UC Santa Cruz Arboretum--Another Installment

 There was more to see than just  Banksias on my December visit to this university arboretum. The Banksias' got their own post by virtue of the sheer number of images I took of them. Many more photos were taken of the plants at large as I strolled this botanically rich garden in almost complete solitude.

 The garden, like many other botanical gardens, is separated in to geographic regions. In particular , the southern hemisphere is well represented- the breadth and depth of the Australian, New Zealand and South African collections is impressive and a specialty here. The arboretum is also a casual affair- there are level concrete walkways, but the plants are arranged very informally and the more mature plantings are bordered by lawns making for easy up close viewing. It's not overtly 'designed' in most areas, instead many of the plants are specimens planted where they can be allowed to achieve full maturity and be viewed from multiple angles.  I was glad to see evidence of renovations and new plantings in some areas of the garden as well as upgrades to plant labeling and signage.

 We'll take a stroll around the South African portions of the garden and then revisit Australia with a brief stop in New Zealand.
  The climate in Santa Cruz is enviable and the flora of South Africa thrives.The USDA climate hardiness map places my town in the same zone as Santa Cruz, but the Sunset zone which is much more relevant to our west coast micro climates puts the garden in frost free zone 17.

 This massive hedge of Leucodendron 'Duet' in full bloom  was a beacon .

Leucodendron 'Duet'

 Leucodendron 'Wilsons Wonder'

Sadly , Leucodendrons are marginally hardy at my house. I've been experimenting the last couple of years and I've lost at least 2. So far this winter I'm batting a thousand , but though we have had frost I have many plants that are usually toast by now still growing and blooming. Is this a one-off year or are they going to persist ?

The flowers are cool at every stage

 There is a very nice meadow-esqe planting which features South African heathers.

  No South African garden would be complete without a few Proteas, I believe this one is 'Pink Ice'

   Right up there with the Banksias for post-bloom interest.

And of course, there are the Restios.
    New to me was the New Zealand area -I don't recollect it all from my last visit, but the plants and trees are quite mature so I assume it was there but not well identified. I found the way in quite appealing and primordial. I didn't get many photos here , so will have to make a point to spend more time in this area on my next visit. I'm particularly interested to spend more time among the Hebes planted here-there were alot of them , most significantly larger than anything I have in my modest collection .

 Back in Australia, this Acacia cultriformis was just ready to bloom. The Acacia genus is one that is meager here. I only recall seeing this A. cultriformis and a lone A. baileyana purpurea. Either I missed the Acacia area or the curators have decided to let UC Davis carry the torch.

 The garden has a really nice collection of Eucalyptus.

 The Eucs are controversial here; they are introduced, brittle in winds and highly flammable. They arrived in California during the gold rush so when I grew up they were already a fixture having naturalized for many decades. I love them in spite of their faults, though I only grow 2 and they are both in containers. 

 The succulent garden has been undergoing some improvements. It features mostly plants indigenous to coastal Mexico and California.

 This was my favorite plant of the day - Protea nitida 'Waboom'. Doesn't everyone need a Waboom ? The internet advised me that this is the only Protea that grows into  a full size tree with desirable and usable timber. Thus the common name 'Wagon Tree' , derived from it's use for building wheels and brake blocks.

  I hope to return to this garden again in 2019. Among many others ! Happy New Year to all.


  1. Maybe I prune my leucadendrons too much -- I've yet to see them covered in blooms/cones like these.
    And Waboom! Happy New Year!

    1. The small garden gardener has to make sacrifices. I'm growing mine for vases so they will be quite well pruned once they achieve any size.

  2. I DO need a 'Waboom', if only I can find one. I also really need to make a pilgrimage to the Santa Cruz arboretum, although I've only a tenuous hope of that happening this year as our kitchen remodel/earthquake retrofit is likely to interfere. Happy new year, Kathy!

    1. Well, I'll let you know if I see one anywhere when I go to Santa B. in Feb. I spent alot of time walking around and around that plant. Happy New Year to you as well !

  3. I need a Waboom! Wow, those are some fantastic photos Kathy, I hope to visit this Arboretum someday....

    1. You absolutely need to visit, and from there it's a short 20ish minute or so drive to Succulent Gardens. I recommend winter as optimum for the arboretum-that's whe all the cool stuff blooms.! The trick is avoiding rain.

  4. Marvelous photos, Kathy! I think I need to take a trip down south to see all those fabulous gardens some day. All these California blog posts always make me drool... Here is to a Waboom kind of year ahead!

    1. I have garden tourism down to a fine art Anna. Come to Denver with the bloggers !

  5. Better a Waboom than a Kaboom.

    What fabulous photos of fabulous plants. You've made me happy.


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