Volunteer group photo
From left: Melinda Mossar, Joan Quinn, Monica Britton, Staff leader Rachel Davis, Leslie Barker, Betty Elasowich, Bill Mitchell, George Abraham, Sarah Kim, and Ivette Rivero; Absent from photo: Jim Hacket, Leonard Valdepena, Linda Wallace, David Wilcox, Brian Flaherty, Nathan Williams, Julie Magowan, Robin Kurotori, and Kumari Hudson-Bates. Photo by Ann Filmer.

‘Pollinator Squad’ Volunteer Team Spotlight

Hummingbird garden area on the Arboretum map

Selecting climate-ready plants and appropriate plants for insect pollinators and hummingbirds is a major goal of Rachel Davis, GATEways Horticulturist for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. The ‘Pollinator Squad’, her group of 15 volunteers, meets weekly to develop and manage the Habitat Gardens, including the meadow basin; the Hummingbird Garden; an Insect Pollinator garden; and the bioswale which runs through the meadow basin. These are all located in the area just east of the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on campus.

The volunteers plant, weed, prune, and mulch the Habitat Garden demonstration areas, which support biodiversity and target what our future landscapes can be for the public. The bioswale connects through the meadow basin and collects rainwater runoff. The volunteers also maintain the Hummingbird Garden’s native and non-native plants which serve as food, nesting, and mating dance sites for hummingbirds, along with the Insect Pollinator Garden which provides native ground-nesting sites for bees.

Habitat garden
The habitat garden area next to the Arboretum Teaching Nursery at UC Davis, still shows a variety of colors in August, while winter and spring shows more colorful flowers in bloom. It’s an area worth visiting year-round. Photo by Ann Filmer.

“I greatly value the Pollinator Squad team members,” said Rachel. “They are life-long learners, with broad backgrounds, and they bring their expertise to the gardens to help develop ideas, and share information with each other.” This is one of the volunteer teams that Rachel oversees, having inherited the team from her colleague Ryan Deering when Rachel joined the Arboretum staff in 2017.

This entire area, once an under-developed area of land, is now an area worth visiting — it is a showpiece of diverse plants which provide seasonal flowers, a broad spectrum of color, habitats for important local wildlife, and a lovely area to walk, adjacent to Putah Creek.

Rachel Davis works closely with Arboretum staff on critical issues such as the need for climate-ready plants in California, supporting biodiversity, the need for plants that support insect pollinators and hummingbirds, and selecting climate-ready plants for the Arboretum’s plant sales. She also works with Arboretum staff and others on the Arboretum’s Climate Ready Core Team, identifying and testing short- and long-term plants for Central California, and establishing trial beds for the public to view in the Arboretum Teaching Nursery.

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