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It's good to have Friends like these


Friends volunteers gather at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery. (Photo courtesy UC Davis Arboretum) Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum celebrate 50th anniversary

They’ve annually contributed thousands of volunteer hours, helped raise more than $1 million for their favorite cause and host the most popular garden events in Davis.

It’s good to have Friends.

This summer, the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden are celebrating the group’s 50th anniversary. Like many 2021 commemorations, this golden anniversary will be mostly virtual with several ways that members, supporters and the public can participate online.

Without the help of its volunteer and fundraising organization, there would be no UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. Fifty years ago, the Friends formed to save the Arboretum when its university funding had been eliminated.

That was 1971. The budget cut was a crisis for the Arboretum, which was founded in 1936. Supporters and Arboretum volunteers, which had been a loose-knit group, formalized their role and created the Friends. Its bylaws were officially approved in May 1971, clearing the way for the Friends’ first fundraiser – an iris rhizome sale with varieties from the Arboretum’s collection.

Those fundraising efforts grew into the popular Arboretum Teaching Nursery plant sales. Before the pandemic, the sales – which have moved online – drew more than 8,500 customers annually.

The Friends also led the public effort to restore the Arboretum’s university funding and support. The 100-acre Arboretum is now a jewel, not only of the campus but the community. It’s open free to public access daily.

“We are thrilled to be honoring the 50th anniversary of this incredible group,” said Kathleen Socolofsky, assistant vice chancellor and director of the Arboretum and Public Garden, on the arboretum’s website. “Their role in the longevity of this campus and community resource cannot be overstated, and their involvement developing, maintaining, and continuing to support this organization remains critical, especially during times like these.”

The Friends have their own 50th anniversary website: https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/friends-50th .

How to help celebrate? Here are some suggestions from the Friends:

Add your story to the Friends’ Memories Project , online.

Share social media posts with the hashtag #Friends50th.

Donate to the Friends’ Annual Appeal .

Become a Friends member .

And visit the Arboretum. Appreciating its beauty and all the hard work its represents is a wonderful way to celebrate this milestone, too.

Details and directions: https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu .

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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