Layout of the Australian Rock Back garden

I wrote recently about the Australian Rock Garden at the Arboretum & Botanic Back garden at UC Santa Cruz, as a source for house gardeners. For today’s column, we’ll outline the background, style and progress of this unique element at the Arboretum.

The accompanying photographs have been provided by the Arboretum’s volunteer photographer Invoice Bishoff, with our appreciation.

In the mid-1980s, the Arboretum gained a big shipment of topsoil (some 15,000 cubic yards) that experienced been excavated from another locale on the UCSC campus. This soil was shipped to the Arboretum’s Australian Part, designated as the Elvenia J. Slosson Investigation Backyard.

The Australian Garden’s Curator, Melinda Kralj, experienced conceived the improvement of a mounded rock backyard garden in two sections, symbolizing southwestern and southeastern botanical locations of the continent “down underneath.”

These regions are appropriate with the world’s Mediterranean local climate zones (also named summer-dry locations), all of which are represented at the UCSC Arboretum.

Australia’s diverse geography incorporates a vast selection of landscapes, in addition to these summer months-dry areas. They incorporate tropical rainforests in the northeast, mountain ranges in the southeast, southwest and east, and desert in the heart, commonly regarded as the outback.

The space involving the Australian Rock Garden’s western and eastern mounds serves as a visitor’s pathway linking the two planted mounds, and symbolizes Australia’s significant desert or semi-arid spot amongst the coasts,

The design concept envisioned the western region’s mound would screen indigenous Australian crops extending the western seaside to an inland region, and the jap region’s mound would characteristic vegetation from an inland place to the japanese coastline. The vegetation on just about every mound also would be positioned to align with their coastal or inland organic habitats.

This design and style strategy reflects the Arboretum’s emphasis on botanical investigation and education and learning and supplies visitors with a dwelling demonstration of a target area of this continent’s botanical diversity. To dig deeper into this topic, search to and look for for “Flora of Australia.”

Curator Kralj experienced both the eyesight and the guide job in the enhancement of the Australian Rock Garden as heavy machines formed the substantial mounds of soil and numerous tons of boulders. These boulders ended up selected from space suppliers to be consistent with Australian geology. (Other regions of the Arboretum consist of limestone boulders found on the UCSC campus.) This function continued from 2008 to 2016, as present cash supported the project’s progress.

As with all gardens, the Australian Rock Yard proceeds to evolve as the original plants mature and new crops are acquired to refine the structure of the installation. The early set up of a photo voltaic-run pond attribute did not realize success, so an aquatic attribute could possibly nevertheless be additional, dependent on electrical company to the Rock Backyard garden.

Early in Melinda Kralj’s Arboretum career at the Arboretum, she gained deep know-how of Australian plants from extended investigation visits to the continent with founding director Ray Collett and other Arboretum staff and studied with Australian plantspeople.

She retired from the Arboretum team in June of 2021. Brett Hall’s evaluation of Melinda’s successful work at the Arboretum can be discovered on the internet at She even now contributes her time and experience in the Australian Rock Back garden, which will also be regarded as her impressed development.

This Garden’s popularity as a attribute of the UCSC Arboretum began with its earliest existence and proceeds to evolve as a resource for traveling to gardeners.

Tom Karwin is earlier president of Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Modern society, a Life time Member of the Monterey Bay Spot Cactus & Succulent Society, and a UC Master Gardener. He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Culture, and active with the Pacific Horticultural Society.


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