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UC Garden Clippings
University of California Botanical Garden
May 2009 - Vol 1, Issue 2
In This Issue
Propagator's Choice
Thursday Propagator Sales
Green Stuff Day Camp
May Flowers
Wild Weekend
Green Gala
Garden Conservation
May Programs
No Sacrifices
World of Beauty
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Propagator's Choice
aloe hercules

Aloe 'Hercules' is a large hybrid tree aloe that is the result of a cross between the large tree Aloe barberae (A. bainesii) and the smaller tree aloe, Aloe dichotoma. The plant exhibits hybrid vigor; it is fast growing with a massive trunk, thick branches and peeling bark with broad triangular dark green leaves. Growing to 40 feet (probably a little less here) it makes an impressive sculptural statement in the garden. It is more cold hardy than its parents so it could be quite successful here in the Bay Area (USDA zone 9). Aloe 'Hercules' is drought resistant. We have a few plants in 5 gallon containers for $75.

Purchase this plant at the Garden.

Propagator Sales
Propagation Areas
Open for Sales

California Natives
Cactus and Succulents
Trees and Shrubs

10:30 am to 1:30 pm

Becoming a member of the UC Botanical Garden entitles you to 10% off most plant purchases.

Green Stuff Day Camp
Every year, from mid-June to mid-August the Garden's Education Program offers a summer learning option for children: week-long day camp programs. Little ones explore the world of botany and discover horticulture among the Garden's living collection. Campers experiment with growing plants, dip for aquatic life in Strawberry Creek and play on the Oak Knoll. Download the flyer for complete information.

Quick Links
May Flowers: Empress Trees & Old Roses
by Dr. Paul Licht, Director

Dazzling spring landmarks in the Garden, the flowering empress trees (pictured in the banner above) in our Asia area with their striking blue-violet bloom and attractive form are prominent features of the landscape. The Garden has three species, Paulownia fortunei located above the lawn, and P. glabrata and P. tomentosa that highlight the main road. The trees take many months for bud formation and then remain in bloom for a long period, peaking in early May. Empress trees are members of the family Scrophulariaceae; other members of this family that grow locally are foxgloves (Digitalis), monkey flowers (Mimulus) and snapdragons (Antirrhinum).

Empress trees form the subject of wonderful tales. One of my favorites is the role they play in marriage in their native home of China, where an old custom is to mark the birth of a baby girl by planting an empress tree. When the daughter marries the tree is cut down and carved into wooden articles for her dowry. Carving the wood of Paulownia is an art form in Japan and China, and the presence of a towering empress tree is a signal for matchmakers seeking eligible young girls.

rosesI am not particularly a fan of roses, but I confess that I spend a lot  of time in our Garden of Old Roses in May. The Garden has 211 accessions of Rosa, including 33 species and about 137 named cultivars. Many of these are concentrated in the Garden of Old Roses, at the top of the Garden overlooking the bay. As the name of the collection implies, it is focused on hybrids developed prior to 1867. However, it is not just the beauty and heady fragrance of this collection that draw me, but rather the floriferous assemblage in which it is embedded, with a mixture of many perennials and annuals. Little matches the sense of wonderment one gets while sitting on one of the benches, taking in the panoramic views and the scents while watching the many lizards and hummingbirds and the occasional covey of quail and gray fox that frequent the area. To learn more, join horticulturist, Peter Klement, on Saturday, May 23 for the annual walk through the Garden of Old Roses.

For a little more on the spring garden, join me on an informal five minute online tour created for the University website.

garden of old roses

It's a Wild Weekend

Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour
This free, award-winning tour features pesticide-free gardens that conserve water, provide habitat for wildlife, and contain 50% or more native plants.  The self-drive tour showcases a variety of Alameda and Contra Costa county gardens, from large parcels in the hills, to small lots in the flats. The tour offers walk-in registration at eleven gardens located in Alameda, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Concord, El Cerrito, Livermore, Martinez, Moraga, Oakland, Pittsburg, and Richmond.
May 3: Sunday 10 am - 5 pm

Plant Sale: The propagation area of the UC Botanical Garden will be open and selling choice native plants (available plant list) at great prices. The Garden's volunteer propagators will be on hand to provide expertise.
May 2-3: Saturday and Sunday 10:30 am - 4 pm

California Habitats Tour for Children: Visit the UC Botanical Garden's outstanding collection of California native plants to learn how they adapted to specific areas within the Golden State. Free with Garden Admission; space is limited; registration required.
Sunday, May 3, 2009 12:30 pm - 2 pm

Visit: View the world's largest collection of California native plants while at the Garden. Natives (over 2,750 accesssions) in the UC Botanical Garden's collection include nearly one-third of the state's native species and 201 taxa on the California Native Plant Society's list of rare and endangered species.

40th Annual California Wildflower Show
Enjoy hundreds of freshly collected native flowers from the Sierra Foothills in stunning displays, microscope study areas, and demos and talks all weekend. Botanists on hand will identify plants and discuss gardening with native plants. Many of the flowers on exhibit were collected in the field by Holly Forbes and Barbara Keller of the UC Botanical Garden. Learn more.
Oakland Museum, May 1-3:
Friday 5 pm - 9 pm, Saturday 10 am - 5 pm, Sunday noon - 5 pm

Green Gala: Sustainable, Organic & Biodynamic
Green Gala
Sunday, June 28, 2 - 5 pm

Seasonal organic food from Devoted Catering by Amiee Alan
Biodynamic wines provided by Quivira Vineyards
Sustainable fashion show presented by local designers
Silent auction & music

fashion designer
Featured Designer: Using fabrics like organic cotton and eco wool, designer Casey Larkin experiments with gauze made from milk fiber and natural dyes using berries and seeds. The entire collection is made locally, and even the tags are eco friendly.
Auction: Bid on a trip for two to Argentina provided by Marnella Tours or a two-night stay at Goldeneye Winery's  Historic Apple Dryer with a private tasting and tour in the beautiful Anderson Valley.

Get the scoop on Green Gala designers & auction items online.
Garden Conservation
conservation plants
by Holly Forbes, Curator

Garden staff are working to save several endangered plant species perilously close to extinction.  Only three plants of Baker's larkspur (Delphinium bakeri) will flower this year in its only known site in Marin County, California.  However, in our nursery, over 150 plants of this perennial herb are just finishing flowering and will be going to seed in May.  We will save all these seeds to grow plants for future introduction efforts.  One small experimental population was planted out in Marin County in March 2009, which flowered very well.  We will be tracking these plants for longevity, seed production, and for seed germination in spring 2010.  Baker's larkspur is one of many species assigned to the Garden in the national collection of the Center for Plant Conservation, of which the Garden is a participating institution.

Garden staff are also growing the very endangered San Mateo Thornmint (Acanthomintha duttonii) in our nursery, an annual known only from Edgewood Park & Natural Preserve in San Mateo County.  We are growing over 250 plants for seed production in collaboration with the Creekside Center for Earth Observation.  The Center is experimenting with environmental manipulations of the only known site to improve seed germination and success to flowering and through to seed set in habitat.  The Garden hopes to provide as many as 100,000 seeds for this effort.

The Mt. Diablo buckwheat, an annual not seen since 1936 when it was rediscovered at a single site in 2005, is thriving in the Garden nursery.  We are providing seeds and seedlings for introduction attempts at several sites in Mt. Diablo State Park.

Support the Garden's conservation efforts by becoming a UC Botanical Garden member.

May Programs and Events
Sick Plant Clinic: Saturday, May 2,  9 am - noon
Join Dr. Raabe for his monthly Sick Plant Clinic and find out which diseases ail your plants. Entomologists are also available to identify the pests that are living in your plants. Please bring plants and disease samples in containers or bags.

Succulents for Little Green Thumbs: Sunday, May 10, 1 - 2:30 pm
Children of all ages, together with accompanying parent/gaurdian, will explore those amazing plants known as succulents, discover where and how they grow, and pot-up their plants to take home. The program features a mini-tour of the Arid House and Desert collections, and refreshments made from edible succulents.
$20, $17 members. Price includes one adult and one child with one potted garden, $12 each additional child, adult and garden per family. Reservations requiredJuliette of the Herbs.

Film Screening- Juliette of the Herbs:
Tuesday, May 12, 6:30 - 8 pm
Juliette of the Herbs is a beautifully filmed lyrical portrait of the life and work of Juliette de Bairacli Levy: world renowned herbalist, author, breeder of Afghan hounds, friend of the Gypsies, traveler in search of herbal wisdom and the pioneer of holistic veterinary medicine. Come to the Garden to see this remarkable documentary sharing the inspiring story of an unforgettable healer.
$10, $8 members  Reservations required.

A Walk through the Garden of Old Roses: Saturday, May 23, 10 am - noon
Enjoy the Garden's collection of old roses and complimentary perennials at their peak. Discover their rich historical background including how Chinese, Persian, and European cultures created the parents of the roses we grow today on this tour with Peter Klement, Horticulturist for the Garden of Old Roses.
$15, $12 members  Reservations required.

Beautiful Gardening with Waterwise Plants: Thursday May 21, Saturday May 23, and Sunday May 24, 2009 1:30 pm
Create a beautiful garden using plants with minimal water requirements. Our unique collection from around the world provides attractive plant candidates that will thrive in our Mediterranean climate.See annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees in a dazzling array of colors, forms and textures.
Free with Garden admission.  

Always check the Garden Calendar for event details and updates. Call 510-643-2755 x03 for event registration.

No Sacrifices with this Agave
by Fred Dortort, volunteer and succulent expert

Agaves, and mid-sized ones in particular, are some of the very best plants for outdoor growing.  Most of them are very hardy and can withstand frost, sun, drought and considerable rain.  Furthermore, many of them are quite beautiful, more sculptural than perhaps any other group of succulents.  There are a number of medium sized (mature rosettes ranging from perhaps eighteen inches to three feet in diameter) blue-gray agaves well worth growing.  Perhaps the most commonly seen is A. parryi var. huachucensisA. parryi var. huachucensis, a plant from the mountains of southeast Arizona.  It more-or-less resembles a giant artichoke, with broad leaves in a rounded rosette.  Its propensity to offset freely accounts for its wide distribution in cultivation, and this can be a plus or a minus depending on circumstances.

Give some thought to location before placing an agave in the ground.  The combination of stiff leaves and sharp spines can make them rather dangerous if placed too close to the edge of a path or somewhere where a person might stumble into them- remember that a method of human sacrifice reputedly practiced by the Toltecs long ago in central Mexico was to hurl the victim onto a clump of agaves.

Do you want to plant a succulent garden? This is an excerpt from a longer article covering many aspects of succulents in the home landscape.

A World of Beauty at UC Gardens

by Ginny Prior, HILLS NEWSPAPERS  April 23, 2009

As a travel writer, I'm often asked about my most exotic adventures. "Do you fancy a trip around the world?" a Brit once queried in a London pub.

The answer is no. I don't like hot weather and I'm not keen on snakes. That leaves out a lot of the planet, right there.

Yet just last week I stood face to face with a cobra. Alert and extended, it seemed poised to strike. "It's a magnificent specimen," said my guide as he beckoned me closer. "Just look at the hood." Indeed, it wasn't a snake, but the most curious of lilies - this relative of the corpse flower protruding from the lush, green environs of Asia. Or at least it looked like Asia.

In reality, it was one of nine major regions featured in the University of California Botanical Gardens in Berkeley.

Read more about Ginny's adventure. Photos too!

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