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UCSC Arboretum, now in its 40th year, holds annual fall plant sale on Saturday, Oct. 9

In the fall of 1964, one year before the first class of students entered UC Santa Cruz, the first trees were planted in the UCSC Arboretum. Some of those plantings have since grown into the graceful trees of the Eucalyptus Grove, where the Arboretum's plant sales are now held. And the Arboretum itself has grown over the past 40 years into the premier botanical garden of the Central Coast, with renowned collections of plants from California and around the world.

Arctostaphylos insularis "Ward," a vibrant, green-leaved manzanita, is being sold for the first time ever at this year's Arboretum sale. Photo courtesy of the Arboretum

The Arboretum's Fall Plant Sale, featuring colorful plants chosen for the Central Coast region, will be held this year on Saturday, October 9, from 12 to 4 p.m. Many of the plants that will be on sale are from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa and are rarely available in the United States. California natives will also be available, including some old favorites and a new introduction--a striking manzanita from Santa Cruz Island. A complete list of the plants that will be offered at the sale is available on the web at arboretum.ucsc.edu

As in previous years, the Arboretum's plant sale is a joint event with the California Native Plant Society (CNPS). For Arboretum and CNPS members only, the sale starts at 10 a.m. It will take place at the Eucalyptus Grove on High Street at the intersection with Western Drive.

Some of the more exotic highlights of the sale are dramatic, otherworldly specimen plants like South African Leucadendron selections with deep red foliage and Australian banksias with huge cone-like flower clusters. Though they are members of the protea family, several of the banksias and the Leucadendron salignum hybrids are easier to grow than other members of this family. Some of the banksias have heather-like leaves and others have very long, saw-like leaf edges. Flower colors include shades of red and yellow, yellow-green, and maroon fading to yellow.

A vibrant, green-leaved manzanita that is being sold for the first time ever is Arctostaphylos insularis "Ward." Arboretum curator Stephen McCabe, who collected a cutting of this plant on Santa Cruz Island in 1991, said he was looking for a plant that would look lush in a dry garden to contrast with other plants with silver and gray foliage. It caught his eye because it was the "most vibrant-looking manzanita in the dry chaparral," he said. McCabe named the plant after his late father, Ward McCabe, an Episcopal priest with a passionate devotion to furthering the causes of political, social, and economic justice.

Arctostaphylos insularis "Ward" grows to around six to 10 feet tall and has beautiful mahogany bark and broad, shiny, bright-green leaves. From late winter into spring, loose clusters of pendant, white to pale-pink flowers cover the shrub. It requires good drainage and sun in coastal locations and light shade in inland areas.

Manzanitas and other California natives--including toyon, madrone, and evergreen currant (Ribes viburnifolium)--create habitat and provide food for birds. To provide late-summer and fall color as well as nectar for hummingbirds, plant California fuchsia (Epilobium canum). In the spring, columbine (Aquilegia formosa) will also attract hummingbirds.

The UCSC Arboretum is open for visitors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Norrie's Gifts is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The Jean and Bill Lane Horticultural Library is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 to 3 p.m. For more information, call (831) 427-2998.


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