Ruth Bancroft Garden 2015 spring plant sale: bigger, better, and longer
Yesterday (April 11, 2015) was the 2015 spring plant sale at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA. Or, to be more correct, it was the start of the spring plant sale. For the first time, the plant sale will run for six days. If you weren’t able to make it yesterday, you still have time until Thursday, April 16, 2015. The plant sale is in the expanded retail nursery right by the garden entrance and office. Business hours are 10 am to 4 pm every day this week, including Monday when the garden is normally closed. For more info and directions to the garden, visit the RBG web site.
Nursery manager Troy McGregor and his crew brought in more plants than ever this year so the selection was larger and popular plants didn’t sell out as quickly as before. They even had seven or eight ‘Hercules’ tree aloes (Aloidendron ‘Hercules’), which are normally difficult to find.
Take a look at all the goodies waiting for new homes!
Agaves you don’t see every day, at least not in Northern California: Agave gypsophila ‘Ivory Curls’ (bottom left), Agave sebastiana ‘Silver Lining’ (bottom right), and Agave impressa (top right)
Agave impressa, not quite hardy inland but perfectly fine in Oakland, San Francisco or Marin County
Agave vilmoriniana ‘Stained Glass’ (bottom and top center)
Aloe ‘Hellskloof Bells’, a cross between Aloe pearsonii (a rare species considered to be difficult to grow in cultivation) and Aloe distans (much more common and easier to grow). Brian Kemble, the curator of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, created this hybrid in 1991 and it was later distributed by Huntington Botanical Gardens under its International Succulents Introductions (ISI) program. Ironically, I haven’t seen ‘Hellkloof Bells’ for sale at the Ruth Bancroft Garden very often, but this year they had large and healthy plants in #2 cans. I have a small one in the ground but I snapped up a larger one for the front yard.
Agave stricta ‘Nana’, a fairly rare selection that stays very compact (6-10 inches tall)
Pedilanthus bracteactus, not exactly rare but still uncommon in Northern California. The leaves are ephemeral and for most of the year the stems are bare.
How’s this for variegation? Agave ‘Hammer Time’
Yucca rostrata. The $150 price tag proved that there are simply no cheap sources for this much sought-after succulent.
The golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) is one of the most popular cacti in cultivation (and nurseries). This white-spined form, however, is much less common.
Echinocactus grusonii, white-spined form
I was waiting for somebody to stick their head through but everybody was too busy looking at plants
Very nice 5-gallon specimens of the South African silver tree (Leucadendron argenteum), bargain-priced at $40 (I’ve seen nurseries charge almost that much for 1-gallon plants). If only it were hardier…
Lots of South African and Australian shrubs
The sale also included a large selection of companion plants, including California natives
Sometimes I think the repurposing of containers has spun out of control, but I loved these fire extinguishers planted with dyckias.
I also liked these old metal cans by Laura Hogan of Arid Accents. Affordable, too.
Echeveria ‘Coral Glow’
I heard the siren song of these Aeonium tabuliforme and I resisted. The last Aeonium tabuliforme I had lasted for less than a year before it flowered and died—with no offsets or seeds
This strange plant stopped me in my tracks. It’s a small shrub from Australia called Leucophyta brownii, or cushion bush. Small and compact, it forms rounded mounds dotted with yellow flowers in spring and summer. I had to have one for the front yard.
‘Desert Museum’ palo verde (Parkinsonia ‘Desert Museum’) in 24” boxes. According to nursery manager Troy McGregor, it’s very difficult at the moment to find ‘Desert Museum’ in 15-gallon cans because of high demand. More and more homeowners and garden designers are looking to desert-adapted plants in light of our mandated water reductions!
One of the checkout tables
My red wagon next to a massive Agave franzosinii
Not a big haul but I don’t have much space left.
Bottom row: Echinocactus grusonii, white-spined form; Leucophyta brownii.
Top row: Aloe ‘Hellskloof Bells’; Aloe dorotheae
As you know, I’m a huge fan and supporter of the Ruth Bancroft Garden. At the same time, I haven’t been shy about suggesting improvements when I noticed things that I thought didn’t work as well as they could.
This time, though, the layout of the sale was perfect. I can’t think of a single thing that could be improved—except maybe an on-site coffee cart selling hot and cold beverages :-).
A big thanks to all the good folks at the Ruth Bancroft Garden—staff and volunteers alike—for giving us such a fantastic sale. I was very happy to see such a great turnout.
I also ran into several readers of Succulents and More and had a wonderful time chatting with them. I’m glad you recognized me and said hi.