Frequently Asked Questions

Please review our frequently asked questions below. If you don’t find the question or answer you’re looking for, please contact us.

Which entrance should I use?

The Ruth Bancroft Garden Office is located at 1552 Bancroft Road. This entrance is open for visitors Tuesday through Sunday. Please check in to receive your visitor sticker, pay admission, buy plants, or register for events. Please follow parking signs and parking attendants if coming for a special event. Get more information on parking on our Visit page.

How big is the Garden and how long does a visit take?

The planted area of the Garden is 3.5 acres. Most visits average 1 – 1.5 hours, but it varies depending on your interest. Self-guided tours are taken by following rusted metal signs and reading the corresponding numbers in the self-guided tour booklet. Docent-led tours are also available at least once a week. Find out when on our Tours page.

Are plants for sale year-round?

Yes. Plants are available for purchase during operating hours: 10am-4pm Tuesday through Sunday. We also have two annual plant sales offering a larger selection of plants. In addition to these options, you may make an appointment to purchase plants and receive personalized dry-garden advice from our Nursery Manager. Learn more about purchasing plants on our Nursery page.

What is the best time of year to visit? What is blooming now?

The Garden is special at every time of the year. Something is always in bloom, and different plants steal the show at different times of the year. Many people like to visit during the spring and summer months when most of the cacti are in bloom; other’s enjoy the aloe blooms during the winter and early spring. To see photos representing what blooms each month in the Garden look at our What’s In Bloom page.

Can we eat lunch at the Garden? Are there lunch places nearby?

While we do not have food for purchase at the Garden, you are welcome to bring food onto the premises. We have modest seating facilities that include wooden benches and chairs, and sets of café tables and chairs scattered through the garden. These are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. We do ask that you clean up after yourselves using our recycling and trash cans.

There are many local restaurants and supermarkets where you can get lunch. Staff is happy to help with ideas on where to eat nearby.

Is the Garden a good place to bring children?

Yes! There are sharp and spiny plants here, but staying on the pathways eliminates the possibility of getting hurt. We have a children’s activity map resembling a treasure hunt to find plants from around the world.

Can I bring my class/group to the Garden?

Yes. We offer field trips through our Children’s Program. Professors of horticultural classes are welcome to schedule class visits to RBG. Tours may be scheduled with our Garden Curator or the Garden can be used for plant identification. Call ahead to make an appointment and discuss the best options for your group.

What are your rules regarding photography?

Refer to our Photography & Creative Use page.

Can I bring my pet to the Garden?

Pets are allowed in the Garden, provided they remain on-leash and you are responsible about cleaning up after them.

Where are the botanical plant signs?

The Garden does not have traditional botanical garden signs. This is due to Mrs. Ruth Bancroft’s original vision; she felt that signs would interfere with the artistic view of the Garden. There are slim silver tags at the base of the plants with the botanical names of each plant. Do not pick up or move plant labels. If you are curious about the identity of a plant and you cannot read the label from the pathways, please ask a staff member for assistance. If you have many questions, we suggest you visit when there is a docent-led tour scheduled. Find out more on our Tours page.

Is the Garden handicap accessible? Is there a wheelchair we can borrow?

There are no stairs, steep hills, or narrow pathways that would prevent a wheelchair from navigating the Garden. The gravel pathways are fairly compact and level, but they are not concrete pathways. We recommend using a wheelchair with thicker tires to ensure a smooth ride for the passenger. We have two appropriate wheelchairs available for use on a first-come-first-serve basis. You may call the Garden Office if you have concerns about accessibility: (925) 944-9352.

Can we have our wedding (or other special event) at the Garden?

Yes, the Garden is available for private rental. If you have never been to The Ruth Bancroft Garden, we highly recommend you visit prior to pursuing a rental. More information about private rentals can be found on our Rentals page or check in with the Garden Office after your visit.

What is your policy on sampling pieces of plants in the Garden?

Do not pick, pick up or move, anything. View and enjoy the flowers, fruits, seeds, and leaves, but leave everything for others to enjoy. The Garden is a research facility with many ongoing projects that must not be disturbed. Especially watch out for prickly pears, which may be on the Opuntia plant or on the ground. They are covered with tiny spines that are painful and difficult to remove from the skin. Taking cuttings from plants is never allowed. A selection of similar species are for sale in our Nursery.

Can I donate plants to the Garden?

We accept donations in some cases, depending on our current collection and needs. Plant donations to the Garden are appreciated, but must be approved by staff prior to drop-offs. Interested in donating? Learn more on our Nursery page.

How can I find out more about the history of the Garden?

Find more about the garden history on our About page, including a link to an oral history from Ruth Bancroft.

Banner photo by Zella Urmson Photography