Gifford Garden Fund

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Shari Kawelo
Executive Director, Development and External Relations
(530) 752-2097

Gifford Garden

Ken Burtis, Dean of the College of Biological Sciences (back left) welcomes Ernie Gifford's family. Left to right are Jean Gifford, daughter Jeanette Gifford Lewis and son-in-law Jonathan Lewis.

Gracing the entrance of Storer Hall, the Ernest M. Gifford Cycad Garden honors professor emeritus "Ernie" Gifford, a renown plant biologist and former chair of the botany department who retired from UC Davis in 1988.

At center stage are "Ma" and "Pa" cycad, each standing over five feet tall. As a young girl, Jeanette Gifford Lewis visited these plants with her father. Together, they would consider whether these relatives of cycads (Cycadophyta) that lived more than 200 million years ago in the Permian epoch were "happy."

"Now I can reassure my dad that these cycads are indeed very happy," remarked Lewis at the opening reception.

The accessibility of the Gifford Cycad Garden ensures that the plants can be enjoyed and studied in detail for generations to come. Many of the specimens were collected by Gifford himself.

The garden was established through generous contributions from the Gifford family, UC Davis faculty and staff, and former students and colleagues of the professor. Their donations also more than doubled the UC Davis Conservatory endowment, which is needed to maintain established gardens and greenhouse specimens.

Gifford passed on June 14, 2006 from complications of Alzheimer's disease. The family encourages friends and colleagues to remember him by visiting the cycad garden in front of Storer Hall on the UC Davis campus. The garden was planted and dedicated to him in September 2005.