Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek, CA

Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek about 30 minutes east of San Francisco is a 2.5 acre botanical garden dedicated to succulents and other xeric plants. It has one of the premier collections of succulents in the country. It began in the 1950s as a private collection and has been open to the public since 1992.

I’ve been a member of the Ruth Bancroft Garden for a few years but I never got around to visiting it until this summer—more than a year after we built our succulent beds. It was a hot Saturday afternoon so for a while we were the only visitors. Strolling through the beautifully landscaped beds was quite a treat. The number and variety of xeric plants is stunning: agaves, aloes, cacti, other succulents as well as shrubs and trees from the Americas, Australia, and Africa. Everything is clearly labeled. Next to the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, this is the most diverse collection succulents in Northern California, and a highly recommended destination for anybody who loves “dry plants”.

They also sell hard-to-find plants at very reasonable prices, ranging from small 1-gallon plants to specimens in 5-gallon and even larger containers. I bought a nice Agave dasylirioides that I haven’t quite figured out what to do yet. It’s native to Central Mexico and is only hardy to 30°F, so I can’t really put it in the ground. It’ll be one of the plants I’ll overwinter in the garage.

Being a fan of agaves, I spent most of my time looking at and photographing the many agaves growing throughout the garden. One of my favorite things about visiting botanical gardens is dreaming of owning a large piece of property that has enough room for all my favorite plants—and generates its own microclimates so I can grow sun-loving succulents in one spot and cool-temperature ferns in another. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) and prickly pear (Opuntia sp.)
Astrophytum myriostigma
Star cactus (Astrophytum myriostigma)
Silver Dollar Plant (Dudleya brittonii)
Houseleek (Sempervivum sp.)
Cobweb houseleek (Sempervivum arachnoideum)
Twin-flowered agave (Agave geminiflora)
Hesperoyucca whipplei
Lord’s candle (Hesperoyucca whipplei)
Mexican grass tree (Dasylirion longissimum)
Agave americana and Agave stricta
Hedgehog agave (Agave stricta) in front of Agave americana
Agave americana-and-sky
Century plant (Agave americana)
Agave americana close-up
Agave americana close-up
Agave parryi var. truncata with Agave americana
Artichoke agave (Agave parryi var. truncata)
Agave parryi var. truncata
Artichoke agave (Agave parryi var. truncata)
Agave parryi huachucensis
Artichoke agave (Agave parryi var. huachucensis);
note the leaves are pointier than in the truncata variety
Agave parryi huachucensis and Euphorbia caput-medusae
Artichoke agave (Agave parryi var. huachucensis)
Resin spurge (Euphorbia resinifera)
Euphorbia grandialata
Bromelia balansae
Heart of flame (Bromelia balansae)
Parkinsonia aculeata
Mexican palo verde (Parkinsonia aculeata)


  1. Man, Euphorbia is one diverse genus, isn't it? Great photos as always. Are we almost done with the awesome succulents now? I don't know how much more I can take! (most of these won't survive in my climate)

  2. Alan, last succulent post for a while, I promise :-). Working on setting up two 2x2x6 ft galvanized steel stock tanks in our back yard, to be filled with bamboo. Still figuring out which bamboo species to pick...

  3. What a great place! So beautiful! Love the barrel cactus. And I found a name of one of my succulents I bought with no name. It is agave stricta or hedgehog agave. I got is for 15 at Walmart. Yeah!


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