Thursday, December 10, 2015

A fall visit to the Japanese Tea Garden highlights changes

A trip to the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio was one of my first posts on this blog.  Since it's been so long and I had the opportunity to visit twice in the last few weeks, it's time to share a few more photos.  The gardens were built as the Japanese Tea Garden on an old quarry in the early 20th century by Japanese artist Kimi Eizo Jingu who also lived on the property with his family.  The "Chinese Tea Garden" gate was completed after World War II during a time when the gardens had been renamed.

The stonework pagoda is always amazing.

A path leads along the base.

Fantastic stonework throughout the gardens at the bottom of the old quarry.

While the overall structure remains the same as it has for nearly 100 years, quite a few plants have changed since we were last there so I'll focus on those changes.  The most obvious is clipped shrubs and massed perennials have replaced annuals.  The change may have been for maintenance reasons but it is more appropriate to a Japanese garden than flats of mixed petunias.  Most gardens in Japan have few or no flowers at all.

I like the mix of silvery and green shrubs here but wonder about the use of cenizo which produces such beautiful blooms after a rain.  Shearing them makes the blooms oddly lopsided.  Silver Germander might be a better choice.

I don't remember what the arching silver plants in this bed are but I like the texture.

Fountain grass is one way we enjoy fall color in South Texas.

Deep green fig ivy outlines and contrasts the arched bridge with its surroundings.

The huge waterfall, which had been turned off for many years, was recently repaired and this was the first time for us to see it in operation.

Below the waterfall, the trail goes through a shady bamboo walk.

Following the path up the quarry walls.  While the ponds are accessible, this part is more challenging.

The ponds had been recently drained and the stunning waterlilies are missing.  I hope they are replaced in the spring.

Koi and turtles still inhabit the ponds.

Looking back at the stone pagoda from the observation tower.

More of that fantastic stonework in the tower overlooking the zoo.

The base of the pagoda.

The Jingu house where the artist and his family lived for many years.

After touring the gardens we walked down along the road and explored the entry drive.

Salvia leucantha or Mexican Bush Sage blooming beautifully.

Sometimes referred to as the "Sunken Garden" by locals, the name is applied to the ampitheater off to the left.

Our nephew Eric, visiting from Houston, inspecting the Opuntia microdaysis.  A recently graduated electrical engineer, Eric has been curious about plants since he was in high school.  Needless to say we enjoy his visits.

I need to add this and the Yucca Rostrata to my garden!

Nice welcome!

It's fun to revisit the gardens and check the changes with my old post.  See this link for more information and opening times.


  1. It's fun to revisit through your post, Shirley. And yes, what a pleasure it must be to have your nephew visit and take him to see gardens!

    1. It's fun when our visitors want to tour gardens and enjoy them as much as we do.

  2. Hi Shirley! What an interesting garden! I don't remember seeing such elaborate stonework in other Japanese gardens. The plants growing among the stones (picture #14) are very attractive! Thank you for the walk!

    1. It's a unique combination of Japanese-Texas style rendered with local materials.

  3. Hi Shirley, I think they have improved the look of the gardens!! This was one of my Mother's favorite places so my brother and I went there quite often as kids--looked different then--same structure, just different plants. Did you have lunch at the Jingu House?? That's a fun place.

    1. This is the same day we went to Mi Tierra for lunch but I will have to try the lunch there at some point.

  4. I was impressed at how well-tended the garden looks and, yes, the stonework is impressive!

  5. Wow, all the stonework is so amazing! So gorgeous! Japanese gardens are so beautiful with all the different textures and forms. I do love the flowers on the Mexican bush sage. I used to see it grown occasionally where I lived in North Carolina, though it was right on the cusp of its range. Here it is sadly too cold for it.


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