UC Santa Cruz’s arboretum will celebrate the holiday season early with its 29th annual Holiday Gift and Wreath Sale and Norrie’s Holiday Sale, showcasing both beautifully crafted wreaths made of various plants and uniquely designed, handmade plant-art pieces.

The Gift and Wreath Sale will take place on Nov. 23-24 at the Horticulture Building, featuring dried flowers, succulent wreaths and gourds and succulent plants, or plants with thick stems or leaves that retain water. Norrie’s Gift and Garden Shop, located by the South African protea garden and Pacific Coast Natives garden, will also hold its Holiday Open Sale, consisting of various holiday merchandise from the store and 25 percent off a variety of plants.

“Some dried flowers and pods [available at the sale] are from the largest collection of Australian plants outside of Australia,” said research director Stephen McCabe. “Other materials are from the Fynbos regions of South Africa. The volunteers in the succulent area are coming up with new ideas every day. Some of the succulents can grow almost anywhere, including on some lichens on the tops of pumpkins.”

The first Holiday Wreath Sale was held in 1985 by Stephen McCabe and several volunteers and student helpers.

For the first nine years when there were no classrooms or a store, the sale was held underneath a tarp in constant rainy weather, McCabe said. With the premiere of succulent wreaths, business boomed.

Some of the artists include the arboretum’s own workers and staff, such as setup designer Carol Green, lead succulent wreath maker Astrid Randall and wreath-making group leaders Sherry Eisendorf and Linda Nicholsen. Famous local artists such as watercolor painter Carol Riddle and ceramic sculptor Peggy Snider will also be contribute to the sale.

“I always like to do something different,” Snider said. “One year I made a plant wreath out of a bird’s nest I found in a bush, and I made little ceramic eggs to go with it. This year I plan to do something with eucalyptus seed pods. They’re round with a hole in the middle and it’s a simple pattern — polka dots within polka dots.”

The arboretum also serves as an opportunity for UCSC students to learn more about plant life.

“The arboretum is a great and colorful place to visit, event-wise or not,” said second-year Armand Avanian. “I’ve been to the arboretum a few times and it is refreshing to see all of the nature. I’m lucky to be a student here at UCSC when the arboretum is more developed.”

All the money raised from the sale will help students and interns maintain their goals of furthering education, conservation, research and garden care.

“So many people kick themselves for never going to the arboretum during their four years on campus,” McCabe said. “We hope readers will explore the gardens or visit the sale to get some great, natural holiday gifts or host and hostess gifts for Thanksgiving.”


Visit the arboretum Nov. 23-24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.