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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Ruth Bancroft Garden Part One: Plants



The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a 2.5 acre dry botanical garden containing more than 2,000 cactus, succulents, trees, and shrubs native to various dry parts of the World. The Garden began in the early 1950s as a private collection within Bancroft Farm (a former provider of prize pears), when Ruth brought home a single succulent, an Aeonium grown by a Ms. Glenn Davidson. By 1972, the collection had outgrown its location and was moved to its current site, then an orchard of dying walnut trees. The Aeonium "Glenn Davidson" is still growing in the Garden.

In 1989, it became the first garden in the United States to be preserved by The Garden Conservancy, and has been open to the public since 1992. Today the Garden is an outstanding landscape of xerophytes and a tribute to Ruth Bancroft who is still hanging in there at the ripe age of 103.

We began  day three of the Garden Bloggers' Fling in June in this marvelous garden.  Temperatures in the 100's seemed very appropriate for this desert garden.  The pacing of the garden tours was excellent!  By the beginning of day three, after visiting so many incredible gardens, I felt like I'd seen a lot of treasures in the bay area.  The third day gardens, all much different from each other, continued the fireworks show of gardens beautifully, presenting even more possibilities. 

These Palms predate the current garden and were planted in the late 1800's or early 1900's.

These Agave bloom spikes look like trees!

Loree, the Dangerous one, flirting with a spiky fellow.  I was not prepared for how awesome huge Agaves would be.  They demand one's attention with their stature and stunning shapes.


 Gerhard from Banboo, Succulents, and More drove down to meet the tour at the garden.  It was such a pleasure to meet him after having read his blog for so long.  Gerhard and Loree enjoyed walking through the garden together.





Before the blooms emerge, the bloom stalks of some agaves look very much like giant asparagus.  Probably don't taste very good though.

More delicious palms.



Some aloe or other.  I was blown away by the size of these plants that we baby in pots and can eventually get a little big but nothing like this.  I was so ready to move!


The Californians grow all kinds of interesting plants in their palm trunks. 



Sweet little aloes looking like they're not too happy with all of this sun.
 
 Tiny Tim tiptoed through the tulips, others prefer to saunter surrounded by succulents.

Agave victoriae-reginae (guessing)  looking delightfully symmetrical.



 Alison admiring a large opuntia.

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home...hey wait, someone threw some extra piggies in there!

 Some dry shade.

Huge opuntias peeked over fences all over the bay area.  It was such a treat to see them up close and personal.  Jane, originally from California, taking a picture of a lovely specimen.

O.K. is it just I who hears this song in his head whenever he sees Barrel cacti?

 
I think this is Agave 'Cornelius' which I hope Valley Nursery gets again this season as I saw one there but was in some sort of "no more tender plants" jag and didn't get it.  What was I thinking?  It was gone on my next visit.  Rats!  The lesson is that you should buy plants without thinking, when you see them or they may be gone tomorrow.  The mortgage will pay itself, it always seems to, right? 

Love this combination!  I'm thinking that's a Yucca rostrata  behind what might be an Erythrina. 






Who says that a xeric garden can't be lush?   Scott  capturing an image of something sharp. 









One wonders who gets to weed beds like this and if they get some sort of body armor to wear. 
 
Have no idea what tree this is but the bees loved the flowers.  It was a treat to stand in the shade and hear the buzzing sound all around. 

The seed capsules were also very sweet!
Hope the memory of this blazing hot day warms your winter spirits! 


26 comments:

  1. This garden - one of the several reasons why we should have attended this years fling. To visit this garden would be a dream!

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    1. It is a wonderful garden! Hope to see you at the fling in Portland!

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  2. It's so interesting after all this time to see your photos from Ruth Bancroft. In your shot of me I was actually thinking, "Those Opuntia pads look like feet." It was so unbearably hot that day, but looking at your pics, it's now hard to remember it. Kind of like how women forget how awful the pain of childbirth is. Now it's just a delightful memory.

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    1. I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies Miss Alsion but I do remember that it was incredibly hot that day and a lot of fun! Yes, the memory is delightful!

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  3. Oh the sunshine, the agaves, the wonderful people!!! I want to go back.

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    1. Me too! I could've flinged (flung?) for sevaral more days!

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  4. Warm day and blue sky: I could practically hear the bees swarming around. I tried to picture you hauling one of these glorious monsters into your glass room for the winter :-)
    I was curious about an unnamed plant mid-post: looks somewhat like grass with extremely tall wand-like flower. Very graceful, any idea what it is? And finally, did you try the fruit of opuntia? Very sweet when ripe; be cautious though, it requires a professional handler for retrieving and peeling.

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    1. Very humorous to think of trying to haul one of those inside! I didn't know what that cool plant was either but I really liked it. Didn't try opuntia fruit but have seen it in specialty markets here every great once in a while and have been curious about it.

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    2. When I was growing up, vendors sold opuntia fruit on street corners. My sister in particular was a fan. Me, not as much.

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  5. Very interesting pictures! great garden, thanks for sharing this with your blog. this is plants is truly breath-taking.

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    1. It was a very special garden to visit.

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    2. I love succulents, especially aloe aristata :)

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  6. Well that has warmed the cockles ! A totally alien, totally fascinating garden that I would love to explore. I was going to say that it looks very textural and touchy - feely ... but I think touchy - feely would be very painful !

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    1. I'm so glad, Jane, as there is nothing worse than cold cockles on a winter day! Exploring this garden was a wonderful experience.You're right about the touchy-feely part although if approached carefully, some of these plants (agaves, aloes, all of the succulents really) are quite nice to touch.

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  7. Such an interesting garden, and some really good shots showing contrasting forms and textures - the one just above the pink flowers is stunning. By the way, the pink-flowered tree is a Eucalypt, possibly Eucalyptus calycogona.

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    1. Thanks for the plant I.D! I wondered if that might be a Eucalypt but have only experienced them with white flowers so wasn't sure. I hope you are enjoying summer!

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  8. Roll out the barrels! Only you would think of that when looking at the cacti! So funny! Great dry garden, but I don't miss the heat. A Eucalyptus that is a little more purple is 'Purple Patch'.

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    1. Yes, the heat is something I'm glad we don't have here! It is pretty unusual for the bay area as well!

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  9. Enjoyed seeing another tour of this great garden. A mature agave is surprisingly fascinating.

    The plant chavliness asked about is probably the Xanthorrhoea, an Australian plant similar to Nolina but with more dramatic blooms.

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    1. Thanks Shirley! I thought that they were nolinas but when I looked at images of nolinas in bloom they were totally different so wasn't sure.

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  10. AMAAAAAZING! I'm literally drooling over those palms. That is the dream. Heck id take that all, climate included! What an amazing place. Thank you for this dose of warm sunshine!!!!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed this great garden! Now about this drooling problem, have you seen an occupational therapist or speech pathologist? They might be able to give you some exercises to strengthen your facial muscles so that complete lip closure can occur keeping saliva inside your mouth. It saves lots of embarrassment! :)

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.