My plein air group was given the great privilege of being able to go beyond the chained off, “Private Property. No Entrance” signs to explore the property where Mrs. Bancroft and other family members still live. There are old barns like the one above and other outbuildings as well as a log cabin, a chalet and a beautiful Japanese style home.
The Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek began as a 400-acre fruit farm in the 1880s developed by Hubert Howe Bancroft, a famous historian and publisher whose book collection is now part of UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library.
The farm was passed down through the generations, and much of the land was sold off for housing development. In 1971 the last walnut orchard on the property was cut down, and Ruth’s husband, Phillip Bancroft, offered her three acres to begin a new garden using her large collection of succulents.
The garden also has collections of aloes, agaves, yuccas, and echeverias. Aeonium ‘Glenn Davidson’, the first succulent in Ruth’s collection, is still growing in the garden.