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Arboretum's garden gnomes here to help

"Ask the Garden Gnomes" is a twice-weekly garden "talk show" on Facebook Live. (Photo  UC Davis Arboretum)

UCD Arboretum tries creative outreach during COVID crisis

It’s not quite “Walk with Warren,” but it’s Arboretum garden fun during COVID-19 restrictions.

Twice a week, the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden hosts its own garden talk show, “Ask the Garden Gnomes.” Streamed on Facebook Live, the program invites viewers to ask gardening questions as well as showcases the natural world inside the Arboretum.

It’s free, fun and educational with something for gardeners of all ages.

The one-hour shows stream live at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. The next gnome adventure is set for 10 a.m. Thursday, May 21.

Details and links:

Meanwhile, the Arboretum’s popular events such as guided tours with Superintendent Emeritus Warren Roberts and plant sales are still on hold. Organizers hope those restrictions will be lifted soon. Stay posted with the arboretum’s newsletter, “The Leaflet”; sign up here:

Although group events have been canceled until further notice, the arboretum is still open daily to visitors and monitored by personnel. Patrons are asked to practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet apart.

Where to start your arboretum exploration? Two interns, Kelly Nishimura and Wyatt Garrett, created a fun way to see a lot of the campus’s public gardens: “Arboretum Bingo.” (Details: ). See the arboretum and share it with friends via social media. It’s an entertaining game for kids, too, as well as a creative way to keep people engaged with the gardens when the normal way of doing things won’t work.

Along that same line, another intern, Madissen Hamberlin, created “May Madness: California Native Plant Showdown.” This online game asks patrons to vote for their favorite native flora via Facebook and Instagram. (Can the poppy take it all?) Details:

The arboretum’s interns are part of its Leading by Learning program. While classes have moved online, interns are working on educational and environmental projects including these entertaining social media introductions to the arboretum and its vast plant collections.


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For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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