Ruth Bancroft Garden Black Friday sale extended until 12/4/14

Black Friday sales are great for people buying electronics, appliances and maybe clothes, but usually there's nothing special about them for gardeners. This year was different. For the first time, the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek ran a Black Friday sale. And what a sale it was: 50% off on available plants in the retail nursery! It started on Friday—the day after Thanksgiving—and was supposed to end today, Sunday.

Except it didn’t.

If you kicked yourself because you thought you missed it, I have good news: The sale has been extended until 4pm on Thursday, December 4, 2014. That means you have  three more days to shop: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (the Garden and nursery are closed on Mondays).


I drove to the RBG this morning and arrived just in time for a major downpour. I huddled in the covered propagation area with nursery manager Troy McGregor for a good half hour while we were waiting for the rain to let up. Troy showed me all kinds of plants he’s propagating, especially Australian shrubs. Originally from Australia, he’s a walking encyclopedia when it comes to southern hemisphere plants and has been the driving force behind turning the Ruth Bancroft Garden nursery into one of the best places in Northern California to buy plants from Australia and South Africa. I was very glad Troy was working today because I was looking for a banksia to replace a bamboo in the backyard. With his help, I found what I was looking for: a Banksia baxteri (more on that later).

Eventually the rain stopped and the sun made an appearance, bathing the retail nursery area in a warm winter light. I took advantage of the break in the rain and walked around the Garden a bit; I’ll have a separate post later this week.


For now, I want to show you a few more things that caught my eye in the nursery.


These golden barrel cactus were a great deal before at $75. Now they’re 50% off!


Large Agave weberi, both sold


Bare-root Agave ovatifolia, a steal at their regular price of $60, now only $30.


That’s a truly amazing price, considering these are huge plants. In my opinion, Agave ovatifolia is one of the most beautiful agave species. If you’ve ever been tempted to get one, act now. You’ll never find a better deal than this.




I don’t know aloe species this is (it was part of a mixed arrangement), but I love the graying purple leaf color

And here are my purchases:


Yucca rostrata in 1-gallon containers. Small, but exceedingly well-priced at $4. (These are for you, Candy.)


Bird’s nest banksia (Banksia baxteri), seed-grown right at the nursery.


Banksia baxteri flower at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, just to show you the potential


I also bought several aloe hybrids…


…created by RBG curator Brian Kemble, an authority on aloes (this plant is about to bloom; I’ll post photos soon)


Both aloe hybrids came with the same tag, but since they look so different, I think one of them was mislabeled. Take a closer look at the tag. It gives you an idea of what a complex cross this is!

In addition, Troy recommended two Australian shrubs to trial in my garden:

Click the links to see photos of the flowers. Beautiful, aren’t they? I can’t wait to see how they do in our climate. For the time being, they’ll live in containers since they’re still very small.


The Ruth Bancroft Garden is only 45 minutes from San Francisco, an hour from San Jose, and less than an hour and a half from Sacramento. Don’t miss this sale if you live in Northern California!


  1. How cool! Even the nursery has Black Friday sales and has been extended too!

    1. I wish more nurseries would follow suit. This is a good time for them to clear out some of their inventory.

  2. Wheeeeeee. I am so excited! Thank you so much honey. Can't wait to get them going and see more of your photos!

    1. No Aloe 'Hercules'. They're impossible to get right now. Supposedly they're in tissue culture now, so smaller plants should be available in a few years.

  3. So getting caught in a little rainstorm was actually a good thing, right? Paul, of our local Xera Plants, is growing on and propagating a telopea that he's had great success with here in his Portland garden, I can't wait to get my hands on one! That A. ovatifolia is a beaut, how I wish I could have joined you...

    1. LOL, it was great getting a behind-the-scenes tour.

      As for Xera, Troy actually mentioned them and how he'd like to tour their nursery someday. I think Xera and the RBG should hook up so we can get Xera plants down here.

  4. I am always so amaze by all your finds and sharing. I love that A. ovalifolia. Hope to find one locally.

    1. Laura, the RBG is only an hour's drive for you! Head on up and grab yourself an A. ovatifolia or two. The price is incredible. You'd pay that much for a 2-gallon plant in a regular nursery--if you could find them.

  5. Damn ! I need to pay more attention to my RBG e-mails/postcards. I could have easily done this sale this weekend, but opportunity has passed, chained to my desk for the duration. Do you expect the Banksia and the Telopea to be hardy for you ? I think we are both z14 and I have avoided some of these Aussie plants that are borderline...I already move enough stuff inside and under shelter!

    1. Who knows, maybe they'll extend the sale one more time? Keep an eye on their web site and Facebook page.

      I think many Aussie plants are find in Sunset zone 14 (USDA zone 9), at least judging by what is growing and thriving at the UC Davis Arboretum. It would be wonderful to see that telopea bloom eventually; right now it's just a small cutting.

  6. 50% off, and they're not even "remnant" plants? Amazing. Those huge Agaves for $30? Unbelievable! How could you resist?

    1. The only thing that saves me from going over the edge is a lack of space. Otherwise I'd have to rent a truck to go to a sale like this one.

      My goal is to put half of the plants I buy into the ground. This requires both advance planning and discpline--two things I'm not always good at, LOL.

  7. Always nice to see you at the RBG Gerhard and even better to send you home with some new plants. Thanks for the continued support and I'll look forward to catching up when you visit next.

    1. Troy, always happy to go home with new plants, LOL!

      Seriously, I'm so glad that you're back and leading the RBG nursery to new heights.

  8. I feel like jumping in my car today! I hope they keep the tradition going for next year.

    1. I hope so too!! I'll suggest it to Troy, the RBG nursery manager, the next time I talk to him.


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