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Davis, California

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

 An Arboretum Tree Party

There’s no better place to celebrate Arbor Day festivities than at the Arboretum, UC Davis’ gem of a gorgeous plant and tree garden collection.

On May 2, UC Davis and the City of Davis will be co-hosting Oak Discovery Day at the Shield’s Oak Grove. The event, funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will be unveiling the Art/Science Fusion projects as well as the newly installed Oak Discovery Trail.

“The trail was built to make the grove more visitor-friendly,” said Emily Griswold, assistant director of Horticulture for the Arboretum. “We have 10 acres of beautiful trees, and someone who didn’t know the area well might not ever venture out there.”

The Oak Discovery Trail, which was newly installed this spring, will be open for visitors to explore and learn about the grove collection in a more accessible and structured way.

“We have the largest collection of oak trees in the southwestern United States. The grove was planted in the early 1960s, and is about 10 acres in size with 578 oak specimens,” Griswold said. “It’s a very unusual and mature collection of trees from around the world.”

The art projects to be unveiled at the event are organized by the Art/Science Fusion Program. These include the ceramic decorations on the bathroom walls of Shields Oak Grove and the new plant and tree labels.

“On Oak Discovery Day, the community will have an opportunity to make ceramic oak leaves and acorns for installation in the grove for future projects,” said Rose Swift, student coordinator for the Arboretum Ambassadors program. Interns from the program, which focuses on environmental leadership, have played a large role in organizing the event.

“We’ve done a large amount of the planning, invitations, preparations and purchases for the event,” said Ashley Cummings, an Arboretum Ambassadors intern. “We’ve invited student groups on campus, various museums and key presenters for the event.”

The event will feature many oak-related activities for people of all ages from 1 to 4 p.m. The activities will take place along the new trail.

“We have a lot of different partners participating in this event. There will be several groups tabling about trees and oaks specifically,” Swift said. “David Rizzo, a professor in the plant pathology department, will give a talk about Sudden Oak Death Syndrome. He is one of – if not the foremost – expert on the subject.”

Other activities include a song-writing workshop with singer-songwriter Dave Nachmanoff, as well as guided tours of Shields Oak Grove. Visitors can also peruse animal, insect and plant specimen collections or enjoy cookies from the Arboretum Ambassadors’ bake sale.

“People can just walk along the trail and experience a couple of things at once,” Griswold said. “We will also be having a traditional demonstration from Diana Almendariz, a Native American cultural interpreter. She will be showing us how to process acorn for food.”

Griswold said that there will be something for everyone at the event – no matter what their knowledge level of plants is.

“We have this really precious and valuable resource right in our backyard, and there are wonderful and compelling stories about the trees that we need to share,” she said.

The Arboretum Ambassadors will also be recruiting internship positions for next year in the next couple of weeks. Students who are interested can attend the event and meet some of the current interns who have played an active role in planning the event.

“Our event will have a lot of diverse activities and presentations, and we’re really excited about it,” Cummings said. “The Shields Oak Grove, and the Arboretum overall, are very unique and important parts of the university and should be recognized by students, staff and the community.”

For more information about Oak Discovery Day and a complete listing of its activities, visit arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

VANNA LE can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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