Instagrammers in the Arboretum

meet me at the arboretumSince the earliest days of Instagram, people have been meeting up to take photos and videos together. As the community has grown around the world, so too has the occurrence of InstaMeets: gatherings of people coming together to connect, explore, and celebrate creativity.

Last Sunday, March 22, 2015 an “InstaMeet” took place in the Arboretum. About 30 people from all over the region met in the Arboretum’s redwood grove then slowly, but surely, made their way out to the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden for sunset, all the while capturing images and unique perspectives of the Arboretum along the way.

This particular InstaMeet was organized by UC Davis Associate Professor of Communication, Nicholas Palomares (Find him on Instagram: @nikpalomares) Everyone had a great time exploring our gardens and remarking at the beauty of our campus. Please enjoy some of the photos and perspectives from this day as captured by amateurs and social media influencers alike.

CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS from the above event click here

SEE MORE PHOTOS on Instagram of the UC Davis Arboretum

ARE YOU ON INSTAGRAM? Find and follow the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden @ucdavis_arboretum.


33 greens for shade


Here is a list of 33 plants that Stacey Parker has included in her  shady “new front yard” to date.

To learn more about Stacey’s experience removing her lawn visit: Stacey Parker’s Lawn Removal or visit her photo gallery on Flickr.

  1. Agave colorata, red bud agave
  2. Agave parryi v. parryi ‘Estrella’, Estrella mescal-agave
  3. Aloe mutabilis, torch plant
  4. Aloe striata, coral aloe
  5. Aquilegia sp., columbine
  6. Aristolochia californica, California Dutchman’s pipe
  7. Asarum caudatum, tailed snakeroot
  8. Carex flacca ‘Blue Zinger’, blue sedge
  9. Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’, variegated Japanese sedge
  10. Carex testacea, orange New Zealand sedge
  11. Coprosma × kirkii ’Variegata’, creeping mirror plant
  12. Correa pulchella ‘Orange Flame’, orange flame bell correa
  13. Cotyledon orbiculata, pig’s ear
  14. Cyrtomium falcatum, Japanese holly fern
  15. × Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’, Fred Ives Echeveria Graptopetalum Hybrid
  16. Fragaria vesca, wild strawberry
  17. Geranium × cantabrigiense, ‘Biokovo’, Biokovo cranesbill
  18. Hellebore sp., lenten rose
  19. Heuchera ‘Rosada’, rosada coral bells
  20. Nandina domestica ‘Filamentosa’, threadleaf nandina
  21. Neomarica caerulea, walking iris
  22. Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis, purple shamrock
  23. Ribes aureum var. aureum, golden currant
  24. Ribes malvaceum ‘Montara Rose’, Montara chaparral currant
  25. Salvia spathacea, hummingbird sage
  26. Sedum palmeri, Palmer’s sedum
  27. Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’, spruce-leaved stonecrop
  28. Sedum rupestre ‘Blue Spruce’, blue spruce mat sedum
  29. Senecio mandraliscae, blue chalk sticks
  30. Westringia fruticosa ‘Smokie’, gray leaf coast rosemary
  31. Woodwardia fimbriata, giant chain fern
  32. × Pachyveria paraguayense, Pachyphytum and Echeveria hybrid
  33. Zephyranthes candida, Argentine rain lily

Life after lawn: 50 greens for shade


Excerpted from The Davis Enterprise
March 6, 2015

by Katie Hetrick

As with any long-term relationship, deciding it’s time to break up with your lawn can be a difficult decision.

Will you miss it? Will it be worth it? Will you be happier? There are so many unknowns. Sometimes it is best just to take the plunge and not over-analyze the situation.

That’s what Stacey Parker, a new Davis homeowner and horticulturist for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, did last year. She envisioned her front yard as a place that could be aesthetically pleasing, home to native wildlife and a low-water draw — an attractive idea, given the rising cost involved in keeping lawns green.

“This is the type of work I’m involved in with UC Davis campus landscapes, so I figured why not do the same at home,” Parker said.

About UCD, Parker said, “We’re realizing huge water savings, thanks in large part to thoughtful plant choices, not to mention a world-class irrigation crew — I wish I could have used them” at her home, she joked.

Parker may not have all the same resources as UCD, but what she lacks in assets she makes up for in ingenuity. A true economizer, Parker decided to employ one of the least expensive methods for removing her lawn — sheet mulch.

Sheet mulching involves smothering your lawn with cardboard, covering the sheets with 6 inches of mulch, then waiting for your lawn (and any weeds) to die. Voilà, six months later, you are ready to plant your new, sustainable, environmentally friendly plant palette.

Seems easy enough, and it can be, but there are a couple of tips that Parker would like other lawn conversion do-it-yourselfers to consider should they embark on the same sheet-mulching journey.

Start with a master plan
“Consider hiring a professional to help with your design,” Parker said. “Beginning with an overall vision for what you would like your landscape to become allows for flexibility. You can start small while knowing how one piece fits into the larger puzzle.”

Include extra layers
Parker had multiple reasons for deciding on sheet mulching; besides it adding much-needed carbon back into the soil, it’s easy to come by, and its environmental impact is low. But one thing she wishes she had done was use more … more cardboard and more mulch, especially in areas adjacent to her neighbors.

“Weeds are wily creatures,” Parker said. “If you share a property line with a neighbor that waters regularly, no matter how little water they use, that portion of your yard will require extra layers of cardboard and extra mulch to smother the grass and weeds below.

“Any additional water supply causes the cardboard to breakdown quicker, allowing weeds less resistance when attempting to emerge.”

Be patient
After saying goodbye to her lawn, Parker couldn’t wait to fall in love again with her new front yard. She sheet-mulched last spring and began planting in the fall, unaware that the pernicious weed varieties infesting her yard don’t emerge until winter.

Among others, they include the lovely, yet insidious Bermuda buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae) and a bit of creeping woodsorrel (Oxalis corniculatus). These weeds have tough and drought-tolerant bulbs that can persist in the ground for many years.

“The length these weeds go to in order to reach some sun is amazing. They take sharp left turns, sharp right turns, they go around and back up,” Parker explained. “If you can’t remove them completely, you’ve got to exhaust all their energy. We’ve got a lot to learn from weeds about resilience!

“Long story short, if you can, you want to wait at least year post-sheeting-mulching before you begin planting, especially if, like me, you choose not to use herbicides. … This is, without a doubt, the hardest part for plant nerds and curb-appeal enthusiasts alike. It’s hard to focus on the future when you want everything done, low-water and beautiful, now.”

What Parker did instead was focus on her trees.

“For all the landscape pioneers out there switching from traditional, lawn-focused landscapes, to diverse, low-water landscapes — don’t let your trees get caught in the crosshairs! They may not need a lot of water, depending on the depth of their roots, but they still get thirsty!”

Added Parker, “I was careful to remember to water the tree in my front yard. It provides a great deal of shade — a huge blessing nine months of the year — but it also made plant selection a little more difficult for me because I couldn’t rely on my favorite full-sun plants for bursts of seasonal flower color.

“I love it now, though, because what I get instead is a mix of textures, leaf forms and hues of green that provide visual interest year-round.”

Parker jokingly refers to her yard as “50 Greens for Shade. Right now there are only about 33 varieties of plants, but I’ll get to 50 at some point! I’ve got yellow-greens, blue-greens, gray-greens, red-greens, purple-greens, variegated color leaves and so on. All the colors are there, they may just not be from flowers.” (SEE Stacey’s Plant List.)

Homeowners like Parker who are making changes to their landscapes to save water and be more sustainable are developing what the UCD Arboretum has coined “the new front yard.”

For links to information that will help area homeowners in their quest to break up with their lawns and create a new front yard, visit and click on “Drought Resources.” To see photos and follow along with Parker’s front lawn removal process, and to find out more about her plant palette, visit

Interested in talking to experts about the lawn removal process and getting inspired by a wide selection of water-wise plants? Attend one of the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden’s spring plant sales, where you’ll find the area’s largest selection of attractive, low-water, easy-care, region-appropriate plants, as well as wide array of experts who can advise on topics like lawn removal.

Arboretum GATEway Garden Community Festival


YOU ARE INVITED to a FREE community festival to dedicate our newest garden, the Arboretum GATEway Garden!

DATE: Sunday, May 3
TIME: 1–3 p.m.
PLACE: Arboretum GATEway Garden MAP

The beautiful new garden at the east end of the Arboretum is a connection point between the UC Davis campus and the City of Davis, showcasing local native plants.

Come explore how the Arboretum GATEway Garden is celebrating our local heritage, strengthening community connections, and building a sustainable future.

• Try hands-on activities
• Take guided tours
• Learn how the garden was designed and constructed
• Experience how students, partners, and volunteers are making the garden a vibrant destination for community engagement
• Enjoy music, refreshments, and a brief ribbon-cutting at 1:30pm

THANK YOU to the generous funders, community partners, and many volunteers who helped make this project possible. LEARN MORE.

The Arboretum GATEway Garden is adjacent to the Davis Commons Shopping Center parking lot. We encourage you to walk or bike. Parking is available downtown or in nearby campus visitor parking lots.

Click through photos of the Arboretum GATEway Garden and its evolution below.

Find low-water plants with updated WUCOLS database

Photo of California fuchsia in the Mary Wattis Brown Collection of California Native Plants.

Thanks to the UC Davis California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH), which secured funding from multiple industry partners as well as the California Department of Water Resources, there’s an online resource that is a quick way to learn more about water needs of plants sold by nurseries throughout the state of California. It’s called WUCOLS, which stands for Water Use Classification of Landscape Species (

Because only about 1% of plants have been scientifically researched to determine their exact water needs, the WUCOLS list incorporates the extensive field knowledge of 36 horticulturists from throughout the state whose experience has allowed them to evaluate the water use of over 3,500 plants; this knowledge is now documented within the fourth edition of the WUCOLS online database.

Once you start digging around this list we think you’ll find a multitude of low-water plants that you’ve never heard of, but will want to try.


UC Davis named “Tree Campus USA” for the seventh year in a row

Photo of UC Davis Mrak Mall.

UC Davis has been named “Tree Campus USA” for the seventh year in a row by the Arbor Day Foundation!

The Tree Campus USA program recognizes college and university campuses that effectively manage their campus trees, develop connectivity with the community beyond campus borders to foster healthy urban forests, and strive to engage their student population utilizing service learning opportunities centered on campus, and community forestry efforts.

What does it take to be named a “Tree Campus USA”?

  • Campus Tree Advisory Committee
  • Campus Tree Care Plan
  • Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures
  • Arbor Day Observance
  • Service Learning Project

Congratulations to our Grounds and Landscape Services team for taking care of our trees and keeping them a priority for our campus and the environment!

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