Arboretum Garden Stewards
The Garden Stewards are off for the winter season and will return in March 2016! For those of you wondering how to get your Arboretum gardening fix during the cooler months, there is a drop-in program that connects you to the Arboretum’s staff gardeners. Each gardener has specific days and timeslots during which drop-ins are welcome. Please consult the table below.
Notice required: Prior to dropping in, it is important to contact and receive confirmation from the gardener so you know they are expecting you. At least one business day’s notice is required, though it is better if you can give two or more. (Preston Pew requests that you contact him by the Thursday prior to his Monday sessions.) Also, if you are unable to make it to an appointed drop-in session, please let the gardener know, so they can plan accordingly.
Meet at the gardener “shop”: Rather than meeting in the grounds of the Arboretum, you will meet the gardeners—with the exception of City gardener Karen Stener—at the “shop” (i.e. the gardener office building). To get to the shop, from the Graham Visitors Center parking lot, go down the ramp at the northwest corner of the lot. The shop building is through the gate and to the right. If the door is not open, ring the shop phone at 206-616-4050.
BYOB: Please wear appropriate clothing, and bring your own beverages and snacks if so desired. The Garden Steward Coordinator will not be present for these sessions.
Drop-In Stewardship Program: Gardener Contacts
|Gardener||Amount of Notice Needed||Day/Time Available||Comment|
|1 day.||Tues, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.||Meet at the gardener's shop. Session will not be on Azalea Way.|
|1 day. |
Wait to receive confirmation before coming!
|Tues/Wed/Thurs||Meet at Azalea Way near GVC. One-on-one sessions only. Steward can request to focus on a particular area or to learn about specific plants.
|Please e-mail Preston by prior Thurs to make arrangements.||Mon, 9 a.m. to noon||Meeting place will be confirmed via e-mail.|
|1 day.||Tues/Thurs, 9 a.m. to noon||Meet at the gardener’s shop.|
Would you like to help us keep Washington Park Arboretum looking beautiful? Come join us for a Garden Stewards gardening party. Garden Stewards assist the staff gardeners in the monumental task of maintaining the Arboretum. Weekday and weekend gardening parties take place from March through November. Sessions run from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., and you are welcome to join us and help for as long as you can—an hour, two hours, or the entire three-hour session.
What we do: Most of our time, from March to October, we spend weeding in the beds along Azalea Way, and in the Cascadia and New Zealand sections of the Pacific Connections Garden. We work with very knowledgeable gardeners who appreciate our assistance in helping to keep the Arboretum looking and feeling great.
There are also opportunities for mulching and other gardening activities, if that is where your interests lie. Please email Pamela Givens for more information.
Who should join: Everyone!
- No gardening experience? Not a problem. Staff gardeners from UW Botanic Gardens and Seattle Parks and Recreation guide our activities, and you will receive sufficient instruction to feel knowledgeable and successful on your very first session.
- An experienced gardener? Your expertise will be enhanced by working with the Arboretum’s very knowledgeable horticulture staff. Current Stewards really value the time they have to interact with the gardeners and learn about the plants in the Arboretum.
- No garden of your own, but love working with plants? Perfect—our garden becomes your garden. Several stewards (some retirees who have given up their garden, some younger people who don’t have their own gardens yet) come to experience the joy of gardening through our Garden Steward sessions.
- Love the Arboretum and want to give something back? There are many ways to give back to the Arboretum, and many of our volunteers do give in multiple ways. If you love gardening, pitching in with the Stewards is a great way to give back—and one that you can see the results of each time you walk past an area that you’ve helped maintain! It is a lovely way to create a deeper connection to the Arboretum and learn interesting facts about the historic displays you’ll be helping to care for.
- A student taking environmental, landscape, plant ID or other horticulture classes? Working with the Garden Stewards is a great way to develop hands-on field skills in your chosen area of study. Arboretum staff gardeners have a wealth of knowledge to share (many of them may have even taken the very same classes you are taking), and volunteering with the Garden Stewards program will give you valuable work-related experience as you build your CV and start your career.
Benefits of volunteering: New Stewards receive training from staff gardeners in the use of tools and the identification of both weed plants and plants in the Arboretum collections. Stewards also benefit from other enrichment activities—including fascinating lectures about the history and collections in the Arboretum, as well as instructional talks from the many plant experts in the Arboretum’s extended family. Each year, we also participate in the Arboretum’s Volunteer Appreciation Party, a relaxing event celebrating the Stewards and other Arboretum volunteers for all of their hard work.
Earning your vest: After you participate in 24 hours of stewarding—just eight three-hour sessions—you will receive a very useful Garden Stewards vest, to help you hold your personal items during your gardening sessions.
Signing up: To learn more about the Stewards initiative or to sign up to become a Steward, please email Pamela Givens or call her at 206-963-0008. Before attending your first session, please fill out an application for by doing one of the following:
- Fill out our online application form.
- Or download a volunteer application form, fill it out, and either fax it to Pamela at 206-325-8893 or mail it to her c/o the Arboretum Foundation, 2300 Arboretum Drive East, Seattle, WA 98112.
Short History of the Stewards
In fall 2011, in response to budget crises affecting the University of Washington and Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Arboretum Foundation and UW Botanic Gardens created a special volunteer program dedicated to the care and maintenance of the Pacific Connections Garden at the south end of the Arboretum. Our goal was to recruit and train a dedicated cadre of volunteers—the Pacific Connections Garden Stewards—who would, under the supervision of the Arboretum and UWBG horticultural staff, assist the small paid crew in caring for this new garden.
The program was a great success, and it inspired the Foundation and Seattle Parks and Recreation to create the Azalea Way Garden Stewards in summer 2012. This program has also been very successful in providing assistance to City staff in maintaining Azalea Way, an historic, Olmsted-designed display. In 2014, both programs were merged into one and renamed, simply, the Garden Stewards program. More than 70 volunteers participated in the program in 2014.