The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek was the first garden we visited on the third day of the Fling. I found it exciting, surprising, and sometimes entertaining (largely due to the sculptures). I don’t see gardens built around succulents as beautiful, though, and this was not an exception to that rule. I realize there are others who feel strongly otherwise.
For me, a beautiful garden is lush, warm, exuberant, colorful. I find succulent gardens to be rather cold, ironically enough. And succulent gardens in arid, forbidding settings even more so. It’s kind of like the difference between a pet cat and a pet lizard. I find cats far more appealing and cuddly. However, I would fight to the death for your right to have a pet lizard.
Even so, I enjoyed our visit to this garden, and I’m very glad I got to see it.
The visit was enhanced because it occurred during their annual sculpture exhibit and sale. And speaking of cats, we were tempted to take these home with us, but they were out of our price range.
At this point I had pretty much given up on trying to remember plant names. I do know that’s a barrel cactus below. If they had given all the plants names this obvious, I might have had a better chance to remember them.
I appreciated the many big, dramatic plants. I’m a sucker for big plants.
The mix of plant textures we found was very intriguing.
There were some things that were just a bit odd looking.
You can see we weren’t the only ones taken aback.
It’s a good thing we did the Ruth Bancroft garden first thing in the morning – it was already hot when we got there. An odd thing about the Bay Area is the vast differences in climate in such a small area. That day it was 105F in Walnut Creek. In San Francisco, less than an hour’s drive away, it was 75F.
Fortunately, this cow was able to stay cool by hitting the surf. Springs made her look like she was rolling with the waves.
The Ruth Bancroft Garden was once farmland where the owners grew apples and walnuts. Ms. Bancroft took a part of the land for her very extensive collection of succulent plants. The farm was eventually rezoned for residential development, but a non-profit organization was given the garden to be maintained and kept open to the public.
This is not a native plant garden. Ms. Bancroft travelled far and wide to arid and desert regions in order to obtain specimen plants. A number of plants require protection from the occasional frosts that occur in Walnut Creek.