A Walk Through Fullerton Arboretum

The Fullerton Arboretum is a quiet piece of earth where lush plants and wildlife give me a respite from my own wild life. Located on the grounds of Cal State Fullerton College, right off the 57 Freeway (Yorba Linda exit), you’ll think you landed in another world. Or worldsâÂ?¦

Like any great arboretum, Fullerton’s cultivates different environments that blend into one another as you stroll leisurely along. Let’s take a walk!

Through the turnstile, the suggested donation is $2.00. Down the narrow, tree lined lane, we’re greeted by the splash of a cool waterfall. Over the wooden bridge, the arboretum reveals itself and you feel like the scarecrow in Oz, trying to decide which way to go. I always pause for a minute to see if the bright white heron is hanging around the pond, sharing the fish and insects with the ducks and turtles. Then I take the path to the right and wander past the man-made bog with its bug-devouring plants and down between the redwoods, listening to the creek run by on my left. This side of the arboretum borders on the college’s baseball field, fine in the off season but disconcerting during games. It’s shady and cool in this area and you almost don’t want it to open to the second pond. Both ponds have expanses of grass just begging to be lounged on and water lilies with colorful blooms lounging on the waters still surface.

We continue down the path, through the Monkey Hand trees and Erythrina grove, past the Golden Trumpet tree to the “rain forest”, which consists of three trees that shade a variety of plants. Not being a botanist, I’ll admit that I’m getting the tree and plant names from the self guiding tour brochure. There are hidden places in this area you reach by rustic stairs where benches dedicated to loved ones provide a restful, contemplative retreat.

Very soon the lushness and green of the forests turns into the alien-looking terrain of the desert. All sorts of spiky and twisted things poke out of the dirt, some spiny and some with beautiful, delicate flowers. If the arboretum were open at night, especially around Halloween, these succulent gardens wouldn’t need any dressing to be the spookiest things in the place! In this section, you’ll also find plants native to Southern California, a dry palm grove and a Thorn Forest made up of subtropical plants that use thorns to protect themselves against animals with the munchies.

Looking for tamer vegetation? Keep walking and to the left you’ll find the community gardens, orchards, the children’s garden, beds of roses and a composting display. Most Sundays you can tour Heritage House, a Victorian home once owned by a doctor that’s furnished in the style of the era, led by costumed docents.

As if the daily wonder of the Arboretum weren’t enough, many events find a home there throughout the year as well. Besides being a picturesque backdrop for wedding photo ops, there are several weekend-long festivals, seminars on gardening topics, specially arranged Nature tours, Christmas activities and children’s programs during the summer. And there’s a gift shop open most weekends.

I love the Arboretum on a fairly shallow level–I enjoy the walk around beautiful nature. I choose to ignore the college housing and freeway easily seen from some parts of the grounds and I don’t worry about the names of the beautiful flowers the butterflies flit around. But I do appreciate the quiet haven in the middle of this So Cal landscape, so if you’re in the Anaheim area, hop on the 5 freeway to the 57 if you need a break from roller coasters, traffic or just that wild condition we call life!

1900 Associated Rd. Fullerton, CA 92831
Open 8-4:45 Daily except Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years
Heritage House open Sundays 2-4 $2.00

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