Ruth Bancroft Garden 2014 fall plant sale recap
The plant sales at the Ruth Bancroft Garden are personal highlights for me. I go every spring and fall, and I always walk about with interesting plants as well as lots of new photos.
Here’s my recap of the 2014 fall sale, held last Saturday.
After the somewhat chaotic 2014 spring sale, the organizers completely revamped the layout. All the tables were set up right outside the nursery instead of interspersed throughout the garden. This had several advantages: People weren’t bumping into each other as much as they did during previous sales where they had to navigate often narrow garden paths; there was room for more plants, especially larger specimens; the volunteers didn’t have to haul plants quite as far when setting up (according to a volunteer I chatted with); and the garden itself was virtually deserted, which made for a very tranquil experience. In addition, there was an express checkout line for people buying 8 plants or less, which sped up what often is the most frustrating part of a plant sale.
I loved this new setup, and I hope RBG will keep it for future sales. A big thank you to everybody involved in this sale. I think it was a rousing success.
As I always do, I brought my camera along to show you what the sale was like. Let’s check out the goodies!
I love the shade sails over the sales area in front of the nursery
So many cool agaves!
Agave gigantensis, the first time I’ve seen it at RBG. Check out this mature specimen at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Agave marmorata, another fairly uncommon species I’ve never seen for sale in Northern California
Agave montana ‘Elodie’
Agave montana ‘Elodie’. I couldn’t find anything about it online. It must be a new named cultivar, probably from tissue culture.
This sale featured an expanded selection of larger agaves. The five-gallon plants provide immediate impact.
Agave ocahui × filifera. I regret not grabbing this beautiful hybrid. I was going to but then ended up talking to somebody and forgot.
Agave titatonta (Rancho Tambor clone)
Agave salmiana ssp. crassispina
Check that Agave shawii in the middle—there’s a pup growing out of one of the drain holes!
BACK: Agave salmiana ssp. crassispina
FRONT: Agave zebra
Agave zebra, a 2 gallon plant for $25. I already have two small ones, otherwise this one would have come home with me. Agave zebra is one of the most xeric species. It loves to bake in the heat all day long without needing much water.
Agave bovicornuta, a truly beautiful specimen for $25
Expensive but one of the best deals at the sale: specimen-sized Agave ovatifolia ‘Vanzie’ for $60. I’d say this is easily a $100 retail value.
Aloes galore at the table manned by Brian Kemble, RBG curator and a world-renowned exert on aloes. I always look forward talking to him. The current issue of the Cactus and Succulent Journal has a very interesting article by Brian on hybridizing Aloe humilis. Some of his Aloe humilis crosses with larger aloes, such as Aloe marlothii and Aloe ferox, are going into tissue culture and will be available in 2-3 years.
Aloe sinkatana × deltoideodonta
Aloe elegans, this one came home with me
Aloe distans, underrated and underappreciated and yet so lovely
Aloe peglerae in a 5 gallon can. Easily one of the most beautiful plants I saw at the sale.
Yucca rostrata in 1-gallon size
Hesperoyucca whipplei aka Our Lord’s Candle. I’ve wanted one ever since I saw stunning specimens at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and in the Southern California desert, and here was my chance. This California native has a reputation for being difficult to grow, mostly because it needs to be kept as dry as possible, but I think I will manage.
This sign made me smile
Another great deal: specimen-size golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) for $50. Available now, so call RBG if you want one. I can’t imagine they will last long.
I assume these were the $50 golden barrels
Another area of interest for me were South African and Australian shrubs in the Proteaceae family. This is a row of Leucadendron galpinii.
Phylica pubescens, a very tempting shrub from South Africa. If only I had enough room for all these cool shrubs!
Barrel cone flower (Isopogon triblobus)…
…a banksia relative with similar flowers
Acorn banksia (Banksia prionotes)
Acorn banksia (Banksia prionotes)
Groundcover banksia (Banksia blechnifolia)…
…super cool and hardy to find. One will soon grow in our front yard.
Banksia speciosa, one of my favorite banksias, but much too large for our garden. (Check out the fantastic specimen at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum.)
Feather-leaved banksia (Banksia brownii)
Showy dryandra (Banksia formosa)
Bull banksia (Banksia grandis), another large variety
Sandpaper wattle (Acacia denticulosa)…
…weird and exactly my cup of tea. Look for it soon in our front yard.
Nursery manager Troy McGregor took me into the greenhouse to show me some of the goodies from down under that will be available in future plant sales. Among other things, look for cool acacias grown from seed!
I love seeing plants at this stage—so much promise!
Bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii), the Australian version of the monkey-puzzle tree (Aracaucaria araucana)
'Desert Museum' palo verde shortage in Northern California! The RBG sold out of their stock on Saturday, and I heard that Village Nurseries is out as well. It must be because more and more people are beginning to realize what a perfect tree this is for drought-ridden California!
Bags of pure pumice and special soil mix
Seeds of Swainsona formosa for sale at the checkout
If you’re wondering what Swainsona formosa is, it’s an Australian native that can withstand high temperatures and drought. Here is more information about it. The flowers are very striking—bizarre, you might say. To me they look like little alien faces staring at me. If they’d had plants for sale, I would have bought one. But I’m not very good with seeds, so I passed.
My brand new wagon came in very handy. Here it is, filled with the goodies I bought.
Here’s a list of my plant purchases (for you as much as for myself, because I’ll be sure to refer to this post down the list):
- Agave colorata (with pronounced cross-banding)
- Agave parrasana 'Meat Claw'
- Agave 'Blue Emperor' (another hybrid between Agave victoria-reginae and Agave macroacantha)
- Echeveria cante 'White Shadow'
- Aloe elegans
- Aloe glauca (with pronounced pink teeth)
- Aloe betsileensis (I’d never heard of this species before, but it looks like it could be stunning)
- Hesperoyucca whipplei (pronounced blue cast to the leaves)
- Acacia denticulosa
- Banksia blechnifolia
In my next post I’ll take you on a walk of the garden. As always, lots of wonderful things to see!