The Ruth Bancroft Garden occupies land that once was part of a 400-acre fruit farm in the Ygnacio Valley that grew walnuts and Bartlett pears. Hubert Howe Bancroft, a famous historian, and publisher who amassed an enormous personal library of books related to the American West, started the farm in the 1880s. Bancroft sold his substantial collection, which became the nucleus of The Bancroft Library, to the University of California.
In the 1930s, for 8 out of 9 years, the farm was awarded first place in the state for pears. The farm had 200 seasonal employees, at the height of production. They exported Pears to the East and as far away as England. The farm was passed on to Philip Bancroft, Sr. and then to Philip Bancroft, Jr., her son.
The farm remained in operation until the late 1960s when the estate was rezoned for residential use in the area. The land had been sold to developers to build Walnut Creek. In 1971, the last walnut orchard on the property was cut down, and Philip Bancroft, Jr. gave this land to his wife, Ruth, to use the succulents from her vast collection to grow a new garden.
Ruth Bancroft Garden, Inc.’s goal is to conserve this outstanding example of garden design and to continue cultivating its collection of water-conserving plants for education and public enjoyment.
A leading example of the art of garden design with drought-tolerant plants, the Ruth Bancroft Garden is recognized as one of the world’s finest dry gardens. The Garden exhibits an extensive collection of plants from the desert and Mediterranean climates of the world, collected by Ruth Bancroft over 60 years. Every season in the Garden offers something different and visitors will be in awe of the boldness and elegance of Ruth’s work.
Who is Ruth Bancroft?
Founded in 1908, Ruth Petersson was raised in Berkeley. At a very early age, Ruth developed an interest in plants. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied architecture. The stock market collapsed when she was in college. Uncertain that during such a tough period she could get work as an architect, Ruth changed her major and graduated with a degree in teaching. She met Philip Bancroft, Jr. on a blind date while teaching home economics in Merced, and the two married in 1939 and moved to Walnut Creek’s family farm.
Ruth Petersson was raised in Berkeley and was founded in 1908. Ruth showed interest in the plants at a very early age. She studied architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. When she was in college, the stock market crashed. Uncertain that she could get work as an architect during such a tough time, Ruth changed her major and graduated with a teaching degree. While teaching home economics in Merced, she met Philip Bancroft, Jr. on a blind date, and the two married in 1939 and moved to the family farm in Walnut Creek.
This wonderful location is located in the Ygnacio Valley Neighborhood of Walnut Creek, California:
- Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation Clinic
- Shadelands Ranch Museum
- The Ultimate Fieldhouse
- Calicraft Brewing Company
All of these wonderful locations are located just a short distance from our location located at 2890 North Main Street! Stop by for a visit anytime!