Posts Tagged: UC Davis Arboretum
Are you on a winning streak? Or a losing streak? Or somewhere in between?
The Gray Hairstreak butterfly (Strymon melinus) is always on a streak--a gray streak.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, writes about the Gray Hairstreak on his website, Art's Butterfly World. It's one of the many butterflies in the Central Valley that he's monitored over the past four decades.
It's most common in weedy and disturbed habitats at low elevation, Shapiro says, adding that it's "territorial and a hilltopper in suitable terrain, but does very well in towns and cities in the Central Valley. It is multiple-brooded and has a very long flight season, at sea level from February to November, but rarely seen before June in the mountains where it does not appear able to overwinter."
"Its most frequent hosts in our area are mallows, including the weedy species of Malva; legumes, including Spanish Lotus (Lotus purshianus), bird's-boot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), white clover (Trifolium repens) in lawns, alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and many others;and turkey mullein (Eremocarpus or Croton setigerus, Euphorbiaceae)."
We recently spotted the Gray Hairstreak grabbing some nectar on our guara (Guara lindheimer). Its distinctive orange spot matched perfectly the color of the nearby Mexican sunflower (Tithonia).
Those of us joining naturalist Steve Daubert's butterfly talk and tour at the UC Davis Arboretum last September also spotted a Gray Hairstreak. The good news is that he's giving another "Butterfly Ecology Talk and Walk," sponsored by the UC Davis Arboretum, on Sunday, Sept. 14. It's free and open to the public. Participants will gather at 11 a.m. by the trellis at the California Native Plant GATEway Garden (newly-constructed garden at the Arboretum's east end, just behind the Davis Commons Shopping Center). (See the Arboretum calendar for more information and a map.)
"Last year at the Arboretum Butterfly Walk and Talk we talked about the co-evolution of the butterflies with the flowering plants, starting in the Middle Cretaceous," Daubert told us in an email. "This year we will set the scene farther back into the Mesozoic Era and talk about the origin of the advanced insect orders, including the Lepidoptera (the holometabolous insects). We will also talk about blue colors in the animals. And we will talk about butterfly gardening for folks here in the valley. We will be looking to see members of the five butterfly families commonly found in Davis."
Daubert is a molecular scientist in the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology. In addition to writing scientific technical text, he writes short stories, illustrated with his own photographs. He blogs at threadsintheweb.com.
Gray Hairsteak, Strymon melinus, nectaring guara. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bottoms up! Gray Hairstreak sipping nectar from guara. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you're thinking about adding more bee friendly plants to your garden but you're concerned about the drought, the UC Davis Arboretum has the answers.
The arboretum will host its public spring clearance plant sale on Saturday, May 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive.
You'll find a large election of Christmas natives and Arboretum All-Stars. (Members of the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and the Davis Botanical Society receive 10 percent off their purchases. And yes, you can join the Friends on May 17.)
One of the plants we like--as do the birds and the bees--is Kniphofia "Christmas Cheer," also known as a red hot poker and torch lily. Ellen Zagory, horticulture director of the Arboretum, describes it as "a torch lily on steriods. It gets big and puts out a large display of showy flowers in winter and long into spring."
Yes, it does.
We remember taking a photo of the Christmas Cheer on Christmas Day in the Arboretum's Storer Garden. The bees didn't know about the winter break. Neither did a finch.
Break? What break?
In a recent newsletter, Zagory wrote about some of the plants that will be available for sale.
“On campus we have fairly heavy soil and water that's high in bicarbonates and boron, so I always think…if it grows well here, it will do even better elsewhere. In light of limited water supplies and rising water prices we need to think even harder about plants that can survive with low or very low quantities of water, but they can still be pretty. You'd never know these were drought-tolerant considering the seasonal impact and drama they provide!”
The Arboretum kindly provides a list of available plants that you can download from its web page.
The bees--and the birds, butterflies and others engaged in animal/plant interactions--will thank you.
A honey bee, loaded with pollen, heads for Kniphofia "Christmas Cheer." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A finch likes the Christmas Cheer, too. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It was a bad day for a butterfly.
We stopped by the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden, part of the UC Davis Arboretum, at noon today as triple-digit temperatures climbed to a scorching 103.
We spotted a few cabbage white butterflies (Pieris rapae) nectaring the Verbena (Verbena bonariensis), and a few honey bees on the gaura (Onagraceae).
The cabbage whites seemed to like the Verbena. They fluttered around the blossoms gracefully, touching down like snowy princesses in winged gowns and spiked heels, belying the fact that their caterpillars are pests of cabbage, kale, radish and broccoli, mustard and other members of the family Brassicaceae.
One cabbage white, however, wasn't so lucky.
As we rounded a corner of the garden, we noticed it wasn't fluttering. It wasn't moving. It wasn't doing anything.
There was a good reason why it wasn't going anywhere.
A hungry crab spider.
Crab spider with its kill, a cabbage white butterly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This one got away. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you love to watch pollinators at work in your garden--especially the honey bees and the bumble bees--first you have to provide the plants.
Promise yourself to plant pollinator plants periodically.
But which ones?
The UC Davis Arboretum staff gets asked that question a lot. As part of its 75th anniversary celebration, the Arboretum has scheduled a Member Appreciation Sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 9 at its plant sales nursery on Garrod Drive.
Folks can become members on the spot, and the privileges are many. "Members of the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and the Davis Botanical Society not only receive 10 percent off their plant sale purchases but they also receive an additional $10 of of their purchases at this sale," said Missy Gable, public engagement manager (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Arborteum prides itself on providing "the area’s largest selection of attractive, low-water, easy-care, region-appropriate plants, including Arboretum All-Stars." Live music, free refreshments and children's activities are also planned that day.
Three more spring public plant sales are upcoming (folks can become members then, too):
- Saturday, April 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Sunday, April 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Saturday, May 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (clearance sale)
Here are some of the pollinator plants that will be available for sale:
- Salvia clevelandii, Cleveland sage
- Saponaria x lempergii ‘Max Frei’, hybrid soapwort
- Leucophyllum frutescens, cenizo
- Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Mozart’, Ed Carman’s rosemary
- Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’, coronation gold yarrow
- Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’, little spire Russian Sage
- Dasylirion wheeleri, desert spoon
- Salvia chamaedryoides, Mexican blue sage
- Teucrium fruticans ‘Azureum’, azure bush germander
- Epilobium canum, California fuchsia
- Origanum ‘Betty Rollins’, Betty Rollins oregano
- Salvia microphylla, Graham’s sage
The plants above are among those showcased at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
And, have you heard about the UC Davis Arboretum Shovel Drive? At each of the plant sales, you can donate an old shovel, spade or trowel to the Arboretum for a campus/city sculpture project!
Just think, the garden tools you not longer need or want will be sculpted into something quite spectacular.
A honey bee navigating an azure bush germander. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bees are fond of Cenizo, Leucophyllum frutescens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Black-faced bumble bee, Bombus californicus, heads for Cleveland sage, Salvia clevelandii. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ah, what an intoxicating scent!
If you've ever been around the winter daphne, Daphne odora, cultivar "Aureomarginata," you know that its aroma precedes it.
You'll ask "What's that fragrance?" before you even see the showy pink-and-white blossoms and its green leaves edged in gold.
The winter daphne, an evergreen, is now blooming in the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden on Garrod Drive, UC Davis Arboretum.
The Storer Garden is aptly named. Ruth Storer, Yolo County’s first pediatrician, loved gardening.
We think she would have liked the honey bee hovering today in the dappled shadows of the daphne. "Table for one, please!"
Table for one, please! A honey bee in the shadows of a daphne bloom at the Storer Garden, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)