Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Ruth Bancroft Garden -- Fling 2013

Oh. My. Word. The sun and heat were relentless on the morning of our last day of Fling, when we visited the Ruth Bancroft Garden, in Walnut Creek, CA. The garden is a fascinating and historic example of a water-conserving garden. You can read about Ruth Bancroft and the history of her garden here.

When we arrived, still before noon, it was already hot. Fortunately, these plants love the heat and the dryness. Me, not so much.

The Agaves there were enormous. No, really, some were as big as a car. Wait, you need a human next to it for perspective.

There you go.

There was a garden art/sculpture exhibition going on the day we visited. Some of it I liked, for example, these metal human life-size figures. Some was just not my taste. I'm the first to admit, my taste is often questionable, so that's not saying much.

Loree of danger garden had made plans to meet Gerhard, who writes the blog Bamboo, Succulents and More. He wasn't attending the Fling, but was waiting in the parking area when the bus arrived. They toured the garden together.

Gerhard and Loree at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Did I mention the relentless sun?

Can't help wondering how hot that metal was. I bet I could have cooked a meal on him.

I had actually been looking forward to seeing this garden, with its mammoth Agaves. I'd never seen an Agave bloom spike. It's a good thing this was our first garden of the day, most other days by the time we got to the afternoon garden tours, I was so fried I didn't want to move.

One of those gargantuan Agaves blooming. This is as tall as a tree, and full of seedpods.

The bloom spike has lots of sharp spines, just like the rest of the plant.


Double Ouch!

I liked this piece of art. It reminded me of the old TV show Stargate.

Walk like an Egyptian. With the head of a fish.

Not gravel, but it looks like it.

It's a carpet made of hundreds and hundreds of small spiderweb Sempervivums.

These Cacti reminded me of Muppets.

"Where's Kermit?"

There were loads of barrel Cacti too. Look at that gravel that they are planted in. No rich, deep, dark, chocolatey loam here.

A family of chubby aliens, parents and bubbly children, marches along.

A foot with too many toes

Something above was raining down pretty pink blooms onto this Agave.

The tentacles look like they're waving. "Good-bye! Good-bye! Come back when it's not like the surface of Venus..."


  1. I didn't see the Stargate sculpture ... very cool. I enjoyed the sculpture exhibit as much as I did the garden!

  2. Those agaves are so spectacular! I always enjoy seeing them. The sculptures really neat too!

  3. Wow, spectacular plants! I don't like the heat either - that is why I'm trying to get out of Alabama!

  4. This is a spectacular garden! We can pull out these pictures this winter when the days are short, it's cold, and it seems like the rain will never stop to warm us up!

  5. I loved this garden, in spite of the brick oven heat. So many interesting plants, most of which we can't grow outside year round in NC. Your photos, and the captions, are wonderful!

  6. I totally was fabulous, in spite of the heat (although, I was severely dragging by the end)! It's one thing to know that Agaves can get that big...but to see them...yowza!

  7. Nice photos Alison.. this is one of my favorite gardens to visit here. Hope my camera comes back from the 'hospital' before their summer plant sale in a couple of weeks !

  8. I really enjoyed your post! It was a fascinating garden, to me it felt like a garden on an alien planet. Speaking of which, I must remember to watch Stargate on Netflix soon.

  9. Wow - it must have felt like the Day of the Tryffids to walk around those agaves! Enormous! I had no idea they could get that big - there is something very sci-fi about plants that size... Thanks for sharing!

  10. You have been a great tour guide! Wish I thought to take a picture of the front entrance. It was certainly an other-worldly garden!


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.