Debbie Arrington

Seeds: Acorns keep dropping on their heads

Oak leaves and acorns.
Oak leaves and acorns. Sacramento Bee file

Some Sacramento-area oak trees apparently didn’t get the memo.

This may be just a “moderate” or even below-normal year for acorn production, according to the Sacramento Tree Foundation. But homeowners with oaks in their yards – particularly in the foothills – most definitely disagree.

“We live in Christian Valley (near Auburn) and have been flooded by acorns,” said Dorith Grimm. “It is fun to drive over them and hear them popping. No exceptions here; just abundance.”

Karen Sandler has seen an acorn explosion all over El Dorado County. “We are literally carpeted with acorns here at my house – the most in 22 years – (as well as) at the ranch where I board my horse, and at the residence of everyone I’ve talked to who have oak trees.”

The avalanche of acorns is more than a boon to squirrels and nuisance to gardeners. They can make horses sick.

“In fact, there is a lot of concern in the horse community about how many acorns have fallen in paddocks and pastures and how many acorns the horses are hoovering up – yes, they taste good to a horse,” Sandler said. “Our vets have told us that many horse owners are having their horses tested for oak toxicity – including me. It requires a urine sample. Don’t ask.

“Whether it’s the drought or just a cycle, this is most definitely a large acorn production here in the foothills,” she added. “Your ‘experts’ are welcome to come up here and see for themselves.”

Pamela Sanchez, SacTree’s education programs manager, has kept a careful eye on acorns this fall. The foundation collects thousands for its “Seed to Seedling” program to teach third- and fourth-graders about nature while also reforesting our area. Finding enough acorns to fill the foundation’s goals was “harder than usual.”

“Overall in the region, it’s a moderate to low year for acorns,” she said, “but some trees are doing particularly well. It could be a response to drought; we’re not really sure.”

Some trees produce a lot one year, not so many the next. Blue oaks, in particular, seem to be having a heavy year, according to Bee readers.

If this happens again next year, contact the foundation in late September or October, Sanchez said. Its volunteers will come out and get some.

Huntington connection

Sacramento has a close tie to the Huntington in San Marino. The famous library and gardens is in the process of retooling its landscape to conserve water while retaining its much-photographed beauty.

Steve Koblik, president of the Huntington, is a Sacramento native. The Huntington’s new education and visitors center is named in his honor.

“Steve is a graduate of McClatchy High (Class of ’59) and Cal (’63),” wrote attorney Geoff Wong, who has known the Koblik family for years. “Steve’s late father, William, was lead architect for the Sacramento Convention Center in the 1970s.”

Carol Koblik, Steve’s sister and a noted jewelry designer, still lives in Sacramento and owns Arareity, a one-of-a-kind jewelry and glass art gallery on R Street in downtown Sacramento.

Calendar time

All gardening is local, as radio host Farmer Fred Hoffman likes to remind us. And two of the best local gardening calendars for 2016 are now available.

Both are produced by UC Cooperative Extension master gardeners, pulling from their own decades of local experience.

“Savvy Gardening: The ABCs and Beyond” is the theme of the “2016 Gardener’s Companion” produced by the Placer County master gardeners. Priced at $10, it’s much more than a calendar, with vegetable planting guides, detailed how-to articles and lots of valuable tips. Find it at nurseries and garden centers in Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties. Order it online at or call 530-889-7385.

Sacramento County master gardeners chose “Living in Our Golden State ... Come Rain or Come Shine” as the weather-minded theme for their 2016 gardening guide and calendar. Written specifically for Sacramento Valley gardeners, this guide focuses on month-by-month tasks while coping with drought – or predicted El Niño storms. With a suggested retail price of $12, this calendar/guide is available at all Green Acres Nursery & Supply locations as well as Talini’s Nursery, The Plant Foundry, The Gifted Gardener, Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery and Emigh Hardware, all in Sacramento. Find it online at