California State University is known for having one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. They owe this great honor in part to the Fullerton Arboretum, a botanical garden on campus rich with both beauty and community history. Established in 1979, the Fullerton Arboretum was created from the abandoned grounds of a diseased orange grove. Instead of destroying the land, students, faculty and community members banded together to create organic gardening plots from the old soil. Now spreading 26 acres and containing 4,000 plant species from around the world, it is the largest botanical garden in Orange County.
With its diverse plant life, the Arboretum is the centerpiece of the university’s ecological and horticultural education as well as its history. Species are divided into various gardens including Mediterranean, Woodland, Desert,and Cultivated collections.
The deciduous orchard is one of the year round highlights for both visitors and students. Almond, Peach, Apple, Nectarine, Plum, Apricot, and even Pomegranate trees create a technicolor confetti as their leaves fall from the branches in the winter months. Come spring, the new blossoms generate a blaze of warm pinks, reds, and oranges that last nearly the whole year.
The primitive plant garden is also unique, featuring plants that have been in existence for some 300 million years. Cycads, ginkgoes and magnolia have relatives that all trived during the Jurassic period and are now abundant at the Fullerton because of its hot, dry climate.
The Arboretum’s Heritage House is a historical landmark for the University. The Victorian cottage was built as a home and office by Fullerton physician, Dr. George C. Clark in 1894. With the plants, windmill, and water pumphouse still intact, the house is a turn of the century time capsule. Some of the vegetables and herbs found in the Heritage House’s backyard garden are part of the same medicinal collection the doctor used to keep based on notes found in his ledger.
The Fullerton Arboretum is also an incredibly popular venue for events. Besides hosting their own annual haunted gardens, Victorian fashion shows, and Midsummer Night garden parties, the grounds are also booked months in advance for weddings and children’s birthdays.
With education as a top priority to the Fullerton, numerous classes are available to the public including bird watching, home composting, water conservation, edible gardening and more. These courses not only engage the community but encourage environmental responsibility and respect for the nature around us.