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'Amazing Acacias' ready to put on show


Acacias produce masses of bright yellow blooms in late winter. See the collection at UC Davis on Saturday.
(Photo: Courtesy UC Davis Arboretum)
UC Davis Arboretum tour showcases unusual trees, shrubs

In late February, the
Eric E. Conn Acacia Grove offers one of the prettiest walks on the UC Davis campus. Near Putah Creek, bright yellow acacia blossoms cover trees and shrubs big and small, creating a memorable spectacle.

See those trees in their late winter glory during a free guided tour, presented by the UC Davis Arboretum. At 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, “Amazing Acacias” will explore the grove and more than 50 species of acacias.

Native to Australia, Africa and parts of the Americas, acacias produce masses of fuzzy and fragrant blooms. Leaves of thorny varieties from Africa are the favorite food of giraffes. Nicknamed wattles, thornless acacias come from Australia. America’s best known acacia is the Hawaiian koa tree

The Conn Collection focuses on species that can survive cold as well as heat. These versatile, low-maintenance evergreen trees and shrubs also are remarkably drought tolerant and well adapted to the Sacramento landscape. Snowy River wattle ( Acacia boormanii ) earned distinction as an Arboretum All-Star and is offered in the arboretum’s spring sales.

For the acacia tour, meet at Putah Lodge. Parking is free on weekends and available in Visitor Lot 55. Wear comfortable shoes for this 90-minute walking tour.

Details: arboretum.ucdavis.edu or call (530) 752-4880.

- Debbie Arrington

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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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