Monday, May 16, 2016

"A place of beauty, contemplation, and joy"

A tiny (one acre) park on the edge of downtown San Antonio, Chris Park is a memorial of love from a mother to her son.  Chris Goldsbury died of a drug overdose in 1997 at the age of 24.  Chris Park was established by his mother Linda Pace and dedicated in 2005 just two years before she died of breast cancer.

If the name sounds familiar, Linda's parents began selling Pace salsa from their kitchen in 1948 and over the next four decades Pace Foods helped make salsa America's favorite condiment until the company was sold to Campbell's Foods.  As an artist and philanthropist, she established the Linda Pace Foundation to maintain Chris Park and fund contemporary art projects.  SPACE, a contemporary art gallery, is located in the park.

The title of this post and highlighted quotes are from Linda's vision for the park as stated on the website.

This little park is a work of landscape art.  Because the design of Chris Park makes creative use of foliage and texture, I'm linking with Digging for Foliage Follow-up.  We'll start with beautiful gardens along Camp Street headed toward the entry arbor draped with trumpet vine.

Through the arbor a limestone plaza with matching arbor at the far end.

A fountain which was not in operation on the day of my visit usually spouts from the stones.  Illuminated dots called "Starfield" display constellation patterns on the day Chris was born.  The park closes at 5 pm so these would be mostly visible through the gates or for those attending evening events at the gallery.

"a rhythmic layout of lush foliage" represented by stands of Giant Timber Bamboo.

An immediate sense of enclosure and separation from the street.  I did not expect to like the bamboo as much as I did.  Giant Timber Bamboo is a clumping bamboo with thick, dark green trunks which grows up to 55' high, it's quite compelling.

"areas of repose" provided by stone benches

Palms are another striking feature of the park and add to the restful setting.

Bamboo arches over the walkways leading off the plaza.

So many different textures, yet it's so tranquil here.  A green lawn and silvery agaves are visible across the lawn through the second arbor.

After a few minutes enjoying the plaza, I headed down the path to the left.  Spotting construction up ahead on the other side of the fence. I asked the attendant on site and learned the park is expanding.

Of course I waded into the bamboo forest.

Absorbing the contrast of strong lines and feathery foliage

Lights on the ground indicate the bamboo is illuminated at night.

Oh so tall!

Palm Hill elevates palms making the park feel larger.

Looks like a huge city park from here

"sites for play" include a lawn....

and "Tumble Hill" for children

More texture emerges under dappled light

"and encounters with contemporary art"

An installation of Wednesday's Child where the familiar poem has been changed so all the days of the week are Wednesday.  Chris was born on a Wednesday.

I was fascinated by this mound covered in small Mondo Grass to highlight what I think is the Natchez Mock Orange known as Chris' Tree.

A screen of bamboo keeps busy S. Flores Street at bay.

A walkway winds along the secluded back garden.  SPACE gallery is ahead on the left.   Admission is free and the gallery opens at noon.  I was there too early to visit the gallery.

Benches are engraved with entries from Chris' journal.  "I got licked by a puppy"

"I hugged a friend"  This park feels like a hug in the middle of the city.

Some of the benches were gifts to the park.

Sparkles appear along the sidewalks.

No plant tags and the attendant didn't know specific names.  I think the strappy foliage indicates the trunked plant on the right is a nolina.

Silvery agaves, visible from the entry plaza, are a draw to the back of the garden.

Pausing to enjoy this trio of palms again before I head off to my errands in town.

Chris Park is a work of landscape art, an enjoyable respite within the city and well worth a few minutes out of the day to take a walk.  I'll return when the new area is opened and the fountain is working to experience the garden in a different way.

Foliage Follow-up at Digging highlights the importance of foliage in the garden on the 16th of each month.


Pam Penick is also set to speak at Festival of Flowers on Saturday, May 28th at 10:30 am.  She'll present "Hold the Hose", a talk about saving water in our gardens.  After the talk Pam will have her latest book "The Water Saving Garden" and her first book "Lawn Gone" available for purchase and signing.  Look for me attending Pam's talk, volunteering at the SAWS butterfly garden display, shopping for plants, or taking part in the City-Wide Plant Swap.

Basil Fest at the Pearl is this Saturday, May 21st.  This year they're raising money for the Healing and Therapy Gardens at Ft. Sam where I volunteer each week.  I'll be there with my fellow volunteers to discuss the gardens and help recruit new volunteers.  So come on out to support our local chefs and a great cause!


  1. I'm moved by this mother's tribute to her child, Shirley. How poignant all the details are. I love that she included a play hill for children, which clearly shows she meant this park to be lived in and enjoyed, not be a static, solemn memorial. It's beautiful. All except Chris's mock orange, which looks like it was unfortunately butchered by over-zealous pruners?

    Hope to see you and your readers in San Antonio in a couple of weeks!

  2. Indeed, "places for play" is part of the criteria for the park. When the fountain is working it's also a play space.

    I noted a few issues like the tree pruning such as a poor Barbados Cherry trying to bloom through its sheared sides. Mostly I enjoyed the park and its meaning.

  3. What a lovely testimonial! The constellation feature is an especially wonderful feature. All that bamboo gives the park a peaceful feel, even in photos.

  4. The bamboo groves are stunning, and so are a lot of their specimens! Lovely and serene garden.

  5. It is clearly a peaceful place. The detailing and references to her son are very moving; and such thought has gone into other people's children's enjoyment of the space. I am so pleased that they are extending it.

  6. Beautiful park. I had never heard of it- thanks for the tour!

  7. What a tragedy is behind this park, and what a beauty can people leave after themselves!

  8. A truly special spot. It's so lush, green, and peaceful. Love the bamboo forest and palms.

  9. Chris Park is wonderful and situated in city center. I love the bamboo arches and benches. Thanks for sharing Shirley!

  10. That's a lovely memorial. Your photos convey the peaceful aura of the park. How special that she was able to do this in memory of her son, whose childhood spirit she captured in many small details like the journal entries and the play spaces.


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