Style and design of the Australian Rock Back garden

I wrote lately about the Australian Rock Yard at the Arboretum & Botanic Backyard at UC Santa Cruz, as a resource for house gardeners. For today’s column, we’ll define the record, layout and progress of this exclusive aspect at the Arboretum.

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

In the mid-1980s, the Arboretum obtained a big cargo of topsoil (some 15,000 cubic yards) that had been excavated from one more location on the UCSC campus. This soil was shipped to the Arboretum’s Australian Section, designated as the Elvenia J. Slosson Research Yard.

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

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

Australia’s diverse geography contains a large assortment of landscapes, in addition to these summer-dry regions. They incorporate tropical rainforests in the northeast, mountain ranges in the southeast, southwest and east, and desert in the centre, generally acknowledged as the outback.

The place in between the Australian Rock Garden’s western and jap mounds serves as a visitor’s pathway linking the two planted mounds, and symbolizes Australia’s substantial desert or semi-arid area amongst the coasts,

The style and design concept envisioned the western region’s mound would display screen indigenous Australian plants extending the western seaside to an inland place, and the jap region’s mound would attribute plants from an inland location to the jap coastline. The plants on every single mound also would be positioned to align with their coastal or inland normal habitats.

This style concept demonstrates the Arboretum’s emphasis on botanical exploration and education and presents website visitors with a living demonstration of a target space of this continent’s botanical range. To dig further into this subject, look through to and research for “Flora of Australia.”

Curator Kralj experienced equally the eyesight and the direct part in the development of the Australian Rock Garden as major equipment formed the substantial mounds of soil and several tons of boulders. These boulders had been chosen from space suppliers to be constant with Australian geology. (Other regions of the Arboretum consist of limestone boulders uncovered on the UCSC campus.) This perform ongoing from 2008 to 2016, as reward money supported the project’s progress.

As with all gardens, the Australian Rock Garden continues to evolve as the original plants experienced and new crops are acquired to refine the layout of the installation. The early installation of a solar-run pond characteristic did not succeed, so an aquatic aspect may possibly nonetheless be included, dependent upon electrical services to the Rock Backyard garden.

Early in Melinda Kralj’s Arboretum career at the Arboretum, she gained deep understanding of Australian crops from extended exploration visits to the continent with founding director Ray Collett and other Arboretum team and researched with Australian plantspeople.

She retired from the Arboretum team in June of 2021. Brett Hall’s review of Melinda’s effective do the job at the Arboretum can be uncovered on the net at She nonetheless contributes her time and knowledge in the Australian Rock Garden, which will also be acknowledged as her encouraged generation.

This Garden’s popularity as a characteristic of the UCSC Arboretum started with its earliest existence and proceeds to evolve as a resource for going to gardeners.

Tom Karwin is previous president of Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Culture, a Lifetime Member of the Monterey Bay Region Cactus & Succulent Society, and a UC Grasp Gardener. He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Modern society, and lively with the Pacific Horticultural Culture.