UW Botanic Gardens’ Miller Seed Vault preserves some of Washington’s rarest native plants

Miller Seed Vault volunteer

In 2017, nearly half the population of Umtanum Desert buckwheat (Eriogonum codium) was destroyed by a wildfire in Washington’s Hanford Reach National Monument. This unassuming perennial plant is not found anywhere else in the world — meaning catastrophic events such as this could eventually spell extinction for its corner of Washington’s rich biodiversity. How do we protect rare, endemic plants as they come under increasing pressure from intensifying wildfires and habitat disruption? 

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New direction for UW Botanic Gardens focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion

The New Directions in Public Gardens speaker series started in May and will conclude with the final speaker on Sept. 20.

Botanical gardens historically are exclusive spaces, but the University of Washington is working to change that. Many gardens originated as private spaces for predominantly white and wealthy individuals, said UW Botanic Gardens director Christina Owen. The collections were often curated through a process of stealing and renaming before the gardens were gifted as land to cities and universities. “There’s a history of colonialism in many botanic gardens,” said Owen. 

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College faculty, staff and students honored at the 2022 Awards of Excellence

Mikelle Nuwer, Kristin Privitera-Johnson, Burlyn Birkemeier and Joanna Long

Each year, the University of Washington’s Awards of Excellence highlight alumni, faculty, staff, retirees and students who contribute to the richness and diversity of the University community. This year, the University has recognized the outstanding contributions of four members of the College of the Environment: Mikelle Nuwer, Kristin Privitera-Johnson, Burlyn Birkemeier and Joanna Long. The winners will be honored from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. 

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Cultivating community and tradition among the crops at the Native Garden

an example of dry beans grown in the garden

Tucked into a corner of the UW Farm at the Center for Urban Horticulture, within the moist compost and woven through the tendrils of beans, a community flourishes. The wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ Native Garden is a unique space where crops and people grow in harmony. Informed by traditional farming practices, the Native Garden serves as a space for Indigenous students to connect with their culture and share it with the broader community. 

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Spring blooms to watch for in the Seattle area

Cherry blossoms

Though Seattle’s weather can be fickle in the spring, with fleeting hints of warmth between long spells of cold and rain, the Puget Sound region is home to stunning buds and blossoms that remind locals summer is just around the corner. “Spring is my favorite time of the year for observing plants, because I love the anticipation and getting to watch things change week to week,” said Ray Larson, curator of Living Collections at the UW Botanic Gardens. 

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