Ruth Bancroft Garden
Dry Garden Design Certificate Program

The Dry Garden Design Certificate program lets both homeowners and professionals explore landscape design through the specific lens of dry gardening — the utilization of plants specifically adapted to low water use.  In this new series, students will build a strong foundation of knowledge about horticulture, basic design principles and plant selection in dry garden landscapes.  With each course, students will acquire skills to empower them to install, care and maintain dry gardens as they explore specific topics ranging from fundamentals of botany and ecology, to site selection, and a focus on various plant groups appropriate for dry garden landscapes.  Students will participate in a Final Design Project where they will demonstrate their ability to create and present a lawn-to-garden design.

The Ruth Bancroft Garden began in the 1970s as a pioneering experiment in using exclusively dry-adapted plants — cacti, succulents and California natives — in garden landscape design.  The result was a garden full of dramatic composition  — of form, texture and color — renowned worldwide, that continues to serve as a quintessential model for dry garden design.  The Dry Garden Design Certificate program utilizes the lessons and unique history of Ruth’s Garden to educate and train today’s homeowners and professional landscapers how to create beautiful, healthy and long lasting gardens in this earth-friendly, sustainable manner that is dry garden design.

CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

To earn a Dry Garden Design Certificate from the Ruth Bancroft Garden, students must take nine designated courses plus successfully complete a Final Design Project that is undertaken with the guidance of our instructors.

  • Required Courses (6): Dry Garden Botany 101, Basic Garden Designs, Site Analysis (three parts) and Dry Garden Installation. Required classes are indicated with an * in the course details section below.
  • Elective Courses (3): Choose three classes from Horticulture, Plant Selections or Basic Design Principles topics.
  • Final Design Project: There are three parts to this Project; lecture, check-in and presentation. Students learn to create a lawn-to-garden conversion design, participate in a check-in session (where students can ask questions about their project) and then present via Zoom for evaluation and feedback. Final projects are to be completed and presented before October 31, 2021 to earn the certificate. All registered participants will receive a kit to enable you to create a garden design.  See Final Design Project details below.

Fees:  $350/Member or $425/Non-Member – Includes the nine courses (required and elective) plus the Final Design Project.

To Register: Certificate students register and pay for the six Required Courses + the Final Design Project all together here.  In addition, select three additional Elective Courses (from Horticulture, Plant Selections or Basic Design Principles) according to your schedule and interests.  When registering for Elective Courses, select the ticket type for “Certificate Program Students $0”.  (Three Elective Courses for Certificate Program Students are $0 because it is included in your registration fee for the Certificate Program.)

Certificate Program students may also sign up for additional classes beyond the required nine courses on an à la carte basis and pay for them individually at the Member or Non-Member rate.

Note: Full Certificate program registration fees are non-refundable – see full terms and conditions for refund policy.

 

24 Feb 2021 update- Registration for the Certificate Program is now closed, as we have reached maximum capacity.  To be put on the waitlist, please email alice@ruthbancroftgarden.org

Please note that the individual classes can be taken à la carte.

Full Program Registration

Download a pdf of the 2021 class list

 

À la carte Options

All classes are also offered individually.  Register for as many or as few classes as you like according to your interests and schedule.

Fees:  $15 /Member or $20/Non-Member per class.

Individual Class Registration

 

Program SCHEDULE: March – October, 2021
Classes begin March 20th, 2021 and are offered several times a month throughout Spring-Fall 2021. All classes occur Wednesdays or Saturdays at 10am.  Schedule conflict? No problem; registrants will have access to a recorded version of the virtual lecture for one week following the live presentation.

CLASS FORMAT:
All classes are presented as live webinars.  Participation in these online courses require that you use the free Zoom video conferencing service. Click here for a tutorial on how to join a Zoom meeting and much more.  All webinars will be recorded and all registrants will receive the recording via email within one business day.  Once the recording is sent, you will have seven days to watch.  After that time, the recording will expire.  Registered attendees will receive a Zoom link by email from the Program Director one day prior to the lecture.

Questions about the Dry Garden Certificate Program? Contact the Program Director at alice@ruthbancroftgarden.org

 

Course Details: 

Click on the plus sign + to open each section containing the course details. Required classes are indicated with an * in the course details section below.

Download a pdf of the 2021 Class List.  List as of February, 2021. Additional Elective Courses will be added during the year.

Dry Garden Botany 101 * | 3/20/21

Category: Horticulture

Date: 3/20/2021 at 10am PST

Required for Certificate: Yes

Description: With a focus on dry garden plants, this class will give you the basics for understanding how plants are scientifically classified into different families and an overview of the plant parts.

 

Register here

Basic Garden Designs - how to select the visual theme* | 3/24/21

Category: Basic Design Principles

Date:  Wednesday, March 24, @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: Yes

Description: The first thing to decide when planning (or planting!) a new garden is what you want it to look like when it’s finished. This garden style can be inspired by the architecture of house, the existing trees or shrubs, or one of your favorite places (like the Ruth Bancroft Garden). We’ll look at some of the common dry garden styles and highlight the basic elements you can use to achieve the look you want.

Essential Succulents in Dry Gardens | 3/31/21

Category: Horticulture

Date: Wednesday, March 31 @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: No

Description: When thinking of a garden with low water requirements, people tend to think of sun-loving plants, including succulents such as cacti and aloes.  In this presentation, the first portion will be presented by Brian Kemble, Curator, who will talk about successful succulents in the Ruth Bancroft Garden.  The second portion will feature Cricket Riley, in-house Landscape Designer, who will talk about how to incorporate succulents into a successful garden design.

Proteaceae & Pals | 4/10/21

Category: Horticulture

Date: Saturday, April 10 @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: No

Description: Join Troy McGregor, owner of Gondwana Flora  and Waltzing Matilija  for a webinar about plants in the Proteaceae family. Troy will focus on the tried and true performers, a few new releases and some rarities that have excelled at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. The lecture will also cover care and maintenance topics such as soil, nutrition, irrigation and drainage.

Mid-size Shrubs in Dry Gardens | 4/17/21

Category: Plant Selection

Date: Saturday, April 17 @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: No

Description: Learn how to incorporate mid-size shrubs (herbaceous and woody plants) into a dry garden landscape with Cricket Riley, in-house Landscape Designer.   Whether as a border or a focal point plant, you’ll learn the key elements on how to determine the variety of low-maintenance, high-impact specimens that will be ideal for your dry garden setting.  Ensure year-round interest by making a smart choice with your mid-size shrubs in your landscape!

Site Analysis & Design Development- Overview (part 1/3)* | 5/1/21

Category: Basic Design Principles

Date:  Saturday, May 1 @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: Yes

Description: When starting a new design there are many things to consider. What is the exposure of the site, how big is it, and how do you want to utilize the space? We will look at the how to evaluate and record the conditions of the site and the desires of the clients. This is a 3-part series class.

Site Analysis & Design Development- Layout (part 2/3)* | 5/8/21

Category: Basic Design Principles

Date:  Saturday, May 8 @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: Yes

Description:  What shape should your garden take? Learn about different garden layouts, flow and access as well as other factors to consider when creating or redesigning the overall structure of your new garden.  This is part of a 3-part series class.

Site Analysis & Design Development- Choosing a Plant Palette (part 3/3)* | 5/15/21

Category: Basic Design Principles

Date:  Saturday, May 8 @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: Yes

Description: There are many factors to consider when selecting your plant palette. We will look at color theory, texture and how specific plants can clearly communicate specific garden styles.  This is part of a 3-part series class.

 

 

Focal Point Plants in Dry Gardens | 6/2/21

Category: Plant Selection

Date: Wednesday, June 2 @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: No

Description: When planning or planting a garden the first thing to consider are focal point plants as well as trees, palms and other large-scale plants.  Focal point plants sets the tone for the entire design and helps determine all the other plantings.  In this workshop, we will look at how to select a large scale plant for both aesthetics and conditions.  We will also look at a wide range of drought tolerant trees, palms and other focal point plants that are commonly available.

Essential Cacti in Dry Gardens | 6/19/21

Category: Horticulture

Date: Saturday, June 19 @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: No

Description: When thinking of a garden with low water requirements, people tend to think of sun-loving plants, such as cacti.  In this presentation, the first portion will be presented by Brian Kemble, Curator, who will talk about successful cacti in the Ruth Bancroft Garden.  The second portion will feature Cricket Riley, in-house Landscape Designer, who will talk about how to incorporate succulents into a successful garden design.

Basic Irrigation in Dry Gardens | 6/30/21

Irrigation systems in gardens may seem daunting for some, whether it’s a completely new install or converting a spray system to drip.  An irrigation system appropriate for a dry garden is critical for long-term success with your water-wise plant palette.  In this introductory course, learn how to assess your landscape and install a drip irrigation system that is suitable for dry gardens.

Groundcovers & Vines in Dry Gardens | 7/17/21

Category: Plant Selection

Date: Saturday, July 17 @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: No

Description: Layering a garden with groundcovers and vines can help highlight hardscapes and focal plants as well as providing a practical element of weed and erosion control.  Learn how to incorporate a variety of groundcovers and vines into a dry garden landscape with Cricket Riley, in-house Landscape Designer.

Dry Garden Installation* | 7/28/21

Category: Basic Design Principles

Date:  Wednesday, July 28 @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: Yes

Description: A garden’s success is highly dependent on certain foundational elements. Learn how to properly prepare the soil, irrigation and successful planting practices in a dry garden landscape. All participants will receive the Ruth Bancroft Garden Dry Garden Planting Guide.

Dry Garden Care & Maintenance | 8/4/21

Category: Basic Design Principles

Date:  Wednesday, August 4 @ 10am PST

Required for Certificate: No

Description: A well-maintained  garden will only become more beautiful with time.  Join Cricket Riley, in-house Landscape Designer, for a lecture on how to properly care for your dry garden landscape.  She will cover basic pruning, fertilization, and common pest control techniques. We will also look at important annual and semi annual tasks in the garden.

Final Design Project* | 9/11/21, 9/18/21 & TBD date/time

Category: Final Design Project

Dates:  Saturday, September 11th & 18th. The third date for the presentation will be scheduled with the instructor.

Required for Certificate: Yes

There are three parts to this Final Design Project.

Part 1 (11 Sept 2021 @ 10am) Lecture: For this workshop, there will be a tutorial on how to create a design incorporating the design principles and plant palette that you’ve explored in the prerequisite classes.

Part 2 (18 Sept 2021 @ 10am) Check-in: The participants will get a chance to ask questions about their design development as well as the plant palette choices and the layout.

Part 3 (date/time TBD with student/instructor) Presentation: The participant will virtually present a garden design for evaluation and feedback in a 1:1 setting with the instructor.  Must be presented before 31 Oct 2021 for a certificate.

All registered participants will receive a kit that will include graph paper, templates, rulers and writing utensils to enable you to create a garden design.  Participants will receive an email from the Program Director when the kit is available for pick-up at the Admission Kiosk in the Garden.  If you require your kit to be mailed to you directly, please contact alice@ruthbancroftgarden.org; there will be an additional shipping and handling charge.

Meet our Instructors & Staff

Brian Kemble – Curator

Brian has been at The Ruth Bancroft Garden since 1980. He is highly regarded in the horticultural world and is a prolific writer and lecturer on botanical topics, especially relating to succulent plants. Kemble has a BA in Philosophy from Antioch College, and he began concentrating on succulents soon after moving to San Francisco in 1971. Brian’s work for The Garden has included hybridizing aloes, agaves, gasterias and some South American cacti. Brian has traveled extensively in Mexico, Madagascar and southern Africa, studying and photographing plants in their native habitats. His plant photographs have been featured in numerous publications on succulents.

Cricket Riley-Landscape Designer and Nursery Operations Manager

Plant centered design is the focus of all of Cricket Riley’s work at the Garden. Educating the community on the beauty, diversity and sustainability of regionally appropriate planting is always her goal.  In addition to creating garden designs and ordering and promoting Nursery plants, Cricket also teaches a wide range of topics from dish garden tutorials to basic garden design principles.  Cricket has an AA in Landscape Architecture from Merritt College, a BA in History from UC Santa Cruz, and an MA in Broadcast Journalism and Near Eastern Studies from NYU.

Troy McGregor – Owner of Gondwana Flora

Troy is the owner of Gondwana Flora (a design-build landscaping company) and Waltzing Matilija (a nursery specializing in Australian, South African and other unusual plants from the Southern Hemisphere).

Walker Young – Assistant Curator

Walker joined the Ruth Bancroft Garden staff in January 2012 and since then has come to function as custodian of the Garden’s aesthetic. He acts as point person in the collaborative process of preserving, renovating, and rejuvenating Ruth’s beds, taking particular joy in sculpting undulating mounds and arranging rocks in the Garden to form a unifying backdrop and compositional foil to the Garden’s plant collection. Along with the Curator he propagates rare succulents from seed to be used in the Garden and manages care of the private collection. His most significant contribution to the plant palette has been the donation of a cycad collection, which he has used as an intermediate texture connecting the garden’s collection of radially symmetrical rosettes with its softer drought-tolerant herbaceous perennials.

Alice Kitajima – Education Program Director

Alice’s roots in the horticulture world are long and strong! After graduating from UC Berkeley with degrees in Forestry and Music, she has worked at the New England Wildflower Society’s “Garden in the Woods,” Arnold Arboretum, Descanso Gardens and Lyon Arboretum at the University of Hawai’i. Alice joined the Garden staff in February 2016 from the volunteer ranks of the Garden, where she assisted the Garden staff with plant records management. She now manages and facilitates the Education Department and Volunteer/Internship Programs at the Garden.