Located in the upper North corner of Orange County, the city of Fullerton is best known for the following: a convenient 15 minute distance from Disneyland by car, Troy High School, Republicans, and the eponymous California State University off of Nutwood Avenue. Hordes of commuters and international students arrive each year to pursue higher education for an increasingly competitive job market, their options limited by geography and cost for the most part. It ranks as one of the best Business Administration degree granting institutions but the disparity in inter-departmental expenditure is more than obvious. Humanities and Arts will languish in the ages old archaic system of favoritism while the Business and Engineering colleges are garnished with grants and money willed by famous and/or rich alumni. This hierarchical system is seen around the world and not unique to Cal State Fullerton. It’s sadly bigoted and geared towards pumping out businessmen and professors – the socially acceptable and “successful” of our demographics – professions which most have neither the inclination nor the will to follow for personal reasons.
In the midst of this ages long war, the botanical gardens (otherwise known as the Arboretum) on campus grounds flourish through patron donations, which enables them to provide free entry to the community and not just its students. The grounds are breathtaking, lush, and full of surprises if you step off the beaten tracks. Its main gem and attraction is a Bodhi Tree presented to the university by the Dalai Lama in 2000. Many a person has rested their weary feet at its roots and shaded themselves from the oppressive California sun beneath its verdant foliage. Though not my personal favorite, the Bodhi Tree is nonetheless of great importance and something of a claim to fame for the school.
Summertime sees the ducklings born in the spring transformed into full grown adults as well as a host of seasonal flowers blooming bright and tall, the return of a well-loved crane to its ponds, and a host of children that visit the children’s corner on the grounds. My favorite flowers are sunflowers and seeing them at the entrance made me so excited to discover what else had grown since last I had been there in June. The best part, though, was seeing my mom go absolutely nuts over the Arboretum’s plant collection. As an amateur botanist with years of experience in home gardening and transplanting, she’s also a bit of an enthusiast on rare plants, making the Arboretum her own heaven on earth since each section is divided into geographical regions.
Parking at the Arboretum is also free but very limited. And as previously mentioned it is quite a family friendly destination: it hosts a children’s area complete with play stations, the Nikkei Japanese Heritage Museum, and a greenhouse with plants sold according to seasonal availability. I recommend this Southern California trip to anyone who wants to tour a university campus and escape into the greenery, too.
Although accessible by the 91 or 57 freeways, be aware that most of the 91 carpool lanes have been turned into toll roads by greedy-politician-back-hand deals with equally (if not more so) greedy-and-soulless businessmen. If this sounds a tad bit bitter, please keep in mind that Californians have a special love-hate affair with their freeways. We have pretty steep taxes already and it’s a slap in the face to find out that some of the heaviest traffic carrying freeways (which are already in need of lane expansions to accommodate the heavy influx of commuters) are now charging for being used.
But I digress. More information on the Arboretum and events can be found by clicking here.