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The Ruth Bancroft Garden

Articles: The Ruth Bancroft Garden

The Ruth Bancroft Garden. Photo: Marion Brenner

Ruth Bancroft began imagining and planting her Walnut Creek landscape in the 1970s when she was already in her sixties. Surrounded by suburban single-family homes and green lawns, the life-long plant lover explored and planted a variety of wildflowers, irises, roses, and yes, cacti and succulents. Together with Brian Kemble—her garden cohort almost from the beginning—Ruth cultivated a growing collection of dry garden plants arranging their architectural forms and many colors and textures to exquisite effect. Ruth’s garden flourished, garnering the attention of gardeners near and far.

Portrait of Ruth. Photo: Brown Cannon III

Renowned plantsman Frank Cabot visited Ruth in 1988 and came away inspired to create a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving significant American gardens. The Ruth Bancroft Garden opened to the public in the early 1990s, the first property to enter the stewardship of the Garden Conservancy.

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