December 8, 2023
Design of the Australian Rock Garden

I wrote not too long ago about the Australian Rock Back garden at the Arboretum & Botanic Yard at UC Santa Cruz, as a source for dwelling gardeners. For today’s column, we’ll define the background, design and development of this exclusive characteristic at the Arboretum.

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

In the mid-1980s, the Arboretum gained a substantial shipment 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 Part, designated as the Elvenia J. Slosson Investigate Backyard garden.

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

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

Australia’s diverse geography features a broad wide variety of landscapes, in addition to these summer-dry locations. They involve tropical rainforests in the northeast, mountain ranges in the southeast, southwest and east, and desert in the center, usually regarded as the outback.

The area 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 space amongst the coasts,

The design strategy envisioned the western region’s mound would display indigenous Australian plants extending the western beach to an inland place, and the jap region’s mound would aspect plants from an inland space to the japanese coast. The vegetation on each and every mound also would be positioned to align with their coastal or inland pure habitats.

This structure concept displays the Arboretum’s aim on botanical analysis and training and gives website visitors with a dwelling demonstration of a goal region of this continent’s botanical range. To dig further into this subject matter, search to and search for “Flora of Australia.”

Curator Kralj experienced both equally the eyesight and the lead position in the progress of the Australian Rock Back garden as major devices shaped the massive mounds of soil and a lot of tons of boulders. These boulders ended up chosen from region suppliers to be regular with Australian geology. (Other locations of the Arboretum contain limestone boulders identified on the UCSC campus.) This function continued from 2008 to 2016, as gift cash supported the project’s progress.

As with all gardens, the Australian Rock Yard carries on to evolve as the original crops mature and new crops are acquired to refine the style and design of the set up. The early set up of a photo voltaic-powered pond function did not do well, so an aquatic element could possibly even now be added, dependent upon electrical assistance to the Rock Garden.

Early in Melinda Kralj’s Arboretum career at the Arboretum, she acquired deep expertise of Australian vegetation from extended 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 assessment of Melinda’s successful work at the Arboretum can be observed on the net at She however contributes her time and know-how in the Australian Rock Garden, which will also be regarded as her encouraged creation.

This Garden’s level of popularity as a characteristic of the UCSC Arboretum commenced with its earliest existence and proceeds to evolve as a source for going to 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 Location Cactus & Succulent Modern society, and a UC Learn Gardener. He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Culture, and active with the Pacific Horticultural Modern society.