Monday, September 24, 2012

Garden Tour San Antonio Style: Cactus Marty's Collection

This past weekend I attended the first annual San Antonio Herb Society Garden Tour along with my friend Ragna.  The tour showcased a wide range of neighborhoods and gardening styles with enthusiastic owners and volunteers ready to answer questions from visitors.  I'll share gardens from the tour throughout the week.  The first garden is a colorful cactus garden in northeast San Antonio. 

Marty Ruona is known as "Cactus Marty", so when we saw his garden would be on the tour, we could hardly wait to visit.  It was even better than anticipated because there's a lot more to his garden than cacti, succulents, and palms.

From the street the garden is beautifully designed and, despite the prickly plants, invites you in. 

Traffic cones in front of the house meant the full effect of the street view was not blocked by cars.  The manicured lawn is a lush counterpoint for the all his spiky plants.

The side yard is just as uniquely impressive

One of several carved opuntias on display

 The front walk

Colorful containers painted by Marty are featured throughout the garden.  These are along the driveway.


  The front yard from the side manicured lawn with a colorful tire planter, the best I've seen.

Marty was there to greet visitors and answer detailed questions.  Here he is with Ragna.

Turn up the volume on Waylon, Willie, and the boys.   We're headed around back to the party zone where tequila tastings are a regular event.

When he's not working on client's projects for his landscape design business, he's using reclaimed wood to build colorful garden furniture and plant displays.  The vintage turqouise Weber grill is one of a collection on display.  The house is painted with 13 different colors.

A shade house converts to a greenhouse in winter.  Marty purchases plant collections from those who can no longer keep them.

The back of the greenhouse is landscaped like a botanical garden

At the end of the trail is a place to sit while admiring an enormous beaucarnea and the rest of the collection.

Desert garden humor

Agave Viloriniana is impressive

Hanging basket Marty style

My thanks to Ragna for sharing her photos of some of the details of the shadehouse, including this miniature "Cactus Marty sign below.

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 "Texas Eclectic" garden.


  1. I love it! So many cool plants, and I never knew people carved Opunita, I'm not sure how I feel about them...

    1. Glad you enjoyed this one DG.

      It's common to carve initials in the cactus, agave, yucca in parks around here, the stars and hearts are a bit different. Since it's a common prickly pear and not a rare one it's a nice accent.

  2. Shirley, great report on a fascinating garden! It was wonderful to talk to him as he was a wealth of helpful information. I found out the dying Victoria agave up the street from me is not going to produce pups like some agaves do after they bloom.

    I loved how he painted some of his pots by drizzling the color on using a big nail. Also his containers made from recycled tires were fabulous painted the way they were. Check out the one by the big tree trunk above.


    1. It was fascinating and I'm so glad you can join me on some of my big adventures.

  3. What a collection!!!! I love it. You can tell that is one exuberant gardener. And there are tons of palms too! I have a deep love for those barrel cactus. They are a personal fav.

  4. Now that is one hot garden!!! Love the Cardon in the front yard. Gorgeous cacti and crew. Love tequila as well:)

  5. Shirley that was an incredible tour! Thank you! Is it just me though, or did I see that garden for sale on craigslist several months back...honestly...."cactus garden for sale...I will help with relocation....all soil careful crafted over the years with the help of gardenville....10K Not even kidding you.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the tour. I didn't see the ad and it wasn't mentioned during the tour. There are several extensive cacti collections around town.

    2. It is an INCREDIBLE garden - The owner(s) must be so cool!

  6. That Marty must be some fun-loving guy. Thanks for the tour of his playground.

  7. Playground is a good description and he was definitely having fun showing off his garden and collections.


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