Ruth Bancroft Garden fall plant sale wrap-up

You’d think that with as many plants as I already have I’d stop going to plant sales. Far from it. While I typically only buy a few plants, I enjoy seeing what’s available. Plus, there’s always the element of surprise—the thrill of finding something unusual and unexpected.

The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA has a plant sale each spring and fall, and they are among my very favorites. Not only do I get to “hunt” for plants, I also get to enjoy the beautiful collections that make up this world-renowned botanical paradise.

The fall plant sale this past weekend was very well attended and offered a treasure trove of plants, succulents and non-succulents alike. For all of you who weren’t able to go, the photos in this post will give you an impression of what there was to see.


A steady stream of cars heading towards the parking area


Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata) and Agave parryi at the entrance


tables in front of the entrance


Ruth’s Folly (the green metal structure) and hoop houses. This was the first year I noticed pumpkins for sale.


Silent auction table at the entrance


Bags with the garden’s own succulent mix


Terrestrial bromeliads (dyckias and puyas)


Plant tables along the long mounded bed in the center of the Garden


I love how the sale tables are distributed all throughout the Garden…


…which allows you to see mature specimens of many of the plants for sale as you stroll from table to table


Cactus table from a distance…


…and up close


Columnar cacti for sale


These tables contained aeoniums and echeverias


One of the echeveria tables up close


Oleander hedge along the fence, with fruit-laden prickly pears on the left


These tables contained mostly agaves and aloe


The man in the dark red shirt is Brian Kemble, the curator of the Ruth Bancroft Garden


Aloes galore


My obsession with Aloe capitata var. quartziticola continues. Both of these were for sale, and both were labeled as the species. However, the one on the right is clearly variety quartziticola. Notice the purple cast and the dark purple spines as opposed to the green color and green spines of the species. It looks a lot like the plant I bought from Arid Lands Nursery this summer. I couldn’t help myself and took this one as home as well. It was the only quartziticola there. All the others were plain capitata.


This time around the selection of agaves was particularly strong. There were many rarely seen species.


This giant Agave salmiana was an imposing presence…


…as was this Agave americana ‘Marginata’


Agave parrasana ‘Meat Claw’


Agave sebastiana ‘Silver Lining’


Agave potatorum ‘Snowfall’


Smaller agaves for $6


Agave americana ‘Striata’, a rarely seen sport (I recently saw a mature specimen at Succulents Gardens)


Agave ‘Sharkskin Shoes’, a naturally occurring hybrid between Agave nickelsiae and Agava scabra


Agave parryi var. neomexicana


Agave ovatifolia (right)


I think Agave ovatifolia is easily one of the most beautiful of all agave species. Unfortunately, it’s a large plant and I don’t have room for one in our garden.


Everything on the special sale tables was 35% off, including…


…these agaves…


…and these aeoniums. I bought two one-gallon pots of Aeonium canariense and Aeonium var. rubrolineatum and they were $4.20 each.


Manfreda undulata ‘Chocolate Chips’


Various yuccas, including Yucca rostrata


And here is my trusted Radio Flyer wagon with my plant purchases. I was very selective, as you can see. In addition to the two aeoniums and the Aloe capitata var. quartziticola I already mentioned, I bought an Agave ‘Sun Glow’ (a yellow-edged sport of Agave ‘Blue Glow’), Agave toumeyana var. bella (possibly the smallest agave in cultivation) and a Dyckia fosteriana hybrid (the silver-purple plant on the left).

Tomorrow’s post will have some “plant porn” from the Ruth Bancroft Garden. I took so many photos, I didn’t want to make this post even longer.


  1. hooo boy, this sale has expanded significantly since the last time I went.It always seems to be on the same weekend as Digging Dogs' fall sale. Might have to swap sales next October.

    1. Yes, their sales have evolved a lot over the years. I didn't take any photos of the hoop houses by the entrance, but there were all kinds of potted succulent arrangements at very reasonable prices. Plus a non-plant area with books, hats, t-shirts, etc.

      One of these years I'll make it to the Digging Dog sale. It would make a nice weekend getaway for the family.

  2. I've been hunting for a decent Agave americana 'Striata' ever sine seeing a mature specimen at San Marcos Growers. I would have grabbed that one in a heartbeat!

    So, I hate to be nit picky but you mention six plants but I count seven in your wagon, I thInk there's an agave in there you're not talking about...

    1. I wish I had known you were looking for a 'Striata'. I'll keep my eyes open for you. This one *was* very nice and I can't believe I didn't pick it up.

      As for the 7th plant, you've got eagle eyes! I had to look at the photo three times before I found it. It is an Agave titanota (the Rancho Tambor clone). I already have a larger one but since it's a solitary species, I'll have a second specimen should anything ever happen to my other one :-).

    2. Ah yes! I thought it might be an A. titanota, nice find! And if you do see another 'Striata' I'd happily reimburse you ASAP! Grazie!

  3. Wow, so many great looking succulents! It must have been fun being in that plant sales, with so many succulents to choose from it must have been hard to narrow down what you're going to buy. And you're right about the elemnt of surprise whenever one goes to a plant sale :)

    1. And the way the sale is set up, you can't immediately see what there is when you enter the garden. You literally have to walk from table to table and explore. I love that.

  4. No matter how many plants you have or how little room, never stop buying more plants or at least looking! :-)

    I can't believe those Aeoniums were only $4!

    1. Alan, I couldn't believe it either. I'll post a photo of the Aeonium canariense later in the week. I put it in a 10" pot by the front door, and it fills most of the pot. There are at least six stems!

  5. This plant sale looks like a lot of fun! I'd love to go to one like this that concentrates on all those great succulents and agaves that you can't find, even at a good nursery. I'm wanting that Striata agave too. I need a variegated one. That's a magnificent 'Marginata' in the garden, looking like it wants to reach out and grab people.


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