They came in the hundreds Saturday — the plant geeks, the occasional gardeners and the merely curious — and sampled the growing things at the Ruth Bancroft Garden's Summer Customer Appreciation Plant Sale.
A special one came early in the morning and bought an apple tree. That was 102-year-old Ruth Bancroft, who started the garden in 1972 and has since turned it over to the Garden Conservancy, a nonprofit group that made the four-acre Walnut Creek property its first of many preservation projects for exceptional gardens around the country.
For this event, garden staff refurbished the paths making for easier walking and easier wheeling for the disabled, said Billie Hopper, interim executive director.
The desert and Mediterranean climate gardens have seen more casual gardeners lately as "people are getting more aware of the need to not use a lot of water," said Hopper. They come looking for drought-resistant plants and advice on how to deploy them.
In its efforts "to cultivate the general public," the garden in the former walnut grove has scheduled more social events, particularly on Friday nights, Hopper said. Already this summer there has been a tequila night with a Mexican band and a wine and jazz event.
Next up is 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, for "bluegrass, brats and beer," said Hopper. "We're trying to bring a new crowd in."
For additional information, visit www.ruthbancroftgarden.org.