SEARCH: Ruth Bancroft Garden

Ruth Bancroft Garden is a tranquil garden in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Walnut Creek. Nestled behind a fence line, it’s an oasis full of succulents. The garden is a place where you can view exotic and endangered plant life year around, meditate in nature, or view local artist sculptures at one of the many annual events they host each year. Most residents of Contra Costa County have never heard of Ruth Bancroft Garden or what she accomplished with her collection of exotic succulents. Bancroft is not just a street tying Concord, Walnut Creek, and Pleasant Hill together. It’s a landmark dedicated to a great woman who was fascinated by succulents.

Ruth had a passion for plants even as a child living in Berkeley. She explored the undeveloped hills of Berkeley, examining wildflowers and digging up small plants to replant in her own yard. Her early garden included a collection of irises, which she received from Sydney B. Mitchell, the founder of the American Iris Association, and Carl Salbach, an iris breeder.

Graduating from UC Berkeley with a teaching degree, she taught at a school in Merced for a few years before meeting her husband, Philip Bancroft, Jr. and moving to the family farm in Walnut Creek. Her plant enthusiasm only flourished when surrounded by the 400-acre walnut and pear farm, but she was most fascinated with water-conserving plants and collected hundreds of potted succulents, all kept in greenhouses. When Ruth was given approximately 3.5 acres of the farm to plant a new garden, she enlisted the help of Lester Hawkins, co-founder of Western Hills Nursery, to help create the pathways and beds where she transplanted her potted succulent species collection which counted…READ MORE. Get your copy today!



SEARCH: City Spotlight Niles, California

Niles, California
by Emerian Rich

nilesNiles was established in the 1850’s as a junction point for the Southern Pacific Railroad from Oakland and San Jose to Southern California. It was home to the first flourishing mill of the area and California Nursery, the largest rose plantation in the state. It is situated in what is now the city of Fremont in Alameda County.

Nile’s big claim to fame started in 1912 when it was home to Essanay Studios. At the height of its movie making fame, the studio produced famous movies of the time starring Charlie Chaplin, Wallace Beery, and Ben Turpin, as well as many Broncho Billy westerns filmed along the main streets of Niles. Charlie Chaplin’s famous film, The Tramp, was shot in Niles Canyon.

In 1956, five towns in the surrounding area were incorporated into Fremont including Niles, Irvington, Centerville, Mission San Jose, and Warm Springs. Niles still managed to hang on to its roots and is home to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum which keeps the spirit of silent films alive, showing tourists and locals the magic of the early days of film.

Today, Niles is a four block strip…continue reading.

SEARCH: New Year Celebrations Around the World

New Year Celebrations Around the World
by Elliot Thorpe

wintercover2016Jules Verne’s cosmopolitan extraordinaire, Phileas Fogg, went around the world in 79 days but we’re going to do it in a mere 26 hours–except we’ll be following midnight itself, specifically that one midnight every year when the whole world (more or less) celebrates the beginning of the New Year together.

We start our journey on Christmas Island, so named because it was discovered on Christmas Day, 1643, and it’s the first part of the world to see the turn of the year. The island’s 2000 residents are a multicultural society and, as such, no specific celebrations are had. While this may appear to give a slow start to our 26 hour party, the island itself is testament to so many cultures becoming unified.

Head to New Zealand where you’ll find their outdoor festivals are a must. Wellington, the first capital city to see the New Year, has family-friendly festivals and, in true artsy city style, the entertainment consists of iconic local movies and the Wellington Orchestra during the countdown to the fireworks. Elsewhere, you can find the bars and occupants spilling out onto the balmy streets, and we can’t carry on our journey without giving the “Party Capital of New Zealand” a mention. Queenstown’s nightlife buzzes well after the lakefront celebrations, music event, and fireworks.

Then it’s to Australia…continue reading.

SEARCH: Historic Shadelands Ranch

Historic Shadelands Ranch
by Emerian Rich

0727161250aShadelands Ranch House is one of those places you might pass by in Walnut Creek and not even know it’s there, yet this historic house is a building block for all that Walnut Creek has come to be. The farm was established in 1856 by Hiram Penniman and became one of the first and largest farms in Ygnacio Valley. While much of the farm land has now been dedicated to the Shadelands Business Park, the main house remains as a testament to the Penniman’s impact on the area. Completed in 1903, the Colonial Revival house and museum is now the home of the Walnut Creek Historical…continue reading.