“Nationally recognized as one of the finest American gardens,” according to the Garden Conservancy, for one month each year the world-class collection of succulent and drought-tolerant plants in the Ruth Bancroft Garden is transformed into an outdoor art gallery. In 2014, the 20th Annual Sculpture in the Garden exhibit will be held from June 13 to July 13.
Visitors follow meandering pathways through a spectacular backdrop of exotic of water-conserving plants appropriate to the inland Mediterranean climate of Contra Costa County to discover art that ranges from classical to irreverent.
The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a nonprofit public dry garden that was planted by Mrs. Ruth Bancroft in 1972. It is located on 3 acres of a former 400-acre walnut and pear orchard owned by historian and publisher Hubert Howe Bancroft whose collection formed the nucleus of the U.C. Berkeley Bancroft Library.
Working with pioneer dry climate gardener Lester Hawkins, founder of the Western Hills Rare Plant Nursery and Garden in Occidental, Ruth Bancroft learned how to use succulents in the landscape and how to cultivate them in the local microclimate. Her garden was opened to the public in the early 1990s as the first preservation project of the Garden Conservancy organization.
Today the collection includes aloes such as Aeonium ‘Glennagaves Davidson’, the first succulent in Ruth’s collection, yuccas, and echeverias. Contrasting textures, forms, and colors under a canopy of dry climate trees, including palo verde, mesquite, and ancient valley oaks, set between meandering paths and berms create a dramatic and architecturally interesting landscape.
Where to Stay?
No intimate bed and breakfast inns are currently listed in Walnut Creek. Alternatives to chain hotels include rooms in private homes, located via the via Airbnb.com service, and the Diablo Mountain Inn, a 24-room independent motel close to downtown, that has been in business for more than 20 years.
California Gardens Mobile App
California Gardens is mobile travel app, free from iTunes, that describes over 200 gardens that are open to the public on a scheduled or occasional basis. It includes arboretums, botanical gardens, public parks, college campuses, hotels, nurseries, wineries, and private estates that showcase the extraordinary variety of plants that thrive across the diverse climate regions of the Golden State. Download California Gardens from the Apple iTunes App Store (free) or Google play for Android.