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Cultivating Place: Ruth Bancroft And Her Epic Dry Garden

Every garden has something to teach me – truly. About plants, about people, about space and light and place. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA – the result one dedicated gardener woman’s life-long curiosity and admiration for cacti and succulents as she gardened in a dry climate.

The garden started in the early 1950s as a private collection of potted plants. By 1972, the collection had outgrown its location and was moved to its current site, which at the time was an old walnut orchard.

After being seen by the founder of the Garden Conservancy, Frank Cabot in the late 1980s, the Ruth Bancroft Garden became the first in the United States to be preserved by The Garden Conservancy. Open to the public since 1972, the garden remains an outstanding example of a Dry Garden.

A page from the book “The Bold Dry Garden” photos by Marion Brenner.

On Cultivating Place this week, we’re joined by Gretchen Bartzen, Executive Director of the Ruth Bancroft Garden to hear more. "The Bold Dry Garden - Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden", is a new book out from Timber Press about the life and garden of a remarkable plantswoman, Ruth Bancroft and her epic cacti and succulent garden in Walnut Creek California.

The book is written by Johanna Silver, Garden Editor for Sunset magazine, and is gorgeously photographed by Marion Brenner.

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Jennifer Jewell is the creator and host of the national award-winning, weekly public radio program and podcast, Cultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History & the Human Impulse to Garden, Jennifer Jewell is a gardener, garden writer, and gardening educator and advocate. Particularly interested in the intersections between gardens, the native plant environments around them, and human culture, she is the daughter of garden and floral designing mother and a wildlife biologist father.