Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Garden Tour San Antonio Style: Urban Chic in Southtown

The Herb Society of San Antonio held a garden tour this past Saturday and friend Ragna and I took the opportunity to check out some special gardens in our city.

"Urban Chic" is the third garden on our tour.  Located in the Southtown neighborhood of older homes near downtown currently undergoing revitalization, this house was built on an empty lot and completed in March 2010.

The owner prepared a detailed hand-out explaining the process of developing the gardens in phases.  Currently in the third year of a four-year project we could see how beautifully it is all coming together.  The plant choices are native and adapted drought-tolerant plants.

Phase one focused on the front landscaping.  Toothless sotol and caesalpinia in the small no-lawn front yard, with blackfoot daisy in the foreground

The dichondra silver ponyfoot is a pretty, silvery groundcover (behind sidewalk) and the blackfoot daisies are filling in along the street.

Pavers in rock walkway leads to the back yard.  The fence and gate work well with the architecture of the house.

Galvanized tanks added in Phase Two serve as raised garden beds on a temporary base of mulch in the back yard.  The next phase will see a deck extension to the house along with brick hardscape and gravel pathways.  More plants, groundcover and trees will be added after construction.  Candle plants (cassia) are blooming in the sun.

The tanks are planted with herbs and vegetables.  The owner is currently growing several types of lavender to determine the best varieties for her garden.

The back of the house repeats the geometric elements and triangular porch from the front, clumping bamboo is used for privacy.  A deck will be added in this area during Phase Four.

Nice color on this Mexican plum

Xylosma blooming behind the garage

Additional plants and groundcover will be added when construction of the deck and hardscape are complete.

The house was designed with an atrium to accomodate the owner's 35 year old ficus triangularis and other large houseplants.  The beautiful atrium was part of the tour.

Three 'Macho Ferns' (Nephrolepis biserrata) on iron stands are striking.  Kooboo chairs made famous by interior design bloggers complete the scene.

The courtyard beyond the atrium was Phase Three and is a jewel of a garden. The asian style fountain against a backdrop of bamboo is perfect in the small space .  Gorgeous containers and plants fill out the scene.

I did not ask, but it appears the red flags are related to plant watering schedules.

The kitchen window looks out on the courtyard

Leuchtenbergia principis in a contemporary ceramic container.

Hanging baskets with more containers and plants on the covered breezeway from the garage to the atrium. The larger plants are on mover's dollies to facilitate moving them in during a freeze.

The San Antonio Herb Society tour benefits culinary scholarships to St. Philip's College here in San Antonio. The San Antonio Herb Society also holds is one of the sponsors of the popular San Antonio Herb Market event held each year by the Herb Market Association. This year the market is on October 20th at The Pearl

We visited six gardens on this tour and tomorrow I'll share the "Re-purposed" garden.  For a look back at "Texas Eclectic" click here.


  1. How lovely to be able to see a garden with a long-term plan in development. It is also interesting to see the owner trying different lavenders to see which will work best in the garden. It must have been a truly inspiring tour - your photos have certainly inspired me!

    1. This was so inspiring, the homeowner is completely engaged in every part of the process from the design of her home to the selection of plants that work in every sense of the word.

  2. I would move to Texas if I could live there. The roundness of the stock tanks is a nice contrast to the angles of the house. You really brought this place to life.

    1. That is such a nice compliment, I do try to bring you along on my garden visits.

  3. All the foliage types and spaces seem like this is a huge property, but just huge use of a small area, I bet. Interesting how the owners are attacking their outdoor spaces in stages, as not only budget can be spread out, but they might get to know their space more in the process, and solve the problems even better?

    I always awe at how large Blackfoot Daisy gets ours' on steroids (and extra humidity and water).

    1. It is quite small, so small the house is quite narrow and long. Everything works well and that is exactly the idea. The owner wants the result to work for her, thus the trials of plants to see what is best.

      I'm in awe of the size of blackfoot daisy in other gardens as mine seems to stay small.

  4. I love all of it. The Blackfoot daisy is just something I must have in my own landscape. Thanks for the tour!

  5. Wow! What a fantastic garden. Love all the different textures and colors. The 35 year old ficus is impressive. Thanks for posting.

  6. Even with all the plants the overall space is quietly refined. This is due no doubt to the clean lines of the house and her selection and arrangment of containers and plant stands. I was really impressed with the elegance of the three clumping bamboos along the fence which were planted from relatively small containers just two and half years ago. According to the handout it's Bambusa oldhamii. Thanks Shirley, for showing this garden so well.


  7. I've enjoyed all the posts on your tour, Shirley, and I think this is my favorite. I also appreciated your "telling it like it is" re: the one garden you didn't think belonged on the tour. Keep showing us San Antonio gardens -- one of these days I'll make it down for a tour myself.

  8. Thank you all for your comments!

    Pam - That would be great, thanks for your support.


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