UCSC Arboretum holds annual Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, April 20

dendromecon, island bush poppy

Island bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii), a hard-to-find California native (above), and new Australian introduction Banksia ericifolia 'Fireworks' (below) are among the plants available at the Arboretum's Spring Plant Sale. (Photos by S. McCabe)


The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum will hold its annual Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, April 20, 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, 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 will eventually become well-known to gardeners, said Stephen McCabe, director of research at the Arboretum. Examples include the winter-blooming Banksia 'Fireworks' with red and yellow on the bottlebrush-like flowers. It is drought tolerant, frost tolerant down to at least 20 degrees, and should do well along the coast as well. Another new one is a perennial with 2-inch, deep purple-blue flowers, a Dampiera trigona called 'Purple Wire.' Both of these were tested at the Arboretum for years and are part of the Koala Blooms Australian Plant Introduction Program.

There will be many other banksias, grevilleas, leucadendrons, proteas, and California native plants. Among the choice natives is the hard-to-find island bush poppy (Dendromecon harfordii) that seems to bloom year-round once established.

A complete list of the plants available at the sale will be posted on the Arboretum's web site on or before April 14. 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.

On Sunday, April 14, 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 array of options for spicing up the garden for spring.

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