Ruth Bancroft’s lessons on aging


An article in today’s NYTimes begins:  "ONE recent morning, Ruth Bancroft, who turned 100 on Tuesday, was

working at her desk, poring over plant catalogs and making a list of
bearded iris bulbs to order " – and I’m Ruthbancroft

Then there’s this: "At 87, Mrs. Bancroft continued to work 8 to 10 hours in the garden every day with the assistance of three gardeners."

Aging Boomer gardeners need all the stories like this we can possibly find and this one’s especially good – about Ruth Bancroft and her world-famous 3-acre succulent garden.  I just wish the accompanying slide show had more wide shots so we could see the garden, not just the plants.  And the garden’s own photo gallery is similarly  populated by close-ups.  Damn, looks like I’ll just have to go visit myself.

Photo credit: Ruth Bancroft Garden.


  1. One of the most inspiring gardeners I know is my Aunt Bea. She lost most of her vision in the early 1980s; she has some peripheral, but that’s about it. She’s in her late 80s but keeps on gardening despite health issues, the vision being only one of her challenges. To see in the garden, she lays down on the ground, prostrate and uses what little peripheral she has to see the weeds and the flowers. Once, a person driving by actually called 911 because they thought “and old lady had fallen and was in trouble”. Turns out, it was just Aunt Bea gardening about as close to the earth as one can get!

  2. I’m totally with you, being an aging boomer myself. She is very inspiring. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Ruth Bancroft’s garden and it’s a succulent lovers dream come true – at least it was for me! It’s well worth a visit.
    I was also fortunate to visit Barnsley House, Rosemary Verey’s garden, before she died. There she was pouring over catalogs when we saw her. And also making sure we deposited our pounds in her little box at the entrance!

  3. Robin, your Aunt Bea sounds remarkable. What a touching image. I hope I will be able to lie down on the ground and get back up when I’m in my late 80s!

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