Friday, October 12, 2012

Watersaver Landscape Tour: Wildscape in Alamo Heights

Last Saturday I attended the Watersaver Landscape Tour sponsored by SAWS, our local water system.  Six San Antonio gardens were on the tour, including five residences and one community garden.

My favorite on the tour was the native plant garden in the Alamo Heights neighborhood northeast of downtown.  The house is located on a downslope away from the street which can provide unique challenges for gardeners. This homeowner created a very natural feel to the gardens along the street and driveway with a wide variety of plantings.  A garage was removed at street level and a circle drive added to allow plenty of room for plants at the top of the hill.

A lawn-free front yard.  The path on the right leads down to a bridge in front of the house.

Cross over the dry creek on this charming bridge to the front porch.

It looks like a Texas hill country view, but this is very close to the city.


Another view of the bridge from the dry creek

Around the side of the house to the backyard.  The current owners walled in the porch of this 1940s house and added the double-decker porch and stone steps to the back of the house.

The owner and his brother built this impressive rock fireplace.

Artful stonework

They also placed boulders along this side yard walkway which look so natural, it's as if they had always been here.

The homeowner was surprised when cactus began growing from crevices in the rocks in several places after they were placed in garden.

A new plant for me is this colorful Party Time (Alternanthera ficoidea) which looked at first like a variegated bougainvillea.

A natural watering station for the wildlife which this yard is sure to attract.

A watersaver landscape works best with native plants and this garden has many Texas native plants such as this Evergreen sumac (Rhus virens) along the path.

Zexmenia and Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) are excellent native plants for Texas gardens as well.

A look back toward the street from the front yard, more Texas Mountain Laurel, Salvia greggii, and Opuntia in the background.

This is an inspiring native plant garden and example of wildscape in the city.  I'll share more gardens from the tour next week.


  1. Charming. I love the bridge, the rock fireplace, and especially the way they have the boulders along the curved walkway. They all look professionally done. The grassless yard also looks wonderful. Bravo to the homeowners.

  2. I really enjoyed that tour. Especially like the boulders by the path. They really do look natural. And the bridge is nice too.

  3. Beautiful! Love the bridge and the outdoor fireplace. The landscaping really compliments its surroundings.

  4. I know that the limestone can present extreme challenges to gardening there. I have to add stone here, as the natural limestone outcrops, though not far from here, are still a few miles away and I have to haul them home to make stone a part of what I think I`m trying to do. I admire the sheer work that I know goes into making these landscapes.

  5. It all fits. SAWS used to call it the xeriscape garden tour when I lived there and I got to host one year(I still have the sign-vanity I suppose). A good design.

    1. That would be a 09er garden....right?

    2. I remember you writing about having your garden on the tour and thought it might be this one. It's a nice tour to see all the different ideas for water-wise gardening.

      Yes AH is '09' zip code, funny you remember that. It's not typical for the neighborhood though I do see a lot less lawn there since the drought.

  6. Especially like the boulders along the walkway. Look good. Here in the gardens on the shores of Lake Michigan there are plenty of them. I think rocks help to create a "grounding" for the garden. Jack

  7. Thank you all, this is a very special garden in the heart of the city.

  8. Incredible rock work and the opuntia (?) with the odd shaped pads in the first picture knocked my socks off!

    1. That is an opuntia. It might be O. splendens but references differ. I brought one home from a plant swap over the weekend where it was officially known as the "wavy prickly pear".


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