The UC Davis Arboretum was founded in 1936 to support teaching and research at the University of California. The Arboretum occupies 100 acres along the banks of the old north channel of Putah Creek, in California's Central Valley. Our collections include 22,000 trees and plants adapted to a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The plants are arranged in a series of gardens that represent different geographic areas, plant groups, or horticultural themes.
Unlike the Pacific coast, which has a very mild climate where most plants flourish, California's Central Valley has a climate of extremes. Temperatures in Davis range from 14°F to 118°F, and average rainfall is only 19 inches per year. The Arboretum is the main source of horticultural information for inland California.
The Arboretum site was previously home to the Patwin people, and includes an ancient oak that was a boundary marker on an early Mexican land grant, remnants of the original wagon trail between the eastern United States and San Francisco, a Pony Express stop, and the oldest reservoir in the Central Valley, built by Chinese workers in the 1860s.
In 2001, the Arboretum conducted an extensive self-assessment and long-term planning process. More than 4,000 people responded to a survey detailing their expectations for the Arboretum and rating our current performance. We conducted 60 in-depth interviews and ten focus groups with members of our various audience segments, and held two community meetings. The results of the self-assessment formed the basis of the Arboretum’s Ten-Year Plan 2002-2012 and the UC Davis Arboretum GATEways Project (Gardens, Arts, and The Environment).