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  • 12 May 2018 3:13 PM | Anonymous

    A rainbow of colors!

    This beautiful flower is native to South America, hence its common name Peruvian lily or lily of the Incas.  The plant was named after the Swedish naturalist, Baron Clas von AlstrÖmer, by his close friend and mentor, Carl Linnaeus.  Linnaeus was the Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist who formalized the modern system of naming organisms. 

    Extensive hybridization between multiple Chilean and Brazilian species has resulted in the availability of flowers with a wide variety of markings and colors.  Named hybrids also range in height from one to four feet and have been selected for evergreen foliage that looks good year-round. Some cultivated hybrids are quite vigorous and can rapidly invade small gardens, so careful research is critical when choosing a variety to plant at home.

    This is a very popular flower for bouquets and flower arrangements where the plant is appreciated for remaining attractive in a vase for a long period of time. When harvesting the flowers in your garden, pulling the flower stem directly out of the ground – rather than cutting it – has been found to stimulate more new growth and flowering.

    Most cultivars available for the home gardener will bloom in late spring and early summer.  The plants require at least six hours of sunlight and need regular water and well-drained soil to thrive.

    Alstroemeria can be found growing in the Rose and Flower Garden, Meadow, and Waterwise Garden.
  • 24 Apr 2018 9:07 PM | Anonymous

    Eschscholzia californica

    Ever since 1903, this has been the official State Flower of California. In case you missed it, April 6 is California Poppy Day. Don't forget to mark your calendar for this annual state holiday.

    Common names for the plant also include flame flower, la amapola, and copa de oro (cup of gold).  The California poppy grows wild throughout the state.

    It is easy to grow, drought tolerant, and reseeds so readily that it can become weedy.  In natural conditions, it blooms most heavily from March to May. This bloom period can be extended with supplemental water. When the spring flowers subside, poppies can be cut back hard, and they will resprout and continue blooming through the summer.

    The plant is named after Dr. J.F. Eschscholtz who lived from 1793 to 1831. He was the surgeon and naturalist with Russian expeditions to the Pacific coast from 1815 to 1818.

    If you want to grow California poppies, plant seeds in the fall, since this plant does not transplant well.  The native bees and bumble bees will thank you.  They really enjoy this colorful native plant.

    Source:  WILDFLOWER Newsletter of the National Wildflower Research Center (now known as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas Austin)  July/August 1988

  • 24 Apr 2018 7:15 PM | Anonymous

    Q and A with Peg Smith, UC Master Gardener, Central Park Gardens Board Member, and vegetable gardener extraordinaire

    What are you planting in the garden right now?

    April and May are a great time to plant warm season crops. Here are some of the plants we are putting in right now:

    • Tomatoes (several varieties to demonstrate determinate, indeterminate, heirloom, hybrid, slicing, paste and cherry)
    • Eggplant (two globe varieties, one long)
    • Squash (summer and winter)
    • Beans (green and purple pod varieties)
    • Jerusalem artichokes - for fun and to attract the bees.
    • Peppers (5 varieties)
    • Pumpkin
    • Melon
    • Corn
    • Okra
    • Soybeans
    • Basil 

    We are developing educational signage for these vegetable plantings so that any visitor to the garden can gain information to help in their home gardening.

    Why is there a vegetable garden in Central Park Gardens? 

    Central Park Gardens' renovation, begun in 2006, was designed to deliver horticultural and gardening education to the public while providing an attractive and pleasant place to be. Encouraging home growing of vegetables in a garden or containers nicely fits with this educational focus. 

    Central Park Gardens has a small vegetable area but it is designed for as much educational punch as we can get. The area is divided into 4 beds which allows us to demonstrate the local seasonal year round planting schedule.

    There are several educational goals for the vegetable beds:

    -  to demonstrate what vegetables can be seasonally planted in our area

    -  to identify and educate about any pests or diseases on the plantings as well as least toxic methods to manage them (IPM)

    -  to educate about the observed beneficial insects and native pollinators of our area.

    -  to teach methods of soil conservation/renewal with 'green manure' plantings and crop rotation.

    Who gets to eat the vegetables? 

    We do get some 'public grazing' but any produce we harvest is donated to the Community Meals group in Davis that provides several free meals a week to any in the community who are in need. We recently harvested and delivered a load of radishes and spring onions.

  • 18 Mar 2018 6:10 PM | Anonymous

    Left to right: Steve Stombler, Linda Parsons, Paul Parsons, Bill Larson, Amanda Larson, Emily Griswold, Kerry Daane Loux

    The newly installed rose arbors were designed by Kerry Daane Loux, a trained landscape architect, who volunteered her time to help us complete the final element of the long planned design for Central Park Gardens. Kerry had the innovative idea to use cut metal panels on each side for their beauty and safety –she was careful to consider the size of the tiny fingers that might just want to climb the arbors!  The Central Park Gardens Steering Committee agreed that the ideal artist to fabricate Kerry’s design concept was Amanda Larson.  Amanda worked as an apprentice with Donna Billick and is a certified welder.  Both technically accomplished and a gifted artist, Amanda created the beautiful twining rose design for the cut metal panels. Her many skills were required to fabricate our beautiful rose arbors. There was even a special bonus - her father, Bill Larson, is a structural engineer who did the engineering for the footings of the arbor to make sure it would meet building codes.  Local landscape contractor Steve Stombler prepared the massive footings and worked with Amanda to install the arbors.

    Ten years ago, the Central Park Gardens Steering Committee submitted a master plan to the City Council for the renovation of gardens, and the arbors were the last piece of that plan. The arbors were made possible by a very generous donation from long-time garden volunteers Linda and Paul Parsons and were unveiled in spring 2017 at the ten-year anniversary celebration.

  • 28 Feb 2018 6:07 PM | Anonymous

    The plant labels in the gardens haven’t been updated for three years, and as you can imagine the labels began to degrade over time and the landscape changes. Thanks to a mini-grant from Thrivent, we were able to purchase materials for new plant labels that are UV resistant. Education is an important aspect of the gardens, and plant labels add so much; and, as an additional feature, we have added QR codes to the labels of the Arboretum All-Stars, so our visitors can find even more information about these plants.

    As a volunteer-operated garden, we rallied volunteers for a label party one Saturday afternoon, making 300+ new plant labels—we typed, printed, cut, and laminated-- while eating yummy food and listening to jazzy music. All the work to inventory, fabricate, and install the labels was done by volunteers.

    If you’re ever curious about the identity of a plant in Central Park Gardens but don’t see a label, snap a phone photo and email it to us at or post it to our Davis Central Park Gardens Facebook page.

    How Does a QR Code Work?

    A QR code, or Quick Response Code, is a 2-dimensional bar code made out of a pattern of squares. The codes are designed to be scanned by a cell phone camera and to quickly transmit information, such as a web address. If your phone doesn’t already have a QR Code reader, you can download a free app to add that functionality to your phone.

  • 31 Jan 2018 6:01 PM | Anonymous

    If you visited the old website, you know what an improvement our new website is! After ten years as a community garden, it was time (way past time, actually) to update the Central Park Gardens website. Several months of hard work by a team of dedicated volunteers and several meetings fueled by pizza, and voila! Our site is now a ‘one-stop-shop’ -- you can directly sign up to volunteer and donate directly to us, without going through third party websites. We offer multiple ways to give to the garden.  You can support our work by becoming a Founding Friend of Central Park Gardens, making tributes and memorial gifts, and by signing up on the calendar page for one of our community workdays.  Please continue to visit our website to stay updated on our events, workshops, and volunteer activities.

  • 28 Jan 2018 9:29 PM | Anonymous

    Spring is right around the corner, and with rising temperatures will come an abundance of beautiful new growth. Many grasses and perennials in Central Park Gardens grow actively during the warm season, but die back in the winter. Although still perfectly alive and healthy, these plants can look a bit bedraggled and half-dead right now. Enter the pruning shears! Shearing back last year's growth in January and February makes way for the fresh new growth of spring.

    The plants that get this special shearing treatment are the winter-dormant grasses and herbaceous (soft-stemmed) perennials. Examples of perennials that fall into this category are California fuchsia (Epilobium canum), goldenrods (Solidago), catmints (Nepeta) and asters. Since their growing points are protected underground, they can be mowed to as low as one or two inches tall. Grass examples are eyelash grass (Bouteloua gracilis), miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis), and fountain grasses (Pennisetum). Generally, it's better to cut grasses a bit higher to three or four inches high.

    If part of your garden looks pretty bare after doing this "big chop", those are places to consider planting winter bulbs, such as daffodils this fall. The daffodils will provide winter greenery and color next year to help fill the gaps between winter dormant plants. 

  • 28 Jan 2018 4:40 PM | Anonymous

    Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’

    Daphne is the star of the winter garden show in Central Park Gardens. Over the course of December and January the anticipation builds as purple buds begin to form at the tip of every stem. In late January the flowers open to reveal white petals and release one of the most rich and delicious perfumes the garden has to offer. If temperatures stay cool, the flowers will last well through February, but as warm days come in March, they quickly fade and give way to the chorus of other spring flowers.

    Daphne odora hails from China and Japan, and the cultivar ‘Aureomarginata’ is unique for the creamy yellow stripe that outlines the edge of each leaf. It’s a treasured plant for partial shade and is best planted near a path where the fragrance can be appreciated. The waxy evergreen leaves almost look too perfect to be real, and the plant has a naturally rounded shape that rarely needs pruning or trimming to look tidy. It grows to about three feet tall and four feet wide.

    Daphne’s only downfall is its sensitive root system that needs good drainage. Like a prima donna, it will quit without warning as it succumbs rapidly to root disease. The best ways to ensure daphne’s survival are to not disturb the roots when you initially plant it, put it in a location with afternoon shade in the summer, plant it a little high so it’s not sitting in a puddle in the winter, and water it no more than once a week in the summer. Overwatering is the easiest way to kill daphne growing in clay soils.

    Many an envious gardener has eyed the large, healthy daphne in Central Park Gardens on the north side of the Sensory Garden. What’s our secret to success with this plant? Shade from the nearby apple tree, a nice layer of mulch to protect the roots, and deep irrigation once every two weeks. Oh yeah, and the constant stream of children jumping nearby as they climb in and out of the apple tree!

  • 22 Sep 2017 5:15 PM | Anonymous

    Are you interested in gardening? Do you enjoy meeting new people and volunteering in your community? If so, we hope you’ll join our Volunteer Garden Steward training program!

    We are seeking community members who can assist with the leadership of our 2-hour volunteer gardening sessions on Saturday mornings. With support from our experienced garden leaders, Garden Stewards will help guide small groups of volunteers in the care of Central Park Gardens. Our volunteers typically include many UC Davis students seeking volunteer service opportunities, UC Master Gardeners, and community members from a wide range of ages and backgrounds.

    The Garden Steward training program will be held from 9 am to 1pm on Saturdays, October 14, October 21, October 28, and November 4. Training will be led by experienced horticulturists and educators Anne Schellman and Emily Griswold.

    Hands-on gardening training topics include pruning, planting, weed identification and control, mulching, and perennial and grass care. Trainees will also learn background information about Central Park Gardens as well as leadership skills and tips for engaging volunteers in the garden.

    After the completion of the training, Garden Stewards are asked to commit to assisting with Saturday morning volunteer gardening sessions at least once a month for a year.

    Central Park Gardens of Davis is a completely volunteer developed and run organization. Volunteers work to create our inspiring demonstration gardens and engaging educational programs. These community resources aim to motivate home gardeners in the region to adopt more sustainable gardening practices.

    Our dedicated volunteers come together to care for the gardens and in the process have lots of fun, meet like-minded people, learn more about gardening, and have the joy of contributing to a community treasure.

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Come visit us in Davis Central Park, on B Street between Third and Fourth Streets in Downtown Davis. 


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