This forty-year retrospective of the UCSC Arboretum's development and growth is based on an exhibit at the Arboretum that opened in Fall, 2005; events that have taken place since that time are not reflected this retrospective.

 A history of the Arboretum

Getting started . . . (part 1)

aerial photo, 1968

An aerial view of the Arboretum as it appeared in 1969.
Empire Grade is in the lower right-hand corner.
(Click on the image for more aerial photos. [large images, 150k])

In 1964, Max Watson, a local arborist, gave the university 80 species of Eucalyptus. That marked the first planting on the grounds, but there was still not an officially designated arboretum. To push things forward, in August 1967, McHenry established an Arboretum and Plantations Committee to "advise on the development and conservation of what we have."


The Dam Tower in Winter, 1982


The group was diverse. Chaired by Provost Kenneth Thimann, it included Ray Collett, Emanuel Fritz, Jean Langenheim, Woodbridge Metcalf, and Knowles Ryerson from the faculty and Tony Hobbs and Harry Tsugawa from UCSC staff. There were also community members such as Robert Burton, a supervisor of Santa Cruz County, Walter Lammerts, formerly on the UCLA faculty, and Maunsell Van Rensselaer of the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation.


Dr. Ray Collett collecting in New Caledonia.
He received many awards from the Calif.
Horticultural Society and American Horticultural
Society for his contributionsto horticulture.
(June, 1980)


Collett, a geographer who arrived at UCSC in 1965, determined that the terrain around the old reservoir area was promising. The site provided many soil types and topographies. That geography combined with the unique weather and other conditions meant that a diverse number of plants from Mediterranean-type climates would thrive.


Rodger Elliot and Ray Collett exploring in Australia
(December, 1983)

"We made the geographical argument that the UCSC campus presented the most propitious site for an arboretum in all of flowery California," wrote Collett. His energetic leadership over the first 33 years of the Arboretum's history helped make this vision a reality.

Collection Banskia

Ray Collett collects Banksia specimen in Australia (1983)

The period from 1964 to 1974 was mainly a time of development. This meant acquiring plants, organizing them and creating the various gardens.  [See History of Collections] 

photo: mimetes

Mimetes cucullatus


Aloe arborescens