(This article also appears on the front page of the April 8, 2015 issue of the Davis Enterprise.)
UC Davis plant sales offer opportunity to plan for lawn-free, low-water future
If you didn’t feel the threat of this record-breaking drought affecting your life, that all changed on Wednesday with Governor Brown’s first ever issuance of a state of emergency drought declaration mandating statewide water reductions and calling for the replacement of 50 million square feet of lawns throughout California with drought-tolerant landscaping.
The message was no surprise to the staff, students, and volunteers who have been working to prepare the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery for its public plant sales throughout spring beginning Saturday, April 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Other sale dates include Saturday, April 25 and May 16.)
“Homeowners want to make the right choices, but what is available at many large-scale plant retailers doesn’t always fit this bill,” states Taylor Lewis, UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden nursery manager. “That’s why they come here. We’ve got the over 350 different varieties of attractive, water-wise choices and an inventory of over 10,000 plants. We know the plants respond well here because we grow most of them at our nursery or we’ve had a good experience growing them elsewhere on campus.
In light of the governor’s mandate, experts with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden hope to educate our region with options for what to do now and what to avoid.
“I hope that our community doesn’t just turn off their irrigation, stop watering their trees, or replace their landscapes with rocks—that would be a huge mistake,” asserts Ellen Zagory, director of public horticulture for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. “I want people to plan, prioritize and re-plant with selections that make sense for where we live. Lawns are a relic of our country’s European history that has stuck, I think, because it’s easy, neat, and doesn’t require much thought—fertilize, water, mow, and repeat. I get it, but we need to start a new aesthetic, one that fits the region in which we live. We can do it and the sooner the better.”
Attendees to the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden plant sale can discuss alternate landscape options with a multitude of knowledgeable experts, master gardeners and gardening enthusiasts, take home educational information, and of course, lots of low-water plants.
“The thing that is difficult about selling plants in this drought is that even though we offer a huge selection of low-water plants, they still need to be watered, especially when they are young and getting established,” confesses Lewis. “But, when you plant something we’ve selected, your water use will go down as compared to lawns, then continue to go down significantly over time. People can plan for a low-water future with better plant choices now. “
“This is California, we set precedents, we change aesthetics, we can get through this drought and come out better for it when it’s over,” assures Zagory. “The potential for an explosion of diversity of flora and fauna in our urban and suburban settings where lawns are replaced with plants appropriate for our region is so fun to think about! We’ll not only be saving water, we’ll be providing beneficial wildlife with a refuge and food source. Birds, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds—they need help through this drought too.”
Need inspiration? Check out some of the demonstration gardens in the UC Davis Arboretum near the nursery before the sale. Stroll through the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden, the Arboretum All-Star demonstration planting beds near the teaching nursery, and Nature’s Gallery Court. Many of the plants are labeled and will be available at the sale.
For more information about the sale and the plants that will be available, visit the UC Davis Arboretum’s website at http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu. There you will also find a plethora of drought and water conservation resources, planting plans, and plant lists that will help you plan for your low-water future.
What it is…
May 5th is our region’s BIG Day of Giving, a 24-hour online giving challenge for the entire community. The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, along with 500+ other local non-profits, will be asking you to support what you value and love.
Last year, support from generous donors during Big Day of Giving helped us expand our FREE public programs in the Arboretum. This year we want to do even more and have set a goal to raise $12,000 in one day!
Our learning landscapes and student leaders are having an IMPACT by connecting people with plants, inspiring action through teaching about water-conserving gardening and empowering children and adults to be environmental stewards.
Here are 5 REASONS to give…and counting. Tell us about your reason!
How can I give?
- On May 5th, starting at 12:00 a.m. midnight for 24 hours until 11:59 p.m., visit arboretum.ucdavis.edu and click the Big Day of Giving button to donate
- Gifts start at $25.
- All donations are made via a secure online site.
Help us win incentive prizes… you may get a prize, too!
We’ll be competing with other non-profits to win bonus cash prizes to boost the giving total. Plus we’re offering special thank you gifts to our donors who give during Big Day of Giving. Stay tuned for more details coming soon!
What else can I do to help?
- “Like” us on Facebook
- “Follow” us on Twitter and include #BigDoG2015 in your tweets about the event
- “Follow” us on Instagram
- Share this event with your family and friends through social media. Ask people in your network to show their love for the Arboretum, too, by giving on May 5.
Since 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.
ARE YOU ON INSTAGRAM? Find and follow the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden @ucdavis_arboretum.