Monday, March 24, 2014

Greater East Bay: Walnut Creek, The Ruth Bancroft Garden

century plant-agave franzosinii-+guide Adrian D’Souza, at Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA
The Ruth Bancroft Garden  1552 Bancroft Rd./near Ygnacio Valley Rd., (925) 944-9352.  Tu-Sun 10-4 Apr-Oct (best bloom); W-Sun 10-4 Nov-Mar.  $7; under 12 free; 10am tour free with admission.  When Ruth Bancroft was in her 60s, she started this 3-acre dry climate desert garden on what was originally a walnut orchard.  Now age 105!, she still lives in her home on the property but others help tend the garden.  Recognized as a premier dry garden, it displays specimens from all over the world, including desert plants, drought-tolerant plants, unusual succulents, and California natives.  An important
3 Washingtonia palms, at Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA
collection of African aloes range from the size of your thumb to over 20-feet high and sport brilliant blooms that are particularly colorful in late winter and spring.  A large variety of cacti and succulents grow in greenhouses, and a trio of tall Washingtonia palms—the only palm native to California—are nearby.  Rarieties include a large tropical kapok tree that blooms pink in September and an unusual Argentine jelly palm, and the single hybrid “Glenn Davidson” aeonium that Ms. Bancroft started her original garden with is still here.  Consider bringing a picnic so you can stay a while and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, and don’t forget to visit the cuttings shop to purchase a special souvenir plant (most are “pups” from the garden).  Bancroft’s private home garden—which includes bulb, herb, and rose beds--can be viewed only during a special tour scheduled each spring.  Other special events are held regularly and have included a birder’s walk, a Mother’s Day tea, and a fall fruit-tasting tour. 

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images © 2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers



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