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Visitor Outcomes (July 2012) During the summer of 2011, eighty-three Leaning Pine Arboretum visitors participated in a university-led study. This study explored outcomes visitors experienced from their visit. The participants were almost evenly split between male (49%) and female (51%) participants. The majority of the participants were non-students (65%) and previous visitors (81%). This study utilized a research technique called means-end theory to determine which attributes of their visits led participants to experience positive outcome attainment. The results showed that the botanic garden itself and the plants in particular were the most meaningful garden attributes to visitors. These attributes encouraged participants to experience stress relief and relaxation, as well as new experiences and learning. Ultimately, participants were able to experience transference (a motivation to take what they had learned and apply it to their lives) and improved quality of life. Additionally, their visits often allowed participants to experience escape which promoted stress relief and relaxation. Another meaningful connection was discovered as participants’ opportunities for a shared experience encouraged them to develop warm relationships with others. These findings have already led to changes in garden management to promote the peaceful nature of the garden, such as using power equipment during closed hours.

This research was completed in partial fulfillment of a master’s thesis and funding was provided by an ARI grant and HCS department. Thank you to all of the visitors who participated in the study.

Spring Brings New Plants to the Arboretum (April 2010) Spring has come to the Central Coast of California. With all of the rain, wildflowers and native shrubs are blooming in profusion from San Luis Obispo to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Leaning Pine Arboretum is no exception. From poppies and ceanothus in the Californian Garden, bulbs in the Mediterranean Garden, to the leucospermums in the South African Garden everything is in bloom, set against vivid hues of fresh green foliage. Monrovia potted plants

In addition to spring blooms, Monrovia Growers generously allowed us to peruse their spring catalog and select a truck load of plants, which they donated to Leaning Pine Arboretum. Each garden gained fresh plantings. However, as long-time sponsors of the Dwarf and Unusual Conifer Garden, this garden received an abundance of new species. Come enjoy these new and blooming plants soon before the gardens begin their long summer dormancy.

Arboretum Director Retires (September 2008) Leaning Pine Arboretum Director, Tom Eltzroth, retired on August 29th, 2008 after serving nearly 42 years on the faculty at Cal Poly, including 18 years as director of the arboretum. Professor Eltzroth (more fondly called Mr. E by his students and arboretum staff) revitalized, strengthened, and grew the original 2 acres of disassociated tree collections into the current 5 acre arboretum now recognized as the Central Coast's premier horticultural display garden. His vision, leadership, and fund raising efforts resulted in an extensive mediterranean-themed botanic garden that includes collections for each of the world's five mediterranean climates: Australia, California, Chile, Mediterranean Basin, and South Africa. He brought enthusiasm and knowledge from his extensive travels back to the arboretum and staff, inspiring horticultural excellence and professionalism. Additionally, Professor Eltzroth constantly promoted the educational value of the arboretum for the Cal Poly community, horticultural professionals, and the general public. Among his many contributions, he encouraged use of the arboretum as a living laboratory, developed and produced brochures, insisted on having high quality plant identification signs throughout the garden, established a website, and designed and installed colorful and educational interpretive signs throughout the arboretum. As a mentor, leader, and garden visionary, Tom's daily presence in the arboretum is already missed.

Tom Eltzroth

Tom and his wife, Mary Kay, reside in San Luis Obispo where they maintain a small but diverse garden. They have traveled extensively since he retired from the classroom in 2002, and they plan to travel more now that they are fully retired.

Arboretum is a Bee Survey Site (July 2007) The Leaning Pine Arboretum is one of seven sites that are part of a state-wide survey of native bees of California. The ongoing survey is conducted by Dr. Gordon Frankie, entomologist, conservation biologist, and horticultural ecologist at University of California Berkeley; and Robbin Thorp, entomology professor emeritus at University of California Davis. The two lead researchers and their team are conducting a survey of the native bees of California that are attracted to ornamental plants commonly used in most large urban areas in California. In addition to Leaning Pine Arboretum, the other survey sites are located in Ukiah, Sacramento, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and La Canada Flintridge.

Bee survey

Standard sampling procedures are used to record bee visitation and to collect representative bee species. After three years of work, Dr. Frankie reports, “Findings to date indicate that certain groups of bee species are predictably attracted to certain plant types, regardless of location in the state.” Additionally, Dr. Frankie says, “There are exceptions, of course, but repeated observations and sample collections support this general pattern.”

Home gardeners and landscape designers can use information from the survey to plan gardens that attract pollinators such as bees, thereby helping to conserve native bee species in their home environments. Recommendations for selecting bee-friendly plant types and understanding more about urban bee ecology and behavior can be found at this web-site:

Meadow Redesign (December 2006) The bunchgrass meadow in the arboretum's Californian Garden is the subject of a redesign and replant project which began in August 2006 and will continue for several months. This project is undertaken by Environmental Horticultural Science student Susan Malisch as part of her Senior Project under the supervision of faculty member David Fross.  The meadow is being transformed to reflect the native serpentine grasslands of the Central Coast, some of which adorn the hillsides surrounding the arboretum. The local soils formed from serpentine, California's state rock, are high in magnesium and have closely associated plant species that are adapted to grow in these unique soils.

New serpentine meadow under construction

The new design and planting will showcase grasses native to the central coast that are among these serpentine adapted plants. These include Nassella pulchra (California's state grass), Melica imperfecta, Elymus elymoides, and Muhlenbergia rigens. One goal of the new design is to showcase these grasses to provide year 'round interest as the grasses cycle from dormant stages to new, green growth to eventually displaying their unique flowering structures and finally to setting seed.  This type of grass meadow offers our visitors the opportunity to observe and learn many of the local, native grasses along with other appropriate plants one might see growing together on a serpentine hillside.

Revised Garden Walk Brochure Available (November 2006) The popular self-guided Garden Walk brochure, produced originally in 2003, has been revised and is now in use at the arboretum. The brochure is designed for a leisurely paced, self-guided tour following twenty-two numbered stops throughout the garden, and is perfect for an individual or small group tour. The tour route is illustrated on a map inside the brochure and begins at the Entry Garden.  Informative written narration gives an insight into various major plants and plant groups, and how they fit into a Mediterranean garden theme.

Garden Walk Brochure

Visitors can pick up a printed copy of the brochure at the kiosk near the entrance to the arboretum, or it can be downloaded and printed prior to a visit by clicking on Garden Walk Brochure.

Sustainable Gardening Essays (October 2006) At Leaning Pine Arboretum we foster horticultural practices that are in harmony with nature. The goal in our 5-acre garden is to have a positive impact on the environment, rather than a negative, damaging impact. This system of gardening is sometimes described using various terms and catch phrases: “green gardening,” “sustainable gardening,” “best management practices,” “organic gardening,” or just plain “sensible gardening.” By whatever name, our system of environmentally sensitive gardening uses sound horticultural practices to produce strong, healthy plants grown in an environment that is safe for our students, visitors, and employees. We have listed below some of the practices we try to follow and foster in our pursuit of horticulture in harmony with the environment.

Choose the right location for each plant
• Group plants by “water zones”
• Perform each garden job at the correct time
• Use organic mulches
• Recycle green waste
• Use a mulching lawn mower
• Fertilize only as needed and use organic fertilizers
• Improve soil health by adding and encouraging soil mycorrhizae
• Use only environmentally friendly pest control materials
• Prevent and control weeds with minimal or no spraying
• Control gophers using traps
• Control slugs and snails using non-toxic materials
• Design to capture and filter runoff water

We have written a series of brief essays designed to help explain how these practices are followed at Leaning Pine Arboretum. By going to the Download page you may read any or all the essays. Feel free to download and print individual essays or the entire document. As with any natural system, ours is in constant flux, and as time, technology, and resources permit, other techniques will be added and some will be modified and improved. While you enjoy the arboretum, we encourage you to observe the results of our system and consider how you can begin incorporating as many environmentally sound practices as possible into your own garden.

The Arboretum in Print (March 2006) The arboretum is featured in two articles currently appearing in separate magazines – the March issue of the San Luis Obispo County Journal and the March/April issue of Garden Compass Magazine. Both articles are written by the arboretum director, Tom Eltzroth, and are illustrated with photos taken by Eltzroth in the arboretum. Readers are given an “armchair tour” of the gardens and are encouraged to visit the arboretum to see first hand the educational plant displays and perhaps take home some design ideas for their own landscapes.San Luis Obispo County Journal is a regional magazine published in San Luis Obispo and features articles of interest to tourists and area residents. It is available at restaurants, lodging establishments, and other segments of the hospitality industry, and is distributed to households throughout San Luis Obispo County. In addition to running the feature article on the arboretum, the magazine chose a stunning photo of the arboretum’s South African garden for its March cover.

The Magazine of the Central Coast Journal , March 2006

Garden Compass Magazine is a gardening and lifestyle magazine published in San Diego by Streamopolis. It is edited by Sharon Asakawa who is familiar to many gardeners throughout California as part of the team heard regularly on Garden Compass network radio programs and webcasts. The photo of Eremophila maculata on the March/April cover was taken at the arboretum and ties directly to the five-page feature spread inside. For more information about Garden Compass Magazine please visit www.gardencompass.com.

Garden Compass, March/April 2006

California Native Carex Lawn (February 2006) The arboretum has a sizable new lawn planted entirely with Carex praegracilis, a California native known as dune sedge. The lawn area measures about 4,000 square feet and is in an area roughly between the Californian garden meadow and the Mediterranean garden. Dune sedge is not a true grass and is not normally planted for use as a lawn. It is used elsewhere in the arboretum’s Californian garden where it is managed and displayed un-mown, functioning as an ornamental grass-like plant growing about 12” to 15” tall with a graceful, floppy habit.

Carex praegracilis lawn in February 2006

Based in part from observations of a smaller, successful planting managed as a lawn, the arboretum decided to move ahead with this large scale planting. The lawn was planted using small starter plants, or plugs, grown from seeds collected in San Luis Obispo County. During establishment, the planting has been watered and fertilized regularly to speed plant growth. It is being mowed regularly and has nearly filled to form a solid carpet that seems very tolerant of regular foot traffic. Once fully established, we expect the dune sedge lawn will require less watering, mowing, fertilizing, and de-thatching than the conventional lawn it replaced.

The new lawn is part of the arboretum’s efforts to evaluate and display landscape plants that are appropriate for the Central Coast area. Its management will also be consistent with the arboretum’s policy of using environmentally sustainable practices, such as feeding using only organic fertilizers and controlling weeds without the use of toxic herbicides.


Past Announcements

December 2005 November 2005 October 2005 August 2005

Book Announcement (December 2005) Leaning Pine Arboretum is excited to announce the December 1, 2005 release by Cachuma Press of California Native Plants for the Garden, authored by Carol Bornstein, Bart O'Brien, and our California Garden Development Director, David Fross. The authors, three of the state’s most experienced native plant horticulturists, skillfully bring together their individual places, histories, and experiences to create a single, full, and inclusive look at California’s native plants with emphasis on their uses in the garden

.Book Cover: California Native Plants for the Garden by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, Bart O'Brien

In this long awaited book, the authors present the history of landscaping with California plants, describe the state’s major plant communities, and detail the important steps for successful planning, installation, and care of a native plant garden. They round out the text with lists of recommended species for a variety of situations and provide information on where to purchase and/or view natives in public gardens. David Fross explains, “The book is an attempt to clarify some of the misconceptions surrounding the use of California native plants in the garden.” Students, avid gardeners, professional landscapers, and native plant enthusiasts will enjoy the clear yet detailed presentation, including comprehensive plant abstracts and exceptional photographs.

Included throughout the book are photographs of the Leaning Pine Arboretum, where David Fross has put into practice the knowledge he imparts to readers. As Development Director of the arboretum’s California Garden, Dave has created a noteworthy garden of habitat vignettes, featuring plant groupings dictated by California’s varying regions. Much like the arboretum’s California Garden, Dave believes his book “introduces gardeners unfamiliar with natives to a group of beautiful and functional plants,” and hopes that as a result “a few more California gardens will display native plants.”

California Native Plants for the Garden is available in both hardcover and paperback, and will be available at well supplied book stores and some retail nurseries. It is also available on-line from www.cachumapress.com.

Visiting Committee (November 2005) The arboretum’s five-year plan calls for the formation of an ad hoc committee to provide advice and outside input about the arboretum. In mid-October our first Visiting Committee met at the arboretum over a period of two days. Committee members, invited by the director after consultation with Dave Fross and Arboretum Manager Chris Wassenberg, represent a wide cross section of interests from horticultural and non-horticultural fields.

Visiting Committee members were:
• Kate Frey, Garden Manager, Fetzer Vineyards, Hopland, CA
• Elizabeth Labor, Exhibit Writer/Editor, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, CA
• Neil Lucas, Owner, Knoll Gardens, Dorset, England
• Wade Roberts, Director, Sherman Gardens, Corona del Mar, CA
• Pamela Stark, Vice President, Customer Satisfaction, Valley Crest Companies, Calabasas, CA
• Bernard Trainor, Owner/Landscape Designer, Bernard Trainor and Associates, Monterey, CA
• Dick Turner, Editor, Pacific Horticulture, San Francisco, CA

Front Row: Bernard Trainor, Wade Roberts Back Row: Neal Lucas, Dick Turner, Pam Stark, Elizabeth Labor, Kate Frey

The committee’s primary purpose was to scrutinize what we do at the arboretum with the goal of doing a better job. One specific objective was to seek advice in formulating our action plan for the next five years. The meeting was productive beyond our expectations, resulting in numerous fresh ideas and suggestions. The arboretum staff will spend the final weeks of this year evaluating and prioritizing the ideas and suggestions and will use them as a basis for developing our next five year plan.

Container Plantings (October 2005) Students and other arboretum visitors can now enjoy the grounds even more, thanks to the recent addition of a series of large decorative containers, each filled with stunning displays of plants. These twenty-four containers and their nearly 200 new plants are the result of a senior project completed by Matthew Maggio, a recent graduate of Environmental Horticultural Science.

Planted Containers

By developing what Maggio calls “a new plant showcase,” the arboretum has added a wide range of plants that are often too delicate to be grown in the ground in the arboretum’s heavy clay soil. By utilizing well-drained, lighter weight soil mixes in the containers, the arboretum has expanded the number of plants it grows and displays. Plants new to the arboretum include nearly three dozen succulents native to South Africa, several dudleyas from North America’s west coast, plants in the genus Echeveria, more than a dozen aloe species, numerous agaves, a wide range of culinary herbs, and many others. Using large containers, Maggio created miniature landscapes that display stunning plant combinations or highlight single specimen plants. Maggio says, “Many of the larger containers bring the plants up closer to eye level for easy viewing and better appreciation.”

Additionally, the containers themselves have become an important element of the arboretum’s landscape display. They range from simple terra cotta to more elaborate glazed and stylized pots. In one setting, three separate pots are arranged and planted to create the illusion of plants flowing from one container into the others.

Planted Containers

Maggio limited his project to the Palm and Aloe garden, the Mediterranean garden, the South African garden, and the council ring area of the Californian garden. Plants in each setting are appropriate to that garden or to that part of the world.

Interpretive Signs (August 2005) Eight large interpretive signs are now part of the arboretum’s educational landscape. The recently installed signs are designed to enhance student and visitor experiences by explaining the botany and horticulture associated with nearby plantings. Each sign includes educational text, colorful photos, and maps or other illustrations where appropriate. The text is suitable for the arboretum’s two main audiences – students and serious home gardeners. Most signs have a “Success in Your Garden” section that gives useful plant culture information and home gardening tips.

Interpretive sign, Aloes

They measure approximately 24” by 36” and are mounted on a slight slant at an easy-to-read height. Printed on high quality vinyl using solvent based, weather resistant inks, the signs are protected with an ultraviolet resistant overlay. The backing plate and support posts are fabricated from heavy gauge steel that has been powder coated.

Interpretive sign, Geophytes

The signs are located throughout the arboretum, with two in the Californian garden, two in the South African garden, and one each in the Mediterranean, Aloe, and Australian gardens. The eighth sign, slightly larger than the others, is located in the entry garden and is designed to introduce visitors to the arboretum and explain the arboretum’s Mediterranean plant theme. The eight signs are entitled:

• Mediterranean Plants and Ecologically Sound Gardens
• Cool Plants for Shady Places
• Oaks: California’s Priceless Heirlooms
• Going Underground: Bulbs, Corms, and Similar Structures
• Proteas and Their Relatives from South Africa
• A Bounty of Mediterranean Herbs
• Foolproof Aloes for Color, Form and Texture
• Western Australia’s Botanic Riches

Financial support for each sign came from sponsors, who are acknowledged on the signs. The arboretum acknowledges and thanks these sponsors:

• The estate of Maggie Baylis
• The estate of Michael Bodger
• Horticulture and Crop Science Department
• Ambassador Bill & Jean Lane
• Lompoc Valley Botanic & Horticultural Society
• Rons Nursery & A Garden to Remember
• San Luis Video Publishing

To complete this project, we plan to develop four additional signs and are seeking sponsors. Please contact the arboretum if you, your company or organization are interested in sponsoring an additional sign.

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Leaning Pine Arboretum
Horticulture and Crop Science Department
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, Ca 93407