Let's Go! UCSC Arboretum and Botanic Garden Part I

The University of California Santa Cruz is special. Well, all of Santa Cruz is special - the climate, the sea, the people. Having lived there years ago I can honestly say Santa Cruz is one of the more special places on the map. But can you believe I've never been to the arboretum and botanic gardens up on the hill? For shame. I corrected that last weekend while celebrating my dearest friend's big 60th. The party-goers were game to take a field trip so off we went. I could have spent all day here, but the few hours there were bliss itself. 

The gardens consist of a California native garden, a New Zealand garden, a South African garden and this, the Australian garden we shall look at now. The other gardens I will cover in future posts.

Having visited Australia before (and written posts about it in my newbie-blogging days [which you can revisit herehere, and here]), I was unprepared for the sheer variety and size of the specimens at UCSC. While I cannot i.d. everything I saw, I've done my best - I consider the unidentified ones a challenge or a chance to just enjoy the scenery. Ready? Here we go:

 Banksia victoriae is, I have decided, my favorite in this part of the arboretum. I mean it's so exotic and the colors among my favorite.

The entrance to the Australian Garden at UCSC Arboretum and Botanic Garden. That is a prostrate Grevillea on the right and a Leptospermum on the left.

 Why, thank you, UCSC. I can't wait to explore.

Just to get an idea of the scale of some of these specimens I have included my friends in this shot. Here they are observing the many hummingbirds zooming about to claim ownership of this Banksia ericifolia.

 Banksia ericifolia

 Banksia ericifolia 

This is Banksia spinulosa var. collina 

 I did not catch the species name of this Banksia but include it to illustrate the large size of not only this, but many plants in this garden. 

 I am fairly certain this is Banksia baueri.

 Banksia grandis

Banksia caleyi

In the foreground is Banksia spinulosa var. spinulosa 'Birthday Candles'. 

Banksia dryandroides 

 Pultenaea pendunculata commonly known as matted bush pea. 

 Lomandra obliqua

Thryptomene saxicola 'FC Payne'  

Beaufortia orbifolia or Ravensthorpe bottlebrush. 

Calothamnus gracilis 'Spring Torch' or slender net bush. To my North American eyes, it registered as a pine tree at first.

Foliage of Isopogon formosus or rose coneflower. Do make sure and look up the flowers on this beauty.

 Ozothamnus turbinatus or coast everlasting. I have two varieties of Ozothamnus in the garden and I can say they are a bright spot in winter, especially.

Acacia baileyana 'Winter Flame' is incredibly gorgeous even in this bud stage. 

Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem' - one I have in the garden that has been totally hardy for me for several years.

Although this did not have a tag, I think it's Grevillea 'Ivanhoe'. Similar in spread to the one I have, Grevillea x gaudichaudii, it has amazing leaves.

 Grevillea 'Robyn Gordon'

 Grevillea rosmarinifolia 'Nana'

Grevillea 'Long John'

Grevillea 'Poorinda Royal Mantle' 

x Macadamia tetraphylla 

A gorgeous tree, I didn't get close so I am not sure but it could be a Eucalyptus. 

Another unknown-to-me tree.

 Another unknown tree in the background, you can see some orange-flowered Banskia in the background.

 Another unknown-to-me tree with a Callistemon pityoides on the right. We have one of these at Chickadee Gardens, I think I might have to consider moving it - I didn't realize it would grow to be this large. 

Allocausuarina verticillata or coast she-oak.

This was not labeled - I'll guess that it's Eucalyptus woodwardii, yellow flowered gum or eucalyptus tree.

Eucalyptus laeliae or Darling Range ghost gum.

 Eucalyptus caesia subsp. magna 'Pink Princess' flowers

Eucalyptus caesia subsp. magna 'Pink Princess' 

 Lophostemon confertus or brush box

Lasiopetalum baueri or slender velvet bush is one that I would love to add to the garden if I could find it.

 Eremophila subteretifolia or emu bush

 Leptospermum rupestre, alpine tea tree. I have two upright Leptospermums that have been reliably hardy for me.

Correa reflexa 'Cape Nelson'. We grow a few Correa species at the nursery but this time of year they need to be brought into the greenhouses for they are borderline hardy for us.

 An opening in a grove of trees

 Eucalyptus trees

 Perhaps an area for weddings?

 An area with berms and rocks and smaller shrubs.

 Xanthorrhoea preissii or grass tree

Hakea clavata in the foreground, Banksia victoriae in the background. 

A naturalistic and gorgeous rocky berm.

I thought I was familiar with Australian plants. Not so. There are so many new-to-me plants here, it's exciting to think of the possibilities for Chickadee Gardens. Many are hardy even to my zone 7b and luckily for me, there are many fine growers of Australian plants locally - Xera Plants comes to mind. I have some of these in my own garden and Xera is largely responsible for that. 

Grevilleas, Callistemon, Leptospermum, Ozothamnus and more call my garden home. They are all drought-tolerant, hardy and gorgeous - many with flowers through winter - and now that I think about it, they are all evergreen. They sparkle in the winter months and add so much to the landscape.

Places like the UCSC Arboretum are invaluable safe havens for plant collections such as this where evaluation is key to recommendations as garden plants and their preservation more crucial than ever. I say, if you are ever in Santa Cruz, do stop by. If I lived there I would be a member and a volunteer, it's such a treasure.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. I hope you've enjoyed a look at Australia (through a central California coast perspective) this week. Thank you for reading and happy gardening one and all!


  1. THANK YOU! I long to visit this garden. California natives, a New Zealand garden, a South African garden and the Australian garden...all my favorites! (well, except for agaves, but I know where to go to find those) Your photos along with ID's were most wonderful. I look forward to future posts!

    1. Oh I love all these collections too - definitely favorites - I had you and other warm-climate plant lovers in mind when visiting. I'm glad you liked the post! If you ever want to take a road trip....

  2. So many stunning plants! I echo what you said about Santa Cruz. I can totally see myself living there!

    1. Yes....it's a dreamy place, to be sure. I treasure the time I lived there.

  3. Wonderful photos! The UCSC Arboretum is on my must visit list too. My niece and her partner live in Santa Cruz but I still haven't gotten there. I was disappointed that they elected to have their wedding in Grass Valley (where my niece grew up) rather than Santa Cruz but so it goes.

    1. Thank you, Kris! Oh, darned them! Well - you can go visit them, right? It's totally worth it. Plus there are a bazillion other awesome things to do in Santa Cruz County - we also went hiking in Nisene Marks forest - that's a special place, too.

  4. Wow - a spectacular collection indeed, and beautifully assembled. Thanks for the wonderful tour! And thank you for getting all the names as well. That's the hard part when they aren't necessarily the stuff we can grow ourselves - even though it sounds like there are lots of good, potential contenders for our climate. Banksias always crack me up - the way the flowers grow, they look like corn ears, to me. I just love them!

    1. Thank you Anna...you are too kind. Yes I was out of my element as far as names of many of these - and yes, I think there are lots of good potential contenders for our area. Let's start growing some! I love the Banskias, they are so wild....like us! Cheers, Anna! xo

  5. Great pics! We went there in October and spent hours and hours but still could not examine every treasure growing there.

    1. Oh, isn't it crazy good? Hours spent are not enough for this place. Glad you got a chance to see it, I bet it was spectacular in October!

  6. I fall love into these beautiful flowers. Especially the Banksia ericifolia was really nice. I want to grow ornamental trees in my own garden. This article inspire me a lot.

  7. I absolutely loved this arboretum the first time I went and have been wanting to return ever since. I might need to plan a trip this year. Thanks for letting me visit again through your photo tour!

    1. Oh, yes. I'm embarrassed it took me so long to see it in the first place. I also need to see the SF Botanic Garden - a road trip is definitely in order.

  8. Loved this. What a great selection of plants. Must find an excuse to go some day.

    1. Indeed, it's SO worth it and a lot of other gardens/nurseries in the area to visit, too. Plus Santa Cruz is just gorgeous.


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