The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum will hold its annual Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, April 12, 2014, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at the Arboretum's Eucalyptus Grove on High Street near the intersection with Western Drive.

Since 1977, the Arboretum has been providing gardeners with new, colorful, drought-tolerant, and unusual plants for creating dynamic central coast gardens. This year's spring sale will feature some of the newest treasures from the Arboretum propagated by nursery manager Helen Englesberg and the Friends of the Arboretum volunteers.

The Arboretum's sale is held in conjunction with the spring plant sale of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS). Both sales are open early (from 10 a.m. to noon) to members of the Friends of the Arboretum and CNPS, and to the general public from noon to 4 p.m. Becoming a member gets you in early for a shot at the best plants. The two sales present a colorful array of options for spicing up the garden for spring.

"They're gorgeous!" exclaimed Peggy Williams, past president of Friends of the Arboretum, when viewing the new Telopea hybrid 'Fireball' that will be a feature of the spring sale. These showy Australian plants grow to be upright tall shrubs with bright red spring-blooming flowers. The plants are drought tolerant, frost tolerant down to the low 20s, and do well when their roots have some shade.

Another new one from Australia is a rock garden plant with 1.5-inch stunningly blue flowers, a Lechenaultia cultivar called 'Ray's Moora' after the Arboretum's founding director Ray Collett and the place name, Moora, where the plants come from. The new Telopea and Lechenaultia selections were both tested at the Arboretum for years, and 'Fireball' is part of the Koala Blooms Australian Plant Introduction Program. Two previous Arboretum Koala Blooms introductions, 'Powder Puff' and 'Purple Wire,' were named "Hot Plant Picks 2014" at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show this year. The Arboretum plant sales give gardeners a chance to buy new introductions a year or two ahead of the curve.

There will be many other banksias, grevilleas, leucadendrons, proteas, and California native plants. The emphasis at the Arboretum for decades has been on showy, drought-tolerant plants.

A complete list of the plants available at the sale will be posted on the Arboretum's web site on or before April 7. At the sale, cut flowers taped to the plant signs will show what the flowers will look like. The Arboretum will pay the sales tax on all plant sales.

For more information, contact the UCSC Arboretum at (831) 427-2998 or visit arboretum.ucsc.edu (or the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum on Facebook for possible late-breaking additions to the sale). The Arboretum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Norrie's Gifts is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.