Tom Karwin, On Gardening | Design and style of the Australian Rock Garden  – Santa Cruz Sentinel

I wrote a short while ago about the Australian Rock Garden at the Arboretum & Botanic Back garden at the University of California, Santa Cruz, as a source for dwelling gardeners. That column can be reviewed on-line at

For today’s column, we’ll define the heritage, style and advancement of this exclusive characteristic at the Arboretum.

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

In the mid-1980s, the Arboretum received a large cargo of topsoil (some 15,000 cubic yards) that experienced been excavated from a further locale on the UCSC campus. This soil was delivered to the Arboretum’s Australian Portion, specified as the Elvenia J. Slosson Investigation Backyard.

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

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

Australia’s varied geography contains a huge range of landscapes, in addition to these summertime-dry locations. They include things like tropical rainforests in the northeast, mountain ranges in the southeast, southwest and east, and desert in the heart, commonly regarded as the ”outback.”

The house amongst 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 location in between the coasts,

The style and design strategy envisioned the western region’s mound would show native Australian vegetation extending the western beach to an inland spot, and the japanese region’s mound would feature vegetation from an inland spot to the jap coast. The crops on every mound also would be positioned to align with their coastal or inland organic habitats.

This layout principle demonstrates the Arboretum’s concentration on botanical investigate and education and gives guests with a residing demonstration of a concentrate on spot of this continent’s botanical range. To dig deeper into this subject, look through to and search for “Flora of Australia.”

Curator Kralj had equally the eyesight and the guide job in the enhancement of the Australian Rock Back garden as major equipment formed the substantial mounds of soil and many tons of boulders. These boulders were being selected from spot suppliers to be dependable with Australian geology. (Other areas of the Arboretum contain limestone boulders identified on the UCSC campus.) This work continued from 2008 to 2016, as present funds supported the project’s progress.

As with all gardens, the Australian Rock Back garden continues to evolve as the primary plants mature and new crops are obtained to refine the style and design of the installation. The early installation of a photo voltaic-powered pond characteristic did not succeed, so an aquatic element may possibly however be additional, dependent on electrical support to the Rock Garden.

Early in Melinda Kralj’s Arboretum profession at the Arboretum, she attained deep expertise of Australian plants from extended analysis visits to the continent with founding director Ray Collett and other Arboretum team and analyzed with Australian plantspeople.

She retired from the Arboretum employees in June of 2021. Brett Hall’s evaluation of Melinda’s productive work at the Arboretum can be located on line at She even now contributes her time and skills in the Australian Rock Backyard garden, which will also be recognized as her impressed generation.

This Garden’s recognition as a characteristic of the UCSC Arboretum commenced with its earliest existence and proceeds to evolve as a useful resource for visiting gardeners.

Tom Karwin is past president of Pals of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Society, a Life time Member of the Monterey Bay Region Cactus & Succulent Society, and a Life span UC Master Gardener (Qualified 1999–2009). He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Modern society, and energetic with the Pacific Horticultural Modern society. To look at daily shots from his garden, For yard coaching data and an archive of former On Gardening columns, take a look at