic collections, fresh pathways and signage, and a restored shoreline as the master plan takes shape. Designed by the award-winning Miller-Hull Partnership, CUH’s new Merrill Hall is a model of sustainability. Its residential scale makes it ideal for gardeners interested in learning about green roofs, rainwater collection, the use of swales, and earth-friendly building materials. Master Gardeners run a clinic right off the greenhouse commons, where visitors are encouraged to meet informally or stop for lunch. The Miller Horticultural Library and Hyde Herbarium are open to the public, meeting rooms are available for horticultural groups, and the inviting educational spaces go a long way toward making the Center for Urban Horticulture the long-envisioned hub of the Northwest horticultural community. H


Parrot Tulips

It takes a flashdance of a flower to hold its own against all the brightly colored rhododendrons and azaleas blooming in Northwest gardens this month, but parrot tulips are up to the challenge. The most exotic-looking of all tulips, these deeply fringed and bi-colored beauties bloom late-when you’re out in the garden to enjoy them. Like all tulips, parrots are best planted in a large flock for maximum impact. Especially effective in our cool, drizzly springtime weather are the warm-colored parrots, like the yellow-and-red Tulipa ‘Flaming Parrot’ or T. ‘Orange Favorite’ (right). Sources, page 88.

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