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.


Comments

  1. Replies
    1. I'm so glad I went. And they are expanding the succulent area !

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  2. Wow! What incredible texture in all those plants. So other worldly looking to the Georgia gal.

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    Replies
    1. Some of these plants are becoming more and more available in nurseries and botanical garden plant sales, even here in zone 9.

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  3. Those protacea blooms are just gorgeous!

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    Replies
    1. I'm going to acquire a Protea 'Mini King' the next time I see one available to grow in a container. If I just get 1 flower it will be worth it !

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  4. I had just received an email from a local nursery advertising a Banksia. I'm highly tempted. I'm not familiar with them at all.

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    1. I bought a Banksia spinosa this year-supposedly hardy to 20 degrees. The coldest we got this winter was 24 , and it never got that cold last year at all. We shall see !

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  5. I've never been but it's someplace I long to see. Fingers crossed I can visit soon, until then your photos are fabulous!!!

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    Replies
    1. Just make sure you go in winter Loree ! You really do need to go -

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  6. Lovely photos, Kathy, despite the "relentlessly sunny" conditions. I recently discovered a Banksia spinulosa for sale at my local garden center but I'm still debating the purchase, not sure where I could put it to give it the space and sun it needs. Your post nudges me a little further along on the decision...

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    Replies
    1. Banksia spinulosa was my first Banksia purchase . Because it is relatively small I felt like I could fit it in somewhere. If it doesn't survive I will chalk it up to experience.

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  7. Beautiful photo's!!! It's lovely to see what is growing and blooming in other parts of our world. Visiting a botanical garden is a thing I love to do. But no possibility for us in Holland, everything is closed because of COVID. Thank you for sharing all this beauty.
    Happy springtime!!
    Marijke

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  8. I've tried 'Mini King' three times now. It's damn fussy. Good luck.

    When we've been to SCBG in late October, there was quite a lot blooming. And yes we basically had the whole 135 acres to ourselves.

    I know what you mean about Hwy 17. When we visited a few years ago unfortunately we hit commute time going south to SC. Everyone was driving 80mph and it was bumper to bumper. At 80 mph. I was absolutely terrified. Poor Alan was white-knuckled the whole way. Never again...

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    1. Three tries is my process too! I'm impressed with myself for keeping a Leucospermum alive for a full year. Under normal circumstances I would have gone to Monterey for the weekend and driven up to SC from there for the day. I'll take Hwy 1 any day over 17.

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