Australian Garden at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum (March 2021)

Driving two hours one way to visit a botanical garden may seem weird to some, but I wear my weirdness with pride. Plus, I love driving, listening to an audiobook, or just letting my mind go where it wants to. In other words, I enjoy getting there as much as being there.

My destination this time was the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) Arboretum. I was surprised to realize that I hadn't been there since May 2019, so almost two years. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered my perception of time to the point where I can't trust myself to accurately gauge when I did this or that.

My focus on this trip was the Australian Garden. Right now, it's a riot of color from countless trees, shrubs, and perennials in vibrant bloom against a backdrop of evergreen foliage. Walking around and taking photos was a glorious experience. 

This post is image-heavy and it'll take you a while to go through, but I promise it's worth your time. I'll keep my comments to a minimum.

Grevillea 'Austraflora Fanfare', flower and leaf close-up

Grevillea 'Austraflora Fanfare'

Grevillea 'Austraflora Fanfare' forms a dense groundcover—so dense it effectively suppresses all but the most vigorous weeds

Grevillea 'Poorinda Royal Mantle' is hybrid with the same parents as 'Austraflora Fanfare'. Its leaves aren't lobed like 'Austraflora Fanfare' so the overall look is a bit different. It grows faster but is said to be less drought tolerant and less hardy.

Grevillea 'Red Hook'

Grevillea 'Red Hook' with a visitor

Grevillea 'Red Hook'

Kangaroo Island gland flower (Adenanthos macropodianus), a unpleasant-sounding common name but a pretty plant

Coast woollybush (Adenanthos sericeus), a much taller relative of the gland flower above

Nodding blue lily (Stypandra glauca)

Stypandra glauca is also known as blind grass because it supposedly causes blindness in goats. Plant trivia factoid of the day.

Correa pulchella, one of dozens of species, cultivars and hybrids of what is often called the Australian fuchsia

Heath myrtle (Thryptomene calycina)

Feather-leaved banksia (Banksia brownii), one of many banksia species represented in the UCSC Arboretum

Feather-leaved banksia (Banksia brownii)

Forest phebalium (Phebalium squamulosum)

Forest phebalium (Phebalium squamulosum)

Snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora)

Snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) is the hardiest eucalyptus species, surviving temperatures as low as -9°F (-23°C). Apparently it even grows in Norway.

Snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora)

Grevillea lavandulacea hybrid

Grevillea lavandulacea hybrid and rock thryptomene (Thryptomene saxicola 'Mingenew')

Lavender grevillea (Grevillea lavandulacea 'Tanunda')

Grevillea alpina 'Warby Range'

Stringybark she-oak (Allocasuarina inophloia); look at that bark! Apparently, the name "she-oak" (or "sheoak") was given to trees in the family Casuarinaceae because of the density of their wood, which still doesn't make much sense to me. Here is a more detailed explanation.

Saw banksia (Banksia serrata)

Saw banksia (Banksia serrata)

Saw banksia (Banksia serrata)

Saw banksia (Banksia serrata)

Cone of Banksia serrata

Possum banksia (Banksia baueri)

Possum banksia (Banksia baueri)

Cut-leaf dryandra (Banksia undata)

Cut-leaf dryandra (Banksia undata)

Cut-leaf dryandra (Banksia undata)

Cut-leaf dryandra (Banksia undata)

Banksia spinulosa 'Coastal Cushion' and Grevillea lavandulacea 'Tanunda'

Banksia spinulosa 'Coastal Cushion' might be the lowest-growing hairpin banksia cultivars

Banksia spinulosa 'Coastal Cushion'

Grevillea lavandulacea 'Tanunda', one of my favorite grevillea cultivars. The name refers to the town in South Australia where this form was found. 'Penola', a similar form of G. lavandulacea, is named after another town in South Australia.

Grevillea lavandulacea 'Tanunda' seems to grow wider than tall—a smaller plant overall than 'Penola', which I just planted in our backyard

Grevillea lavandulacea 'Tanunda'

Grevillea lavandulacea 'Tanunda', the flowers more pink than 'Penola'

Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem', one several commonly available forms of this species, the others being 'Mt Tamboritha' and 'Jade Mound'

Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem'

Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem'

Barrier Range wattle (Acacia beckleri)

Tetratheca 'Amethyst Eyes', brought to market by the UCSC Koala Blooms Australian Plant Introduction program

Hardenbergia violacea 'Mini Haha', a dense shrub-like version of what is more typically a vine. 'Mini Haha' was introduced in 2015 as part of the UCSC Koala Blooms program. An even more compact version is now available under the name 'Mini Meema'.

Hardenbergia violacea 'Mini Haha'

Hardenbergia violacea 'Mini Haha'

Hardenbergia violacea 'Mini Haha' and Grevillea lavandulacea 'Mt Compass'

Grevillea lavandulacea 'Mt Compass'

This is a white-flowering version of Hardenbergia violacea sold under the cultivar name 'White Out' 

Hardenbergia violacea 'White Out'

The large mounds at the eastern edge of the Australian Garden are covered with blooming plants right now

Micromyrtus ciliata, spreading form

Holly grevillea (Grevillea aquifolium)

Holly grevillea (Grevillea aquifolium)

Holly grevillea (Grevillea aquifolium)

Holly grevillea (Grevillea aquifolium)

Blue lechenaultia (Lechenaultia biloba), a dwarf shrub from Western Australia

Blue lechenaultia (Lechenaultia biloba)

Blue lechenaultia (Lechenaultia biloba)

Blue lechenaultia (Lechenaultia biloba)

Red lechenaultia (Lechenaultia formosa), a red-flowering cousin

Candle cranberry (Astroloma foliosum), not surprisingly a member of the heath family (Ericaceae)

Look at the spread of this Grevillea 'Superb'!

Grevillea 'Superb'

Grevillea 'Superb'

Bell-fruited mallee (Eucalyptus preissiana); mallees are eucalypts naturally producing multiple stems as opposed to single-stem gum trees

Gungurru (Eucalyptus caesia 'Silver Princess'), another mallee eucalypt

Grevillea depauperata

Grevillea depauperata


Darwinia 'Sterling Snow'. Darwinias, or mountain bells, are small evergreen shrubs in the myrtle family.

Darwinia leiostyla 'Mt Trio'

Darwinia leiostyla 'Mt Trio'

Darwinia leiostyla 'Mt Trio' (right) and Ravensthorpe bottlebrush (Beaufortia orbifolia)

Ravensthorpe bottlebrush (Beaufortia orbifolia)

Ravensthorpe bottlebrush (Beaufortia orbifolia). Beaufortias are closely related to Melaleuca, Calothamnus, and Callistemon.

Ravensthorpe bottlebrush (Beaufortia orbifolia)

Ravensthorpe bottlebrush (Beaufortia orbifolia)

Left to right: Ozothamnus turbinatus, Grevillea 'Superb', Acacia dentulosa

Ozothamnus turbinatus, Grevillea 'Superb'

Sandpaper wattle (Acacia dentulosa)

Sandpaper wattle (Acacia dentulosa)

Sandpaper wattle (Acacia dentulosa) with flowers resembling Cheetos

Sandpaper wattle (Acacia dentulosa)

Stirling Range coneflower (Isopogon latifolia)

Stirling Range coneflower (Isopogon latifolia) is actually a good-sized shrub

Bull banksia (Banksia grandis 'Compact Coastal Form')

Bull banksia (Banksia grandis 'Compact Coastal Form')

Woolly orange banksia (Banksia victoriae)

Saw banksia (Banksia serrata)

Banksia 'Giant Candles'

Acacia boormanii

Winged wattle (Acacia alata) with curious flattened stems

Acacia pravissima 'Golden Carpet'

This is one impressively large specimen!

I love what the sign says: "A sinuous form selected from a batch of trees. It is essential a groundcover with tree genes."


A lot of work has been put into the Australian Garden in recent years, and it definitely shows.



RELATED POSTS:

All posts about the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum



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Comments

  1. Excellent to see the late winter/early spring blooms there--thank you! Have only seen it in October.

    Killed 'Austraflora Fanfare' twice, to my deep regret. Such a beauty in both foliage and flower.

    'Penola' is very attractive--the foliage has a blueish tint--the ones I've seen around here, anyway. Good contrasting color for the flowers.

    Must have been a wonderful visit--did you have the place to yourself?

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    1. I've killed 'Austraflora Fanfare', too, and its siblings and cousins ('Poorinda Royal Mantle', Grevillea ×gaudichaudii) as well. I think it was a lack of water in the summer. I've sited this one differently, on a flat spot rather than a slope where water tends to run off instead of staying in the root zone. Fingers crossed!

      I didn't have the place to myself entirely but there were times when I didn't see anybody. More birders (with long lenses) than anything. But when I left, after noon, more people were arriving. I had my Trader Joe's lunch at the Cliff Drive Vista Point, overlooking both the Boardwalk and Seabright Beach, and it was heavenly.

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  2. Driving two hours and to visit a garden, sounds pleasurable to me! And so are those fine selection of Oz plants which are still a rarity here displayed in large plantings.

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  3. This is most likely as close as I'll ever get to Australia, though after seeing all this beauty I'm almost ready to move. My jaw drop seeing Saw banksia (Banksia serrata) with what looks like clams hanging on to it trunk! I'd be thrill to grow either of the Darwinia leiostyla: what a sweet shrub.

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  4. So many wonderful Australian plants, many of which like Lechenaultia biloba I've never seen before. The UCSC Arboretum has been on my list of places to visit for a long time. I'll get there one day! Thanks for sharing your photos.

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  5. Thank you for the photo riches... what a treat. I don’t recall ever seeing Grevillea aquifolium before. It kind of blows my mind. Those leaves, with those flowers.... freaky!

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  6. Well worth the drive! What a sumptuous photo treat, thank you! The Winged Wattle looks intriguingly lightweight but maybe because it's young.

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  7. One of my favorite botanical gardens to visit. My very favorite out of many favorite sections is the rock gardens the Australian section where you photographed the Cranberry Candle.

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