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A California Gallery: The Ruth Bancroft Garden


Two days after my visit to the house and garden at Filoli on the San Francisco Peninsula I pointed my car eastward toward home in the Sierra Foothills. I planned my route to pass through Walnut Creek to visit a garden that had been on my radar for a while, The Ruth Bancroft Garden.

When I was a small child my family lived in the nearby village of Danville and I remember driving Sunday mornings through walnut orchards to church. One of the farms was the home of Ruth Bancroft and her husband, Philip, 400 acres of walnuts and pears that had been planted in the 1880s by Mr. Bancroft’s grandfather, Hubert Howe Bancroft, whose collection of books on the American West became the foundation of the University of California Berkeley’s Bancroft Library.

When the last of the farm was sold to developers in 1971, 3 1/2 acres were reserved for Mrs. Bancroft for her garden, then in her 60s. By the next year she’d finished the original design, planted with her collection of thousands of succulents, and continued to work on the garden into her 90s. In 1989, The Ruth Bancroft Garden became the first preservation project of the Garden Conservancy and has been open to the public since 1992.

I’d read nothing but good things about this place so it was a bit of a shock to drive onto the property into what I can only describe as a mess, a construction zone complete with porta-potties for the use of the genteel clientele. Fortunately, beyond the first impression was beauty enough to make the visit more than worthwhile.

A Gallery of Plants
...from dry regions around the world


More information on the garden website:




A list of botanical gardens and arboretums in California

More Travel for Garden Lovers




Next week begins my return to Oaxaca.



Others of PortMoresby's contributions here.




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Comments (2)

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Fabulous pictures ! I love plants in general - they have to find a way to live where they land. 

Spent many years in cold Arctic desert (AK, Scandi), and also hot deserts from Morocco all the way across to the Thar.

Adaptations are a delight for anyone into environmental science but also for insight into how humans used, copied and survived thanks to the plant life

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