July 6, 2011

Sarah Reichard becomes director of UW Botanic Gardens

News and Information

A forest resources professor whos an expert on invasive species and rare plants became director of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens July 1.

Professor Sarah Reichard will lead an organization that includes the UW Center for Urban Horticulture, the 74-acre Union Bay Natural Area and shared oversight of Seattles 230-acre Washington Park Arboretum. The UW Botanic Gardens is part of the School of Forest Resources in the College of the Environment.

Sarah Reichard

Sarah Reichard

Reichard, who has been with the UW and the Center for Urban Horticulture since 1977, studies biological invasions including the traits of invasive plants, prediction of invasive ability, early detection and rapid assessment of new invaders and the effects of plant invaders on native ecosystems. She also works with rare plant species looking at such things as the effects of human disturbance on rare species and horticultural techniques to reintroduce rare plants to the wild.

Her latest book, “The Conscientious Gardener: Cultivating a Garden Ethic,” came out earlier this year. Reichard relies on her research to help gardeners consider the many benefits of sustainable gardening and she gives practical advice on such things as pest control, water conservation, living with native animals, mulching and invasive species.  The book has been reviewed in publications such as the Seattle Times and the New York Times. The NYT reviewer called it a powerful book, praising Reichard for arguing “that gardeners should be on the front line when it comes to recognizing the interconnection of mankind and nature.”

Reichard earned her doctorate in 1994 and her masters in 1989 in forest resources, and her bachelors in 1981 in botany, all from the UW.

“I am very appreciative that Sarah has accepted this position in these very uncertain times,” said Tom Hinckley, director of the school. “She has the combination of skill sets, innovative ideas, community connections and stakeholder trust not only to adjust to current financial realities, but also to move UWBG forward.”

Reichard, who will hold the Orin and Althea Soest directors position, will oversee gardens and programs heavily used by the public including:

  • The Center for Urban Horticulture and 16-acre site, with 70,000 visitors each year, serves as the meeting place for over 200 organizations, including 60 horticultural groups. The centers Merrill Hall is the first sustainable building built on the UW Seattle campus. It houses administrative offices and research labs, the Elisabeth C. Miller Library, a secure seed vault for rare seeds and the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium. It also provides plant clinic space to the WSU King County Extension Program and the Master Gardener Foundation of King County.
  • The Washington Park Arboretum, with 250,000 visitors annually, is jointly managed by the UW, which oversees the plant collections, and Seattles Department of Parks and Recreation, with support from the arboretum foundation.

“I look forward to weaving academics into all aspects of the UWBG, while also enhancing the experience of every visitor to our beautiful gardens and thoughtful programs” Reichard said. “Our mission, ‘sustaining managed to natural ecosystems and the human spirit through plant research, display and education, says it all.”

Sandra Leir, who served as interim director of the UW Botanic Gardens in recent years, has retired.