Opt Outside in Texas, Travel & Tourism, U.S. Destinations

San Antonio Botanical Gardens Offers Family Fun All Year Long

This is Part 1 of a three-part Botanical Garden series, featuring gardens that are members of the American Horticulture Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program. A membership at one of these gardens includes eligibility for free or reduced admission at 300+ participating locations across North America. Always call ahead of your visit to verify what special admission privilege is offered by the Garden.

A few years ago, I stepped off a plane at the San Antonio airport, picked up my luggage and a rental car, and (with the services of an expert realtor) bought a house. Thanks to the smooth buying process, I had a lot of spare time, so one of my first tourist destinations was the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.

The San Antonio Botanical Gardens has been a part of the city landscape for the last 30 years. It continues to develop and stay engaged with the city: it offers adult and youth classes, volunteers opportunities in the produce garden, and cooking demonstrations in the teaching kitchen in partnership with CHEF SA.

The Japanese Garden “Kumamoto En” recently reopened. It was originally a gift from San Antonio’s sister city Kumamoto in 1989. “Tranquility” comes to mind when I think of this garden.

Another popular aspect of the San Antonio Botanical Gardens is the Family Adventure Garden. They have a hill for running and rolling, a big green space for play, a tunnel, little houses, and during the summer months No Name Creek has running water for kids to splash in. Occasionally, the Gardens hosts a dog-friendly day, too!

If beautiful flowers and a peaceful walk aren’t enough to tempt you, the seasonal decor and intriguing garden-wide art exhibits (such as Lego sculptures, giant bugs, and the upcoming origami exhibit).

We love the Gardens enough that I chose to support them with a Friend level membership (which includes one complimentary guest per visit – great for when my mom or a sibling is in town!) I like to go early in the morning or during the member-only hour, so I’ve rarely felt crowded there.

Let me know if you’ve visited and what your favorite part was!

In the meantime, check out some more fun photos of the San Antonio Botanical Gardens below.

This post is not paid or sponsored. Views and opinions are my own and do not represent those of any of the Gardens or the American Horticulture Society.

About the Writer

The Orchid Graveyard

Me: Hey, do you remember when you asked me to watch your aloe plant while you were on vacation?

Friend: Yeah… he never really recovered after that.

Oops.

My bad.

I soooo wanted to be one of those people with a green thumb. I wanted vines hanging by the windows and giant fig leaf trees chilling in the corner. Instead, I got an orchid graveyard (cool new band name? I digress…)

I was doing okay for a little bit

If it makes you feel better, Friend, I have since successfully murdered my own aloe plant – and many others.

Rest in peace, sweet Abelia

There’s a snake plant in my office that I regularly forget to water for at least a couple weeks at a time and It’s. Doing. Great.

You know what the issue is? It’s a common problem. I water them too much. I try too hard.

This is a good moment to provide a life metaphor. Do you ever try so hard and it doesn’t go right so you try even harder and then everything explodes? Because same. It took me so many years to understand that “trying harder” is not the same as “trying better“. Work smarter not harder, my friends.

We can take these sentimental lessons from nature: go with the flow, don’t overthink it, let it be.

The practical lesson is to keep a handy calendar marked with watering days but to be honest, I have accepted that my plant-raising love language is “set it and forget it”.

Mexican Silverspot doesn’t care how many plants I’ve killed

I have what is basically a garden home, although our HOA doesn’t cover private lawn care. Thanks to the plants in my front and back yards, we regularly see hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, cardinals, and even the occasional squirrel. It’s hours of entertainment for me, my son, and the cats (since I’m mentioning the cats, you should know they are not innocent in these plant deaths, either).

The Pride of Barbados, or Caesalpinia pulcherrima,1 is a hummingbird favorite. I don’t prune mine and it gets quite tall. I fondly refer to them as nature’s fireworks.

Pride of Barbados

Purple hearts abound in this area. Did you know purple is the color of royalty? Some were pre-planted by my garage door and along a back wall of the house, and I even planted a few more to continue the border. According to the University of Wisconsin Master Gardener Program, Tradescantia pallida plants “are drought tolerant and thrive on neglect, but also tolerate frequent watering.”2

A plant after my own heart!

Purple heart and cow parsley

Also in place were two pink-flowering crape myrtles, a young mountain laurel, some form of fan palm, and a Texas sage. Occasionally cow parsley and false day flowers will spring up, as well.

Texas sage

I planted this Nandina and it’s been going very well. That foliage! I’m excited for her to grow.

Obsession Nandina is part of the Southern Living Plants collection

I love having plants at home for many reasons, and one of the big ones is that my son likes to help water them with his little yellow elephant watering can. It’s the cutest!

Thanks for joining me for a brief look at my journey with plants. Have a happy & healthy Tuesday!

References

  1. Rodriguez, David. 11 June 2006. https://bexar-tx.tamu.edu/homehort/archives-of-weekly-articles-davids-plant-of-the-week/pride-of-barbados-a-great-heat-loving-plant-and-future-texas-superstar/
  2. University of Wisconsin – Madison Master Gardener Program. “Purple Heart, Tradescantia pallida.” Accessed on 20 July 2020. https://wimastergardener.org/article/purple-heart-tradescantia-pallida/