Summer vignettes from the UC Davis Arboretum

Sunday morning was perfection: deep blue sky, sunny, with temperatures in the low 70s. In other words, it was the kind of day that would make summer my favorite season if it were like that all the time.

Given a choice between working in the garden and--well--not, I opted for the second option and took our houseguest from Australia to the UC Davis Arboretum. While the Arboretum is more like a public park than a classic botanic garden (it's open 24/7 and there's no admission fee), I find something photo-worthy on virtually every visit.

The photos below are completely random, but they will you give a good idea of why I love this place.

"See No Evil Hear No Evil" Egghead by Robert Arneson in the Mrak Hall Roundabout

Plain as it might be, this watertower is one of the landmarks on campus

Grasses and Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii)

Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri)

Desert mahonia (Mahonia fremontii)

This looks so jungly, it's almost out of place for Davis

Agave and Gaura lindhemerii

Salvia chamaedryoides and NOID agave (guesses, anyone?)

I still like these corrugated metal panels and raised concrete planters in the Animal Science GATEway Garden

Steely blue conifer in the Southwest U.S.A. and Mexican Collection. Does anybody know what it might be?

Doesn't this look like a pineapple growing on a pine tree?

Russelia equisetiformis and Leucophyllum frutescens

NOID gum tree (Eucalyptus) with gnarly burls along the trunk and ghostly white branches

Cactus growing right on the edge of Putah Creek

Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)

Sweet thorn (Vachellia karroo, formerly Acacia karroo)

The sweet thorn was in full bloom. Unlike Australian acacias, which bloom early in the spring, this acacia from southern Africa flowers in the summer.

The pom-pom-shaped flowers on this tree were distinctly orange. Typically, they're a vibrant yellow.

This is the sweet thorn from the other side of Putah Creek. You can see how large it is.

I continue to be intrigued by this collection of cairns on the north side of Putah Creek. I have no idea who maintains it, but I've decided I'm going to add some cairns to my own garden. Why, you might ask? Why not, I would answer.


  1. What a roller-coaster you're on with your weather! I hope that the cooler weather sticks around awhile for you (and us as well). I can see why you love this arboretum. My favorite photo in this set may be that Eucalyptus, which looks more like a sculpture than a tree to me.

    1. I wish I knew what eucalyptus species it is. It's very striking.

  2. Your photos of the steely blue conifer had me the king back to the plant at the no of this post:

    Some identified it as Pinus pinea.

  3. The conifer looked like wispy tillandsias perched on branches, very nice!

  4. I see why you love this place! Your picture of Salvia clevelandii made me smile with recognition of that glorious (to my nose) fragrance. I have one in my greenhouse that struggles along but is still alive. Oh yes, cairns would look great in your garden!

    1. There are so many salvias I'd love to grow, but they get too big for our small garden. I wish somebody would create dwarf versions of Salvia clevelandii, Salvia canariensis, Salvia mexicana, etc.

  5. It's lovely, relaxed vibe with things left to grow ungroomed. The cactus right next to the creek is hilarious. Shows what we know about cactus might be...wrong!

    The beautiful blue noid Agave looks like a mitis cross? One sold as 'Nova' (not the same as A. attenuata 'Nova' is supposedly a cross of mitis and montana, but it doesn't have those big marginal teeth...time to email G. Starr?

    1. Agave mitis 'Nova', that's the first thing I thought of as well. It doesn't quite look like my 'Nova', but it's possible there's some variation.

      I'll ask Greg.

  6. Ah UCD, back when I was going to school there in the mid '80's, 1983-1985, none of the plants or sculpture was there yet...or very small still. It's come into its own now. Beautiful. All I remember riding my bike on the path along the creek were the Western Redbuds, and that I wanted some! I ended up with a mislabeled Eastern Redbud, that's turned into a tree, not the Cercis occidentalalis, but a C. canadadensis! Buahhh.

    1. The western redbuds are still there. They're stunning when they're in bloom in the spring.


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