Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Welcoming Heroes Home with a very special garden Part 2: Freedom Park and the beautiful grounds

In honor of the Fourth of July holiday and those who have bravely served our country we're touring the gardens and grounds of the Warrior and Family Support Center (WFSC) at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio.  In my last post we toured the home-style healing and therapeutic gardens near the building.  In this post we'll tour the beautifully landscaped outer grounds and the adjacent Freedom Park.

The lovely gardens continue around the building and parking lot in Texas style with this windmill and tank pond garden.

There are several apple trees nearby.  These are low chill apple trees, probably Ein Shemer.

The landscape near the parking area is more xeric than the nearby gardens.

The 12-acre complex also includes a 6-acre area known as Freedom Park.  This entry garden is planted with heat loving plants like four-nerve daisies and autumn sage.

Opened in 2011, this area adds many wonderful amenities for recreation.  Freedom Park was also designed by Brian Bainnison of Quatrefoil Design in Portland, Oregon.

There's a 1.1 mile fitness trail

Fitness stations with shade structures along the way blend beautifully with the natural surroundings.


The fitness stations circle a lawn with hammocks for relaxing in the shade
Yes, they get used quite a bit.
The beautifully planted borders along busy Binz-Engleman Road were the first part of the garden I noticed.   I knew at once there had to be real gardeners behind this.

These Texas hill country style berms add interest to the walking trails and are also visible from the road.

You can take a walk in the Texas hill country without leaving the facility.

Even a a glimpse of a mountain lion that you might encounter while hiking in the Texas hill country.   Not as far-fetched as it might seem.   During the recent drought mountain lions and bobcats were spotted quite close to the city.

Comfortable and private seating areas are placed throughout the gardens and along the fitness trail.

Other amenities include a putting green

Volleyball and sandy play area

At the far end of the trail is a beautiful, shady picnic area making it almost like an escape to a local park.  The stonework is similar to rock work visitors would find in our local parks.

These pretty stone walls add interest and varying surfaces continue throughout the park.

A stunning amphitheater provides a convenient venue for performances.  Faux turf is used in the seating areas.

The stage plays host to a number of well-known performers

The soaring canopy on the stage is inspiring

A large rock waterfall and pond reminiscent of hill country springs is along the fitness trail nearby.

A small rock stream is on the other side of the path

Birds enjoy the water

Bald Cypress grow here just as you would find near natural springs and waterways in the Texas Hill Country.

It's a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the sights of sounds of nature.

These gardens are a fitting setting for wounded service members and their families to enjoy during rehabilitation treatment while at nearby Brooke Army Medical Center.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to tour this well-designed facility and meet the volunteers who help keep it in such outstanding condition. 

There's a need for volunteers to help maintain the gardens and park.  For more information contact Melody McMahon at or meet up with the crew any Tuesday to help out.  If you would like to help in some other way donations of plants, mulch, soil and other gardening items are welcomed.


  1. What an inviting park, with the stone work, picnicing areas and water features. Thanks for sharing. I perked up at mention of Ein Shemer, I grew one in San Diego and it was a great low-chill apple, it made excellent apple sauce like my current apple Liberty, even little green apples would cook up into very fragrant sauce.

    1. The apples look so good I'm considering adding one to my growing orchard. It's nice to hear you've had such a good experience with them.

  2. I'm crazy about that red dragon (or is it a sea serpent?) partially submerged in a play area. I'm happy to see a Portland designer adapting so well to your very different climate.

    1. That is so cute isn't it? I was impressed at how well he met the needs of the community and at the same time blended the elements into the site with so many regional references.

  3. Beautiful place and pictures!! I love those pink Rock Roses against the limestone and greenery.

  4. Shirley,
    Thank you so much for highlighting the work at the Warrior and Family Support Center. I have had the privelege of serving on the board of directors for Returning Heroes Home and engaged Brian as the landscape architect for the project. He does fantastic work and so does Melody and the other volunteers who maintain it. I know the gardens have been instrumental in providing a therapeutic and healing environment for the wounded warriors that are served there. Your write ups and pictures were FANTASTIC!
    Beverly Lamoureux

    1. Beverly, it's so nice you stopped in and left a comment here. It was my pleasure to visit and write about these beautiful therapeutic gardens which serve such a special community.

  5. Shirley, your posts are wonderful and such great comments. the gardens at the WFTC are truly a unique and special place. I was honored to be part of the design team and it was a team effort. If it wasn't for the local garden designers contractactors nurseries who took the visioin that I helped create with Beaverly and Judith and the other team members, the gardens would not be healing environment they are today.

    Brian Bainnson, ASLA! PLA

    1. The gardens are amazing Brian and the more time I spend there, the more special they are. As you mentioned, the team which continues to maintain these gardens is equally amazing.


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