Saturday, October 20, 2018

Fall plant sale at UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

The plant sale at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park on October 6 was all about California natives (see this post). In contrast, the UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) Arboretum sale on October 13 combined California natives (offered by the Santa Cruz chapter of the California Native Plant Society) with plants propagated from the Arboretum collection, mostly Australian and South African natives.

California Native Plant Society area at the UCSC Arboretum fall sale

I had never been to a UCSC sale before, but considering the plant list was full of weird and wonderful varieties, I expected quite a crowd. And I was right. By the time the gate opened to members at 10:00, there was a long line of people waiting to get in. I had arrived 25 minutes early and I was in a great spot.

The closer we got to 10:00, the more the anticipation (and impatience) was building. Arboretum director Martin Quigley explained the rules—carts or boxes to be dropped off in the holding area; none allowed in the plant area because of the narrow aisles and the large number of people—and then it was off to the races. It was a scene not unlike the start of the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, minus the horses and guns. People were actually running!

Fortunately, the plants were in alphabetical order—such a simple yet brilliant idea!—and I had prioritized my plant list so I knew exactly where to go first (B as in Banksia spinulosa 'Stumpy Gold', silly name notwithstanding).

The plants were simply set out on the ground

Within 30 minutes, I had most of what I wanted, but even that early on, many plants were already sold out. My friend Brian had asked me to look for two plants—Darwinia leiostyla (I still don't know what that one looks like) and Telopea 'Fireball'—but there weren't any left.

It didn't take long until there seemed to be more plants in the holding area than in the sale area! Considering the first two hours of the sale were reserved for Arboretum members, I couldn't help but wonder what was left at noon when the public was allowed in. Certainly none of the rarer plants.

Plant holding area, parking off behind it

"Rare plants" is obviously a subjective designation. What's rare to one person may be common to another. The UCSC sale was full of plants I'd never heard of, let alone seen, before. Not just species or cultivars, but entire genera: Aloysia, Aulax, Bouvardia, Calycanthus, Calytrix, Ceratopetalum, Chrysolepis. That's just from page 1 of the 4-page plant list! Crowea, Dampiera, Darwinia, Eremaea, Eutaxia, Hovea, Hypocalymma, Hyptis, Lechenaultia. The list went on. I felt like a kid in a novelty candy store. Pultenaea villosa 'Butterscotch': Can I have a taste? Or maybe a sample of Philotheca myoporoides 'Stardust'?

In spite of the temptations, I was disciplined and stuck to my plant list quite closely. I did give in to the siren song of a truly strange acacia I'd never seen before, Acacia glaucoptera. You'll see a photo of it below, together with all my other acquisitions.

My plant haul

From left to right: Grevillea aquifolium, Aulax cancellataGrevillea synapheae 'Picasso'

Clockwise starting at 7 o'clock: Grevillea × gaudichaudii, Arctostaphylos pajaroensis 'Brett's Beauty', Isopogon anemonifoliusLechenaultia formosa (red flowers)

Lechenaultia formosa—hard to resist those cheerful flowers and the rosemary-like foliage

Front: Banksia spinulosa 'Stumpy Gold' (a dwarf from), back: Hypocalymma cordifolium 'Golden Veil'

Hypocalymma cordifolium 'Golden Veil' with tiny variegated leaves and reddish stems. Hopefully I'll have more luck with it than the similar-looking hebes I've tried 

Flat wattle (Acacia glaucoptera), looking more like some sort of Christmas cactus (Schlumberga sp.) than an acacia! The triangular gray-green leaves cover the stems entirely. It only grows to 3-4 ft. in height and twice that in width, but takes very well to pruning—in fact, it requires it for best shape.

See the reddish dots on the stems? Those are flower buds. This is a great image of the flowers.

Here is a list of my plant haul from the UCSC Arboretum fall sale (the plant names are hyperlinked so you can see what each plant looks like):

Plant
Origin
HxW (in)
Hardy
Sun/Shade
Where it will go
Australia
3x6
20-25
Sun
Front yard, along the sidewalk, far end in front of an Aloe ‘Moonglow’
California
6x6
10
Sun/bright shade
TBD
Australia
4x4
25
Sun/partial shade
TBD
Australia
1x3
25
Sun/partial shade
Front yard, along sidewalk, under ‘Desert Emerald’ palo verde (already planted)
Australia
0.5x18
15-20
Sun/partial shade
Front yard, along sidewalk, in front of large Aloe ferox (already planted)
Australia
1x3
25
Sun/partial shade
Front yard, along sidewalk, under ‘Desert Emerald’ palo verde (already planted)
Australia
3x6
20
Light shade
Front yard, along sidewalk, under ‘Desert Emerald’ palo verde (already planted)
Australia
3x3
25
Sun/light shade
TBD
Australia
3x4
25
Partial/deep shade
Backyard, aloe corner
Australia
1x1
25
Sun/light shade
Front yard, along sidewalk, in front of Cassia phyllodinea and Aloe elgonica

As I said earlier, I was done shopping within 30 minutes—a new efficiency record. After I'd paid and loaded my plants in the car, I grabbed the camera and explored the Australian Gardens in the Arboretum. Even though this isn't prime bloom season in the Australian Gardens, I did find some treasures, like the swamp bottlebrush (Beaufortia sparsa) below. Look for a dedicated post soon!

Swamp bottlebrush (Beaufortia sparsa)


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13 comments:

  1. I like the Swamp bottlebrush - has a very unusual look. I got to the sale several hours later and there didn't seem to be much left! I guess I should have become a member and arrived at the opening.

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    1. Me too! Unfortunately they didn't have this particular species for sale.

      You should become a member. I think that's the only way to score some of the more popular/usual plants.

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  2. Well worth the planning and the drive, not to mention the UCSC Arboretum membership! I can't say I've seen a varied selection like that anywhere in my own range. I love the Aulax cancellata, Hypocalymma and the Acacia. And now I feel I should have pressed my case to visit UCSC on our trip north even if it was mid-August and miserably hot.

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    1. The UCSC Arboretum is well worth seeing. It wouldn't have been super hot there in mid-August. Probably upper 70, mid-80s max. Visiting Santa Cruz is always a treat, but esp. when it's beastly hot here in the Sacramento Valley.

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  3. I went to the sale a couple years ago interested in their isopogon listing. Like you say, what's left for the general public to purchase gets thin might fast! I asked about an isopogon listed for sale but nowhere in sight, and staff said yes, they had some more, but they'd have to go back to the nursery and bring it to the sales area, not a far distance as I understood. I explained I drove up from LA and could wait for them to get more stock but they declined to get more. But it does look like a great sale, especially if you move fast! Well done on your shopping.

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    1. That's too bad! If they'd said, no, we don't have any more--that would have been easy to accept. But to be told, yes, we have more but you can't have any of them--that's downright cruel. I'm really sorry for your experience.

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  4. I making a mental note that I may need a trip to Santa Cruz next fall ! I'm impressed that you actually know where most of them will go- I'm still working on the Oregon plants. Two more went in today-victory !

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    1. There's a big spring sale, too. Saturday, April 19. Mark your calendar!

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    2. Hopefully by that time I will have all my purchases from fall planted !

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  5. Oh your haul!!! I so jealous of everything you can grow there...

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  6. Wow! What treasures! To the victors go the spoils.

    I don't know if I could brave the rush, though. We'll be there either tomorrow or Tuesday, without the sale plants, but also probably without the madding crowd.

    When we visited two or three years ago, I bought a Telopea 'Fireball' at the little sales shack; it was obviously a leftover from the Fall Sale that year, which was the week before we were there. It's doing...okay. Not a dry heat lover, I think based on performance so far (at least it hasn't died!!!!!!!!!). I kept it under a shade cloth all summer and it still toasted a bit. It seemed to tolerate humid heat better.

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  7. Thanks for trying to find the plants I was interested in, so nice you got most of what you were looking for.

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