Ruth Bancroft Garden spectacular, part 2 of 3

 Back to part 1 │   To part 3

Late winter in the Ruth Bancroft Garden (RBG) means aloe flowers. But aloes aren't the only plants in bloom. In this recent post, I featured several different “ice plants” or “mesembs;” here are some more:

Glottiphyllum longum

Cheiridopsis denticulata

Not labeled, possibly Cheiridopsis brownii

Even with all the other plant attractions, it is hard to resist the siren call of the aloes:

Aloe branddraaiensis, not the most spectacular aloe based on the leaves, but the flowers are really nice

Aloe branddraaiensis flowers against Agave ovatifolia

Lots of blooming aloes here

Aloe ferox & co.

More Aloe ferox

And even more

Aloe 'Creamsicle', a Brian Kemble hybrid between a yellow-flowering Aloe arborescens and a yellow-flowering Aloe ferox

Aloe speciosa, the appropriately named tilt-head aloe, in front of Aloidendron 'Hercules'

Aloe speciosa

And let's not forget the agaves:

Mystery agave on February 13

Two weeks later, it looks like this. Yep, it's about to flower. 

On my second trip, I got more info about this agave from Brian Kemble. It originally came from the Bolinas garden of the late succulent collector Herman Schwartz (here is an interesting 2003 article from SF Gate, including a photo of a mustachioed Brian Kemble). Brian calls it Agave mitis 'Chocolate Edge' because of the brown margin, although he conjectures it might be a hybrid because of the unusual way the leaves fold up. To me, it looks like a super-sized cousin of Mangave 'Praying Hands'!

Fortunately, like other species of the Polycephalae group of agaves, A. mitis typically produces basal offsets after flowering (i.e. pups emerging from the center) so this very special clone will live on.

Agave mitis 'Chocolate Edge', with Arctostaphylos 'Ruth Bancroft' behind it

Arctostaphylos 'Ruth Bancroft', with Agave ovatifolia on the left

Arctostaphylos 'Ruth Bancroft' and Agave ovatifolia

Arctostaphylos 'Ruth Bancroft' flowers

Agave ovatifolia 'Orca'

Cassia artemisioides, an Australian shrub with linear leaves that looks great in dry gardens

At the Ruth Bancroft Garden, it's easy to get distracted by the large, showy plants. But there's a huge variety to discover lower to the ground. Here's a good example, an ever expanding carpet of Sedum rubrotinctum.

Mask-wearing visitors are a vivid reminder that we're still in the middle of a pandemic

Aloe karasbergensis, seductive and temperamental, seems to have found a spot it likes

Mangave 'Mission to Mars' and Aloe schoelleri

Mangave 'Mission to Mars', growing to impressive proportions in this sunny spot

Euphorbia myrsinites

Euphorbia echinus, one of the euphorbia species from Morocco

Euphorbia caput-medusae from near Cape Town

Euphorbia caput-medusae

Euphorbia inermis var. huttonae (right) and Euphorbia caput-medusae (top right)

Large clump of Agave mitis

Agave mitis var. albidior and Senecio mandraliscae (left), Senecio ficoides 'Skyscraper' (right)

The newly restored pond

Senecio ficoides 'Skyscraper' from the Sunset Western Garden Collection, a great option where a vertical accent is needed

Unnamed Brian Kemble Mangave (Mangave 'Macho Mocha' crossed with Agave pablocarrilloi) about to flower 

Mixed-succulent planting near the pond...

...more living proof that small plants can be beautiful, too

Dyckias and Senecio serpens

My new-found focus on the smaller plants has got me quite excited. I think I'll follow through on that in our garden as well.


© Gerhard Bock, 2021. All rights reserved. No part of the materials available through may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent of Gerhard Bock. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Gerhard Bock is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States and international copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Gerhard Bock. If you are reading this post on a website other than, please be advised that that site is using my content without my permission. Any unauthorized use will be reported.


  1. Such a treat reading your post, so much eye candy and not to mention your superb photography!

    Chocolate Edge, major want!!

  2. The photo of Euphorbia echinus had me thinking of an Escher painting. It's a beautiful garden. I was surprised by the pond area but I think it looks wonderful.

    1. That clump of Euphorbia echinus is mesmerizing. Individual plants are a bit meh, but en masse, wow!

      The pond was part of Ruth's original garden but degraded over the years, as is typical of old water features. Now it looks better than I ever remember.

  3. The group of Mangave 'Mission to Mars' is very impressive and has a "plucked from the headlines" name: I love it.
    I find the small plantings in rocks to be my favorite. There was such treasure in the previous post (part #1, moss and Aeonium!) as well as the stunning colors of Cheiridopsis denticulata and the succulent grouping nestled in rocks by the pond. I'd love to see how it inspires you to create tapestries in your own garden.

    1. LOL, I wonder if the recent Mars landing of the Perseverance rover has led to increased demand for Mangave 'Mission to Mars'?

  4. Another scrumptious look at the RBG!

  5. I was going to go in Feb and now it's March. How did that happen ?? At least I can visit virtually via your photos-and Brian Kembles' 'whats in bloom' videos !


Post a Comment