The friends were not alone in their efforts. They received letters of support and protest against budget cuts from the California Association of Nurserymen, the California Native Plant Society, other UC campuses, gardening clubs, and the university’s academic staff and students.

“It’s really powerful and humbling to think that it only takes a few people with dedication, drive, and organizational skills to do amazing things. Today as we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we are grateful to members of the community and to people outside Davis who recognize the importance of friends, ”said Trump Daniel.


The group, which started with eight to ten people, has grown to over 1,800 members, and those members range from Yolo County to overseas.

In 2008, the group of friends earned their place in the prestigious group of the university’s top donors, the Chancellor Prize winners. This association includes individuals and organizations who have donated $ 1 million or more to university programs.

“It’s really nice to have a place once a week where you can be with people who have the same passion for plants. The camaraderie is great, ”said Ohlendorf.

Volunteer gardeners and stewards are responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the designated garden areas. Tasks include pruning, planting and spreading mulch. “Our team members come from different backgrounds but share a passion for the arboretum, and we pride ourselves on working very hard and having a great time together at the same time. The work we do is rewarding and satisfying, and there is always a lot of laughter, ”said Reinert.

The friends also work with the arboretum staff to run seasonal plant sales, which are held six or seven times a year at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery and continue to be a popular draw for the campus and town. Bred and increasingly by student interns, community volunteers and professional gardeners, these plants are low in water, easy to care for and regionally suitable to support more sustainable gardening.