It's the kind of rose garden that Joe South would write about.
The Grammy-award winning songwriter-guitarist who wrote "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" (popularized by country singer Lynn Anderson), has probably never seen this rose garden, though.
It's at the University of California, Davis, and it's an All-America Rose Selections (AARS) Test Garden.
Located on Hopkins Road, off Hutchison Drive, just west of the central UC Davis campus, it is one of 15 AARS test gardens located throughout the United States, representing a variety of climates. In fact, the UC Davis rose garden is one of three test gardens in California--the others are in Carlsbad and San Jose.
AARS, a self-described "non-profit association dedicated to the introduction and promotion of exceptional roses that will be easy to grow and require minimal care," selects and plants roses that have the potential to become a new variety.
"We use common practices for optimal growth and insect control but no fungicides for control of powdery mildew or dust in order to evaluate natural disease resistance," according to a sign posted at the entrance.
It is indeed an exceptional garden, filled with 30 new rose varieties, including hybrid teas, floribundas, landscape, grandifloras and one climbing rose.
The insects there would agree, too: the honey bees, ladybugs, katydids, and spotted cucumber beetles. The honey bees and ladybugs are beneficial; the katydids and spotted cucumber beetles are pests.
It wasn't planted for them, but it's theirs, too.
"I beg your pardon--I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometime..."
It's a romantic getaway.
Say "San Ysidro Ranch" and someone will tell you that John F. Kennedy and his bride, Jackie, honeymooned there in September 1953.
So much has happened since then. JFK went on to win the presidency in 1961 and tragically, 47 years ago today--Nov. 22, 1963--he lost his life in Dallas.
The San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, first a way station for San Franciscan monks in 1769, and then a citrus ranch before becoming a guest ranch in 1893, is now one of the most highly rated romantic getaways in the country.
The 500-acre site near Santa Barbara is also a "perfect 10" for honey bees and other insects foraging on the lush grounds.
It's a human paradise AND an entomological treasure.
When our son and his bride recently said "I do" at the very site that Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind) wed Sir Lawrence Olivier, honey bees added to the ceremony. They buzzed from flower to flower, gathering nectar and pollen for their winter stores. A touch of Mother Nature...a brush with Father Time.
Bees are in a sticky situation.
Now enter "Sticky Business: Art of the Honey Bee."
It's an art show about honey bees that will run from Tuesday, Nov. 23 from Thursday, Dec. 23 in the Pence Art Gallery, 212 D St., Davis.
Curator Christopher Beer worked with regional artists and researchers from UC Davis, including noted bee specialist Eric Mussen (right), “to investigate this unique insect’s relationship to the Valley and our way of life.”
“This is a group exhibition incorporating themes of environmental conservation with beautiful and thought-provoking fine art on the subject of the honey bee,” Beer said. "The honey bee has provided sweetness to life that has benefited culture since the dawn of civilization. Now, scientists and farmers are eager to identify causes of the current decline of the honey bee population due to colony collapse disorder.”
The art includes paintings, monoprints, sculptures and photographs “that will set the stage as visitors learn about of the current plight of the honey bee,” Beer said.
Also planned: a multimedia station combined with informational panels.
Artists will greet guests at a reception set for 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10 in the Pence Art Gallery.
The 11 artists displaying their work are Donna Billick, Marilyn Judson, Melissa Wood, Adele Shaw, Roma Devanbu and Jeanette Copley, all of Davis; T. S. Linzey of Sacramento; Paula Wenzl Bellacera of West Sacramento; Wesley Wright of San Jose; Russell Bauer of Michigan; and yours truly of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Judson, who will show her intricate paper sculptures of bees, has close ties with the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Her husband, Charles, is an emeritus professor of entomology.
Billick, a self-described "rock artist" and a geneticist by training, is an entomologist at heart. She recently completed a six-foot-long bee sculpture for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. Billick and entomologist Diane Ullman co-founded and co-direct the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, which created the art in the haven.
And what would a show be without a talk on honey bees? Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology will discuss honey bees and their plight on Saturday, Dec. 11. The event, set from 1 to 4 p.m., and billed as "Kids Create 2010," includes his talk and hands-on art projects for children and their families. "Special guests" will be...guess what...honey bees! They'll be in a bee observation hive provided by the Laidlaw facility. llustrator Jed Alexander of Davis will show the families how to paint a bee, using watercolors. The fee is $5 per person ($4 for Pence Art Gallery members).
All in all, "Sticky Business" promises to be a very sweet event.
"Sticky" is good!
One of the spectacular plants blooming in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden at the University of California, Davis, is the cape mallow (Anisodontea hypomandarum), a native of South Africa.
The paperylike pink blossoms attract a good number of bees--no, a great number of bees. That's because of two reasons: (1) the haven is located right next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road and its 60 colonies, and (2) bees love--absolutely love--cape mallow.
The haven is designed to serve several purposes: to be a year-around food source for the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators; to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees; to provide an educational experience for visitors who can learn what to plant in their own gardens; and to serve as a research garden.
Special attractions at the haven--it's open year-around and admission is free--are the six-foot-long ceramic bee sculpture, the work of Davis artist Donna Billick; the two bee hive columns that grace the entrance to the garden, and the ceramic bench tiles showcasing bees and flowers. The bee hive columns and tiles are the work of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, founded and directed by Billick and UC Davis entomologist Diane Ullman.
If you go--and you should--check out the cape mallow. The flowers are so drop-dead gorgeous that surely they must be replicated somewhere on an an exotic silk dress or shirt.
With honey bees foraging on them.
Ever see a golden bee that takes your breath away?
They're most likely Cordovans, a subspecies of the Italian race. The one below is a Cordovan, basically a bee with a color mutation that inhibits black, explains noted bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey.
Cobey, who does research at the University of California, Davis and Washington State University, rears--and prefers--a line of bees called the New World Carniolans. The Carniolans are darker bees, quite the opposite of the Cordovans.
When we at the UC Davis Department of Entomology showcased the New World Carniolans in a bee observation hive at a Sacramento garden show earlier this year, one bystander wondered why the bees were darker than the ones (Italians) that she was accustomed to seeing.
"That's because they're Carniolans, a different race of bees," we said. "They're darker than the Italians."
Indeed, we're all accustomed to seeing the Italians, the most commonly reared bee in the United States.
Whether bees are lemony yellow, sunshine gold, silver gray or a chocolate brown, they're all our honey bees (Apis mellifera). In a way they're like the leaves on a liquidambar tree--some are fireball red, some are shamrock green and some are school-bus yellow, but they are all leaves on the same tree.
As are we all!