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

Carol Babst, Admissions and Sales

Carol found The Ruth Bancroft Garden just a few months after moving to California and fell in love, started volunteering and participating in the docent program. In the past Carol has volunteered at Lyons Arboretum in HI, received her master gardener certification in Utah; revitalized and maintained a pioneer cemetery, designed, built, and lovingly cared for other gardens in her neighborhood while living in Park City, UT.  She was educated in Maryland and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from Loyola College, Baltimore.  Her professional career was spent at Westinghouse Aerospace & Defense in Baltimore where she was liaison between Westinghouse and Boeing Aircraft Company.

email carol

Carol Babst

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


Eileen Hansen, Office Manager

After moving to the Bay Area from Chicago in August 2010, Eileen first came to the Garden as a volunteer in May 2011. She has a background in public history and archives management and has been working primarily on cataloging and arranging Ruth's papers, diagrams, and charts which go back as far as the 1950's. Her previous experience also includes being a teacher and working in flight operations management at United Airlines for nine years. She is currently working on completing her Master's Degree in Archives and Records Administration at San Jose State University and looks forward to being a part of the office staff.

email Eileen


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

Bio coming soon

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


Brad Olson, Garden Manager

Brad has over 30 years of professional experience with field investigations, ecological restoration, natural resource management, landscape construction, environmental planning, land acquisition and capital project management. He comes to the Ruth Bancroft Garden most recently from the East Bay Regional Park District, where he was Manager of the Environmental Programs Department for the last 18 years. He has a BS in Natural Resources Planning from Humboldt State, and an AA in General Education from Diablo Valley College. He is currently an Associate of Arts candidate in Landscape Architecture at Merritt College.

Brad leads a team of Garden curators and gardeners to preserve and constantly improve and develop the Garden to inspire and educate the community. Brad is a great trouble shooter and has helped plan and complete many structural improvements for both the Garden and Nursery in his first six months at the Garden including the new Hoop House, 3 major bed renovations and the expanded and enhanced gravel parking lots.

email Brad


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.
The Ruth Bancoft Garden Newsletter

The Ruth Bancroft Garden has gone electronic! To receive our monthly eBulletin in your inbox, sign-up on the right hand side. You may also pick up printed copies at the Garden office or request copies to be mailed to you.

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

End of July 2012

July 2012

Mid-June 2012

June 2012

Mid-May 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

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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