Sunday, April 17, 2016

2016 Spring Fling at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Yesterday I went on a field trip with the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society to the Ruth Bancroft Garden. It coincided with the RBG’s 2016 Spring Fling, a new name for their annual spring plant sale. I was so busy yakking with people that I didn’t take a lot of photos of the actual sale but it was very similar to last year’s (see here).

As always, there were lots of cool plants, ranging from succulents—spiky and non-spiky—to desert trees to shrubs from the southern hemisphere to California natives. Truly, something for everybody.

In addition, there was a Talavera pottery trunk show, unique plant pillows (called “Plantillos”) by Berkeley artist Sabine Herrmann, as well as other local art and succulent-oriented books.

160416_RBG_003

Agave salmiana dug from the garden and ready to go to a new home. I called it the “Hannibal Lecter” agave.

160416_RBG_002

This hypertufa planter was so large, it occupied an entire plant cart!

160416_RBG_090

Inspired combination: eerily white Dudleya and rich purple-brown Leucadendron ‘Ebony’

Our group also received a special garden tour from RBG’s garden host Stephen Lysaght. The remaining photos were taken as Stephen was leading us through the garden.

160416_RBG_004

Stately live oak (Quercus lobata)

160416_RBG_091

Agave franzosinii. This clump is larger than a semi truck!

160416_RBG_008

Agave parrasana sending up a massive flower stalk

160416_RBG_006

Agave parryi and California poppies

160416_RBG_007

Close-up

160416_RBG_015

Furcraea macdougalii

160416_RBG_009

Agave colorata × bovicornuta, Xanthorrhoea nana, and Lampranthus sp.

160416_RBG_010

Xanthorrhoea nana, the smallest species of the famed Australian grass trees

160416_RBG_013

Leucospermum sp.

160416_RBG_019

Unlabeled ice plants

160416_RBG_020

Giant spear lily (Doryanthes palmeri). This Australian native, considered to be a succulent by some, has been growing in the garden for 20 years. This is the first time it’s flowered.

160416_RBG_021

Hello, Agave ‘Mr Ripple’

160416_RBG_023

Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) and Polygala virgata, a South African shrub

160416_RBG_043

Agave ‘Blue Glow’

160416_RBG_028

Vertical planter leaning against the propagation greenhouse. We got to tour the off-limits greenhouses but I didn’t take any photos inside.

x160416_RBG_029

Opuntia in the garden

160416_RBG_031

Golden barrels (Echinocactus grusonii) and Cape balsam (Bulbine frutescens ‘Hallmark’)

160416_RBG_032

Golden barrels (Echinocactus grusonii), Cape balsam (Bulbine frutescens ‘Hallmark’) and Agave parryi

160416_RBG_033

Garden vignette

160416_RBG_037

As part of our special tour, Stephen showed us Ruth Bancroft’s private garden next door. It is dominated by her enormous iris collection. Ruth is 107 (!) years old now, and she still enjoys checking out the progress in the garden she started 50 years ago.

160416_RBG_038

Vignette in Ruth Bancroft’s private garden

160416_RBG_040

Agave filifera?

160416_RBG_041_Agave-cerulata

Agave cerulata and Mammillaria geminispina

160416_RBG_042

Yucca against the California sky

160416_RBG_048

Yucca rigida

160416_RBG_044

Agave parryi var.neomexicana ‘Rabid Dog’

160416_RBG_046

Garden vignette

160416_RBG_047

Garden vignette

160416_RBG_049

Echinopsis sp. getting ready to flower

160416_RBG_050

Echinopsis sp. getting ready to flower

160416_RBG_052

Agave asperrima

160416_RBG_053

Profusion of ice plants

160416_RBG_058

Lobivia formosa, native to northwestern Argentina, with a profusion of purple ice plants from South Africa (Lampranthus sp.) growing next to it

160416_RBG_055

Lobivia formosa

160416_RBG_060

Backlit Cylindropuntia sp.

160416_RBG_064

Agave ovatifolia, Drosanthemum micans and Yucca ‘Bright Star’

160416_RBG_061

Drosanthemum micans and Yucca ‘Bright Star’

160416_RBG_083

Agave mitis var. albidior

160416_RBG_086

NOID Verbascum sp.

One of my personal plant highlights of this visit was the clump of Puya berteroniana you see on the right in the next photo. It was just starting to flower, with more inflorescences than ever before according to Stephen. Over time, this terrestrial bromeliad (pineapple relative) forms massive clumps armed with vicious spines. Puyas are known for the otherworldly metallic colors of their flowers, ranging from turquoise to green.

160416_RBG_082

160416_RBG_081

160416_RBG_079

160416_RBG_068

160416_RBG_074

160416_RBG_075 

In what seems to be the beginning of a tradition, I also met up with Kathy Stoner of Gardenbook: Where the Garden Meets the Keyboard. Kathy lives and gardens in Napa. You should check out her blog if you’re not familiar with it.

After the RBG tour, Stephen Lysaght graciously invited us to his house in the East Bay hills for a tour of his own garden. Check out this post to be wowed!

 

NOTE TO MYSELF:

Plants purchased:

  • Banksia repens
  • Eremophila racemosa
  • Limoniastrum monopetalum
  • Ribes x gordonianum

14 comments:

  1. you got some nice shots Gerhard, in crappy photo conditions ! Nice job on the Puya.And thanks again for letting me tag along on the secret tour !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That puya was something else, wasn't it? I'm so happy I got to see it in flower.

      Delete
  2. 107. Wow. That's old.

    I found this file online http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/roho/ucb/text/bancroft_ruth.pdf

    It's an oral history with Ruth Bancroft about gardening. 184 pages of very easy reading. Highly recommended for gardeners, the hands in the dirt kind who want to know the best way to care for their succulents, and for insomniacs.

    I've just gotten started. She talks about garden design, garden people on the West Coast, plants, etc. Very entertaining.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jane, thank you so much for the link to the oral history of the RBG from 1991 and 1992. It looks to be a fascinating read. Can wait to get started!

      Delete
  3. So beautiful! If I could make my garden look half this awesome, I would be so happy. Your pictures capture it's beauty so well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been to the RBG so many times, and yet there's something new to discover each time. The garden staff and the many volunteers work tirelessly to make the garden better and better.

      Delete
  4. Excellent! Hannibal looks so menacing, but that wouldn't stop me from bringing him home if I could. And I see you captured a nice shot of "my" A. franzosinii! And you saw Ruth's own garden!!! You didn't get to meet her did you? Oh and Gerhard, I really needed this, it came at the perfect time, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The agaves dug from the garden are a steal. I wish I had room.

      Yes, I thought of you when I took those photos of the Agave franzosinii clump framed by the majestic valley oak.

      I've never had the pleasure of meeting Ruth herself. From what I hear she still spends time in the garden occasionally. She still takes an active interest in what's being planted, etc.

      Delete
  5. Wow, 107 and still enjoying her garden. That is completely wonderful.

    The RBG looks great. The 'Rabid Dog' Agave is very attractive (not sure I like the name, though), and of course your photos are always a treat. If only those Echinopsis flowers had been open that day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 107! I can't quite get my mind around that...

      The only reference to 'Rabid Dog' I've found online is this one specific plant at the RBG. It sure is a stunning selection, with awesome teeth. Regarding the name, it does sound a bit aggressive, but it's in the same vein as Agave parrasana 'Meat Claw'.

      I'm tempted to swing by the RBG next weekend to check on the echinopsis. The RBG will be part of the Garden Conservancy's East Bay Open Garden Days on Saturday, April 23:

      https://www.gardenconservancy.org/events/all-events/san-francisco-east-bay-ca-open-day

      Delete
  6. There are so many great shots in this post I couldn't possible comment on them all! That Agave franzosinii looks like a sculpture! The golden barrel cactus couldn't have a better frame than that rusty metal structure and the Yucca 'Bright star' was similarly well-framed by the Drosanthemum. I didn't realize that Ruth Bancroft still lived on-site - if there's any question as to the positive health effects of gardening, I can't think of a better example.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Timely reminder to check out the puyas at the Huntington. Maybe I'll find that small grass tree at the sales this year. And so good to see Mr. Ripple given all the room he wants. Inspiring visit, thank you Gerhard!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for sharing Gerhard, you're exactly right that there's always something new to see. I still remember being part of Ruth's 100th birthday celebrations in the gardens, and it was an incredible day.

    ReplyDelete