arboretum, clocktower, flowers
palomar, boulder

Palomar College’s Arboretum represents one of the largest collections of exotic trees and plants in San Diego CountyThe ten-acre arboretum opened in 1973, giving students and facility a quiet, serene space to relaxDue to a generous endowment from the Hunter Family (owners of Hunter Industries), the arboretum is undergoing major improvementsImprovements include a new entrance, ADA-compliant trails, irrigation upgrades, and a groundwater well to reduce the use of municipal water.

Palomar College is such a vital asset to our community, and having walked through the arboretum, it’s clear this wonderful garden is important to students and is a value to the community. Green spaces are crucial to the future of the world.

– Ann Hunter-Welborn, Hunter Family Funds

Most notably, the improvements include a major name change. For the first time in Palomar College’s history, the board announced the renaming of the arboretum which is now the Edwin and Frances Hunter Arboretum. When the new entrance is complete, students and visitors will pass by a 6-foot custom sign made from a massive 24,000 pound Sierra Boulder. The natural stone sign will display the arboretum’s new name and the campus logo below.

boulder, sketch

Locating the Perfect Boulder

The massive boulder was sourced specifically for the Arboretum, taking just over 3 months to find the perfect size and shape. Southwest Boulder’s custom stone fabricator, Riley Fritsch, worked with the architectural design firm in charge of the arboretum improvements. “Our goal was to create a custom entrance sign that complements the exotic plant diversity on display,” says Fritsch.

boulder, boulder saw
boulder, saw

Custom Stone Fabrication: Shedding the Weight, Literally!

In raw form, the 8-10 ft boulder weighed approximately 24,000 pounds. With architectural approval and measurements complete, the boulder was ready to be cut on our “oversized” diamond-wire saw. Only two major cuts were needed; a bottom cut for stability and a face cut to display the arboretum name and campus logo. After 16 hours on the diamond-wire saw, the boulder shed about 3 ft of girth and about 14,000 pounds. Now that’s one heck of a weight loss program!



arboretum, boulder, crane, half
arboretum, boulder, crane
arboretum, boulder, crane

Custom Stone Engraving: Making a Statement That Lasts

After the boulder “face cut” is complete, it’s time to mock up the desired name and logo using a large rubber mask (stencil). The sandblasting rubber mask material used for the stencil is made specifically for stone etching. Once the stencil is secured in place, the sandblasting fun begins. By mixing air under pressure with hard, abrasive sand, we can slowly blast the stone areas exposed by the rubber stencil. After a few hours of sandblasting and final prep, the stone sign is ready to be installed.

Riley Fritsch, arboretum, boulder, engraving
Riley Fritsch, arboretum, engraving, boulder

Boulder Placement: Its Final Resting Place

Large stone signs are most often installed using a large crane. The stone monument sign was loaded onto a flatbed truck and delivered to Palomar College. Due to the weight of the sign, a large hydraulic crane was used to carefully place the sign into its final resting place. With a crane crew of 3 plus a custom fabricator, Riley Fritsch on-site during installation to ensure careful handling, the new sign was installed without a hitch.

Riley Fritsch, arboretum, boulder, truck
arboretum, boulder, crane

Watch the Entire Custom Fabrication Process Now!


Interested in Visiting the Edwin & Frances Hunter Arboretum?

Guests can visit the Palomar College Arboretum free of charge. Due to planned upgrades, the arboretum will temporarily close for six to eight months, reopening later this year. For updated information on the arboretum, visit Palomar College’s website which includes upcoming events, visitor’s guides, and more.