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Davis, California

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Arboretum hosts free events in spring

The UC Davis Arboretum is hosting a series of events for the public to enjoy throughout May. All events are intended to showcase the features of what many residents call the most beautiful place in Davis.


Birds of Song and Clay

Possibly the only event ever to combine folk music and clay bird making, Birds of Song and Clay will give participants the opportunity to make California birds out of clay while listening to the acoustic trio, MudLark.

Professor and co-director of the Art-Science Fusion Program Diane Ullman will lead the clay bird making workshop. Participants will model their birds after those native to California, and contribute the birds to a large clay mural for Congressman Mike Thompson, who will display it in his office in Washington D.C.

“This is a great event for people that would like to hear some music and learn how to work with clay,” said Elaine Fingerett, youth and family outreach coordinator at the arboretum. “It’s a tactile experience related to the environment.”

MudLark includes the Davis-based trio, Katie Henry, Ray Frank and Laura Sandage. They will be playing a large variety of music such as folk, Appalachian, blues, pop and parlor singing on banjos, acoustic guitars and a string bass.

The event will occur May 4, from 1 to 3 p.m. on the Wyatt Deck at the arboretum.


Writers in the Garden

Writers in the Garden will feature authors Karen Joy Fowler on May 6 and Matt Biers-Ariel on May 20 reading some of their works and discussing the importance of the natural world in their writing. The events take place at 7 p.m. at Wyatt Deck.

“It’s a perfect match to location and event,” said Fowler, a UC Davis alumna and Davis resident for over 30 years. “The arboretum is possibly the nicest place in Davis and has so many ecological systems.”

Fowler has written a variety of short stories and novels, including Sarah Canary and The Jane Austen Book Club, the latter of which has been turned into a motion picture. She also recently published a novel, Wit’s End.

She uses images from the arboretum and has consulted with ecologists for information for many of her novels, including Sarah Canary, which takes place in a location similar to that of the redwood forest in the arboretum.

Another author featured in Writers in the Garden will be Matt Biers-Ariel, who has written three books about Judaism and the environment and is currently working on a memoir about a bicycle ride from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to deliver a petition about global warming to state legislators.

As a current Davis resident, Biers-Ariel will also be discussing the connection to nature seen in his writing, as well as the importance of environmental awareness.

“It’s a chance for students to hear some well known writers talk about their processes,” Fingerett said. “These are free and open to the public. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”


Walk with Warren


Walk with Warren, will include a nature walk with arboretum superintendent Warren Roberts, who has worked at the arboretum since 1972. Many will recognize his name from the native redbud section, which has been dedicated to him in honor of his work with the species.

“The event should really be called ‘Waddle with Warren’ because we won’t be walking too fast,” Roberts said, “or even ‘What’ll with Warren,’ because you will be wondering ‘what’ll be happening next?'”

Roberts will lead attendees through a portion of the arboretum, showing plants native to California and other places, and even plants native to the arboretum. One species of trees has been in the arboretum for over 400 years. “These trees have witnessed extraordinary charge,” Roberts said.

Roberts will meet the tour at the south entrance of Mrak Hall at noon on May 14. The tour will last approximately one hour and attendees may come and go as they please.

Though this is the only tour Roberts will give, there will be other guided tours through the arboretum with the staff, such as a tour of the herbs and herbivores, Mediterranean plants and ecosystems and spring gardening plants.


Moonlight Music at the White Flower Garden

The Davis community is invited to enjoy an evening of music under the full moon at the UC Davis Arboretum on May 17, at 8 p.m.

Internationally renowned musician and composer Luciano Chessa will be performing his set of compositions for electrified Vietnamese dan bau and collaborative improvisational pieces with Keith Cary and Erin Espeland. Cary and Espeland play a variety of instruments such as the tin can fiddle.

Chessa has performed in Europe and the United States, recently released a DVD and also premiered a piece at the Mondavi Center. He has taught at Columbia University, UC Davis, UC Berkeley and the Conservatory of Music in Bologna.

“This is wonderful opportunity to hear him for free,” Fingerett said.

Cary is a musician and music teacher who has performed in a variety of genres, from jazz to cowboy music to Swedish fiddle tunes. He also constructs instruments for himself and fellow musicians.

The musical pieces are very unusual and will be performed in a beautiful setting, Fingerett said.

“Luciano thought it would be wonderful to have a concert under the full moon,” she said.

The Carolee Shields White Flower Garden at the arboretum is a theme garden with curving paths around a vine-covered gazebo. The garden, based on those of India and Japan, features fragrant plants and flowers.

“It’s a perfect date, and it’s a free concert,” Fingerett said. “What more can you ask for?”


Aquatic Life in the Arboretum

At this event, visitors will have a chance to see the variety of fish that live in the arboretum.

“This is an opportunity to see up close and personal what is living in the waterways,” Fingerett said.

Hands-on activities such as fish-printing, a Japanese art form, and fish identification will be led by UCD animal science graduate student Brittany Kammerer and other students from the Sacramento-Davis chapter of the American Fisheries Society. They will be seining the waterways to collect fish and other aquatic animals to show to participants.

There will be charts available for more information about the types of fish being observed.

For the fish-printing activity, participants can take a fish that’s been frozen, paint it and print it on paper, she said.

Other than the frozen fish, all other fish will be returned to the waterways.


THUY TRAN and LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.com.


Event Calendar:

Friday, May 2

Folk Music Jam Session

Noon, Wyatt Deck, Old Davis Road


Saturday, May 3

Bring the Mediterranean into Your Backyard

11 a.m., Arboretum Terrace Garden, Davis Commons, First Street


Sunday, May 4

Birds of Song and Clay

First Annual Celia M. Hastings Art-Science Education Day

1 to 3 p.m., Wyatt Deck, Old Davis Road


Tuesday, May 6

Writers in the Garden: Karen Joy Fowler

7 p.m., Wyatt Deck, Old Davis Road


Sunday, May 11

Choosing Spring Plants for Your Valley-Wise Garden

2 p.m., Gazebo, Garrod Drive


Wednesday, May 14

Walk with Warren

Noon, Mrak Hall south entrance, Mrak Hall Drive


Friday, May 16

Folk Music Jam Session

Noon, Wyatt Deck, Old Davis Road


Saturday, May 17

Guided Tour: Herbs and Herbivores

11 a.m., Gazebo, Garrod Drive


Saturday, May 17

Moonlight Music at the White Flower Garden

8 p.m., Gazebo, Garrod Drive


Sunday, May 18

Aquatic Life in the Arboretum

1 to 3 p.m., Wyatt Deck, Old Davis Road


Tuesday, May 20

Writers in the Garden: Matt Biers-Ariel

7 p.m., Wyatt Deck, Old Davis Road


Saturday, May 24

Guided Tour: Use a Mediterranean Garden Model for your Garden

11 a.m., Arboretum Terrace Garden, Davis Commons, First Street


Friday, May 30

Folk Music Jam Session

Noon, Wyatt Deck, Old Davis Road


Saturday, May 31

Guided Tour: Get Ready for Your Roses

11 a.m., Gazebo, Garrod Drive




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