All about the Ruth Bancroft Garden


The Ruth Bancroft Garden

Do you want to learn more about succulents and cacti? Are you thinking of making your garden more drought-tolerant? Or do you simply love visiting beautiful gardens? Look no further than the Ruth Bancroft Garden for inspiration. Located in Walnut Creek, California, this acclaimed public garden is one of the finest examples of a dry garden in the country.

The gardens began as the private collection of Ruth Bancroft. Already an avid gardener, Ruth purchased her first succulent, a single potten aeonium, in the 1950’s. She fell in love with succulents and began collecting them. Initially she housed her collection in greenhouses and lath-houses around her house. By 1971, Ruth’s collection had outgrown its home. Her husband Philip offered her three acres of land from the family’s fruit tree business to house her collection. Through trial and error, Ruth learned how to care for her ever-growing collection in its new home. The garden opened to the public under the stewardship of the Garden Conservatory in the early 1990s.

Today, the Ruth Bancroft Garden is nationally recognized as a model for low-water landscaping. With over 2,000 plants from around the world, it has one of the most impressive collections of dry-adapted plants on the planet. Some of the regions represented are California, Mexico, Chile, South Africa, and Australia. Trees, palms, shrubs, succulents and cacti live harmoniously with bulbs, wildflowers, and grasses. Visitors will find aeoniums, aloes, echinocacti, yuccas, and more. If you are interested in plants that enhance the landscape while saving precious water, a visit to the Ruth Bancroft Gardens is a must.

The Ruth Bancroft Garden is not only unique in its focus on water-conserving and drought-resistant plants. It is also a model for garden preservation in the United States. The Ruth Bancroft Garden was the first garden in the United States to be preserved for public use. The Garden Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving exceptional gardens and landscapes, was founded after noted horticulturist Frank Cabot visited Ruth’s Garden in 1988. Frank asked Ruth what would happen to her garden after she passed away, and the idea for the Garden Conservancy was born. The organization was founded in 1989 and the Ruth Bancroft Garden became the first property under its stewardship. Ruth Bancroft passed away in 2017 at the age of 109, but her gardens — along with her legacy as a dry gardening pioneer — live on.

The Ruth Bancroft Garden


Admission to the Ruth Bancroft Gardens is $10 for adults, but Gamble Garden Members can visit for free as part of the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Admissions Program. Gamble Members can now enjoy free admission to the Ruth Bancroft Garden and other AHS-affiliated gardens around the country. Bring your Gamble Membership Card with you when you visit the Ruth Bancroft Gardens to receive free admission. Admission includes a free self-guided tour booklet or free guided docent tour.