About The Garden

The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a nonprofit public dry garden that was planted by Mrs. Ruth Bancroft in 1972. The Garden was opened to the public in the early '90s.

Here is an interview with Ruth from the 1990s:

Ruth on Martha Stewart Living



Learn more about Ruth Bancroft, the Mt. Diablo Fruit Farm, and the history of the garden by visiting our History page. 

Read about The Garden's History.

Staff Biographies

Gretchen Bartzen, Executive Director

Gretchen recently retired from her position as Director of Development and Parent Relations at The Seven Hills School. She directed a successful 5 million dollar capital campaign for them in 2003 and increased volunteer involvement, annual giving, and the school’s endowment. Her teaching background and participation in various organizations are skills that she brings to achieve the Board’s goal of raising visibility in the community, as well as increasing financial support.

email Gretchen


Linda Book , Office Manager

Linda joined the Garden in September 2015 to help manage the office and visitor experience end of the Garden. Linda has worked most recently as a Human Resources Manager. She has experience in many other aspects of office administration gained over the last 15 years, including facilities management, payroll manager, executive assistant, and logistics for company events and conferences.

Linda is a California native and lives in Benicia where she grew up. She and her husband Keith enjoy the outdoors, including long rides on their motorcycles and back packing trips in the wilderness. 

She is excited to be getting the opportunity to learn about the Garden as well as helping others to do so as well.

email Linda


Billie Hopper, Special Projects

Billie is a California native who has resided in the Bay Area most of her life. She has a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in Public School Administration from Ohio University. She has also completed numerous courses in Ornamental Horticulture at Diablo Valley College.

After a ten-year career in elementary education, Billie worked in a variety of supervisory and managerial rolls for Bechtel, a large engineering and construction company, for 25 years. She has also been a long-term supporter of the Nature Conservancy and was a docent at their Jepson Prairie Preserve for several years.

email Billie


Brian Kemble, Curator

Brian Kemble has been involved with The Ruth Bancroft Garden since 1980. He is highly regarded in the horticultural world and lectures in this country and in South Africa on the Agave family, Aloes, Bromeliads, the history of The Ruth Bancroft Garden and other horticultural topics. Kemble has a B.A. in Philosophy from Antioch College. His work has been in the area of horticulture since 1976, including garden design and installation, tree trimming and garden maintenance. Brian's work for The Garden has included hybridizing of aloes, agaves, and some South American cacti. Brian has traveled extensively in Mexico and South Africa, studying and photographing plants in their native habitats.

email Brian

Brian Kemble

June Krueger, Visitor Host

June is a Bay Area California native and within the last 12 months retired from Wells Fargo Bank. A majority of her professional career was working in the commercial and residential mortgage servicing industry. However, gardening has always been her passion. In 2001, she received a Certificate of Achievement in Horticultural from Diablo Valley College. She was introduced to the Ruth Bancroft Garden in the mid-90s and for several years volunteered at events and attended the docent training program. After retiring, she began volunteering at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in the propagation area and worked several events at the Garden. She is delighted to be a member of the Garden team and enthusiastic to share her experience regarding this unique and beautiful Garden.


Carol LePage, Communication and Event Coordinator



email Carol


Troy McGregor, Nursery Manager

Troy McGregor, a native of Australia and specialist in Proteaceae -the tough, big-blooming plant family from the Southern hemisphere, which thrives so well in our hot dry inland Bay Area climate, comes to the Nursery Manager position this fall after a year and a half stint of managing the entire Garden and Nursery for Ruth Bancroft Garden. Prior to his work at RBG, Troy spent three years as board member and then Nursery Manager and Volunteer Coordinator at Markham Arboretum in Concord, CA.  At Markham, Troy helped grow plant sales dramatically with improved volunteer organization, signage and marketing strategies.


Troy’s educational background is in graphic design and landscape design and he has over 15 years of experience initiating and troubleshooting programs during periods of transition. His past projects include an online nursery, Gondwana Flora, specializing in Mediterranean climate plants, Propagation and Education Coordinator for Carquinez Regional Environmental Education Center, and almost 10 years in the Australian Defense Force.

email Troy


Ryan Penn, Gardener

Photo and bio coming soon.


Sophie Vidal, Education Director

Sophie Vidal, née Damerel, graduated from Saint Mary's College with a BA in Environmental Studies. Her passion for the environment has gone beyond classroom learning through her participation in environmental education camps, recycling programs and greenhouse gas reduction efforts. She is an enthusiastic supporter of education at every age and continues to learn each day she spends at The Garden. Having grown-up in the Bay Area, Sophie is pleased to be a contributor to the preservation of The Ruth Bancroft Garden.

email Sophie

Sohpie Damerel

Martin Viveros, Gardener

Photo and bio coming soon.


Walker Young, Assistant Curator

Walker is a former nursery volunteer whose horticultural passion carried him to a staff position. Walker helps Brian maintain the Garden’s private collections and propagates accessioned plant material for use in the Garden. Prior to his involvement with the Garden, Walker received his B.A. in History at UCLA and worked as an English teacher in Chile.

email Walker

walker young

To read the moving words of farewell spoken by our former Garden Manager, Charlotte Blome,

click here.

Read the Biographies of our Board Members.
Ruth's Recipe Archive

Those familiar with the Garden's history know that Ruth chose not to finish her architecture studies when the Great Depression hit, getting her teaching credential instead. She taught home economics for a few years before marrying Philip in 1939.

Just as she did with plants, Ruth collected and organized thousands of recipes, which means that we have easy access to them now! As part of the ongoing process of archiving Ruth's notes, we will be uploading recipes from her collection on a regular basis.

Recipe Collection

Ruth said she enjoyed cooking more than baking, but her husband would come into the house several times a day to raid the cookie jar, and that section of her recipe collection is appropriately large. Some of the recipes were passed down to her by her mother, others were cut out of newspapers and magazines.

She has a system for everything: a check mark remided her to cut it out of the publication it was in, an 'x' means a recipe is good, 'xx' means very good.

Click here to access the archive. We hope you enjoy Ruth's recipes as much as her garden!


Staff Biographies

Board Biographies

Ruth's Recipes

Garden Press

Web Resources


Become a member of the Garden or renew your membership.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Inc. is to preserve this exceptional example of garden design and to continue to develop its collection of water-conserving plants for the education and enjoyment of the public.

Grant Funders

The Ruth Bancroft Garden would like to recognize the following grant funders:

The Quest Foundation for funding our Education Coordinator’s position

The Mervyn L. Brenner Foundation and The Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust for funding our directional signs

The California Horticultural Society for funding towards our restoration projects

The Bonita Garden Clubfor funding restoration and education projects






























































































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