UC Davis Arboretum 

Volunteer Newsletter

  January 2012

In This Issue
Volunteer Spotlight
Volunteer News Briefs
Volunteer Opportunities

Arboretum Links


Arboretum Website 



Events Calendar 



Email Us! 



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    75th heritage seal        

2012 Has Arrived! 

In Memoriam


I begin this issue with the sad news that on December 19, 2011,  Volunteer Laura Balestrieri, an active member of Ellen Zagory's Thursday Nursery Gardener Team, passed away after an extended illness.  Laura started volunteering at the Arboretum more than twenty years ago, but left to pursue a high-powered career and other interests until she retired in 2010, when she reenlisted as a gardening volunteer.  All our volunteers are extraordinary, and Laura was no exception.


Those of us lucky enough to know Laura will miss her.  Her volunteer service at the Arboretum is an enduring gift that will live on in the beautiful gardens at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery.  We send our condolences to her husband Ron Balestrieri, mother Mary Lucile Johnson, and all her loving community of family and friends.


Margaret Kralovec

Community Outreach Manager 



Laura [Balestrieri] was the first woman certified to direct a state-of-the-art wastewater plant anywhere in the USA, and was employed at Sacramento's large plant in Elk Grove, CA.  Her passions were her Polish-Arabian horses and her ranch in Rio Oso where she loved gardening and flowers.  Laura also volunteered at the UC Davis Arboretum and enjoyed camping with her husband, Ron.  An accomplished musician, she played with blue grass and fiddler groups, and excelled as a painter and printmaker.  Long distance cycling was a sport she enjoyed as well.  - Sacramento Bee 

Volunteer Spotlight




Enjoy the botanical expertise and storytelling gifts of Warren Roberts, Arboretum Superintendent Emeritus, the second Wednesday of each month for his lunch-hour "Walks With Warren."  Free puns for all comers!  February 8: meet at noon at the Gazebo for an exploration of the White Flower  and Storer Gardens.

Unattributed photo



Roger Willmarth points out ferns as a perfect understory plant under the shady canopy of redwoods.
Photo courtesy of Margaret Kralovec






Redwood Grove tour participants explored the deep purple underside of redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana). Gorgeous!
Photo by Thomas J. Elpel









Exploring the Arboretum: Docents Lead the Way   


Want to learn intriguing facts about particular plant specimens in the Arboretum?  How about having someone point out remarkable adaptations plants have made to their natural environment?  What animals make their homes in our Arboretum? What gardening ideas can you glean from the Arboretum to apply in your own garden?  Our volunteer docents provide Arboretum visitors guided tours that can answer many of your questions as they introduce you to the plants and the collections at the Arboretum.  We invite all our volunteers to come along on tours or join us at special events.  There's always more to know and to appreciate about this place we love!


On December 17, for example, Arboretum Docent Roger Willmarth, a retired California State Parks environmental employee, led a public tour "Under the Redwood Canopy" at the T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove. 


Willmarth and his tour group conversed about distinctions and similarities between redwoods and their close interior relatives, the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) of the Sierra Nevada. They also observed a large specimen of dawn redwood (Metasequoia), the only deciduous species of redwood, rediscovered in China in the 1940s. At this mid-December tour, the Metasequoia was notable for its bare branches with sparse patches of brown leaves, but from spring to fall, the dawn redwood's bright green foliage will offer a striking contrast to that of the surrounding coast redwoods.


Willmarth explained how the thick mulch of naturally occurring redwood debris in the Redwood Grove provides a perfect medium for many plants, including Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), wood strawberry (Fragaria vesca) and a variety of iris, ferns, and other shade-loving plants.  Tour participants learned that by encouraging the accumulation of mulch and understory plants, and irrigating during hot, dry months, the UC Davis Arboretum has been able to cultivate a thriving grove of redwoods whose native habitat is the moist, foggy, marine climate of the Pacific coast.


Thanks to their volunteer guide Roger Willmarth, tour members departed with maintenance and planting strategies for their own redwoods, lots of scribbled notes and ideas, and a new appreciation for the unique ecosystem and history of the T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove.


Be sure to check out the Arboretum Calendar of Events for tour and event information you won't want to miss!  Thank you, docents, for making these opportunities possible for us all.  

Volunteer News Briefs

Did You Know? 


golden-crowned sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow.
Photo courtesy of Lois Richter


Plant sale volunteers enjoy an opportunity to visit at their leisure at the Fall Plant Sale Volunteer Tea held December 15.  Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the event.  (L to R) Kathryn Shack, Nancy Stone, Randy Beaton, Marion London, Terry Davison, Mary Patterson
Photo courtesy of Katie Hetrick


Birds of Davis
You'll have two chances to view the photo presentation "Birds of Davis" by Docents Lois Richter and Maria Lucchesi: January 31 at 1 pm, Davis Senior Center; and February 4 at 11 am, Arboretum Headquarters Library, followed by a bird walk in the Arboretum.

Nursery Manager Lisa Fowler will be starting her maternity leave of absence on February 11, and expects to return early in May. In the meantime, please direct your questions about the propagation teams or nursery management to Assistant Nursery Manager Francesca Claverie.  We wish you well, Lisa!



Test your plant sale knowledge!

Volunteers who attended the December 15 tea and planning session for the spring season were given a challenge quiz on plant sales.  Test your knowledge about our fall plant sale season on a few of the questions they faced!  You may be surprised at the answers (found at the bottom of this newsletter).


1. How many plants were on the sales floor at the beginning of last fall's plant sale season?

2. Who did the artwork for the 75 Community Favorites plant signs?

3. What's the name of the band that played at the Plant Faire?

4. What's the featured All Star plant this year?

5. How many people attended the fall plant sales last season? 


Active volunteers and gardeners get a head start on a healthy lifestyle!  Check out this fun YouTube video, 

23 Hours, to learn about the single best thing we can do to improve our health!

Volunteer Opportunities



Calling all volunteers!  Spring plant sales are just around the corner.

Photo courtesy of Carmia Feldman


Mother Earth waits patiently in the Teaching Nursery demo beds for spring plant sale customers.

Photo courtesy of ZoArtPhoto.com.




Save the Dates!

Mark your calendars now for the Friends of UC Davis Arboretum spring plant sale season at the Teaching Nursery.  We can use all hands on deck.  Experienced plant sale volunteers will be hearing from their respective team leaders about participating. Contact Margaret Kralovec if you want to help at plant sales for the first time.



March 10: Members Appreciation Sale, 9 am - 1 pm

Live music, children's activites, first choice on plants this spring!  If you are not a Friends member, join at the door so you don't miss out on the fun.


April 13: UC Davis Invitational Plant Sale

11 am - 6 pm, a special sale for faculty, staff, and students the day before the season's first public plant sale. 


April 14: Public Sale, 9 am - 1 pm

Featuring 3 B's: Birds, Bees, and Beneficials to consider when making plant purchases.


April 18: Garden and Design Invitational

9 am - noon Tour, Noon - 3 pm Plant Sale

This tour & shop event is open to invited garden clubs, landscape designers, master gardener groups, etc. After a morning of touring in the Arboretum, participants will have special access to shopping for plants from noon to 3 pm.


April 28: Pollinator Conference Plant Sale

1 pm - 4 pm.  This plant sale is open to attendees of the pollinator workshop hosted by the California Center for Urban Horticulture.  


May 19: Public Sale, 9 am - 1 pm

Some Like It Hot: Summer Bloomers and Sizzling Clearance Deals   


Quiz Answers:

1) More than 17,349 plants were on the sales floor at the September Plant Faire!

2) Nursery Manager Lisa Fowler's artistic skills are no longer a secret.

3) The band 'High-Strung' had customer toes tapping.

4) Rosa 'Pink Gruss an Aachen' is this year's featured Arboretum All-Star.

5) 2,368 people attended the two fall plant sales last season.