The Leaning Pine Arboretum, named for a tree which blew down during a storm several years ago, is a tranquil horticultural display garden on the outskirts of the Cal Poly campus. The main purpose of the five-acre arboretum is to educate students about different species of plants in their natural settings. This arboretum emphasizes Cal Poly’s motto of “Learn by doing.” Students in the Horticulture and Crop Science Department are the force behind the garden and keep it functioning year-round.
The horticulture unit was built in the 1970’s when it only included a lawn and some trees. Two decades later, work was underway to create an arboretum showcasing plants from the five mediterranean regions of the world. These regions are: the Mediterranean basin, southwestern Australia, southwestern South Africa, much of California, and much of Chile. A mediterranean region is defined as a region with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Only two percent of the world’s landform can be characterized as mediterranean. The plants at the arboretum flourish in California’s central coast weather.
The Leaning Pine Arboretum is entirely student-managed. Six student workers work at the arboretum ten hours per week and there is one garden manager. Each of the six students has their own garden to maintain. They water, weed, and plant in their garden as well as make decisions on what plants will be planted there next. This gives the students a sense of pride and ownership in the arboretum.
The arboretum is located at the north end of campus, past the beef unit and across the street from the equine unit on Via Carta Road. It may be difficult to locate since a visitor needs...
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...use the arboretum as their classroom. Several students choose to conduct their senior projects at the arboretum as well. Rock walls and benches, wooden decks, and the gazebo were all created by senior students.
The Leaning Pine Arboretum remains one of Cal Poly’s best-keep secrets. It is an isolated, unique, and diverse oasis far away from the commotion of the main campus. It is an excellent place to learn about flora, conduct a school-sponsored activity, or simply to relax and stroll through the gardens admiring nature’s beauty. The horticulture and crop science students feel a huge sense of pride and accomplishment when they see others enjoying their student-run sanctuary. While the arboretum is just one distinctive element of Cal Poly land, it is one that can be enjoyed by every member of the community and it helps make Cal Poly a superb institution.
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