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Home > Products > Succulent Page > Ruth Bancroft Garden Seminar

  Ruth Bancroft Garden Seminar
Agave tuncata in the Ruth Bancroft Garden
Agave parryi var. truncata in the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

On April 9, 2004 the Ruth Bancroft Garden hosted a "Dry Garden Design Seminar" titled "Aloes, Agaves, Aeoniums, Oh My!: Far-Out Succulents for the Summer-dry Garden". The seminars, co-sponsored by The Garden Conservancy, were very informative and it was also a great time to network with growers attending the talks and then later while touring the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

The talks, which were held in the Civic Arts Building in Walnut Creek, started off with Ruth Bancroft Garden Plant Curator and Assistant Garden Director, Brian Kemble who gave a talk titled "Aloes & Agaves: Bold Forms & Garden Presence". He also handed out his valuable list of Hardy Aloes. The next speaker was Dr. Dean Kelch, Research Associate at the UC Berkeley Herbarium and then Garden Director of the Ruth Bancroft Garden. Dean spoke on "Aeoniums & Crassula: The Tapestries of Color" followed by Roger Raiche, one of California's finest garden gurus and co-owner of Planet Horticulture. Roger shared his design ideas and showed pictures of both his well established Maybeck cottage garden in Berkeley and his new plantings at Gold Leaf Vineyards in Sebastopol, CA. Ken Druse wrote Moving Lock, Stock and Trowel on the decision and process that Roger Raich and David McCrory went through in making the move from what many considered to be the best garden on the west coast.

After Roger's talk we were ready for lunch which was followed by a talk by Isis Spinola-Schwartz of Schwartz and Associates of Mill Valley who spoke on her use of succulents in her landscape designs. After a short question and answer period we all headed over to the Ruth Bancroft Garden for a tour of the gardens and to conduct an "Agave Summit". As many of the attendees were particularly insterested in the genus Agave, much of our round table discussion centered around these "woody lilies" and this first meeting became the impetus for several subsequent Agave Summits over the following years.

In April 2007 Hans Hansen, Carl Schoenfeld, Wade Roitsch, Pat McNeal, Randy Baldwin and Virgina Hayes met for the second Agave Summit that was held at Ganna Walska Lotusland Botanic Garden in Montecito, CA and particularly focused on Agave franzosinii. Lotusland has beautiful specimens of this species in their garden and since there was some confusion about plants be called Agave franzosinii in the nursery trade, it was felt that this would be a great place to discuss this. One such plant being called Agave franzosinii by another Southern California nursery we now grow as Agave 'Sawtooth'. This Agave Summit Group with the addition of Jeff Chemnick next headed down to Bill Baker's fantastic California Gardens Nursery and then on to the Huntington Botanical Gardens where we toured the Desert Garden and heard a great talk by visiting botanist Rachel Schmidt Jabaily about the Puyas of South America. The group next headed down to visit nurseries in the San Diego area.

In October 2009 a much larger group decended on Allen Repashy's home in Bonsal to hear Julia Etter, Martin Kristen, Tony Avent, Randy Baldwin and Kelly Griffin talk about their experiences with Agave and in October 2011 a last Agave Summit was held at Allen Repashy's home. This was the largest event yet with forty Agavephiles in attendence for a couple talks by the Mexican botanist Miguel Chazaro and Ruth Bancroft Garden curator Brian Kemble. Matt Maggio also gave a great report on his research on Agave edema and there was a growers forum with Kelly Griffin, Randy Baldwin, Greg Starr and John Trager. These Agave Summits were great ways of sharing information about agaves!


Agave Summit and Tour at the Ruth Bancroft Garden