Think bees. Think butterflies. Think plants that will attract them.
Members (you can join online or at the gate) can peruse and purchase plants from 9 to 11 a.m., and the general public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Members save 10 percent off their plant purchases, while new members receive an additional $10 off as a thank-you gift.
You can chat with the Arboretum folks to pick out that special plant you're seeking. They also provide an online list of available plants and/or you can download The Life After Lawn: Garden Gems Plant List.
Many of the plants at the sale are All-Stars. What's an All-Star? The Arboretum horticultural staff has identified "100 tough, reliable plants that have been tested in the Arboretum, are easy to grow, don't need a lot of water, have few problems with pests or diseases, and have outstanding qualities in the garden." Many are California native plants and support native birds and insects. Most All-Star plants can be successfully planted and grown throughout California.
If you miss the Oct. 7th sale, not to worry. There are two more fall plant sales:
Saturday, Oct. 21
Open to the Public: 9 a.m - 1 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 4
Public Clearance Sale: 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
It's a good idea to BYOB (Bring Your Own Box), BYOW (Bring Your Own Wagon) or BYOC (Bring Your Own Cart).
While you're there, check out the 100-acre Arboretum, including the nearby Ruth Risdon Storer Garden (aka Storer Garden), a Valley-wise garden,and the Carolee Shields White Flower Garden and Gazebo (aka White Garden). Have you seen all of the 17 special gardens and collections?
They're called "living museums" because that's what they are. Living museums. And especially when they attract pollinators!
If want to beautify your yard, attract pollinators, and save money at the same time, then you'll want to attend the UC Davis Arboretum Plant Sale on Saturday, Nov. 5. It's the final clearance sale of the season, and it will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Aboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, UC Davis campus.
Every plant will be marked down at least 20 percent, officials said. See list of plants here. Members save 10 percent and you can join at the door.
Taylor Lewis, UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden nursery manager, says that autumn, with its shorter days and cooler temperatures, is "the best time of year for new planting whether you are renovating a lawn area or adding new plants to a mature landscape."
He and Ellen Zagory, director of public horticulture for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, list five reasons why plant establishment is much easier now.
- Less water use – Thanks to recent rains the soil moisture can be kept constant with less irrigation.
- Softer soil – The soil is softer now so it's easier to dig holes!
- Fewer weeds – Unwanted plant life is less prolific thanks to less sun and cooler temperatures.
- Less stress – Cooler temperatures also are less stressful to new plants.
- Hearty roots – When the air temperature is cooler than the soil temperature, plants put more energy into root growth without new top growth, which results in heartier root systems and stronger plants overall.
Zagory points out: “There isn't going to be much growth above ground where you can see it, but just wait . . . come spring your plants will show you how happy they are you planted in fall!”
Many plants at the Nov. 5th sale are geared for pollinators. Some of pollinators' favorite foods include lavender, salvia, catmint, aster, butterfly bush, lantana, borage, salvia, sunflowers, blanket flower, cone flowers, and penstemon. And many more!
Want to attract butterflies? Consider not only the nectar-producing plants but their host plants. For example, monarchs lay their eggs only on their host plant, milkweed (genus Asclepias), the only plant the caterpillars will eat.
A few other host plants of butterflies:
- Gulf Fritillaries: Passion flower vine (genus Passiflora)
- Anise swallowtails: Sweet fennel (genus Foeniculum)
- Checkered skippers: Mallow (genus Malva)
- Western tiger swallowtails: Cottonwood and aspen cottonwood and aspen (Populus), willows (Salix), wild cherry (Prunus), and ash (Fraxinus).
- Pipevine swallowtail: Dutchmen's pipe or pipevine
The website of Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, offers a wealth of information on California butterflies. He's been studying the butterfly populations of Central California for more than four decades.
Calflora is the go-to site for a database of California non-native and native plants, invasive plants and rare plants.
The California Native Plant Society website encourage us to plant native plants.
The UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab website recommends what to plant for native bees.
Books? Yes. Two of the most recently published:
California Bees and Blooms, a Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists is the work of UC-affiliated authors Gordon Frankie, Robbin Thorp, Barbara Ertter and Rollin Coville.
The Bee-Friendly Garden: Design an Abundant, Flower-Filled Yard that Nurtures Bees and Supports Biodiversity, by award-winning garden designerKate Frey and bee expert Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University, will guide you in selecting bee plants and designing your garden.
If you're looking for plants to attract pollinators, including bees and butterflies, then the UC Davis Arboretum's Plant Sale on Saturday, Oct. 22 is the place to "bee."
A public fall clearance sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, UC Davis campus. It will feature a "wide selection of Arboretum All-Stars, California natives, and gorgeous drought-tolerant plants," officials said. Members (new members can join at the door) save 10 percent and also reap other benefits.
The sale will include more than 16,500 plants and more than 450 varieties.
Will they have milkweed? Yes.
"It looks like we'll have plenty of milkweed, two varieties--Kotolo (Asclepias eriocarpa) and showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)," said Katie Hetrick, director of communications.
Will they have butterfly bush (Buddleia)? Yes.
"We have a ton of Buddleia," said Hetrick, mentioning just a few: Magenta Munchkin, Dark Dynasty, Buzz, Orchid Annie, Purple Haze, Lavender Cupcake--and "The Chips": Lilac Chip, Pink Micro Chip, and Blue Chip Jr.
"And let's not forget all the Salvias!" Hetrick said. "Those are a nectar fave with pollinators including butterflies, bees and hummingbirds!" Among the Salvias on sale: Bee's Bliss, Pacific Blue, Marine Blue, Pozo Blue, Debbie's Rose, Little Kiss, Red Swing, Violet Riot, Royal Bumble, Hot Lips, and Scott's Red.
Taylor Lewis, UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Nursery Manager, related that pipevine, the host plant of the pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor), will be available.
Ellen Zagory, director of horticulture, listed some of her favorite sunflower family plants that attendees can buy:
- Aster 'Monch'
- Coreopsis, 'Little Penny'
- Coreopsis, 'Enchanted Eve'
- Coreopsis, 'Red Elf'
- Echibeckia, 'Summerina Brown'
- And lots of Echinacea (cone flowers)
For a full list of the plants available, download the PDF.
And, it's interesting to see what folks in the area have planted instead of lawns. The Aboretum's web page offers great ideas.
Do you know how much acres in the United States are planted in lawn? Huffington Post reports in a 2015 news story: "According to a new study from NASA scientists in collaboration with researchers in the Mountain West, there is now an estimated total of 163,812 square kilometers, or more than 63,000 square miles, of lawn in America — about the size of Texas."
All that manicuring, all that water, all that work. And little or no food or shelter for the pollinators.
Every well-manicured lawn "uses up to 900 liters of water per person per day and reduces sequestration effectiveness by up to 35 percent by adding emissions from fertilization and the operation of mowing equipment," Huffington Post says.
Indeed, lawn is our nation's single largest "crop."
But it doesn't have to be. There IS life after lawn. And there is MORE life after lawn.
You'll see drought-tolerant plants, plants perfect for your pollinators, and the Arboretum All-Stars. The All-Stars are the Oscars of your garden. They're like Academy Awards. The horticultural staff selected some 100 plants that are "easy to grow, don't need a lot of water, have few problems with pests or diseases, and have outstanding qualities in the garden. Many of them are California native plants and support native birds and insects. Most All-Star plants can be successfully planted and grown throughout California."
The teaching nursery is stocked with more than 14,000 plants of almost 400 varieties. Eighty-percent were grown on site. (Download this PDF to access the inventory.)
It's a members' only sale, but anyone can become a member at the door. The staff asks that you BYOC or BYOB. That's Bring Your Own Cart or Bring Your Own Box. A limited number of carts is available.
While there, be sure to check out the permanent garden art that graces the teaching nursery. You'll see artistic bugs created by UC Davis students under the tutelage, encouragement and inspiration of the Ullman/Billick duo. That would be entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, professor of entomology at UC Davis, and self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick (who has a bachelor's degree in genetics). They co-founded and co-directed the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. The resulting ceramic-mosaic art is a treasure trove, not only in the Arboretum teaching nursery, but throughout the campus and downtown Davis and beyond. It's a living legacy of what can be done when art is fused with science, and when science is fused with art.
Want more information on the plant sale and/or upcoming sales? Phone (530) 752-4880 or email email@example.com.
The next public sale is Saturday, Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
We attended the sale on Saturday, Oct. 11 and it was the equivalent of Black Friday (the Friday following Thanksgiving Day). Only this was like "Green Saturday." It was a gathering of green thumbers and wanna-be green thumbers. We delighted in seeing their enthusiasm for plants and pollinators.
Bee enthusiast/UC Master Gardener Tom Tucker of Vacaville was there to display his bee condos, or housing for leafcutting bees and blue orchard bees. The bee condos? They're easy to make, he says. His "bee hat" was all the buzz.
Art was there in the form of ceramic insects that UC Davis Entomology 1 students created under the encouragement and direction of the UC Davis Art Science Fusion Program, co-founded and co-directed by entomologist/artist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick. Ullman is a professor of entomology at UC Davis and Billick is a self-described "rock artist" who retired from teaching classes at UC Davis in June--but not from art.
Not to be outdone by the ceramic bees, the real bees were there, too. We watched them nectar purple lavender (Lavandula), red blanket flower (Gallardia) and the yellow bulbine (Bulbine frutescens). One good rule of thumb in purchasing plants for pollinators: observe what the pollinators like.
The UC Davis Arboretum website explains it all: "Several times each year, our support group, Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum, holds plant sales at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery, offering hundreds of different kinds of uncommon garden plants that have been locally grown, including the Arboretum All-Stars, our top recommended plants for Central Valley gardens. Dozens of volunteers work hard all year to grow plants for sale to support the Arboretum. Learn about volunteering at the Arboretum."
Check out the plant list on the website. You can download a PDF or an Excel file.
If you don't know a plant from a hole in the ground (in preparation for a plant, of course), you can ask the experts at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery.