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 you're rearing monarchs or offering them a “way station” of nectar-producing flowers in your yard, there's one thing you don't want to see: A praying mantis nailing a monarch.
That's when the "pollinator friendly garden" seems more like a "predator friendly garden." It's not by chance. It's by choice. Like bank robbers who go where the money is, mantids go where the food is. Unfortunately for those of us who favor pollinators over predators, they patiently wait for bee breakfast and butterfly brunch. And they're as cunning as they are quick.
It's an insect-eat-insect world out there.
It is Oct. 23, a bright, breezy autumn day. Pacific Northwest monarchs are migrating to their overwintering sites in Santa Cruz and Pacific Grove and are fluttering down to nectar on Mexican sunflower (Tithonia), butterfly bush (Buddleia), and Lantana. Flight fuel.
But wait! There's a monarch on the butterfly bush that isn't moving. Why is she not moving? Oh, she's struggling. Oh, she's in the clutches of a praying mantis.
The mantis is perfectly camouflaged amid the green vegetation. She is gravid and an ootheca is in her future. Her bloated abdomen wiggles like the leaf she resembles, Her spiked forelegs, like thorny rose stems, circle her prey. Oh, she's piercing a wing...
This migratory monarch won't be joining her buddies in Santa Cruz.
Final score: Mantis, 1; Monarch, 0.
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.
It's the first day of summer and the beginning of National Pollinator Week.
What could be better?
This: Spotting a Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) sail through the pollinator garden and touch down on a butterfly bush (Buddleia). When the striking yellow and black butterfly lands softly and begins to forage on the lavender butterfly bush, it's like a Picasso come to life.
"National Pollinator Week is a time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what you can do to protect them," say officials at the National Pollinator Partnership, which originated the idea of National Pollinator Week and now manages the observance. "During National Pollinator Week, we highlight and share the importance of pollinators including bees, birds, butterflies and bats."
Background: The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the designated week nine years ago. Now it's not only a national celebration but an international one. And well it should be, as we all remember to "protect our pollinators."
Check out the many logged-in activities on the Pollinator Partnership website. Among them: an open house on Friday, June 24 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the University of California, Davis. Part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, the half-acre garden was installed in the fall of 2009 and is located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
The haven open house is free and open to the public. Activities include:
- Learn to observe and identify bees
- Catch and observe bees up close
- See honey bees at work
- Learn about low-water plans that help bees
- Buy native bee houses to support the haven
- Enjoy honey tasting and sales
The haven is open to the public from dawn to dusk. The 100-acre UC Davis Arboretum that circles much of the campus is open to the public 24 hours a day. There is no admission.
And that Western tiger swallowtail? You might see it now in the arboretum and haven. Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, writes about it on his website: "The Western Tiger Swallowtail is basically a species of riparian forest, where it glides majestically back and forth along the watercourse. It has expanded into older urban neighborhoods where several of its host genera are grown as shade trees, and behaves as if the street were a watercourse."
Among its favorite nectar plants: the aptly named butterfly bush.
If you go looking for a bumble bee, you might find a butterfly.
And vice versa.
The UC Davis Arboretum last Saturday (Feb. 6), was just starting to "get its spring on." We spotted a few honey bees and syrphid flies foraging on daphne (Daphne odora) in the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden, but nearby, in the Carolee Shields White Flower Garden and Gazebo, a single butterfly fluttered down on a silver anniversary butterfly bush (Buddleia “Morning Mist").
Could it be? It was. A mourning cloak, Nymphalis antiopa. Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, said "Congratulations--good show. The first spotting (of the year) in the Valley." Shapiro has monitored the butterfly populations of the Central Valley for more than four decades, and posts his research on his website.
After perching on the butterfly bush, the mourning cloak soared high and then touched down on the sign that read "Silver Anniversary Butterfly Bush. Buddleia “Morning Mist.” What are the odds?
On his website, Shapiro describes the mourning cloak as a "very distinctive and charismatic butterfly, best known for its conspicuous activity in late winter, flying and acting territorial before any trees have leafed out or any wildflowers are active...in recent years populations of this butterfly have collapsed regionally; it disappeared from West Sacramento for several years and has been very scarce and erratic at other low-altitude sites; there was some improvement in 2005 and numbers of hibernators at low altitude were up in 2006, but very bad weather may have prevented much if any recovery."
Shapiro has seen two this year at higher elevations but not in the valley--yet. "In the Sacramento Valley there appears to be only one brood (in spring); the resulting adults migrate upslope and breed in the mountains," he says on his website. "There is a reverse downslope migration by the next generation, in late September-October. It is not obvious why this seasonal altitudinal migration occurs, but both the California and Milbert's Tortoiseshells, its closest relatives, do it, too."
The mourning cloak, native to Europe and North America and widespread throughout the world, is the state insect of Montana. It's distinguished by its purple-black color, iridescent blue spots, and a yellow border on its upperside. The adults feed on oak tree sap, rotting fruit, and "occasionally on flower nectar," according to Butterflies and Moths of North America. Caterpillar hosts are willows including black willow (Salix nigra), weeping willow (S. babylonica), and silky willow (S. sericea); also American elm (Ulmus americana), cottonwood (Populus deltoides), aspen (P. tremuloides), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), and hackberry (Celtis occidentalis). Older caterpillars wander about and may be found on plants that they do not eat."
The UC Davis Arboretum will be the site of scores of visitors on Saturday, Feb. 13 during the fifth annual UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. The campuswide event, free and open to the public, will take place at 11 different sites:
- Anthropology Collections, Young Hall, open noon to 4 p.m.
- Arboretum, Headquarters along LaRue Road, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Academic Surge Building, open noon to 4 p.m.
- Botanical Conservatory, greenhouses along Klieber Hall Drive, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- California Raptor Center, Old Davis Road, open 9 a.m. to noon
- Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Lab Building, open 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Bee Biology Road, open 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Academic Surge Building, open noon to 4 p.m.
- Nematode Collection, Sciences Lab Building, open 1 to 4 p.m.
- Paleontology Collections, Earth and Physical Sciences Building, open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building, open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
And maybe--just maybe--visitors to the UC Davis Arboretum will see a mourning cloak.
Or maybe the first bumble bee of the year...a queen black-tailed bumble bee, Bombus melanopygus?
If you go looking for a butterfly, you might find a bumble bee.