When we moved home to Texas in 2008 our yard was a blank slate and I needed garden inspiration. I went looking for a beautiful, regionally appropriate landscape that worked with the strict watering guidelines imposed by our city. I began by checking out commercial landscapes as I was out running errands and started putting a few ideas together. It wasn't long before I headed out to The Shops at La Cantera in northwest San Antonio and discovered one of the best spots for my landscape inspiration.
Beautifully landscaped with an emphasis on native plants and details that were unmistakably San Antonio, I was presented with possibilities that I was not even aware of. I was fascinated from that first visit and returned again and again as I put together a plan for my own yard.
These photos are from a recent trip
Shopping is a walk in the park at La Cantera
All this beauty and they thoughtfully label their plants so I could make notes along the way. This display of Berkeley Sedge literally stopped me in my tracks that first trip nearly five years ago.
Exactly what I was looking for--a green lawn you don't have to mow. I walked around it and checked it out from different angles and then pulled out a pen and jotted down the name. I recently planted Berkeley sedge near our front walk.
Mountain Pea groundcover is another native plant option, especially helpful to disguise those pesky oak sprouts.
Every mall has a food court and this one has outdoor seating under the great live oak. I was impressed that they planned the mall courtyard around this large oak tree. When I learned the oak was moved to this location and transplanted I was still impressed, just in a different way.
A row of fountains in the columns around the oak tree courtyard
Tile accented steps throughout let you know you are in San Antonio
A few years ago David C. of The Desert Edge featured this same mall on a post.
The signage is combined with metal art
Seeking the source of a "thwak-thwak" sound, I found a guy cutting sod with a machete (in his left hand).
There's just enough sodded grass to make a "throw rug" of lawn here and there in the gardens. I'm still looking for a place to use Baja beach pebbles in my own garden
These pretty stones appear in several spots through the mall
Checkerboard with turf grass is a nice idea as shown in this circular garden in the Macy's courtyard
Knockout roses along the wall
These benches are by local artist Carlos Cortes.
Smiling planters at the play area probably are from Studio Cortes as well. The play area is closed right now much to the disappointment of this little shopper.
Lots of fountains and waterfalls. The fountains were shut off for two years due to drought so it's nice to see them running again and recent changes to city ordinances will allow water features like this one to remain in operation longer during future droughts.
Plants in the water features are labeled.
Plenty of orange accents to give me ideas for my own garden.
Orange kiosk with bicycle
Up ahead a Tory Burch boutique under construction is swathed in orange
On that first trip all the plants looked so different and I knew very few of the plant names. Now I can name most of them.
Bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa)
Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)
Horsetail reed (Equisetum hyemale)
Inland sea oats (Chasmatium latifolium)
Dichondra "Silver ponyfoot", and New Gold Lantana along with more Bamboo muhly
Seating at an entrance with Desert Willow, Autumn sage (Salvia greggii), and miscanthus grass
I learned that Philondendron monstera and selloum can grow outdoors here
White ruellia shown here with autumn sage. I did not know white ruellia existed until I spotted it here since it is more popularly available in pink or purple. I now have both the dwarf and tall white ruellia in my garden.
This dedication stone by the fountain in front of Tiffany is new. I have lived in and/or traveled throughout the country and have never seen a shopping mall with a plaque dedicated to the vision of the developer.
That says quite a lot about this place.
Having a place to go for inspiration is a wonderful thing, especially when the plants are labeled! i've found it in others gardens and a couple of nurseries, a shopping mall is unique place but I can certainly see why!ReplyDelete
I expected to see nice landscaping but I had no idea it would be so helpful to learn what to plant. The shopping is pretty good too.Delete
Another place I need to visit.ReplyDelete
So nice they labeled the plants. Even some botanical gardens don't do that well enough.
Over time some of the tags has disappeared, I hope they replace them.Delete
What a great place!ReplyDelete
It is fun to spend time there, even if you don't shop.Delete
Truly a special place to be inspired (and maybe do some shopping?) Everything looks so lush and vibrant. Do the gardens retain that look in your summer heat? Wonderful tour!ReplyDelete
That's an important part of the ideas I find there. Most of these plants look the same year round with more blooms in the summer. Many of the perennials were not in bloom yet when I was there last week. There's plenty of green in the winter too.Delete
Nice, LBJ has been the place that has done this for me.ReplyDelete
I haven't been there in a while but home to see it soon.Delete
Having been to La Cantera, thanks to you, I got inspired. That's a testimony to quality development. One of the people involved with the oak / tree moving in that development was thrilled when I showed examples of that in a talk, in front of all of the attendees at the Texas Trees Conference.ReplyDelete
What's amazing is that I saw almost everything you show, but my day was sunny and 95F, so not as good as light as you had. But I missed the Cortes faux bois work...must be a requirement in SA to have his site furnishings!
Moving that tree is a feat worth recognizing and fun that you had someone in the audience who knew what it took.Delete
Living here allows me to select my day and it was cloudy with no rain. I was surprised at how little was blooming that day due to our cool spring. I'll go back at high summer and maybe in the winter to record what it looks like.
They built that after we left, so I have not been there. I will have to make a point to go sometime when I'm in that area again. It looks lovely and like you said full of inspiration. I love the 'throw rug' quote by you. That's really all the lawn anyone needs isn't it. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
The lawn as "throw rug" is a good way illustrate the concept of how to limit turf grass. I think I first heard it from Pam Penick.Delete
Your photos are a long way from the Mesquite, cactus, and agave I remember most from San Antonio. They really made it a cooling and green place. I saw a lot of Mexican Bush Sage in San Francisco as well, I suppose they can grow a lot of the same plants. Thanks for the inspirational photos.ReplyDelete
We get quite a bit hotter and colder but in general the range of perennials are similar.Delete
How lucky you were to get such exquisite beauty and practical in such a relaxing location. At first blush, I thought to myself, where are the bloomin' shops. Thanks for sharing your inspiration, my dear.
Quite a few shops are there, mostly chains and most of them are on the higher end in keeping with the beauty of the place.Delete
Head and shoulders above the typical mall. I would swear off bad-mouthing "mall culture" if there were more of them like this.ReplyDelete
It's a concept that makes the indoor shopping mall even more grim as it that's possibleDelete
That's an impressive place. It sounds like it's dear to your heart after visiting over the years. The developer obviously put a lot of thought into it. I love all the Muhly grass and the checkerboard grass. Very nice.ReplyDelete
Bamboo muhly is one of my favorites and I have added a few to my garden already.Delete
What an incredible place to find inspiration...I love it and will be back to look again for more ideas.ReplyDelete
I'll have to take more photos on my next trip.Delete
My daughter and I were at these shops a couple of months ago. I, too, took out my pen and paper and made notes of the plants that caught my eye! Labels are always appreciated! I think that even non-gardeners take the time to look at the plantings - which illustrates what a great job they have done. You found a great place to be inspired.ReplyDelete
You were in town and didn't even wave! Holley you must let us know next time, we'll put together a tour.Delete
I'm glad you found it though and I do recommend it whenever a plant lover is looking for garden ideas.
I would shop every day if I could enjoy that landscape! Whoever had the idea and the motivation to label the plants so clearly gets a big cheer and I applaud that developer. I am deeply impressed.ReplyDelete
Ooooh, every day! It's nice and I do take every opportunity to stop by. The project team have all gotten quite a bit of recognition.Delete
that is absolutely stunning! I love all the small details like the tiles on the stairs. I wish more places paid attention to beauty and details like that.ReplyDelete
Great post, Shirley! I have so many comments. First, what a nicely landscaped development. It reminds me of one I visited in Seattle several times during the Fling a few years ago. Different plants of course. :-)ReplyDelete
I just planted a Berkeley sedge lawn, so it was fun to spot that mature swath in your post.
And please tell me more about the fountain ordinance change in San Antonio. Austin's drought restriction on running fountains -- both public ones and little ones in our home gardens -- is so short-sighted in my opinion. A hot, dry city needs water features more than ever, and the loss of our public fountains has taken so much beauty away from our city. I just can't believe the fountains waste so much water that they can't be run. Or maybe rules can be passed regulating more water-conserving features in the future. But I just think existing ones should be allowed to run. And in our gardens, water features provide wildlife with necessary drinking and bathing stations.
Great Photos and descriptions. Have you ever wondered who designed this wonderful place? The Architecture firm that designed the buildings was Alamo Architects here in San Antonio. The Landscape Architect was J. Robert Anderson out of Austin. Ty Hall, landscape architect of Spring Branch was the lead designer for the exterior hardscape and landscape. It took over a year to do all of the design work with a staff of only 3 people. If you are ever in Austin visit The Domain Shopping Center as JRA and Ty also designed that project. Enjoyed all of the comments and this is a great site!ReplyDelete
I worked with Bob Anderson to design and get the landscape built. Such a great project. Thanks Bob!!Delete