UCSC Arboretum in trouble

The Twitter has been buzzing all day with news of UC Santa Cruz's recently taken steps to shutter its wonderful arboretum. Now I'm getting e-mail about it, which I'm posting below.

Have I really not been there since January, 2008? That seems impossible. A situation to be fixed, for sure.

I am surprised to hear this horrible news from my alma mater. And if it goes through I will be very disappointed. UCSC played a leading role in bringing the Protaceae to California. The garden has the largest collection of Australian plants outside of Australia, with 2,000 species, forms, and cultivars. My favorite thing about this garden is that there are no paths you must stay on. You can walk right up to any plant in the garden and inspect it as closely as you wish. It would be a shame for California to lose this vital resource.

I urge you to visit the UCSC Arboretum; you will not be disappointed. Afterward, spend the afternooon in lovely Santa Cruz. Then please e-mail a note to Chancellor Blumenthal (chancellor [at] ucsc [dot] edu) and the Santa Cruz Sentinel to tell them how much you enjoyed your visit to their community.



From: landscapedesignersguild [at] yahoogroups [dot]com
Subject: UCSC Arboretum

Fellow plant lovers,

Please read the forwarded e-mail below and consider showing your support for the UCSC
Arboretum (a world-class facility and an important resource for California gardeners) by
sending a letter, email or phone call to Chancellor Blumenthal, at:

George Blumenthal
Chancellor, UC Santa Cruz
200 Clark Kerr Hall
University of California
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Email: chancellor [at] ucsc [dot]edu

Thank you,
Barbara Olsen
Garden Design and Consulting
hm 831-477-1896
cell 831-419-8058

"The earth is made of butterfly wings, dinosaur teeth, pumpkin seeds, lizard skins and fallen leaves.
Put your hands in the soil and touch yesterday; and all that will be left of tomorrow shall return
so that new life can celebrate this day." - Betty Peck

Begin forwarded message:

From: Thomas Karwin
Date: September 11, 2009 10:26:01 PM PDT

To: Members MBMG
Subject: UCSC Arboretum

If this report is correct, as it appears to be, it is truly tragic.

Sent: Friday, September 11, 2009 8:50 AM
Subject: UCSC Arboretum

Shocking news. They intend to close the UCSC Arboretum. They are doing it by
steps to prevent a public outcry. I have been a volunteer there for over 25
years. A world-famous botanical garden.The letter below was written by a
member of the staff.

I don't believe this is happening! bill grant

1. They have taken away the only state funded salary the arboretum has -
that of our executive director Dan Harder. The decision took effect
immediately, leaving Dan no time to come up with a fundraising plan to cover
his salary. The university expects to enforce this plan immediately.

2. They are pushing Dan to lay-off 5 arboretum staff essentially gutting
the arboretum. So far Dan has refused, and is looking to mitigate and
compromise for a solution even though at this point the univeristy refuses

3. We feel this is a very shortsighted attempt by the university to
effectively shut down the arboretum, not recognizing the true value of the
arboretum's collections, or understanding what a wonderful resource the
arboretum is to the university and the greater community. They are doing it
slowly to prevent a community uprising. If staff are laid off, the
collections will go unmanaged, enabling the university to say 'if you can't
take care of it, then you can't have it'. It would be easier for them
politically to slowly shut down the arboretum, rather than shutting it down
in one fell swoop - because they know if it was one fell swoop there would
be a community uprising, and bad publicity.

Up until now we have essentially internalized our financial difficulties;
the situation has become dire and it is now time to get the word out and
rally our support base together.

So what can you do? Just get the word out - to anyone and everyone in the
community. Tell them what is happening here. Write a letter to Chancellor
Blumenthal stating your support for the arboretum and its world class plant
collections, dedicated to conservation and research. Currently, a number
of faculty are drafting their own letter of support for the arboretum.


Note: I am taking the additional step of buying a membership [PDF]. While I am living on a budget, I do think this is important enough to spend money on right now.


Michelle said...

The word is getting around. Fantastic!

Don't come between us gardeners and our plants...

Pam/Digging said...

I'm sorry to hear it, Chuck.

Christopher C. NC said...

The same thing may happening at the NC Arboretum an arm of the state university system here. I spoke briefly with Allison Arnold the former Director of Horticulture at the NCA during the recent garden stroll event and asked her if her layoff was temporary. She said it was permanent. They also tossed six of the gardening staff. From their website you can tell the place is very management heavy and they lay off the actual gardeners in a budget crunch. Questionable at best.

Good luck with the UCSC Arboretum. It may just have to be an all volunteer staff for a while to keep the place open.

Frances said...

Christopher's comment answered my concern. I think this is a sign of things to come across the country at the government funded gardens. Management heavy at the NC arboretum is a crime against nature. I hope your post will rouse the rabble to be able to stop this travesty!

lisa said...

Whatt a drag...I sure hope this can be stopped!

Anonymous said...

Dan was laid off this morning. It is a matter of time who is next.