November 28, 2023

House T.M.

Every Story Begins at 'House'

Layout of the Australian Rock Garden

3 min read

I wrote lately about the Australian Rock Back garden at the Arboretum & Botanic Backyard garden at UC Santa Cruz, as a resource for dwelling gardeners. For today’s column, we’ll define the heritage, design and advancement of this distinctive function at the Arboretum.

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

In the mid-1980s, the Arboretum been given a large cargo of topsoil (some 15,000 cubic yards) that experienced been excavated from a further site on the UCSC campus. This soil was shipped to the Arboretum’s Australian Area, selected as the Elvenia J. Slosson Investigate Backyard garden.

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

These locations are compatible with the world’s Mediterranean local weather zones (also called summer months-dry areas), all of which are represented at the UCSC Arboretum.

Australia’s assorted geography incorporates a large selection of landscapes, in addition to these summertime-dry locations. They contain tropical rainforests in the northeast, mountain ranges in the southeast, southwest and east, and desert in the middle, usually regarded as the outback.

The area between the Australian Rock Garden’s western and japanese mounds serves as a visitor’s pathway linking the two planted mounds, and symbolizes Australia’s big desert or semi-arid region between the coasts,

The design and style strategy envisioned the western region’s mound would display screen indigenous Australian crops extending the western beach front to an inland place, and the jap region’s mound would attribute crops from an inland place to the eastern coastline. The vegetation on each and every mound also would be positioned to align with their coastal or inland normal habitats.

This style and design idea reflects the Arboretum’s concentration on botanical study and education and learning and gives guests with a residing demonstration of a concentrate on space of this continent’s botanical variety. To dig deeper into this matter, search to and research for “Flora of Australia.”

Curator Kralj experienced each the vision and the lead function in the enhancement of the Australian Rock Backyard garden as significant products shaped the enormous mounds of soil and several tons of boulders. These boulders were picked from location suppliers to be regular with Australian geology. (Other regions of the Arboretum include things like limestone boulders uncovered on the UCSC campus.) This perform continued from 2008 to 2016, as present funds supported the project’s progress.

As with all gardens, the Australian Rock Yard carries on to evolve as the unique vegetation mature and new vegetation are obtained to refine the structure of the installation. The early set up of a solar-driven pond aspect did not be successful, so an aquatic aspect may well nonetheless be added, dependent upon electrical support to the Rock Backyard garden.

Early in Melinda Kralj’s Arboretum vocation at the Arboretum, she received deep understanding of Australian plants from prolonged exploration visits to the continent with founding director Ray Collett and other Arboretum staff members and studied with Australian plantspeople.

She retired from the Arboretum employees in June of 2021. Brett Hall’s review of Melinda’s effective get the job done at the Arboretum can be discovered on the internet at She still contributes her time and abilities in the Australian Rock Back garden, which will also be regarded as her motivated generation.

This Garden’s level of popularity as a function of the UCSC Arboretum started with its earliest existence and continues to evolve as a resource for checking out gardeners.

Tom Karwin is past president of Pals of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Modern society, a Life span Member of the Monterey Bay Region Cactus & Succulent Society, and a UC Learn Gardener. He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Culture, and active with the Pacific Horticultural Culture.

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