Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Arboretum, U.C. Santa Cruz in Winter

Tomorrow I'll be tending to business, so we're taking a quick side trip, returning to Spain in a day or so.

These photos of exuberant Banksias resulted from my first journey to Santa Cruz, south of San Francisco, where the University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum is especially spectacular around this time of year.

Banskia baueri
Photos © copyright Alice Joyce
Banksia ericifolia

I was freshly transplanted to the Bay Area, having left behind my tiny town garden in Chicago for the mild, year-round gardening climate of Marin County. In preparation for my inaugural 'Garden Walks' column for the San Francisco Chronicle, I realized I could find a garden with flowers in the middle of winter. I'd already written about the Arboretum for my first book, West Coast Gardenwalks, but had based the entry on lots of research.
Picture a Greyhound bus, my mode of transportation for the return leg of the trip. Unable to drive there, I hopped a ride one night with one of the savvy horticulturists on staff. And was also given a cozy place to sleep!

The next morning, I strolled through acres of flowering, sun-loving Australian plants. Banksia baueri
.... and B. ericifolia are covered in countless miniature blossoms that blanket the huge cone forms of these evergreen species.  Particularly from January through April, the U.C. Santa Cruz Arboretum puts on an incredible exhibition, although you'll find plants in bloom any time you visit.  (The Central Coast section of Gardenwalks in California goes into detail on the Arboretum's collections.)


  1. Love those banksias! I keep looking at them as garden candidates now that I've had a success with a protea.

    Quite a contrast from a Chicago winter isn't it?

  2. Nice pics of the Banksias Alice. They are such wonderful plants it's great to see that the rest of the world is now starting to appreciate them as well.

  3. Just makes me want to get in the car and have a look...But maybe not, looking like rain.

  4. Interesting plants I've never heard of. We grow a lot of Australian plants in Arizona, so it would be fun to try to find some new ones that would work here in Arizona.