December 4, 2023

Design of the Australian Rock Garden

I wrote just lately about the Australian Rock Garden at the Arboretum & Botanic Back…

I wrote just lately about the Australian Rock Garden at the Arboretum & Botanic Back garden at UC Santa Cruz, as a resource for house gardeners. For today’s column, we’ll outline the history, design and style and progress of this particular characteristic at the Arboretum.

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

In the mid-1980s, the Arboretum received a significant cargo of topsoil (some 15,000 cubic yards) that had been excavated from a further site on the UCSC campus. This soil was delivered to the Arboretum’s Australian Part, specified as the Elvenia J. Slosson Study Garden.

The Australian Garden’s Curator, Melinda Kralj, experienced conceived the development of a mounded rock garden in two sections, representing southwestern and southeastern botanical regions of the continent “down beneath.”

These regions are suitable with the world’s Mediterranean weather zones (also referred to as summer time-dry areas), all of which are represented at the UCSC Arboretum.

Australia’s assorted geography features a wide selection of landscapes, in addition to these summer months-dry regions. They include tropical rainforests in the northeast, mountain ranges in the southeast, southwest and east, and desert in the center, normally regarded as the outback.

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

The design and style thought envisioned the western region’s mound would display native Australian plants extending the western seashore to an inland spot, and the jap region’s mound would function vegetation from an inland place to the jap coast. The plants on each and every mound also would be positioned to align with their coastal or inland organic habitats.

This style and design idea reflects the Arboretum’s emphasis on botanical investigation and training and gives readers with a dwelling demonstration of a goal spot of this continent’s botanical variety. To dig further into this subject, search to and look for for “Flora of Australia.”

Curator Kralj had each the vision and the lead job in the development of the Australian Rock Back garden as large tools formed the large mounds of soil and several tons of boulders. These boulders had been selected from place suppliers to be regular with Australian geology. (Other parts of the Arboretum include things like limestone boulders identified on the UCSC campus.) This perform continued from 2008 to 2016, as reward cash supported the project’s progress.

As with all gardens, the Australian Rock Garden proceeds to evolve as the primary plants mature and new crops are acquired to refine the design of the set up. The early set up of a solar-driven pond attribute did not succeed, so an aquatic element may well nonetheless be added, dependent upon electrical service to the Rock Yard.

Early in Melinda Kralj’s Arboretum vocation at the Arboretum, she received deep information of Australian vegetation from extended investigation visits to the continent with founding director Ray Collett and other Arboretum team and studied with Australian plantspeople.

She retired from the Arboretum team in June of 2021. Brett Hall’s assessment of Melinda’s effective do the job at the Arboretum can be observed on the web at She even now contributes her time and skills in the Australian Rock Yard, which will also be recognised as her inspired development.

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

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