The Next 50 Years

Folly Preservation

Older picture of the Folly being built. The two shade houses are in place and painted, but the middle gazebo is still in timber form, without a roof. There is an old truck in the front that helps date the picture.

Early folly construction (1973).

In the mid-1970s, Ruth Bancroft’s husband, Philip Bancroft Jr., wanted to provide a suitably beautiful entrance to his wife’s grand garden project and worked alongside others to build the complex of three wooden buildings that marked the original entrance to the Garden. The structure also had two greenhouses for her more sensitive plants. Philip named the central Victorian-style gazebo structure of the trio of buildings “Ruth’s Folly.” When Ruth’s garden became a public garden, the Conservancy committee suggested that the structure be called a gazebo, as a more familiar name for reference. The name never took, and it has been lovingly known as the Folly ever since Philip conceived it.

Artist digital rendering of what the inside of the re-built east shadehouse may look like. The sides and roof are now glass. Visitors and plants are included in the photoshopped rendering to give a sense of scale and how it will be used.

This depicts how the inside of the East Shade house may be re-designed for better public access.

The three buildings, known as the Folly Complex, are now close to 50 years old, and are in need of total reconstruction. The Garden has completed preliminary drawings and will begin talks with city planners before embarking on a full capital campaign to both preserve and reconstruct this historic structure.

How can you help?

If you would like to help support the Folly Project, please contact development@ruthbanroftgarden.org



Picture of the Great Room taken from the loft looking down so you can see the many long tables, covered in plant cutting for the members only plant swap. People are milling around the tables to check out the offerings.

The Garden hosts multiple plant swaps each year for our members to participate in.

In 2021, the Garden welcomed 31,000 visitors. Of those visitors, 6,500 were members, a considerable growth since 2011, when we only had 400 members. The increased membership is a reflection of the elevation of outdoor spaces during the pandemic, and our growing reputation as a leader of drought tolerant gardening.

Members allow us to maintain the Garden, develop our programs, and keep the Garden gates open six days a week. Membership also comes with many benefits; go here to read more about supporting our non-profit organization. Becoming a member is a way of supporting the Garden and recognizing its important role in our community.

The Next Chapter

In the coming years, we hope to continue to grow as a Garden, as an organization, and as a community. We plan to preserve and enhance the historic garden by re-building the Folly and updating the greenhouses, so we may have additional space for educational programs and plant collection. We will also be cataloging our current collection, so that we may better collaborate with other botanical gardens and educate our public.

 Picture of the Garden, looking north. Aloes are blooming in the foreground, a path winds to their left. A rainbow arcs across a blue sky in the distance. We are eager to enhance our leadership both in the Garden and out in the community. A few of our goals include growing our board, deepening our partnerships with outside organizations to promote water conservation, offering additional educational programming, expanding our community events, and increasing interpretive offerings to visitors. Throughout this work, we hope to increase our inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility lens, so that we may better reflect and serve the community in which we reside. We hope we can continue to develop our leadership as an organization committed to the principles of sustainability, and a greener future to come.

Key to materializing these goals are our visitors. We asked those exiting the Garden’s exhibit what their visions were for the Garden in the years to come. Here are some of their suggestions:


Additional Resources

Want to support the Garden into the next 50 years? Visit our Support page here.


Click on the left image for a close-up of the Golden Jubilee Sign #10. 







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