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Spotlighting the rich agricultural legacy of Orange County and the Japanese American community’s contributions to that chronicle, the Fullerton Arboretum (FA) is a popular attraction for the multitude of cultures that make up Fullerton and it’s surrounding areas in populous Orange County, CA.

The Fullerton Arboretum is a 26-acre botanical garden with a collection of plants from around the world, located on the campus of the California State University, Fullerton. Even in the middle of dull December and the brutal rains and Santa Ana winds the month brings, the Fullerton Arboretum thrives; it’s alive with beauty. Unlike some botanical gardens and arboretums in the country, at FA, it’s animate with shades or red, orange, green, yellow, purple, pink and tans. Some deciduous trees are ablaze with yellow and red leaves to awe your senses. Here there are evergreens, flowers and shrubs, with roses and other flowers in bloom. And the lawns are green all year. So no matter when you come, you’ll surely see some sights to tickle all your senses.

Established in 1979, the Fullerton Arboretum has served the community as a premier resource for ecological, horticultural and historical education. The Fullerton Arboretum is the largest botanical garden in Orange County; it has assembled a permanent collection of over 4,000 unique and unusual plant species from around the world. With its ponds, streams and wildlife, the Fullerton Arboretum offers a tranquil retreat from a fast-paced urban life.

People mill about in this expansive park every day of the year. It’s a casual friendly atmosphere where families often come to picnic, college students at the nearby university come to study or take a bike ride, and little children enjoy tossing footballs and feeding the wildlife. A big visitor draw is the two different ponds where ducks, turtles and birds flutter and swim about, entertaining children.

There’s even a Victorian era house (built in 1894); the cheery yellow Heritage House was purchased for a dollar way back when (!) and then moved to the Arboretum. The restored house serves as a museum of family life and medical practice of the 1890s. Heritage House is an excellent example of Eastlake Victorian-style architecture, prevalent in Orange County during the late 1800s. The structural elements of the building’s ornamentation and scale are balanced in pleasing proportions. The home is constructed of redwood and fir. It also now serves as a centerpiece for weddings, fetes and parties. People also rent the gigantic ornamental lawn by the magnificent mulberry and community garden plots for receptions and such. Right behind the Heritage House, there’s even a covered walkway with a really neat gazebo.

So whether you’re visiting Orange Country and need a break from Disneyland and Knottsberry Farm, or if you live there and are looking for a spot for a reprieve from the hustle-bustle of it’s busy cities, check out the Fullerton Arboretum for an afternoon. And don’t forget to take along the following Seven Heavenly Attractions at Fullerton list; use it as a “to-see” list of sorts, or simply take it as an appendage to any maps or materials you receive upon entry at the Arboretum.

1. The Rainforest Collection

This collection primarily consists of subtropical specimens, with a small number of truly tropical specimens. True tropical “rainforest” vegetation requires a greenhouse environment to survive within Southern California’s dry climate; the trees, epiphytes and shade-loving understory within this collection resemble the layered vegetation pattern characteristic of tropical forests. Epiphytes are plants that grow on the surface of other plants (commonly trees) for support.

2. Midsummer Night in the Garden Gala

A huge draw with locals and members, this annual gala is a true spectacle! For newcomers to Arboretum fundraising, the Gala is the major event that supports a myriad of activities taking place yearly on the grounds for members and guests alike. Enjoy “Argentina Adventure” with cocktail hour, silent/live auctions, three course dinner and dancing. The grounds are always beautifully decorated, and dinner is served with wine.

3. The Tropical Collection

A variety of colorful subtropical trees and shrubs live on this collection’s hill, including a small but unique collection of Cycads. Subtropical species from countries including Africa, Australia, and South America exhibit the diversity of world vegetation represented within the Arboretum. The hilltop also offers a stunning vista view of the beautiful lake and its surrounding areas.

4. Channel Island Garden

The Channel Island garden is a display of different plant communities arranged in a naturalized setting to foster appreciation for the unique and beautiful plants native to island habitats. Coastal bluffs were designed as the focal point of the garden; the beautiful rockwork for this display was transported in. The plant material was also acquired. The huge limestone boulders needed for this project came from the Lucerne Valley and presented a logistical challenge to transport them to the garden! The result was a beautiful coastal bluff, dry streambed and talus slope. Coastal bluff is a distinct maritime community that harbors a number of attractive prevalent plants, some that are in the nursery trade. The beautiful Sea Dahlia or Giant Coreopsis, is a frequent member of the coastal bluff community forming armies of plants that are commanding with their yellow daisy like flowers. Island grassland is the second largest component of the garden, setting the scene for displaying some of the beautiful forbs and bulbs unique to many of the islands. Delphinium variegatum ssp. thornei is an attractive endangered larkspur known only from San Clemente Island that is currently growing and flowering in our grassland. Since the public is not allowed on San Clemente Island, FA is one of the few places you can visit to see the endangered larkspur. Unique annuals also known only on the Channel Islands will find home in FA’s garden.

5. Green Scene Plant and Garden Show

This annual plant sale extravaganza draws Californians from all over the state! Every April, over 80 vendors come to sell their wares: beautiful and unique plants, vegetables, garden art and accessories, and more. Most patrons bring wagons or carts to the big show, which is a spectacular, weekend-long outdoor event and sale. Green Scene is the annual spring event for members and guests to find their annual bulbs, succulents, organic vegetables, varietal plants, garden accessories and garden products. Master Gardeners and plant societies offer expert advice on gardening and plant cultivation. Plus, you can listen to informative speakers on topics like composting, water conservation, organic gardening and sustainability. There’s a community garden exhibit and other activities in the newly renovated Children’s Garden for the kiddos. And don’t miss the Knowlwood Food Court’s offering for a break!

6. Perennial Plant Display Garden

Planted in 2007, this new garden is a collection of several colorful flowering perennial plants from all over the world. Many of these plants attract butterflies and hummingbirds, among other wildlife. The garden has several plant varieties and during certain times of the year, the color combinations and plant styles are outstanding. Stop by for design ideas or to enjoy the new addition to the Arboretum grounds.

7. The Deciduous Woodland

This area is home to many trees and shrubs that lose their leaves when the weather cools in autumn, then branch and bloom out again in spring. The annual cycle of spring and summer growth alternating with winter dormancy is characteristic of these species. Deciduous woodlands are commonly found in eastern North America, western and central Europe, and eastern Asia. Our collection includes species from all over the world, many of which have leaves and flowers that display vivid colors in the fall, spring and summer months. A diverse collection of both perennials and bulb species that are adapted to deciduous communities create a colorful understory within this woodland.

Fullerton Arboretum
1900 Associated Road
Fullerton, CA 92831
714-278-3579

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