Tree agree

Strong like an oak.

Strong like an oak.

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

Even in a time of climate-change denial, it’s hard to be anti-tree. No, really. Trees unify and bring people together across party lines. Kids like to climb in them, they can be a good place to find fruit. Leaves are nice—find a bay tree, crush the leaf, smells great. Squirrels need somewhere to go—trees keep them off the streets—and up there they jump brazenly from branch to branch, without parachutes. Fun stuff. And, of course, most dwellers in hot places are pro-shade, and trees rock at that.

Really. As a people, let us come together. Let us find common ground. Even if we can’t agree that trees also rock at absorbing greenhouse gases and that’s a good thing—we can all be, generally speaking, pro-tree.

These days, you gotta start somewhere.

Auntie Ruth was happy to find a vast new grove of trees, one that’s been here since she was a tyke. Right under her nose, as it were.

Many know of the UC Davis Arboretum——if you haven’t been, do go. The Ruth Risdon Storer Garden is one of the most engaging respites for enviro-minded gardeners in the region—a fabulous gathering of “Valley-wise” perennials and shrubs that need less water and maintenance. The colors will dazzle ya, even in the heat of summer. Aunt Ruth goes there periodically; it’s a place of peace.

She rarely wandered into the oak grove near the garden, however. For so many years, the oak grove was unusable to all but loud birds and really procreative squirrels.

No longer. Utilizing a $150,000 federal grant, the Oak Discovery Trail in the Shields Oak Grove is now open for business, and it is a lovely thing. The trail twists and turns through a grove of over 300 wizened oaks—87 species in all. Such a thing is rare in any botanical garden anywhere, as oaks take up a lot of room and take years to mature. The grove got its start from professor John Tucker, who started planting acorns from his international travels in the early ’60s; it has evolved into the most scientifically significant collection in the entire arboretum. Information on the oaks is posted periodically on artful ceramic displays. All dedicated to that something that is ancient and wise in an oak tree, something quiet and important.

Let us agree. Z’all good. Do go.