Ruth Bancroft Garden miscellanea (June 2015)

Yesterday I made an impromptu trip to the Ruth Bancroft Garden to meet up with friends from Portland, OR. I was too busy talking to take photos in an organized fashion so what I ended up with is a series of vignettes rather than a connected narrative. But that’s OK because you can enjoy the garden Instagram style as well. Sometimes that’s all we have time for in our busy lives.


This Agave parryi looked particularly luminous, but the outer leaves are turning purple. Just stressed or getting ready to flower? It looks too small, but I had an Agave parryi in pot that flowered when it was smaller than this one.


Yucca rostrata in bloom


A rare sight: agaves being watered


I believe this is the Channel Island buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens) I bought at Annie’s Annuals a couple of weeks ago. Looks great!


Agave heaven


LEFT: Furcraea macdougalli


Quite a few agaves are flowering at the RBG. This is Agave parryi.

150603_RBG_015 150603_RBG_016

LEFT: Agave parryi  RIGHT: Agave marmorata.
We ran into assistant curator Walker Young, and he said they’re trying to cross Agave marmorata with several other agaves (including Agave gypsophila) as well as with a Manfreda to make a super large ×Mangave. Keeping my fingers crossed!


Walker also showed us some rarities like this variegated Agave colorata


Encephalartos horridus


×Mangave ‘Espresso’ (a variegated sport of ×Mangave ‘Macho Mocha’)


Pachypodium rosulatum var. gracilis


Walker’s preferred fertilizer: Jack’s Professional 21-8-7-7 Acid


Doug Norseth and his friend David Kurtz from Berkeley Horticultural Nursery next to a stunning Encephelartos horridus (which may or may not have some Encephelartos lehmanni in it)


The curious-looking aloe on the right is Aloe sabae


Aloe reynoldsii


×Mangave ‘Espresso’ planted out


Lots of aeoniums


Flowering Agave mitis


This little fellow in the foreground is Leucophyta brownii. I bought one at RBG’s spring sale.


Athanasia atherosa, another shrub I’m considering planting


I’ve enjoyed following the progress of this colorful planting. It makes me think of an under-the-sea garden.


Agave salmiana with oddly crinkled leaf tips


Fancy planter in the new retail nursery

The good folks at the RBG have not been sitting on their hands. I saw lots of progress—new beds being built, new plants tucked in here and there, new lighting being installed so the garden can be used for evening events. Change is everywhere, and change is good.


  1. I never tire of looking at pics of RBG, so lucky that you do an 'impromptu' visit of it :)

    1. With no traffic, it's 53 minutes from my front door. Not bad at all.

      Yesterday I made another stop first; more in my next post.

  2. It's a fantastic place to visit - and I appreciate it that you share your photos (especially as it would take me a good deal longer to get there and back). It was good to see a photo of Leucophyta brownii (which I've learned is the proper name of the plant I purchased in 6-pack as Calocephalus brownii) to get a better idea of what they'll look like at maturity.

    1. I was very glad to spot that Leucophyta brownii. To me it looks like sea foam. I like it! After having seen a mature version, I'll add more to the front yard. They do provide next contrast.

  3. I can see improvement there even though I've only been there once--good for them! The place is getting lots of well-deserved love.

    The Leucophyta is a favorite of mine, forms a huge silver tumbleweed-shaped thing, eventually. I wish it would live longer, but no plant is 100% perfect.

    1. Yes, lots of work going on all the time now. It's great to see so many positive changes.

      I'll get a few more Leucophyta. I love the texture and color contrast it adds. And if it needs to be replaced in a few years, I'm sure I'll have a new favorite by then.

  4. I really like that colorful planting (3rd from bottom image) -- it's got everything! (except big plants)

    "21-7-7 Acid" sounds potent!

    1. That colorful planting should appeal to a lot of homeowners who don't like spiky plants. Combined with a rocks and maybe a dry streambed, it would be a perfect lawn replacement.

      I routinely add a splash of vinegar to the water I use for my potted succulents (as well as dilute MiracleGro) so this fertilizer would take care of both. Here's a good article on acidifying the water you use for succulents:


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