Description of a tour of the CSUS (Sac State) University Arboretum, a three acre botanic garden located west of the J Street entrance to the campus.
Members of the Sacramento Renaissance Society recently had the opportunity to attend a class/tour of the CSUS Sac State University Arboretum. The Arboretum is located west of the J Street entrance to the campus.
I signed up immediately to take the tour as I had never set foot in the Arboretum. It was only after I started taking Renaissance Society classes at Sac State that I became aware of its existence!
See related blog post: Sacramento Renaissance Society
A small group of us met up with Dr. Mike Baad, our tour guide, on a Friday morning. Dr. Baad is the Director of the University Arboretum. As such, he is responsible for the maintenance of the site.
SacramentoRevealed.com – All Things Sacramento (from a personal perspective)
The University Arboretum, founded in 1959, is a three acre botanic garden with approximately 1,300 different species of tree, shrubs and herbaceous perennials. The site was originally planted with about 50 trees largely donated by the U.S. National Arboretum.
The land it occupies had previously been home to a pear orchard and hop farm. I had actually learned about the Sac State campus-hop farm connection at a recent (Renaissance Society) A Cook’s Tour of Sacramento class on Sacramento’s Gold Rush Saloons!
See related blog post: Sacramento’s Gold Rush Saloons
University Arboretum Collection
All the varied species that make up the University Arboretum collection are from temperate regions of the world – similar to California’s Mediterranean climate. As a result, the University Arboretum is a showcase for the diverse species of plants that can grow and bloom in our region.
Geographic regions of origin of the University Arboretum collection (according to a handout provided by Dr. Baad):
- California – 285 species (23%)
- Elsewhere in North America – 203 species (16%)
- Mexico – 76 species (6%)
- Central and South America – 58 species (5%)
- Northern and Central Europe – 53 species (4%)
- Mediterranean Region including West Asia – 146 species (11%)
- Eastern Asia – 268 species (21%)
- South Africa – 113 species (9%)
- Australia/New Zealand – 57 species (5%)
Dr. Baad has been involved with the University Arboretum for decades. As we walked along the paths he shared interesting facts about the various species, including their origins and characteristics. He also pointed out a number of trees, some quite large, that he himself had planted some years ago.
The University Arboretum is a living laboratory. Dr. Badd showed us several examples where large trees had been toppled by the wind, resulting in damage to neighboring trees and plantings. While it was a shame to lose them, he explained that the opening up of the tree canopy also led to opportunities for other plants to thrive.
We were each provided with a tree identification field guide, and we stopped several times on our walk to observe the leaves of a particular tree in order to determine the species.
During our walk I noted varied seating scattered about – perfect for resting and/or enjoying the moment. I was impressed by the number of hummingbirds hovering around – they obviously love the Arboretum!
Several CSUS departments utilize the University Arboretum for classes, and while we were there we observed a class taking place. The Arboretum is open to the public, and free guided field trips are offered to Sacramento’s public schools.
The University Arboretum is funded as a cooperative venture between private donors and CSUS Facilities Management. The Arboretum does not currently have a supportive community organization as does some other universities. Locally, for example, UC Davis has a very active community organization “Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden.”
Consequently, an effort to raise public awareness of the University Arboretum to help facilitate the formation of a community driven “Friends of the University Arboretum” is underway. A “Friends of” organization could help support a variety of needed and desired projects – both large and small. Additionally, “Friends” so inclined could volunteer their time to help maintain the Arboretum.
I decided then and there on the tour to write a blog post about the University Arboretum to help spread the word!
University Arboretum Solar Nest
A project that is currently underway is the renovation of what once had been a student project – a solar-powered home that competed in the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. The structure was moved from a CSUS parking lot to the Arboretum with the thought that once it was renovated it could be utilized for, among other things, a meeting place for educational and service organizations.
As we walked past the small structure, a College of Engineering (Construction Management) teacher was preparing to start work on the building. Our group stopped to chat, and he mentioned that he was expecting several students to join him later that afternoon. The goal of the volunteers is to get the outside of building finished and painted before winter sets in.
At the conclusion of our tour we all expressed our thanks for what had been a most interesting morning. I look forward to visiting the Arboretum again to see how it changes with the seasons.
Comments on the Sac State University Arboretum?
Have you visited the Arboretum? What would you add?
CSUS University Arboretum Snapshot:
- 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819
- West of the J Street Entrance to the Sac State campus
- Open dawn to dusk
- On Campus Visitor Parking
- Regional Transit: Public buses stop at the J Street entrance to the campus. They also connect with the Light Rail system at 65th Street
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