Pre-Lockdown Visit to the Ruth Bancroft Garden

    With no rain in the forecast and many Northern California counties on the verge of lockdown, I took a drive to Walnut Creek for a long overdue fall/winter stroll through the Ruth Bancroft Garden. As it turned out the new restrictions that were imposed the following Monday did not lead to closure of the garden. It was a pleasant sunny and cool morning , with some interesting goings on at the garden.

 

 The ladder in the background is staged for staff who would be installing the frost cover over the newley renovated shade structure in the center of the garden. Renovated might not be completely accurate -the old structure which had seen better days was completely torn down and rebuilt .

  RBG has also followed the lead of many other botanical gardens in the US with a holiday light spectacle to keep the revenue flowing in winter. I give events like this a pass but at least it gets people into the garden -maybe some who have never visited and might be prompted to return. The large light stands seen in some of these photos are some of the props.

Ladders are staged and here come the cover-up dudes. 
 


They worked from inside the cover using the ladders and long poles to position it.

 Unfortunately the paths that surround this area were taped off  so I did my best to find photos from open spots around the perimeter of the work area. This side is almost done.


 Walking around to the opposite side I was able to get closer and see the bones of the structure from the inside. The new shade cover is clearly taller and beefier than it's former iteration and the frost protection will allow access for visitors from both sides.




Here are a couple of photos taken of the old structure a few years ago-one in summer and one from the inside of the cover. The plants were removed and the beds completely rebuilt with higher berms and more paths allowing the visitor (and photographer !) closer views of the vignettes within.

 

I took some plant pics too.






 If things go well I hope to return in January for Aloe bloom time and to experience the completed shade cover from inside the tunnel.

Comments

  1. Oooh, even "in process" as it were it's a stunning garden. Great pics, I hope to get there someday. I get it too about the lights and attracting visitors - it's a balance and a hard one for many right now. I'd go see the lights!

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    1. I love this garden and so many improvements have been made over the last few years.I know you would enjoy it .

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  2. Thank you for all the photos of the cover being installed. I love seeing how gardeners protect their plants in the winter. Of course I also appreciate the sexy plant photos too!

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    1. This is really similar to what you do in your outdoor space Loree -a structure for the summer garden flipped into an ad hoc greenhouse in winter- no heater needed though. I would have taken more sexy plant photos but the portable light fixtures were all over the place .

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  3. The light and shadow in your pictures make the agave appear dynamite and in motion. It gives a very beautiful impression of the garden.

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    1. Thanks Sweetbay-the winter light is great for photos in this garden.

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  4. I'd go see the lights in a heartbeat. We had a great holiday at the Phoenix Botanical Garden a couple years back -- it's magical to access these bot. gardens after normal visiting hours.

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    1. I might cave if I lived in Walnut Creek ! Memberships can help with the off-hours thing in some gardens. I favor the before-opening time slot myself. I had a trip planed to Phoenix this fall , hotel res and all. You see what happened to that. I'll get to that garden someday !

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  5. The photos of the plants backlit by the sun are my kind of light effects! That second photo featuring what I assume is Agave 'Stained Glass' is fabulous. I like the 16th photo showing a bloom spike emerging from an agave I don't recognize too. My local botanic garden has a light show going as well and in fact sought to bring the docents (furloughed since March) out of moth balls to act as path guides. I just wasn't interested but I hear they tapped a lot of high school kids to help.

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    1. You would need path guides for sure-there are wires all over the place at RBG. I didn't even look at the tag on that bloomer , I'm pretty sure now that it's a Mangave-I zoomed in in Lightroom and it's definitely spotted. I should be able to get a pic of the bloom when I go back in Jan.

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  6. Well, that is dang cool. Beautiful pics. (Must see that garden some day!) Love the winter protection, the process of putting it up, and the structure itself.

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    1. It was dumb luck that I went to the garden on the day they were putting up the cover Alyse . I've never witnessed that in all my years of visiting the garden. Always something new to discover !

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  7. Thank you for the tour! The agave pictures take my breath away! I moved my agaves to the garage, but left two small ones in the garden to see if they can survive our wet winters. It's pouring right now...
    Thanks again! Have very happy and healthy Holidays!

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    1. Hi Tatyana . I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. I have some challenges with winter wet here too. I've tried to berm them up as much as possible and after first couple rains I move the container planted Agaves to a less open location. I still get a bit of leaf spot and I've lost a few over the years to rot. Happy Holidays to you as well !

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  8. Wow, this is a pretty spectacular garden, even if that construction is happening. Those plants are stunning and so healthy.

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    1. This garden has enriched my life in many ways since I first visited , not long after it opened to the public. It has something different to explore in every season .

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  9. They didn't just rebuilt the old structure, but improved it quite a lot. They done good. Those holiday light things bring in visitors who would not ordinarily visit, and may hook a few new people on plants...little downside. The hour right after opening in the morning--that's my prime time too.

    Guess you've gotten some rain since--as have we, thankfully. Hope you had a good Christmas and best wishes for an excellent 2021.

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    1. Ruths folly is on the agenda for a rebuild in 2021.

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