Stripped of most of its landscaping as a result of construction, Arboretum areas on either side of the recently re-opened La Rue Road Bridge are now in the process of being revived!
Throughout the span of the area's landscaping efforts, UC Davis students Chase Kautz, Riley Sholes and Caitlin Mueller, sustainable horticulture apprentices, received expert guidance from UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden staff and actively participated in the design process.
“The project has brought a lot of minds together,” says Kautz. “It’s been cool to see our ideas come to life and to have the opportunity to look at plants, not just for their aesthetic value, but also to be able to recognize how they contribute to overall habitat development.”
On the east side of the bridge, in the Arboretum's California Foothill Collection and Warren G. Roberts Redbud Collection, Mueller developed a design featuring California natives and drought-tolerant plants including deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea), and, of course, more western redbuds (Cercis occidentalis). Six new valley oaks (Quercus lobata) will be planted to replace one that contractors removed as a result of the bridge widening project.
The plantings on the west side of the bridge were designed by Sholes and Kautz to add a new California native understory to the Arboretum's Conifer Collection, including Valley Violet maritime ceanothus (Ceanothus maritimus 'Valley Violet') and Pacific Mist manzanita (Arctostaphylos 'Pacific Mist'). .
Due to the sloping incline of the land closest to the bridge, low-maintenance plants were selected for the area’s steepest points, while species that require higher levels of attention were planted in the more-accessible portions of the landscape closest to the walking paths.
“We are also testing out some new plants,” says apprentice Sholes. “One example is summer lupine (Lupinus formosus). While lupines normally bloom in the spring time, this one blooms in the summer. We look forward to seeing how it performs.”
While minor finishing touches remain, most of the planting on the west side of the bridge is now complete. Plantings on the east side will be installed in early April. Many of the new plants are still small, but they will start filling in this spring and summer. Visitors are welcome to see the new landscapes and enjoy the improved ADA-accessible pathways and new rock walls surrounding the campus's recently redone La Rue Road Bridge.