The central valley of California is dry and hot. It sits between two ranges of mountains that do a very good job of blocking rain from reaching the area. So, finding an oasis of green is always a good thing. The University of California - Davis Arboretum offers a wonderful respite from the heat.
UC-Davis was founded in 1905 as the agricultural school for the state’s university system. In 1959 the school was designated as a general campus of the University system Today, it is still the center of education in fields relating to farming crops and raising live stock, but also in environmental and ecological studies. UC-Davis offers 102 undergraduate degrees and 101 graduate degrees.
The southern edge of the campus is where you will find Arboretum and Public Garden. This hundred acre woods was created along the what had been the north fork of the Putah Creek. The creek flows east from the coastal range of mountains to the Sacramento River. It was diverted in 1879 toward the south by the town of Davis in order to deal with flooding issues. In 1936, the college used the creek bed, bringing water back to it, as the center it new arboretum and public gardens.
The arboretum is open 24 hours a day for walkers, skaters and bikers. It is a wonderful place to escape the heat or enjoy some time away from the dorm for students, or from town for those who live nearby. But this is not a park. The Arboretum is a teaching facility. It is maintained and used to study trees native to a Mediterranean climate. More importantly, the Arboretum is a resource to teach about the environment, and to inspire its visitors to appreciate it.
The arboretum is divided into different gardens, arranged by the type or origin of the trees and plants in them. If you love shade, there is the T. Elliot Weier Redwood Garden, near its eastern edge. Here you can sit among these beautiful conifers.
If you are looking for some sun, there is the East Asian Collection. It sits along the Lake Spafford, and you can enjoy its wide lawns and shade trees.
Or just walk along the 3.5 mile loop around the garden. Who knows what you might see.
When are finished in the garden, head into Davis. It is very nice college town. It comes complete with excellent restaurants, a great book stores and cute shops.
Nuts and Bolts:
The Arboretum is free, and open all day, every day. It can be accessed from many points along its path. There are several visitors parking lots on campus. Parking is $10/day and free on weekends.