Have you ever found out about something and wondered why it took you so long? That’s what happened to me this weekend when I discovered the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek!
It’s pretty obvious how much I enjoy plants (especially succulents!) so I can’t believe I didn’t know about this place. Starting with a small collection of potted plants, Ruth grew her collection to over 2,000 dry-weather and drought-resistant plants over the course of her lifetime—which was 109 years, by the way.
From the website, I was unsure if it would be a hiking spot or just a casual walk, and it turned out to be a relaxed stroll suited for most ages and mobility groups. Normally, admission is $10/person, but they were doing an event to memorialize Ruth on Saturday and admission was free. They also had cookies, planting stations, and raffles to win clippings from her own personal succulent collection! Needless to say, I was in heaven.
The garden has every kind of succulent you could imagine, from cacti to aloe and everything in between. It also features various trees, flowers, and plants of the non-succulent variety. Instead of having a formal walkthrough with signs and guideposts, it’s a self-guided walk and volunteers are placed throughout to answer questions. It gives the experience more of an organic feel, and it does genuinely seem like you’re walking amongst someone’s garden as opposed to visiting a plant museum. I saw many plants I had never seen (including a dragonfruit plant!) and learned quite a bit about the different species within the garden that are native to the California area. There’s also a nursery that sells plans from Ruth’s personal collection, and while I didn’t get one this time, I definitely will when we go back!
Overall, it was a really amazing sight and I’m so glad we took the time to go. If you’re in the Bay Area and a nice afternoon ambling amongst plants sounds like your thing, I’d highly recommend making the trip!