Growing as an Organization, 1994-2022

Growing the Collection

Throughout the years we have continued to preserve Ruth’s historic Garden, all the while growing the collection. In addition to our curators’ efforts to both bring and create new specimens, three of our current and past horticultural staff members have also brought many new plants to the Garden.



Assistant curator, Walker Young, discusses the addition of cycads to the collection.







Former Ruth Bancroft Garden horticulturist, Ryan Penn, shares the native California plants he has added.






Former Ruth Bancroft Garden and Nursery manager, Troy McGregor, talks about the addition of South African and Australian plants.





Additional Resources

  • Learn more about the collection, including what is currently in bloom, plant highlights and the curator’s column here.


Growing Our Programs

 Staff are lined-up with their backs facing the camera to show off the back of their commemorative Golden Jubilee sweatshirts. The sweatshirts picture Ruth Bancroft sitting in front of an Agave franzosinii (which also appears in the photo’s background).

Staff members show off their commemorative 50 year Golden Jubilee Celebration sweatshirts.

Our organization has grown rapidly over the last five years, with the addition of the Coit Family Visitor and Education Center and new programs we have been able to further serve the public. COVID changed our lives in ways we had not imagined. Being confined to our homes led people to yearn for outdoor spaces where they could escape this new reality. The pandemic lockdown became a time of growth for the Garden, as the community discovered all that our organization has to offer.  These new visitors, along with the new building, the dynamic staff, the rising importance of drought tolerant gardens have all led to a substantial expansion of our services and programs.



Some of these programs include:

Additional Resources

  • Another turning point in our organization’s development was the passing of Ruth Bancroft in 2017. She was 109 years old.  See details of her celebration of life ceremony and tribute video here.


Growing the Nursery

Looking into the Nursery greenhouse, a wide angle shot, featuring the greenhouse dome, plants hanging from its hoops and an impressive array of cacti and succulents on the floor.

The size and scale of our retail nursery is a fairly new phenomenon for the organization.

The Ruth Bancroft Garden Nursery has come a long way since its beginning. For many years the nursery space served as a propagation center to supply our biannual plant sales. When former garden manager and then nursery manager Troy McGregor, came on board, he partnered with many local growers and opened up the Nursery for daily sales.

The Ruth Bancroft Garden Nursery is one of only a few non-profit nurseries affiliated with a world-class botanical garden. The Nursery and the Garden exist symbiotically. The Garden provides a showcase for dry garden design, and the Nursery provides a revenue stream to support the Garden. The Nursery’s relationship to our top-notch landscape design team also provides a display of possible plant choices, and a source for landscape installations.

In the years to come, we are eager to make more of the curators’ hybrids available for home gardeners. As California faces increasing droughts and rising temperatures, we hope to continue educating the public about the importance of dry gardens and offer our expertise in selecting water-wise plants.

Additional Resources

  •  Learn more about our Nursery here.


Volunteer Power

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Garden and are involved in every aspect of the organization.  In 2021, our volunteers contributed over 5,000 hours of their time to the organization.

Our Garden Ambassadors help orient visitors and share the story of Ruth, the Garden, and the collection, while the Weeding Warriors perform Ruth’s favorite garden task to keep the Garden tidy. In the Nursery, volunteers assist with keeping the displays clean, the plants weed free, and potted up when necessary.  They also assist with setting up our many public events and connecting with the community through our educational programs. Our last group of volunteers provide truly selfless services as our Board members. These individuals steer our ship, ensuring financial stability, furthering our mission, and maintaining good governance.

Throughout the years we have had so many truly dedicated volunteers, and two in particular have propelled and professionalized the organization to where it is today. Gretchen Bartzen and Billie Hopper both volunteered for numerous years before becoming volunteer co-executive directors. Their crowning achievement was launching the building campaign for the Coit Visitor and Education Center that opened in 2019.

Additional Resources

  • To learn more/join our volunteer ranks, click here.


Click on the left image for a close-up of the Golden Jubilee Sign #9. 












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