The Continuing Legacy of the Ruth Bancroft Garden

October 26-27, 2019

Coit Family Visitor & Education Center
The Ruth Bancroft Garden

Join leading horticulturists, landscape designers, and conservation and preservation experts as they gather for a special two-day symposium at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, to reflect on the range and breadth of Ruth’s legacy as a dry garden designer. The sculptural shapes and her vibrant color palette of soft-fleshed succulents proved we don’t have to sacrifice beauty to create sustainable gardens. As we face issues of population growth, climate change, and increasing pressure on water resources throughout California, the lessons learned from her plant choices and gardening practices are increasingly vital to our relationship to the land we occupy and to garden design for the future.



OPENING KEYNOTE: The Legacy of the Ruth Bancroft Garden
Antonia Adezio, Executive Director of Marin Art and Garden Center & Founding President of The Garden Conservancy.

PANEL #1: Dry Gardens: Palettes and Possibilities
Moderated by Becky Harrington, Director of Business Development at Devil Mountain Wholesale Nursery and former Executive Director, Ruth Bancroft Garden.
Panelists: Jason Dewees, author of Designing with Palms, and horticulturist at Flora Grubb Gardens; Kelly Kilpatrick, owner & designer for Floradora Garden Design; Charlotte Blome, Residential Operations Manager/ Ecological Landscape Specialist, Ruffolo, Inc. and former Garden Manager at The Ruth Bancroft Garden.

PANEL #2: Preserving a Vision: Challenges of a Mature Garden
Moderated by James Brayton Hall, President of the Garden Conservancy.
Panelists: Kara Newport,  Executive Director at Filoli Center; Jabari Taylor, Assistant Landscape Architect at Prospect Park Alliance, New York; Shelagh Fritz, Program Manager, The Gardens of Alcatraz, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

CURATOR’S KEYNOTE: Iconic Plants of the Ruth Bancroft Garden
Brian Kemble, Curator of The Ruth Bancroft Garden.

CONCLUDING KEYNOTE: Re-imagining Gardens of the Future
Johanna Silver, author of The Bold Dry Garden, Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

RECEPTION in The Ruth Bancroft Garden

SUNDAY 8:30AM-4:30PM

MORNING: Garden Study Tours in the Ruth Bancroft Garden.
Participants will see the garden through the eyes of important stewards of the garden: Stew Winchester, Troy McGregor, Walker Young, and Brian Kemble.

Special mini-tours of iconic plants of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, highlighting those available for purchase in the nursery.

AFTERNOON: Self-guided Tours of Private East Bay Gardens.
Exclusive access to stunning private gardens in Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Berkeley and Oakland.



$195 for 2-day package; $175 for members of the Ruth Bancroft Garden and/or Garden Conservancy, including continental breakfasts, boxed lunches, and evening reception on Saturday

Space is limited. Reserve your space by purchasing your tickets now.
Ticket includes all activities for both days plus continental breakfasts, boxed lunches, and evening reception on Saturday.

$195 for 2-day package – Non-members

$175 for 2-day package – Members of the Ruth Bancroft Garden or The Garden Conservancy

Become a member of the Garden for as little as $40 and save $20 on your ticket price.

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Antonia Adezio

Antonia AdezioAntonia Adezio is the Executive Director of the Marin Art & Garden Center in Ross, California, an 11-acre historic property with a mission in the arts, gardens, and conservation. As a founding director of the Garden Conservancy, she works to preserve exceptional American gardens.  With Ruth Bancroft and her family she developed a plan to preserve Ruth’s garden to the public as a nonprofit organization, serving on the Board during the transition.

Over three decades, she has helped establish dozens of groups dedicated to saving gardens in their communities, created innovative preservation alliances, and partnered with small and large nonprofits and government agencies to build sustainable strategies for growth and development.

She lives in Sonoma, where she and her husband enjoy their rocky, hillside garden set in the oak/bay woodland.

Photo by Christopher Chung, copyright ‘The Press Democrat”

Charlotte Blome

Charlotte Blome photoCharlotte has been an avid artist and gardener since childhood. She received her formal horticulture and garden design training in Kyoto, Japan as an apprentice to a master gardener. She subsequently earned a degree in applied art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. For the past 30 years she has worked continuously in the horticulture field as a hands-on gardener, designer, maintenance foreman, manager and public garden docent. From 2010-12 she was Garden Manager at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. Since that time, her primary focus has been on ecological garden design and maintenance. She currently works at a design/build landscaping firm near Chicago, where she is the residential operations manager and ecological gardening specialist.

Jason Dewees

Jason Dewees

Author of Designing with Palms (2018)–a winner of the 2019 American Horticultural Society Book Award–Jason Dewees is the horticulturist at Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco.

He works as a horticultural consultant for designers and gardeners. He has consulted for the Conservatory of Flowers, the UC Botanical Garden, the Presidio Trust, the San Francisco Department of Public Works, and the SF Botanical Garden. Jason has  trained volunteers and docents, and has propagated thousands of trees.

He has spoken at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, The Huntington Library, the Marin Art and Garden Center, the Sherman Library and Gardens, and the Garden Conservancy.

Shelagh Fritz

Shelagh FritzShelagh Fritz
Gardens of Alcatraz
Gardens Program Manager, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

Shelagh received a Bachelor of Science in Horticultural Science and Business from the University of Guelph in Canada. She worked in Toronto at a highly manicured insurance headquarters before beginning a year-long internship at Longwood Gardens. Travelling to England, Shelagh was the horticulturist for the Duke of Northumberland at Syon House in London. Making her way to San Francisco, she became the first paid horticulturist on Alcatraz in 2006.

Shelagh is now Gardens Manager of Alcatraz and Black Point Historic Gardens for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. She manages the successful volunteer stewardship of the historic gardens, outreach and the day to day care of the gardens.


James Brayton Hall

james brayton hallJames Brayton Hall
President and Chief Executive Officer, The Garden Conservancy

James joined the Garden Conservancy as President and CEO on June 1, 2017.  For the previous four years, he was deputy director of the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he worked on the planning and design of the museum expansion and sculpture gardens.  James earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Virginia and a master’s in landscape architecture from Rhode Island School of Design. He has spoken widely on architectural and landscape design and has been a member of the graduate program faculty at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Becky Harrington

Harrington photoBecky Harrington is the Director of Business Development for Devil Mountain Wholesale Nursery, one of Northern California’s largest growers and suppliers of plants for landscape professionals. She holds a B.S.A. degree in Horticulture and a Masters in Historic Preservation, both from the University of Georgia. Prior to her work in the nursery industry, Becky worked at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley and at The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, where she served as the Executive Director and developed the Garden’s education and public programs. Becky resides in Walnut Creek with her husband and daughter.

Brian Kemble

Brian Kemble photoBrian Kemble has been at the Ruth Bancroft Garden since 1980, when Ruth hired him to take care of the plants in her greenhouses and to grow plants from seed. When the garden was opened to the public in early 1990s, Brian became curator, responsible for all the plant record-keeping and overseeing all plantings. Brian has contributed plant material consistently for nearly 40 years; more of the plants in the garden came from him than from any other source.  He has created many hybrids as well as painstakingly propagated the pure species. Brian is Vice-President of the San Francisco Succulent and Cactus Society, and on the board of the Cactus & Succulent Society of America. He has made many trips to far-off places to study and photograph succulent plants in their habitats. His photographs appear in numerous books and hundreds of articles he’s published on botanical subjects.

Kelly Kilpatrick

K. Kilpatrick Kelly Kilpatrick is the owner and designer for Floradora Garden Design, a landscape design company with projects throughout the SF Bay Area. With a degree in Landscape Architecture from Berkeley, Kelly has been designing gardens since 2000. She is fascinated with the endless combinations that plants offer in form, foliage and color and she strives to give each garden its own personality. Always ready to try new plants and to expand her plant palette, Kelly intelligently experiments with plantings in every garden to create a unique design for each client. With a strong foundation in horticulture and extensive knowledge of plant maintenance, Kelly is able to design gardens that grow in quickly and also mature well over time.


Troy McGregor

Troy McGregor smTroy McGregor owns and operates Gondwana Flora, a design/build landscaping company as well as Waltzing Matilija, a wholesale and online nursery. He is an enthusiastic plantsman and tireless advocate for drought-tolerant plants from Australia and South Africa. During his time working at The Ruth Bancroft Garden and as an overly opinionated visitor, Troy has helped the garden staff introduce some rare and unusual varieties throughout the garden.

Gondwana Flora Inc.



Kara Newport

Kara Newport Kara Newport,
Executive Director of Filoli Center

Kara became the Executive Director of Filoli Center in August 2016. Previously, she served as Executive Director for Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, a developing public garden, from 2006 to August 2016. In 2008, the Garden opened the Orchid Conservatory and this year plans have been announced for the newest addition, Lost Hollow, a children’s garden. Before serving in this capacity, Kara’s career was focused in fundraising at organizations including Winterthur, Philadelphia Zoo, and Outward Bound. Kara has a BS in botany, and a graduate degree from the Longwood Program.


Johanna Silver

Johanna SilverJohanna is a James Beard Award-winning author who writes mostly about plants and people. Johanna is a contributing editor at Better Homes & Gardens, and her work has been featured in Martha Stewart Living, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Alta Journal of California. Previously, Johanna spent ten years at Sunset Magazine, beginning with a shovel in her hands and culminating as head of the garden department. Her first book, The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden (Timber Press) documented Ruth’s life and passion for plants. Her second book, Growing Weed in the Garden (Abrams) will be published early in 2020.



Jabari Taylor

Jabari TaylorJabari Taylor is the Assistant Landscape Architect at Prospect Park Alliance, the private non-profit organization working in partnership with the City of New York to maintain and advance Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s masterpiece, Prospect Park, in Brooklyn, New York.  Before joining Prospect Park Alliance in 2016, Jabari spent several years doing site design for mostly private commercial developments as a staff designer at CHW, Inc. in Gainesville, Florida.  Now, Jabari enjoys being a steward for the community as he designs and shepherds projects of varying scales through New York City’s design approvals process.

Walker Young

Walker Young, Assistant CuratorWalker joined the staff at the Garden 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 Mrs. Bancroft’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. His faithful 4-legged companion, Bruce, can also be seen frequently in the Garden, alongside Walker.


Thank you to our event sponsors:



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San Marcos Growers


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