Just a little over six miles from downtown Davis heading west on Russell Blvd. is a gardener’s oasis. Three Palms Nursery, Yolo County’s only retail production nursery, has quietly put down roots in this spot since 1996, after being transplanted from the Schmeiser Ranch where it germinated in 1988. Phil Kitchen, one of the co-founders of the Davis Farmers Market, began his life as a nurseryman by growing cut flowers, fruits and vegetables for the market and, as a natural extension, began growing ornamental plants for sale. Plants at Three Palms are grown from liners and plugs right at the nursery and are guaranteed to grow here because they’re not just shipped in full-grown but have lived with our climate and water from a tiny state to sale size.
Today there is more growing here than the 250 varieties of ornamentals and trees Phil offers for sale.
Phil is in the process of developing an arboretum along the slough that runs adjacent to the growing grounds. He plans to name the arboretum the Greg Lynn Arboretum in honor of the UC Davis Design Department lecturer who inspired him to pursue his nurseryman career. Mr Lynn was a mentor and friend who died of AIDS.
The project began with a set of stairs that leads the visitor from the growing/selling area of the nursery down the slope to the bank of the slough. The water was a bit low on the day I visited but I could see numerous schools of black baby catfish and too many mosquito fish to begin to count.
Hawks were circling above the native oaks and other birds darted among the brush too quickly for me to identify. It was a quiet, peaceful place to walk and we went along the bank, following the path that Phil has begun to level. The path will extend along the water between 800 and 900 feet and eventually the slope will be landscaped with native plants supplemented by other species suited to the site. Providing plants to attract even more birds and other wildlife is high on the list of desires. A picnic table to encourage visitors to bring a lunch and a bench to provide a spot to sit and appreciate the peaceful setting are going to be early additions to the arboretum.
As if the developing arboretum weren’t enough to encourage a visit to Three Palms, check your calendar! It is getting close to fall and Davis gardeners know that autumn is one of our very best times to plant. Three Palms has several sales to help us out with that…a September long discount on gallon plants when you buy 5 or more and a 20% off sale on October 2-3 and 9-10.
And the third reason to visit Three Palms? That would be Phil Kitchen himself. As nice as it was to chat with Phil over a beer at the long ago Club in downtown Davis, it’s even nicer to talk plants over rows of one-gallons!