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October 9, 2000

Arboretum and California Native Plant Society to hold fall plant sale

By Tim Stephens

telopea flower
The Australian shrub Telopea speciosissima will be available at the Arboretum's fall plant sale.
Photo: Ray Collett
Impressed by the flowers in those Olympic bouquets? Grow them yourself from Australian plants in the UCSC Arboretum's extensive collection.

The Arboretum is holding its annual Fall Plant Sale in conjunction with the California Native Plant Society on Saturday, October 14, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The sale will take place at the Arboretum Eucalyptus Grove, near the intersection of Western Drive and High Street.

With the largest collection of Australian plants outside of Australia, the UCSC Arboretum offers many shrubs that bear unusual flowers unique to Australia. Some of these impressive flowers can be seen in the bouquets carried by Olympic medalists at the Sydney Games. One example is Telopea speciosissima, with crimson flowers six inches wide. These spectacular plants are best grown in east-facing or northeast-facing areas or in areas with enough shade to keep the roots moderately cool.

New this year from the Australian collection is Brachysema minor, a flat-growing ground cover with beautiful oval, bluish-green leaves. Its small pea flowers with pale-orange banners and coral-red keels are somewhat hidden by the foliage.

The sale will also feature some new South African plants, including Protea eximia "Fiery Duchess." This plant is a tall shrub with long-stemmed, deep-red flowers and silvery, bluish-green leaves that wrap the stem. It is fairly hardy, having survived the 1998 winter freeze at the Arboretum, and requires acid soil with good drainage.

Another offering from the South African collection is a Leucadendron hybrid called "Rising Sun." It is similar to Leucadendron "Safari Sunset" (both are crosses between L. laureolum and L. salignum). "Rising Sun" is also fairly cold-hardy and has deep pink-red flower heads that grow on stems up to a foot and a half long.

A Mexican tree dahlia, Dahlia imperialis, will also be available. Sporting deep orange flowers with bright yellow centers, it is a wonderful plant for fall color. A wide range of other plants will also be on sale.

The UCSC Arboretum is joining with the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) for the fifth year to offer a wide selection of plants at this annual sale. From 10 to 11 a.m., the sale will be open only to members of the UCSC Arboretum and CNPS. You may join the Arboretum Associates on the day of the sale.

For gardeners on the Central Coast, fall is an ideal time to plant California native plants or South African and Australian landscaping plants. The cooler months after the last heat wave of summer passes allow plants to establish good root systems before the next dry summer season. By establishing drought-tolerant plants from California, Australia, and South Africa now, gardeners can have plants that look good for years to come.

The Arboretum specializes in plants not readily available in nurseries. Several of Sunset magazine's "best of the new plants" have been selections that were created or imported by the Arboretum staff. The Fall Plant Sale is an opportunity to buy plants now that may show up later on such lists. Local nurseries often donate additional plants to the sale.

The UCSC Arboretum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Arboretum gift shop, Norrie's Gifts, is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Jean and Bill Lane Horticultural Library is open Wednesdays through Sundays, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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