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Stories from the valley

Three reasons to visit this living Museum

Contributed by Jennifer Harrison

“From the outside we don’t look like much, but inside, it’s a whole different story” insists UC Davis horticulturist Marlene Simon.

Boy is she right!  The humble green houses that make up the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory contain over 3,000 plant species, from the exotic to the downright stinky.  Here are three reasons visit this living museum right in the heart of the Sacramento Valley.

Venus fly traps

Benefiting your backyard

With the drought in its fourth year, there is a growing need for drought tolerant landscaping for California backyards.  Horticulturists here are propagating and growing different types of aloes, which are very drought friendly.  They investigate what grows well, what doesn’t and then pass that information on to the nursery industry. “Aloes need very little water, even in the summer.  An added bonus, come January aloes provide beautiful blooms which attract hummingbirds”, Simon explains.

small plants in containers

See plant education in action

“We are responsible for growing plant for labs for undergraduates.  So when students are learning about plants we grow them so they can look at them in lab.  This is very unusual a lot of universities colleges don’t have this,” said Simon.  The Conservatory, which opened in 1959, has promoted this type of learning from early on.

UC Davis horticulturist Marlene Simon

It’s free and visitors welcome

Plant education is open for all.  Kindergarteners through master gardeners are often found touring through these greenhouses, and the general public is welcome Monday through Friday. As Simon puts it, “if the doors are open, people are welcome to come in!”