Magazine article Sunset

Ray Collett: UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

Magazine article Sunset

Ray Collett: UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

Article excerpt

Ray Collett and the University of California at Santa Cruz met each other at a happy time. The university, freshly founded (in 1965) and devoted to undergraduate educational adventure in the most liberal sense, was open to new ideas.

Collett suggested that an arboretum be planted on a splendid site at the southwest edge of the campus-high enough to escape most of the sea fogs but near enough to the Pacific to share its humidity and tempering influence. The site's south-facing slope provided maximum sunshine and protection from north winds; it also furnished good air drainage to minimize frost. That made it just about perfect for growing plants from places like Australia and New Zealand.

Collett was named the arboretum's founding director (his qualifications included having learned from his pioneer grandmother how to grow plants from cuttings), and before long the arboretum had acquired the best collection of Southern Hemisphere plants north of the equator. These included South African plants such as huge-flowered proteas and many ornamentals from Australia. …

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