Arboretum holds annual Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, April 21

Plants featured at the Arboretum Spring Plant Sale include the carnivorous bog plants Sarracenia (above) and the succulent Conophytum (below), which is one of the easier stone plants to grow and is brilliant when in flower. Photos by Stephen McCabe.

The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum will hold its annual Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, April 21, 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 colorful and unusual plants for creating dynamic central coast gardens. Many of the selections available at the sale are normally hard to find. This year's spring sale will feature some of the newest treasures from the UCSC Arboretum.

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 Arboretum Associates and CNPS, and to the general public from noon to 4 p.m.

Among the Arboretum's offerings this year are plants that may be unfamiliar because they are new introductions, but their names are likely to be well-known to gardeners 15 years from now, said Stephen McCabe, director of development and research at the Arboretum. Examples include Boronia heterophylla, with its subtle fragrance and beautiful pink blossoms, Grevillea 'Mason's Hybrid', and many other grevilleas, leucadendrons, proteas, and California native plants. Succulents, which have become fashionable lately, will be well represented, in addition to some Sarracenia hybrids, which are carnivorous bog plants.

A complete list of the plants available at the sale will be posted on the Arboretum's web site. 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 and will also be conducting drawings for free plants. Drawings for several plants will take place every hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (members only for the special 11 a.m. drawing). You must be present to win.

The influence of the Arboretum’s founding director, the late Ray Collett, can be seen in the diversity of plants available at the sale. Luen Miller of the Monterey Bay Nursery wrote that under Collett's direction, the Arboretum "certainly made more worthwhile, lasting introductions to our trade than any other institution in the U.S., possibly in the world."

On Sunday, April 15, Rick Flores, curator of the Arboretum's Native Plant Collection, will lead a Native Plant walk at 10 a.m. at the Arboretum Entrance, offering a preview of some of the plants that will be for sale the following weekend. Both the Arboretum and the CNPS will have a flowery mix of native plants for sale. Most of the natives are drought tolerant, but some of the CNPS offerings are canyon or riparian plants that can use some supplemental water in summer. As usual, the Arboretum will be offering a range of unusual exotics, including some new ones. The Arboretum's non-native plants are screened to be noninvasive. The two sales present a colorful display of options to spice up your garden for spring.

For more information, contact the UCSC Arboretum at (831) 427-2998 or visit 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.