Design of the Australian Rock Garden

Design of the Australian Rock Garden

I wrote not long ago about the Australian Rock Yard at the Arboretum & Botanic Backyard garden at UC Santa Cruz, as a resource for house gardeners. For today’s column, we’ll outline the background, layout and improvement of this particular feature at the Arboretum.

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

In the mid-1980s, the Arboretum received a substantial shipment of topsoil (some 15,000 cubic yards) that experienced been excavated from a different spot on the UCSC campus. This soil was sent to the Arboretum’s Australian Area, designated as the Elvenia J. Slosson Analysis Garden.

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

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

Australia’s various geography contains a huge range of landscapes, in addition to these summer months-dry areas. They contain tropical rainforests in the northeast, mountain ranges in the southeast, southwest and east, and desert in the center, frequently regarded as the outback.

The area 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 large desert or semi-arid region involving the coasts,

The layout thought envisioned the western region’s mound would exhibit native Australian plants extending the western seaside to an inland area, and the japanese region’s mound would feature plants from an inland region to the eastern coast. The crops on each individual mound also would be positioned to align with their coastal or inland organic habitats.

This style and design strategy reflects the Arboretum’s concentration on botanical research and training and offers people with a dwelling demonstration of a target region of this continent’s botanical diversity. To dig further into this subject matter, search to and research for “Flora of Australia.”

Curator Kralj experienced both of those the eyesight and the lead role in the enhancement of the Australian Rock Yard as significant gear formed the big mounds of soil and lots of tons of boulders. These boulders have been selected from spot suppliers to be regular with Australian geology. (Other regions of the Arboretum involve limestone boulders discovered on the UCSC campus.) This do the job continued from 2008 to 2016, as gift cash supported the project’s progress.

As with all gardens, the Australian Rock Garden proceeds to evolve as the original vegetation mature and new crops are acquired to refine the style of the set up. The early installation of a photo voltaic-powered pond function did not thrive, so an aquatic function may still be added, dependent on electrical support to the Rock Back garden.

Early in Melinda Kralj’s Arboretum career at the Arboretum, she received deep knowledge of Australian vegetation from extended exploration visits to the continent with founding director Ray Collett and other Arboretum workers and researched with Australian plantspeople.

She retired from the Arboretum employees in June of 2021. Brett Hall’s review of Melinda’s productive perform at the Arboretum can be uncovered online at She nonetheless contributes her time and skills in the Australian Rock Yard, which will also be regarded as her inspired generation.

This Garden’s acceptance as a element of the UCSC Arboretum started 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 Culture, a Life span Member of the Monterey Bay Spot Cactus & Succulent Culture, and a UC Grasp Gardener. He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Society, and energetic with the Pacific Horticultural Society.