Design of the Australian Rock Garden

I wrote not too long ago about the Australian Rock Backyard at the Arboretum & Botanic Yard at UC Santa Cruz, as a useful resource for property gardeners. For today’s column, we’ll define the heritage, style and design and improvement of this particular characteristic at the Arboretum.

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

In the mid-1980s, the Arboretum been given a massive cargo of topsoil (some 15,000 cubic yards) that experienced been excavated from an additional locale on the UCSC campus. This soil was shipped to the Arboretum’s Australian Section, specified as the Elvenia J. Slosson Investigate Yard.

The Australian Garden’s Curator, Melinda Kralj, had conceived the enhancement of a mounded rock back garden in two sections, representing southwestern and southeastern botanical locations of the continent “down under.”

These regions are appropriate with the world’s Mediterranean weather zones (also known as summertime-dry areas), all of which are represented at the UCSC Arboretum.

Australia’s numerous geography consists of a extensive wide range of landscapes, in addition to these summer time-dry areas. They incorporate tropical rainforests in the northeast, mountain ranges in the southeast, southwest and east, and desert in the centre, generally known as the outback.

The house in between the Australian Rock Garden’s western and eastern mounds serves as a visitor’s pathway linking the two planted mounds, and symbolizes Australia’s massive desert or semi-arid spot in between the coasts,

The structure principle envisioned the western region’s mound would display screen native Australian vegetation extending the western seaside to an inland space, and the japanese region’s mound would element vegetation from an inland area to the japanese coast. The plants on just about every mound also would be positioned to align with their coastal or inland natural habitats.

This layout strategy displays the Arboretum’s concentrate on botanical study and instruction and provides website visitors with a dwelling demonstration of a target spot of this continent’s botanical range. To dig further into this matter, search to and lookup for “Flora of Australia.”

Curator Kralj experienced the two the eyesight and the guide job in the improvement of the Australian Rock Backyard as hefty machines formed the enormous mounds of soil and several tons of boulders. These boulders were being selected from place suppliers to be reliable with Australian geology. (Other parts of the Arboretum involve limestone boulders observed on the UCSC campus.) This perform ongoing from 2008 to 2016, as present funds supported the project’s progress.

As with all gardens, the Australian Rock Backyard garden proceeds to evolve as the first crops mature and new crops are obtained to refine the structure of the set up. The early set up of a photo voltaic-run pond function did not be successful, so an aquatic feature may however be extra, dependent on electrical services to the Rock Yard.

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

She retired from the Arboretum workers in June of 2021. Brett Hall’s review of Melinda’s productive get the job done at the Arboretum can be observed on line at She still contributes her time and knowledge in the Australian Rock Back garden, which will also be acknowledged as her encouraged development.

This Garden’s reputation as a aspect of the UCSC Arboretum began with its earliest existence and proceeds to evolve as a source for visiting gardeners.

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

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