A black butterfly with iridescent blue hindwings, it's a frequent visitor to our garden, where it nectars on such plants as the butterfly bush, Buddleia davidii, the Mexican sunflower (Tithonia), and sage (Salvia).
But if you want it as a permanent resident, plant its host plant, the California Dutchman's pipe, Aristolochia californica. You'll see the cycle of life--from eggs to caterpillars to chrysalids to adults.
And that breathtaking "bolt of blue."
The Dutchman's pipe is just one of thousands of plants that will be offered at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden's Plant Sale on Saturday, March 9 at its nursery on Garrod Drive, near the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Members can shop from 9 to 11 (you can join at the gate or online) and the public sale is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
As they say online: "Members of the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden or the Davis Botanical Society are welcome to shop our first spring plant sale and receive early admittance for the best plant selection, a $10-off member appreciation gift, complimentary refreshments and 10% off their plant sale purchases! In addition, new members receive a $10-off coupon as a thank you for joining. Not a member? Join the Friends online, at the door or call ahead.
Most of the plants are grown onsite, says Taylor Lewis, nursery manager. Native plants, drought-tolerant plants, host plants for butterflies, and plants that attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators are popular, not to mention the much-in-demand Arboretum All Stars, plants that do well in our area, even if you don't have a green thumb.
Want to know what plants are available? The website provides a list in both PDF and Excel. If you peruse the list--and you should before you go--you'll find narrow-leaf milkweed and showy milkweed (host plants for monarchs), and plants with such fascinating names as Bush Tango Kangaroo Paw, Aster Bugtopia, Dazzleberry Stonecrop, Bee's Bliss Purple Sage, Pocahontas Beard Tongue, Red Dragon Monkey Flower, and Baja California Fairy Duster. And lots of lavenders and salvia!
California figures into many of the names, from Calistoga California fuchsia, California Dutchman's pipe, California buckeye, California lilac and California sagebrush.
Is it spring yet?
You're looking for the winter daphne, Daphne odora Aureomarginta. You see a daphne sign in the Storer Garden but what's that on the sign? A butterfly? A Red Admiral? On Jan. 28? Are your eyes deceiving you?
You step closer and the butterfly is as real as real gets. It's basking in the warmth of the sun. Basking warms its flight muscles.
Yes, a Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta, in the dead of winter. Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, points out that the Red Admiral overwinters as an adult. So while we're holed up in our homes, offices or warehouses, it's flying around, weather permitting.
On his website, Art's Butterfly World, Shapiro writes: "One of the most frequently seen butterflies in midwinter at low elevation, and often very common in the urban Bay Area, the Red Admiral occurs all around the Northern Hemisphere. It is multiple-brooded, overwinters as an adult, and may undergo altitudinal migration in the Sierra (where it is generally uncommon."
"The larval hosts are all members of the Nettle family, Urticaceae, including not only the familiar Stinging Nettles (Urtica holosericea and U. urens) but the tiny-leaved ground cover Baby's Tears (Helxine or Soleirolia) in moist, shaded gardens and the climbing urban weed Pellitory (Parietaria) in the Bay Area. The larva is solitary, in a rolled-leaf shelter."
With spring approaching on March 20, we're all anticipating more of Nature's wonders. Meanwhile, if you're seeking pollinator plants--or garden gems--check out the UC Davis Arboretum's plant sale on Saturday, March 11 at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive. The Arboretum's first spring plant sale of the year, it's open to members only (Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Davis Botanical Society) from 9 to 11 a.m., and to the public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can also join the Friends of the Arboretum online or at the gate.
The inventory includes some 400 varieties and almost 13,000 plants. Here' s the list of "garden gems" you can download: LIFE AFTER LAWN: Garden Gems Plant List.
While you're there, be sure to walk a few yards over to the Storer Garden to see this wonderful little garden that bears the name of physician/philanthropist Ruth Risdon Storer (1888-1986), the first woman physician on the UC Davis campus and the first woman pediatrician practicing in Yolo County. There's always something new to see in the Storer Garden. If you're lucky, maybe a Red Admiral...
In the movie, "Field of Dreams," an Iowa corn farmer hears a voice whispering "If you build it, he will come." Apparently thinking this is the voice of his father, the farmer plows under his corn and builds a baseball field.
We are hearing a similar whisper as spring approaches. "Plant pollinator-friendly flowers and they will come."
Are you ready for spring, which begins March 19? The UC Davis Arboretum is, and has scheduled its first plant sale of the season on Saturday, March 12. It's actually Member Appreciation Plant Sale--members only--but folks can join at the door and participate in the appreciativeness.
The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, UC Davis campus.
Arboretum officials, noting that there is "life after lawn," are encouraging area residents to create a low-water landscape "that not only looks great, but one that attracts beneficial wildlife with our incredible selection of gorgeous Arboretum All-Stars,California natives, as well as other great drought-tolerant plants."
Access the Arboretum website for more information on what's available and for the dates of the other plant sales (April 2, April 23 and May 14).
Life is good, but it's better when you can create a field of dreams in your own yard. Just add honey bees. And bumble bees. And butterflies. And other pollinators.
Plant 'em and they will come.
You're yearning to see monarch eggs, caterpillars and chrysalids on milkweed. Ditto for the pipevine swallowtails on their host plant, Dutchman's pipe.
You also want some butterfly bushes and other nectar plants.
And you're thinking of replacing your drought-stricken lawn with drought-tolerant plants.
You're in luck!
"We're going to have a lot plants -- over 16,000 – including lots of Arboretum All-Stars in honor of their 10-year anniversary," spokesperson Katie Hetrick told us today.
The All-Stars are 100 specially selected plants "that have provided California with a foundation for creating attractive, easy-care landscapes that save water." A large selection of Arboretum All-Stars, California natives, and other regionally appropriate plants will be available.
The public sale offers benefits for Arboretum members, who can save 10 percent. Non-members can join at the door. For additional information, see benefits of memberships.
While you're on the campus, you can explore the 100-acre UC Davis Arboretum, a horticultural and cecreational treasure filled with scientific collections, demonstration gardens, educational information and art work. You can walk or bike the trails. Bring your camera.
If you're lucky, a monarch will flutter by./span>/span>
How's your front yard looking?
A little bit brown due to the drought? Thinking of replacing some of your plants with drought-tolerant ones? And hoping to attract some bees, butterflies and other wildlife?
You're in luck. The UC Davis Arboretum is planning its next public plant sale this Saturday, Oct. 11. The theme is, appropriately enough, "The New Front Yard."
The plant sale will take place in the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive. It's open to members only from 9 to 11 a.m. (but if you're not a member, you can join at the door), and it's open to the general public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
UC Davis Arboretum officials point out that many homeowners want to replace "high-water use plants with low-water alternatives" and they're going to help you. "We are going to have the area's largest selection of attractive, drought-tolerant, easy-care, region-appropriate plants including lots of California natives and Arboretum All-Stars."
They've published a list of some "attractive, region-appropriate plants that save water and support wildlife," complete with botanical names and photos. (Download PDF)
They include California buckeye, manzanitas, California pipevine, narrow leaf milkweed, Frikart's aster, Caliifornia aster, coyote brush, creeping Oregon grape, Blonde ambition blue grama grass, western spicebush, concha Ceanothus, Ray Hartman's California lilac, western red bud, Island mountain mahogany, California fuchsia, California buckwheat, St. Catherine's lace, coast silktassel, salt heliotrope, toyon, purple lantana, Goodwin Creek lavender, cape weed, monkey flower, deergrass, Hopley's purple oregano, Santa Margarita foothill penstemon, hollyleaf cherry, blue oak, California coffeeberry, pink chaparral currant, flowering currant, Santa Catalina Island currant, white sage, Cleveland sage, autumn sage, Santa Barbara sage, Cascade Creek California goldenrod, alkali sacaton, yellow autumn crocus and Roger's red grape.
Those are just a few of the plants they're offering for the plant sale.
Ah, so many choices, so little space. And one of the best parts? The bees and butterflies and other pollinators they attract.