Thursday, August 17, 2017

UW Botanic Gardens August Plant Profile Of Sourwood Found At The Center For Urban Horticulture

Each month the UW Botanic Gardens' Newsletter, E-Flora, posts in detail about a specific plant, among many other interesting posts about events and general information.

This month's feature is  the Oxydendrum arboretum or sourwood, which can be found at the
Center for Urban Horticulture.

There are  two young plants from 2005 growing adjacent to the Miller Library’s east wall.

August 2017 Plant Profile: Oxydendrum arboreum

Oxydendrum arboreum

Sourwood is one of the best late flowering trees for the garden. In late June, the flowers begin to form at the end of upper branches (or those in the most sun). Flowers resemble Pieris, or lily-of-the-valley shrub, and here the sourwood's affinity to other Ericaceous plants is revealed. Flowers are at their best in late July and August and they are followed by dry capsules which contain the seeds. These cream-colored capsules hang in long racemes and give the look of a somewhat skeletal hand in autumn. The capsules hang on over many months.

Oxydendrum arboreum is one of the larger plants in the Ericaceae, or heath family.  In the wild it is an understory tree of acidic soils and rocky slopes.  Sourwood favors conditions that rhododendrons and other heath family members do.  While the dark green leaves are glossy, it is deciduous—with some of the most spectacular and long lasting fall color or any tree.  Fall color is typically orange-red to crimson.  Leaves start to color in late summer and deepen as fall progresses.  They are often held into November.  Leaves are alternate, have fine teeth at the edges and are 5-8” long with a tapered tip.  Leaves also have a sour taste, which accounts for the common and scientific names.  Oxydendrum from the Greek oxys, acid or sour, and dendron, a tree.

This is one of the best late flowering trees for the garden.  In late June the flowers begin to form at the end of upper branches (or those in the most sun) and this is another showy feature of the tree.   Flowers resemble Pieris, or lily-of-the-valley shrub, and here its affinity to other Ericaceous plants is revealed.  Flowers are at their best in late July and August and they are followed by dry capsules which contain the seeds.  These cream-colored capsules hang in long racemes give the look of a somewhat skeletal hand in autumn.  The capsules hang on over many months.   It’s a good tree for Halloween.
Sourwood prefers some summer water unless planted in areas where things aren’t as droughty.  It can be somewhat aridity tolerant in woodland conditions.   Sourwood handles full sun in the Pacific Northwest, and generally colors better with more sun.  It prefers well-drained sites but is tolerant of clay soils as well.  It is generally propagated by seed and requires little pruning. Oxydendrum arboreum can be is found in most local nurseries that specialize in trees.  Sourwood was named a Great Plant Pick for the maritime Pacific Northwest.   It should be more frequently planted.  I’m always delighted when I see one in home gardens around town.

Origin:  Oxydendrum arboreum is native to the eastern and southeastern United States.  It ranges north into Pennsylvania and south into Louisiana and the Florida panhandle. Isolated patches are known from suburban Chicago counties, parts of Long Island and into Rhode Island.  It is the sole member of the genus Oxydendrum.  Sourwood was introduced to western horticulture in 1752.
Height and spread:  In the wild, sourwood can reach up to 50-70 feet though there are a few that have reached over 100 feet.  In cultivation it is slow growing, and most specimens will reach 25-30 feet after many decades.  It is generally a slender grower, usually half as wide as tall.
Hardiness:  Cold hardy to USDA Zone 5
Common name: Sourwood or sorrel tree
Family: Hamamelidaceae
Location: Center for Urban Horticulture: two young plants from 2005 growing adjacent to the Miller Library’s east wall.  Washington Park Arboretum: Several on the west side of Arboretum Drive between the Graham Visitors Center and the Native Knoll and many at the east end of the Woodland Garden. Five near the west end of Loderi Valley and four on the east side of the Drive at the head of Rhododendron Glen. Four in grid 35-3W on the east side of the Pinetum, above Arboretum Creek.
Hardiness: Cold hardy to USDA Zone 5

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Seattle Audubon Story Time This Morning

Nearby Seattle Audubon Society (8050 35th Avenue NE) is having a story time today for ages 2-5, from 10:30am-11:15am. The cost is $2 per child.

Here is information:

Cedar Waxwing - Fledglings and Friends

Fledglings and Friends Story Time

Plants are working hard in August to ripen their fruits and disperse their seeds before the cooler fall weather sets in, while animals are working hard to fatten up before winter sets in. It's a beautiful relationship! 
Your little mammals will learn about the important symbiotic relationships between plants and animals in nature, and participate in the food chain. 
This event is safe for those with nut and seed allergies.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Salmon Bake Volunteers Needed For September 7th Event At Laurelhurst Park

Families enjoying the salmon bake last year

The popular annual Salmon Bake is coming up on September 7th at the Laurelhurst Park Center from 5:30-8pm.

Cara, with the Community Center, is looking for volunteers and told the Laurelhurst Blog:

The success of this event greatly relies on the many volunteers who graciously give their time and support.  Whether it’s all day or just a few hours, we can use your help.  This is a great opportunity for community groups and high school students needing to fulfill service learning hours,  We could not do this event without the help of our wonderful volunteers. 

Volunteers are needed to help during set up time from 1-6pm, during the event, and clean up time from 7:30-9:30pm.

Here are some of the tasks:

·        Food service
·        Ticket sales
·        Clearing tables
·        Compost/garbage directing (telling people where to put things where)
·        Facilitating carnival games

Contact Cara at or call 206-684-7529 with a preferable time and job.  

In years past, several hundred people have showed up to enjoy the Salmon Bake, with Carnival type games and prizes for children and this year new family yard games such as croquet, ladder ball, corn hole, giant board games, as well as face painting, balloon man, bouncy house, Roosevelt Jazz Band, all benefitting Seattle Parks programming.

Monday, August 14, 2017

"Botanical Sketching In Ink and Watercolor" And "Using Native Plants in the Landscape" Classes At Center For Urban Horticulture This Week

UW Botanic Gardens’ Center for Urban Horticulture (3501 NE 41st Street) is holding two classed this week, "Botanical Sketching In Ink and Watercolor" series starting tomorrow and "Using Native Plants in the Landscape" on Wednesday.

Here is the information:

4 Tuesday Mornings, 10am-12pmAugust 15-September 5
Capture the essence of flowers and foliage in this 4-part class with simple, quick techniques and portable materials! While using the beautiful perennial beds and borders at the Center for Urban Horticulture as a backdrop, you will be guided in an intuitive approach to sketching with pen, layering watercolor washes, and gathering tips that can be applied to everyday sketching. A simple supply list will be provided. All levels welcome.
Cost: $95
Register Online, or by phone: 206-685-8033
Instructor: Lisa Snow Lady, BFA in painting from University of Washington and Certificate in Ornamental Horticulture from Edmonds Community College

Wednesday, August 16, 8:30am – 12pm
From conservation landscapes to fine gardens, our local flora plays a vital role in habitat preservation, landscape functions, aesthetics and regional character.  In the time since David Douglas' plant expeditions in the early 1800's, some 240 species of our west coast native plants have been mainstays in cultivated gardens in Britain and Europe.  This class will explore the cultivation and design uses of different types of Puget Sound native plants and native plant cultivars in a variety of landscape settings and styles.  Valuable information on gardening near and preserving mature native trees will also be covered.

Taught by Christina Pfeiffer, Horticulture Consultant
Cost: $65
Register Online, or by phone: 206-685-8033
Instructor: Christina Pfeiffer, Horticulture Consultant

Friday, August 11, 2017

Montlake Bridge Closed This Week-end

The Montlake Bridge and westbound SR520 off ramp will be closed this week-end.

Here is information from WSDOT:
Montlake Bridge

The Montlake Bridge and the westbound SR 520 off-ramp to Montlake Boulevard will be closed to traffic from 10 pm to 5am on Monday, August 14th.

During the closure, maintenance crews will replace sections of the aging grid deck, or roadbed, across Montlake Bridge.

Bicyclists and pedestrians will have access across the bridge all weekend. However, marine traffic will be restricted to single leaf openings from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday.   Boaters must provide at least a one-hour notice. There will be no bridge openings from 6 p.m. tomorrow to 5 a.m. Sunday, or from 6 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 14.
During the closure, our maintenance crews will replace sections of the aging grid deck, or roadbed, across the bridge. Bicyclists and pedestrians will have access across the bridge all weekend. However, the south half of the bridge will be open to marine traffic with one-hour advance notice from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Drivers on a key alternate route around the Montlake Bridge closure may also experience additional delays Sunday morning, Aug. 13.

The right lane of southbound I-5 at the Northeast 45th/Northeast 50th Street off-ramp will be closed from 5 to 9 a.m. The Northeast 50th Street on-ramp to southbound I-5 will also be closed from 5 to 10 a.m. The lane and ramp closure will give city of Seattle crews a safe space to perform roadside cleanup work.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Laurelhurst Community Club Comments On Proposed Aegis Assisted Living At Five Corners

Aegis Living, an assisted living and memory care provider, has submitted permits (3025007, 3025056) to build  a facility at at "Five Corners, where the former Baskin Robbins site, which closed September 2015 was located.

The demolition permit includes "two existing one level buildings" the building to the north of Baskin-Robbins up to Bakker Dry Cleaning. The addresses are 3200-3212 NE 45th Street and 3201-3209 NE 45th Place.  

The new facility would have 116 units and would be five levels over a parking garage with 2500 square feet of retail on the first floor which would house a salon and cafe, according to the design proposal submitted in July 2016.

Bryon Ziegler, Director of Development and Entitlements for Áegis Senior Communities, told the Blog Staff in March, that "other possibilities include an ice cream bar, community room, outdoor plaza and salon."

Bryon said that they are anticipating permits in late 2019 and the construction period is likely 20-24 months with the first resident move-in’s the fall of 2021. Aegis anticipates approximately 80% of the residents will come from the local neighborhoods.

Bryon told the Laurelhurst Blog staff that the new site is somewhat confusing (see attached graphic above) saying: 

The assemblage of parcels includes 3200 and 3232 NE 45th Street and 3215 NE 45th Place. There are two buildings, but three parcels.  
There is also a billboard that will be eliminated. The historic clock will remain. 
The 30’ city right of way between the curb and the property line will be landscape and enhanced for public use, including the little pedestrian bulb at the intersections of 45th and 45th. This Aegis Senior Community will be designed to either the City’s Living Building Challenge or Mandatory Housing Affordability standards.

He said that the businesses currently in the buildings that will be demolished will have all their leases honored, until they end in 2019.   These businesses included  Diane’s Alterations, Lakeview Vision Clinic, Edward Jones, Farmers Insurance, Uncle Lee’s, University Tutoring, Felipa’s Consignment and Rules Salon.

The café at Aegis, would be open to the public and would be the
Queen Bee Café, a non profit business. Others are currently located at the Madison and Queen Anne Aegis facilities and specialize in traditional English crumpets.

Bryon said that Aegis has engaged Transpo traffic engineers to conduct a traffic study of the very busy Five Corners area where the facility will be located.

He added:

We are an assisted living and memory care provider, which is a very low traffic generator especially at peak hours. It is very rare that we have a resident who drives. We do have staff and visitor parking, as well as deliveries which we will provide for in an underground parking garage and loading area.

    For more information about the project, go to the City permits website and reference permits 3025007, 3025056, 6520824, 6537047, 3025007, 6552104, 3025056, 6557274, 6082637.
    Another retirement home is also under review for 4020 NE 55th Street, where the Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital is currently located, across the street from Metropolitan Market. The proposal, Permit #3025827, includes 3 stories of approximately 74 units with 3,100 square feet of commercial space and parking for approximately 28 vehicles located below grade. The existing structure would be demolished.  The architect has proposed 3 different alternatives which can be seen here.

    Here are Laurelhurst Community Club's (LCC) condensed comments on the Aegis development: project submitted to the City:

    Architectural Design characteristics
    A. Design

    The samples shown in the proposal by the architects for this Aegis location, appears to borrow features from both the historic Tudor and Craftsman's styles found in the adjacent Bryant and Laurelhurst neighborhoods. The location of the proposed facility at the Five Corners is truly a "gateway" building that should reflect some of the architectural features. 
    LCC strongly encourages this type of quality in the overarching style of the new facility, similar to the Aegis in Queen Anne at Rogers Park be used as a prototype. Conversely, the Aegis on Madison Street, is not as appealing with too much tall massing-wedged into its triangular lot. The Bellevue Aegis facility is also lacking much design character at all, and falls short of a "gateway" style and quality.  LCC requests that SDCI require an actual sample of type of materials that will be used, and provide a more fully developed design from Aegis Senior Communities LLC before permit approval. This can include exterior facades, window types, paint colors and lighting as key design components.

    B Parking Requirements

    Because the senior living facilities are very labor intensive, the underground parking in all of the alternatives is essential. The Five Corners location has professional offices across the street, and NE 45th Place in the residential streets behind it in the Bryant neighborhood are already impacted by parking from the staff and patients "spill over" parking every day. In addition, there will be facility visitors, patient support and delivery vehicles at that congested triangle. Aegis must provide at least 65-70 of its own dedicated parking stalls to enable the facility to operate, and allow for some overlap at the "shift change". The main employee shifts operate at 6:00am-2:00pm, and then 2:00-10:00pm so that employees must arrive in the dark by 5:50 am. It is unrealistic to project that many of the staff will be riding their bikes in the dark at 5:15-5:45 am (especially since many employees are statistically noted as female), or, would ride home on their bike in the dark when the second shift ends at 10:00pm.
    Transit options are also very limited at the early morning, and late evening hours, and Aegis has not offered any shuttle service. Thus, many workers will be SOV users, and it needs to provide parking for them in all alternatives. Aegis may want to partner with Seattle Children's Hospital to pay to share their shuttles at least to the Light Rail facility.
    Visitors to patients will also need some transient parking places which should be allocated in the Aegis parking stall plans, based upon their historical projections. (see below concerns about the parking stalls submitted)
    The commercial stores offered at the facility will likely need a few parking places in addition to being available for pedestrians, and bikers although it is most likely used by visitors, residents and staff.

    C. Traffic and Circulation

    While SDOT  will have its own regulations and recommendations about the proposed new facility, LCC offers its comments: 

    • The Five Corners intersection is one of the busiest in Seattle, and THE busiest in NE Seattle. In fact when the "red light" cameras were operative at that intersection for several years, the City of Seattle reported that it had the highest number of infractions recorded and fined.
    • When the driveway is located along NE 45th Place, it is critical that it is far enough away from the center of that intersection to avoid backups and potential collisions.
    • In addition, trees and vegetation along both NE 45th St and NE 45th Place should be set back to maintain safe sight lines for oncoming traffic, and pedestrian crossings.
    • Circulation for vehicles and underground parking stalls should be open, and without barriers  to smooth entry. Aegis should work with SDOT and SDCI to be certain that curb cuts to the drop off circle, delivery driveway and into the underground parking  lot are wide enough, to prevent backups which could occur as vehicles enter their primary driveway off NE 45th Place.

    D. Community Outreach

    The Laurelhurst Community Club appreciates the outreach stated in the Aegis plan to host community use of their facility.  Because Aegis will likely have some former residents of the adjacent neighborhoods, it would be a positive and inclusive use of the facility to keep its residents involved with their friends and family.
    Thank you for considering the comments of the Laurelhurst Community Club, and we know that the City of Seattle will consider the impacts of the development of such a large institution in such a small footprint. LCC is supportive of this type of facility, and wants to contribute as a party of record to make it a good fit and a successful facility in the neighborhood.

    For more information go here

    Wednesday, August 9, 2017

    All About Goldie And Chip At Union Bay Natural Area

    Here is a recent post from the Union Bay Watch Blog published by Larry Hubbell, long-time local photographer and birder. 

    Here also is an in-depth article about Larry and his work.

    Elderberry Whine

    In early April, Goldie was looking well kept and healthy. I call her Goldie because of the golden feathers on her forehead. I find her to be a rather mysterious bird. In Birds of North America (BNA) it states, 

    'Female...forehead to mid-crown generally appearing grayish or brownish but possibly tending toward yellow-brown in older birds.' 

    This seems to imply that Goldie is an older bird. 

    Note: You can view the BNA citation and credit at the end of this post,

    Chip and Goldie feeding near their potential 2017 nest site.

    Goldie is Chip's new mate. She's also new to his, and now their, Union Bay territory. His  previous mate, Storm, was mysterious in her own right, primarily because of her bright red irises. 

    Thank You to the many readers who responded to my earlier request for photos showing the iris color of mature female pileated woodpeckers. Your responses have helped me to document that red-eyed pileated woodpeckers (including one male) exist between Union Bay and the Alderwood Mall area. All other documented photos and sightings I have been sent, both inside and outside of the Alderwood-to-Union Bay corridor, show only yellow irises on mature pileated woodpeckers. 

    The primary exceptions are:

    a) Very young birds with blue/gray irises which generally appear very dark except when in bright sunlight.

    b) Brown or yellow-brownish irises in apparently juvenile or first-year females and

    c) Goldie and Storm

    In BNA the following statement is made regarding iris color, 

    'Brown in Juveniles and first-year females; brownish yellow in first year males (B.L. Noel pers. comm.); yellow to golden in adult males and some females. Not known when iris in some females changes to yellow.'

    I have photos showing that Storm's irises were red for at least three years. During which time she was obviously mature since each year she laid eggs and raised young. This is a situation which is at the least undocumented in BNA. You can see more photos of Storm and her young by clicking here.

    Goldie's mystery is, how can she have a yellow/golden forehead, which is supposed to indicate she is an older bird, while she also has brown irises which, theoretically, indicate she is a first-year bird. I am trying to catch photos of Goldie on a regular basis so we can watch to see when and if her eye color ever changes to yellow or red.

    In late March, Chip showed Goldie his progress on his partially finished new nest site.

    In early April, Chip continued the construction process. You can read more about how important woodpeckers and standing snags are to our local wildlife by Clicking Here.

    Here is one of my best, well-lit photos of Goldie's brown irises from around the same date.

    A few days later, Goldie was in the nest and inspecting the surroundings. I suspect she laid her eggs sometime during the next few weeks.

    It was the end of May before I actually saw a young bird. I am thinking it takes about a month for incubation and a few days after hatching for young birds to gain enough strength to stand at the entry hole and begin begging for food.

    The next day I saw Chip leaving the nest with a very large fecal pouch. Clearly, parenting was under way. At this point I had only seen the one young bird and I was curious if there were more.

    Within a couple of days, the young bird appeared to grow stronger and his colors became more vibrant. From the distribution of the colors it was obvious he was a male.

    Two days later all three siblings appeared at the entry and began begging for food. The size and brighter colors implied to me that one of the males was clearly the elder sibling.

    In this photo we can see some of the differences between the two young males. The red on the lower and larger bird is slightly brighter. There are also differences in the white of their superciliums, e.g. eye-lines. In the older male, who I started thinking of as 'Lewis', the thin white markings end behind the eye. In the younger male, who I call 'Clark', the white line actually terminates above the middle of the eye.

    The same markings are consistently visible in this photo. We see Chip feeding Lewis on the left, while Goldie is feeding Clark on the right. This was the first time I ever remember seeing two adults feeding two different young at the same time. I think this may have happened because of the size of this snag. The mostly dead tree is large enough that both adults can perch and feed the young without being hidden behind the curvature of the trunk.

    On the same day Chip also fed the young female. I have been calling her, 'Gawea', short for Sacagawea. Gawea has had a challenging time competing for food with her brothers. This was also the first time I have ever seen a young pileated turn upside down in a bid to be fed. There is no arguing with success.

    The next day, in another first for me, I found Chip collecting red elderberries.

    My immediate thought was, Is he eating the little red berries or collecting them to feed to the young?

    Twenty minutes later, I saw Goldie bringing food to the nest. She was looking decidedly wet and unkept. The strain of finding food and feeding three young looked like it was beginning to show.

    Ten minutes later, Chip answered my earlier question. Beside the white remnants of larva on his bill, he had also clearly regurgitated at least one of the red elderberries to feed to Lewis and Gawea. If you have not noticed, the female pileated woodpeckers do not have red on their foreheads or cheeks.

    In this particular case, Gawea is pinned down and unable to get her share of the food.

    My biggest pileated surprise happened last Saturday morning. I was laying in bed when I heard the call of a pileated outside my window. I rushed to the back deck and followed the sound, which was repeated multiple times. Across the fence, in the back yard of my neighbor, was Lewis the young pileated. He was clearly calling for his parents to bring him food.

    This was my first notice that any of the young woodpeckers had fledged e.g. learned to fly. I knew he was at least a quarter of a mile from the nest. I doubted the parents could hear him, especially if they remained near his potentially unfledged siblings. I put a few blueberries out where Lewis could see them, but they only attracted crows.

    An hour later I headed for the pileated nest hoping to determine if Clark and Gawea had also fledged. Two blocks from home I heard a pileated again and turned to find three of them on a telephone pole.

    A closer inspection showed it was Lewis who was being fed by Goldie. You might want to notice the difference in the color of their red top knots. I find it is also interesting to see the difference in their 'black' feathers as well. Being fresh from the nest, Lewis has not been exposed to much sunlight or weather. This, and that fact that he and his feathers are much younger, has kept his feathers darker and obviously more fresh than Goldie's.

    I found Clark in the nest. He was calling for food on an average of about once every thirty seconds. 

    After about an hour, Chip finally arrived with food. Apparently Gawea had already left the nest. At this point not only do the parents have to feed themselves and three young, they also have to locate the young and potentially fly to three different locations to deliver food. An end to their ordeal is almost in sight. The young will now slowly begin to feed themselves, however I have seen young in the field being fed by parents as late as August.

    On Saturday afternoon, I once again heard Lewis on my neighbor's property. This time he was on a telephone pole in the front yard - still begging for food.

    Within two days Clark was gone and the nest has been silent ever since. I think the frequency of the young pileated calls for food steadily increases as they get closer and closer to fledging. The begging wasn't exactly a whining sound to me but it certainly seemed emotionally similar, which is why I titled this post, Elderberry Whine.