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A Future Garden for the Central Coast of California

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

Future Garden UCSC-may18- IAS.jpg

We consulted with Newton Harrison and the Center for the Force Majeure on a Future Garden project located at the Arboretum on the UC Santa Cruz campus. The work began with three geodesic domes remaining from a 1970s greenhouse experiment. The domes were adapted to accommodate a new experiment: as climate and weather patterns change, how will native plant communities respond? What new plant ensembles will emerge? What will the landscape of the Central Coast look like in the future? The research is clear that there will be winners and losers as historic rainfall and temperatures change. New ecologies will emerge, as “each place becomes a story of its own becoming.” 

We selected a representative group of plant species native to the Santa Cruz region. Each greenhouse has the same species ensemble, temperature increase of 4°C, and the same soil. However, one greenhouse is irrigated at twice the normal average rainfall in Santa Cruz, the second receives half the annual rainfall, and the third has an erratic watering pattern. The exterior landscape is acting as an informal control to the experiment.

Pages from Future Garden plant book_red.

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

As consultant to
Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison


Institute of the Arts and Sciences, UC Santa Cruz

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