The San Antonio Botanical Gardens are looking good this year. Just a few finishing touches left before the final phase of a multi-year update opens. I treated myself to an annual membership recently so I plan to check in there at least once a month.
Pink Muhly in the parking lot is fully fluffed out in early December. It might appear that a cloudy day isn't the best for photos but our sunshine can often be so intense as to wash out colors like this. Silvery artemesia adds just enough contrast.
The parking lot is now a "parking garden" and the plantings were designed by Christy TenEyck of Austin. A new entrance (right) is easier for visitors to find and the front plaza designed for assembling groups. A re-grading of the site allows for level entry instead of a rather steep uphill climb up from the old entrance.
The old carriage house is beautiful but imagine walking up and down that steep ramp multiple times each visit and trying to gather a group on the narrow space by the door at the bottom of the ramp.
Stopping in at the new discovery center we can see what's in bloom.
What's happening at the gardens this week? It's tamale season and they are right in sync with the community.
#SABOT with free WiFi throughout the gardens.
First stop is the conservatory and orchid/tropical house set with poinsettias. SABOT doesn't have a big holiday display but their nice subtle touches are appreciated.
Always lush and full.
Native Russelia in bright red and green dress a walkway in holiday style.
Looking back at the conservatory. Ornaments pick up colors of lantana at the agave's base.
The colors used here are just different enough to add a fun touch.
Prickly Pear has a few of its natural ornaments left.
More natural holiday cheer in the form of aloe blooms.
The "Muhly Maze" in the children's garden is like walking through tufts of cotton candy.
There's usually one house in the neighborhood where holidays are celebrated in a big way. This house just happens to be, obviously, in a very nice neighborhood where you don't usually see such over-the-top displays. I posted their fall display a few years ago and decided to check out their Christmas display when I was in the neighborhood recently.
They did not disappoint.
Fun and cheerful from Santa's sleigh to colorful packages.
Nice Nativity scene mixed with a snowman.
Santa in another surrounded by good quality faux poinsettias and trees because real ones won't last in our weather with freezes every few nights and into the 80s on sunny days. I love the detail with small trees as a border curbside.
Two sizes of real mailboxes for Letters to Santa with a path invite the neighbors to stop by. "Dear Santa, that sleigh with the red top in the driveway would be nice..."
All the garlands are stuffed with blingy ornaments and shiny ornament trees are very tall.
Crested Caracara birds have been residents of our woods for a number of years yet they rarely venture into the yard. The last few weeks we have been treated to up close views of these magnificent birds commonly known as Mexican Eagles.
A juvenile perhaps going by size and the beak is not deep orange yet. They are raptors and members of the Falcon family so not technically eagles.
I was mesmerized as it moved from branch to branch waiting for a chance to get water from a bowl we keep out for wildlife. One nearly flew into me the day before as I was weeding near the watering station.
Caracara birds are full time residents in San Antonio and their range extends from South Texas to the tip of South America. Though they generally stick close to the Mexican border they have been spotted up in North Texas on occasion.
What a beauty!
It's our honor to host such magnificent birds!
I'm joining Tina at "My Gardener Says..." for Wildlife Wednesday on the first Wednesday of each month.
A few weeks ago my friend Melody invited me over to take photos of her beautiful gardens. Good thing, because an early freeze came soon afterward. Despite our exceptionally hot fall and nearly rainless summer, Melody's garden looked wonderful. Spring rains gave the garden a good start and kept us out of drought restrictions this year.
And the view from her porch. I always enjoy Spanish moss swaying in the gentle breeze. Even though I live nearby there is none on my trees. It's common in Melody's neighborhood with larger lots to leave portions of the original native landscape in place.
Bright red Lycoris were in full bloom that day.
Melody grows a number of vines and I have been inspired to grow more vines after visits to her garden. Blue Skyflower has found a home in her garden.
Through the gate and a view toward the rear of the house.
More vines. Crossvine blooms primarily in spring.
Our garden styles are very different. That one spiky plant in this display was a gift from me. The chair is part of a vintage Brown Jordan set she rescued from the curb.
The rescued chairs nearly are very similar to her original Brown Jordan table set (under the arbor) she has had for years.
Stapelia bloom was out. I think my plant was a cutting from hers.
A ducky bit of humor in the pool spa.
Frostweed blooms attract butterflies and moths.
Contrasted with goldenrod it's a good pairing.
Lots of red with tiny roses in bloom. Melody loves roses though she is growing fewer roses as her garden becomes more shady.
More reds in the Hamelia.
Can't remember this one right off, but I loved the fullness of it.
More of those vines, Morning Glory still out.
Alternanthera which I know as 'Party Time' but it does have other common names.
Vignette with fish nicely coordinates texture and color.
Oh so pretty.
Headed to the woodland walk just under the cedar arbor. A portion of dead tree trunk left in place and surrounded by flowers.
Wine bottles mark the trail.
And back out through the matching arbor on the right draped with more Skyflower.
We have different planting styles, but we both are plant collectors and enjoy adding found objects to our gardens.
The raised bed garden in the former horse corral was a little worse for wear in full sun with temperatures as much as 10 degrees above average. Still pretty though.
Coral vine drapes the stone barn.
The Monarch butterfly migration was in full swing.
And here we are. Special thanks to Neal who came along to help take photos since I sometimes enjoy my visit so much I forget to take enough photos.
Thank you Melody for sharing your beautiful garden with us again.