Arboretum Stories: Lois Weston Weeth

photo of Lois Weston Weeth When I entered UC Davis as a freshman in 1939, Putah Creek was lined with cottonwood trees where it crossed the campus. There was discussion about developing an Arboretum and I believe a few plants had been set out near the A Street bridge.

The winter of 1939-40 was very wet, with some flooding on the campus. On Leap Year day of 1940 no classes were scheduled so a campus Labor Day was held. The student body assembled to work at assigned tasks. The men were to clear Putah Creek of the trash left by flooding. I took some snapshots with my Brownie box camera showing some of the guys working. Many years later I gave those photos to Warren Roberts for the Arboretum archives. Other tasks included laying water lines to the football field, and the coeds fixed and served picnic lunch on the Quad for the hungry workers. Quite a day!

With encouragement and participation of the Botany department and campus staff, design planning and planting continued along the creek banks. The early plantings were behind the campus firehouse, where there was access to water for irrigation. There was question whether coast redwood trees would survive in the heat of the Central Valley, and Dr. Elliott Weier was interested to test that case, so seedlings were propagated and planted. Unfortunately, during the Army occupation of the campus from 1942 to 1945, the Arboretum area was neglected and most of the new plantings died. Planting and care started again when the campus was returned to the university.

So when you admire the handsome redwoods and enjoy their cool shade on a hot day, you can appreciate the tenacity of the people and the plants that represent the beginnings of the Arboretum.

You can tell that I have deep personal ties to the Arboretum.

Lois Weston Weeth, BS 1943
Former UC Regent

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