In the 1880s, historian and publisher Hubert Howe Bancroft started a 400-acre fruit farm in the Ygnacio Valley that produced walnuts and award-winning Bartlett pears. After being passed down through his family, the farm was rezoned for residential use and sold to developers. The final owner, Philip Bancroft, Jr. Cut down the last walnut orchard in 1971 and gave the remaining three acres of land to his wife Ruth to plant a new garden. Motivated by her lifelong passion for plants, Ruth filled the garden with her large collection of potted succulents and water conserving plants. Through the garden, she discovered how to protect tender plants from winter rains and hard freezes. Her efforts created a dynamic environment with contrasting textures and colors, and Ruth's original succulent, the aeonium 'Glenn Davidson' still grows in the garden, demonstrating the lasting benefits of water conserving plants
Today, with the help of a dedicated conservancy, The Ruth Bancroft Garden serves as an example of water conversation with it's range of succulents and 92 varieties of trees including eucalyptus, yucca, aloes, and palm. Visitors can explore the garden's diverse flora through self- and docent-guided tours or attend regular plant sales to take home their own salesman-eating plant. The garden also organizes special events including a fruit-tasting tour and a holiday centerpiece-making workshop.