Fling Visit To The Ruth Bancroft Garden

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Let us meditate upon gardeners who give their gardens to the public.   Pure determination in dirty gloves.  Let us meditate upon their gardens.
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Descanso is one of those (on a grand scale!).  There is Lotusland in Santa Barbara; Rancho Los Alamitos, the Hortense Miller garden in Laguna Beach is a local example.  The Ruth Bancroft garden in Walnut Creek is one as well. 
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I discount the Huntington and the Biltmore--places like that--because those are the estates of plutocrats.
'Mr Ripple' is not a plutocrat: 
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Let us meditate upon those places donated by hands-on gardeners, not the super-rich.  
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What special qualities gives those gardens a future after the gardener is gone, or retired?
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A certain amount of money, of course--the gardener must be able to afford to give the land, and to possibly create a trust to support it financially in some way, either with her own money or with her charisma, to attract others to join her cause.  
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The neighborhood must tolerate the additional traffic.  Space for parking, so mundane a thing, matters.
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Gardens need committed volunteers--to lead tours and pull weeds and raise money.
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Seasonal events, like sculpture exhibits and Christmas light walks, help to bring in more visitors than just the plant-nut.
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A collection of compelling rarities of the plant world might help.  Or that the land was particularly beautiful place, or the home a historic home.  
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Or that the garden contains plants of such choice rarity in a particular area that they are of interest to those who have never seen such plants. 
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There should be a large enough population in the area to ensure sufficient visitors and volunteers.
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Of course, the garden should be beautiful.
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Who starting a garden today will, in forty or fifty years, live to see their life's labor of love become a public treasure?
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Which public gardens we know and love today will become in a generation apartment blocks or landfills?
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 We all know most gardens do not outlive their creators.
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So much love, so much work, effort and passion, for such an ephemeral creation.
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For to sit on a sunny afternoon and look around.
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The plants--at least the genus and species upon our earth, if not the particular specimen--endure far longer than the gardens we set them into.
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Sometimes they survive only in gardens.
Ruth photo ruth7537_zps4c53db82.jpg Sometimes the garden becomes a source of new and innovative varieties, a place for botanists to study or create, to hurry along the evolutionary process.
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Perhaps we humans, who think ourselves the masters of this planet, are merely tools plants exploit for their own advancement.
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Wouldn't that be funny?  The joke would be on us.
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Though I cannot think of a more noble Kingdom to serve, than the Kingdom of Plants.
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  1. What a great post! I love that you found so much beauty and lushness there (I did too) where I think quite a few Flingers found only ugliness (and heat). I remember hearing someone refer to it as "that big cactus garden." Deep thoughts here. I AM a slave to my garden and my plants.

    1. If you are not used to xeric gardens, they are a shock. It takes time and knowledge to appreciate them for what they are, doesn't it?

  2. A special and thought-provoking post. Gardens exist in time, like the performance of a beautiful song or a delicate piece of glass, destined to end, the balance so fragile. I think it's the very ephemeral nature of our creations that makes them extremely special in the moment. Are gardens a reminder of the temporal nature of all passions, all beauty, all things? I bet Boris and Natasha know!

    1. B&N know when it's time for dinner. They have their priorities. :)

  3. You correctly suspect we are slaves to the plants. Read several compelling arguments in The Botany of Desire if you think otherwise. Ruth Bancroft apparently was convinced.

    1. No wonder--they feed us, clothe us, protect us, AND they look pretty AND a lot of them smell pretty. We can't blame ourselves!

  4. Serving the Kingdom of Plants - I like that. Once again you got some great photographs. I was just looking at the pictures Judy took at this garden. I really enjoyed this place, both the plants and the sculptures (I'm glad we arrived while the sale was going on). It was not what I would consider beautiful, but it was exciting and fascinating. Not the kind of garden I would want to have at home, but I'm very glad I got a chance to see it.

    1. You get to appreciate the beauty of the xeric after a while. Of course it would never work in your climate. We gardeners are pragmatists--we learn to love what works in our own climate--sometimes!

  5. Nicely done Hoov ...I love this garden enough to have been a member for many years, taken hundreds of photos, and thank Ms Bancroft sincerely for her gift to us.

    1. Your pictures that I have seen are much better of this garden. I had a struggle with the light and the heat. Too much of both!

  6. Such a great post. Your words are so well chosen--I read them twice.

    1. Thank you, Gerhard, you are very kind!

  7. I loved reading this meditative, insightful post, Hoov, and I also love that this garden is where we met in person. Thank you for introducing yourself, since you'd been a bit of an enigma to me, even after you kindly let me use your beautiful aloe picture in my book. Your photos here are particularly lovely as well, and I like what Alison said -- that you found so much beauty in a place where others saw only dust, spikes, and heat. Well done!

    1. I very much enjoyed meeting you, Pam, however briefly. It was very hot in that garden for our visit, but just the sort of plants I really love--the stubborn, odd survivors.


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