Sidewalk cactus flowers at Ruth Bancroft Garden

When I was in the East Bay a few weekends ago for the 2023 Waterwise Garden Tour sponsored by the Ruth Bancroft Garden and two regional municipal utilities, I made a quick stop at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. I didn’t have time to walk through the garden itself, but I did take photos of the flowering cacti in the sidewalk beds. And they were spectacular, as you can see below.

Bancroft Road is a busy street, and I imagine that quite a few drivers get distracted by the brilliantly colored Echinopsis flowers:

Entry planting along Bancroft Road

Agave parrasana ‘Fireball’

Mangave ‘Mission to Mars’

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’, with a flowering Aloe buhrii on the left and Echinopsis ‘Giant Yellow’ on the right. Behind it is a clump of Parodia magnifica, not yet in bloom.

Echinopsis ‘Giant Yellow’, Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’ (pink), Aloe buhrii (yellow)

Echinopsis ‘Giant Yellow’

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’, Aloe buhrii, Mangave ‘Mission to Mars’

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’ has been around for a long time, but it’s still one of the most beautiful cactus hybrids in existence. Its brightly colored flowers are massive, up to 10 inches in diameter, and never fail to stop people in their tracks.

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’ is a hybrid between an unidentified Soehrensia species and Trichocereus schickendantzii. It was created by legendary plantsman Hans Britsch at his nursery, Western Cactus Growers, in Vista, California. Originally from Switzerland, Hans started Western Cactus Growers in 1966 and was actively involved in the nursery until his death on February 25, 2022. “As with every other day,” his obituary states, “Hans was first to arrive at 6:30 A.M. to work; that night, he was taken to the hospital by ambulance.” The cactus world owes Hans a huge debt of gratitude for giving us ‘Flying Saucer’.

To see more of what’s in bloom at the Ruth Bancroft Garden this month, check out curator Brian Kemble’s May 2023 video tour on the RBG’s YouTube channel.

© Gerhard Bock, 2023. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. Flying Saucers is a beauty. Sad about Hans but doing what you love right to the end is the best way to go.

  2. Flying Saucer is gorgeous, what a gift. Rest in peace, Hans Britsch.

  3. Thanks for sharing! That front entry garden is impressive!

  4. Excellent link--I always wondered who created the truly wonderful 'Flying Saucer'. Now I know. A life well lived. Thanks!

  5. Hans Britsch created so much beauty in the world and worked at it until the end. He was a lucky man!


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