Venturing Forth-A Visit to the Ruth Bancroft Garden

 Botanical Gardens in the state of California have been given the green light to open again, provided the now familiar safety protocols are in place. If there is any public venue I feel completely comfortable visiting it is a public garden. I never touch anything except plants and my camera and  unless a plant sale or some other event is in progress most are relatively uncrowded. At this point events are pretty much all virtual. I waited a couple of weeks after the Ruth Bancroft Garden reopened before taking the journey to Walnut Creek and it felt quite liberating. And I even experienced filling the gas tank in my vehicle which I hadn't needed to do in many weeks.

 I arrived at the garden close to opening time, showed my membership card at the kiosk and in I went -my first visit there since New Years Eve.

 Agave franzosinii on the march.

 There have been significant renovations to the planting spaces in the last few years-more are completed since my December visit. At that time the frost covers were in place, including the poly tunnel shrouding the iconic central shade structure.  But now in June, the shade structure has been completely rebuilt , and the beds beneath it mostly emptied and then re-sculpted ready for plants to be installed.

And a path through the middle-an excellent addition that will bring a whole new perspective for those of us who love to photograph this garden.  I am looking forward to going back when the beds have been planted.

The garden still had a fresh green spring look , though I did miss out on some of the early spring blooms.

Blooms I did not miss out on however, were the Agaves.

One of my favorites of the many Agave ovatifolias in the garden is on the doomed list, but I'm glad I had the chance to photograph it's spectacular flower.

In this photo you can see the bloom spikes of three of them, and possibly a fourth,  marching off to the distance on the lower right. I don't think I've ever seen so many Agaves blooming at once in this garden.

  There was plenty of other late spring color to be seen

The blooms had mostly faded on this Echium, but it still made a statement.

But even had there not been a flower in sight , the garden is always worth visiting.

 And of course this factors in.

  I encourage you to support the Botanical Gardens in your area with a membership or a donation if you are able. Gardens are places of sanctuary and restoration. A worthy cause these days.


  1. Thanks for sharing your visit, Kathy! So the on-site nursery is open too? Did you indulge? Our local South Coast Botanic Garden closed for just one day but has otherwise remained open throughout the lockdown, albeit with advance reservations required, limits on daily admissions, and mask and social distancing requirements. I haven't visited yet but I don't believe its nursery (small to begin with) is open.

    1. The Nursery is open and I did indulge ! I threw caution to the winds and bought a Leucospermum. I am Sunset z14 and they are 15. And the last 5 yaers or so my winters are getting progressively milder. So I bought one and put it in a large pot. If I get one flower I will claim success !

  2. I envy you your visit. We are still only doing virtual visits to our gardens here and the garden centers are mostly empty. Half the fun was walking around and browsing but with the social distancing it's not been nearly as pleasant. As always the RBG looks wonderful. An enjoyable virtual tour. Thanks

    1. Our garden centers here have been open since day one-selling veg plants deemed them essential . And at this point garden centers are slammed and the wholesalers and manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand.

  3. That path looks like a great idea to me too. I bet they excavated the path to berm up the plantings alongside -- and then will fill the path with gravel or dg to bring the level back up a bit. Love the agave amidst eriogonum. I need to get up there!

    1. You should come Denise -so many changes there-they've done a beautiful job. Maybe they will be able to have their fall plant sale in Oct .

  4. Beautiful photos Kathy, almost as good as being there myself! The path under the shade structure will be such a great addition. As for the blooming agaves that 'Ovatifolia' is in one of the RBG photos in my book. It's sad to think that by the time the book is out the agave will be dead.

  5. The garden looks loved, and beautiful. Enjoyed all your photos. Do not feel sad about A. ovatifolia. It will have many bulbils. It is not dying--it transforming itself from one into many.


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