UC Davis Arboretum in mid-summer

My last two posts were downers, dealing with tree suckers and pests. Today’s post is on the lighter side. I took advantage of yet another cloudy morning (two of them this week!) and snuck away to the UC Davis Arboretum to take a quick look at what’s going on during the summer doldrums.

Crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Spring is the big season for flowers at the Ruth Risdon Storer Valley-Wise Garden. In the summer, the palette is more muted, but there is plenty of foliage texture and a few things are in bloom.

One of a dozen volunteers out pruning and trimming this morning
Toothless sotol (Dasylirion quadrangulatum)
Shenandoah switch grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’)
Muhlenbergia-lindheimeri- -Yucca-pallida
Lindheimer's muhlygrass (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri) and pale-leaf yucca (Yucca pallida)
Statice flowers (Limonium platyphyllum) provide visual interest even dried
Star of persia (Allium christophii) seed head
Eastern prickly pear (Opuntia compressa or, more correctly, Opuntia humifusa)
This prickly pear shrivels up in the winter and looks terrible but come spring it plumps up and looks perky as can be at this time of year
Pigsqueak (Bergenia crassifolia) not only has a cool common name, it has beautiful pink flowers in the spring and looks good year round thanks to its large leaves
Colewort or giant kale (Crambe cordifolia). Apparently in early summer if produces tall stalks with tiny white flowers. It looks like a plant that might need a lot of moisture but it apparently doesn’t. Like full sun, too. I’ll have to track down a source.
I spotted these beschornerias in the nearby Carolee Shields White Flower Garden. No species given, but it was great seeing three of these criminally underused succulents from Mexico.

Pincushion flower (Scabiosa ochroleuca) with pale yellow flowers

Red buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens)
A veritable ocean of sea holly (Eryngium × tripartitum)
Bee on sea holly (Eryngium × tripartitum)
Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) with foliage that is more yellow than usual. Chlorosis? This plant is fairly invasive. Our neighbor has one in her front yard and I’m forever battling it because I don’t want it to cross over into our yard.
Yes, Shasta daisies (Crysanthemum maximum) are almost a cliché but their flowers are the very definition of cheeriness
Silver Anniversary buddleia (Buddleja ‘Morning Mist’) looks striking against green foliage
Silver Anniversary buddleia (Buddleja ‘Morning Mist’)
White sky flower (Duranta erecta 'Alba') at the Carolee Shields White Flower Garden

Just as I was leaving the garden I came across this flowering shrub. I found a tag that said “Woolly butterfly bush (Buddleja marrubifolia)” but according to the photos I found online, this is definitely not a Buddleja marrubifolia. Does anybody know what it is? I really like the spherical yellow flower heads.


Even though the middle of summer isn’t the best time to visit this part of the UC Davis Arboretum, there is still plenty of interest both to casual visitors and to hard-core plant aficionados. And some plants, like the yellow-flowered mystery shrub, are at their best now.


  1. So many great plants!

    Would you plant the Buddleja ‘Morning Mist’ in your own garden? I think it looks quite nice in the photos, but how about "live"?

    1. Yes, definitely if I had the room. I'm a sucker for gray-leaved plants, and I thought that it looked great against a darker background. I've never seen this buddleia cultivar in any nursery so I'm not sure how easy it would be to source one.

      Speaking of buddleias I recently bought a Flutterby Petite, a new dwarf that only grows to 3 ft. It's in a pot for now but I'll plant it in the garden this fall.

  2. The place is looking wonderful Gerhard, and love that shot of the Eryngium blooms en masse!

  3. Your mystery plant is Bupleurum fruticosum “Shrubby Hare’s Ear”. Sue


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