A visit to UC Santa Cruz Arboretum
When January rolled around it occurred to me that I had not been more than 50 miles from my house since August. I typically make a weekend or more out of a road trip to Santa Cruz , but the post holiday Covid surge in California did not endear me to staying in a hotel-though I do long for a weekend away. I decided to just drive to the arboretum and come back the same day. Two hours down and back, on a Sunday morning, thereby avoiding the Silicon Valley weekday traffic. Cued up a bunch of gardening podcasts for the drive, packed my camera gear and a snack and off I went. Driving through the maze of freeways in the east and south bay early on Sunday is about as painless as that drive can be, and even the dreadful Highway 17 provided a pleasant country outing vibe. I felt liberated -it seemed as though I was on vacation, just for one day.
The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum is 135 acres and has an open park like feeling and an outstanding collection of Aussie, New Zealand and South African plants. I have never experienced crowds in this garden, though I have only visited in winter or early spring-times when the garden is at it's best.
Upon arrival I made a beeline for the Banksias to photograph them as early as possible; it was relentlessly sunny. A month earlier I would have hit a better peak bloom period. I've made a mental note to head down again in December.
Banksias gone to seed are almost as good as the blooms
And the foliage !
Of course the Banksias are not the only plants worth viewing here.
The Waboom Tree, Protea nitida.
The Eucalyptus . Eucs are controversial in California. They were the tree of my childhood, and back in the 60's people actually planted them . I grew up in LA and family friends in 'The Valley' had a row on their property line. I loved those trees when I was 10. The crunch of the fallen leaf litter on the driveway with the pungent fragrance reminded me it was summer.
Can't forget the Proteas.
There were many improvements to the garden and I hope to put it on the agenda for December 2021.