Garden Conservancy tour: San Antonio

We’re just as passionate about fall color as we are about spring wildflowers. Grabbing the baton long before most trees get the picture, we can count on bunching (clumping), ornamental grasses.
native plants, grasses
Many of us jumped on the native grass bandwagon with Lindheimer muhly and Gulf muhly, since they were available, drought tolerant, and deer-resistant.
native plants, grasses
Recently, we’ve fallen for (albeit hard-to-find) hybrids Pink Flamingo muhly and Muhlenbergia sericea ‘White Cloud’.
Pink Flamingo muhly and Muhlenbergia sericea ‘White Cloud’ Central Texas Gardener
Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’), indigenous to regions of Africa, flaunts tall stature in summer. Although we can lose it in cold winters, it sticks around to pair with wispy-pink Gulf muhly.
street gardens, curb gardens, east austin
There are lots of little pennisetums, too, that fit nicely into small spaces with froths of miniature white flowers. Again, often we consider these annuals to replant in spring, depending on your microclimate. ‘Little Bunny’ is a common one.
grass, curb garden
In winter, native grasses anchor the cold weather garden, even as they harbor sheltering wildlife. Cut them back in late winter as new growth emerges. Daphne explains how to grow bunching grasses.
snapdragons muhly grass central texas gardener
Brian and Shirley Loflin’s Grasses of the Hill Country is a great resource to identify grasses.
Grasses of the Hill Country Brian and Shirley Loflin
Live oaks keep their leaves until they shed old growth in spring to make way for the new. But, for Jennifer Valdés, one of her young live oaks is bare on top.
Photo by Jennifer Valdes, tree problems
It was planted by the builder a couple of years ago, just before she and her family moved into their new home. She mulched it the dripline and waters with a bubbler. Most likely, the problem started at planting time. Daphne explains what might have happened.

On patios, balconies and porches, we love to style up with succulent containers. Rather than haul everything into warmth, John has a few ideas for cold-hardy succulents in hanging baskets.
cold hardy succulent hanging basket Central Texas Gardener
John’s also got a tip for growing in coconut coir fiber containers: line with a cut-down black plastic garbage bag punched with holes for drainage.
coconut coir fiber liner Central Texas Gardener
You also want to use a light-weight cactus soil mix. Top with expanded shale or small gravel to pretty it up and prevent soil splash.
Cactus potting mix Central Texas Gardener
Get John’s list and watch now.

A toothy, maroon dyckia tops a patio table in a garden I saw on the San Antonio Water Systems Water-Saving tour a few years ago.
San Antonio, patio, no lawn
The Gardening Volunteers of South Texas helped organize that tour. This year, they’ve partnered with The Garden Conservancy to present the San Antonio Open Days tour on October 14.
San Antonio, Linda Peterson
Energetic Regional Representative Shirley Fox previews the diverse designs to see on October 14.
Tom Spencer and Shirley Fox Central Texas Gardener
It’s a delightful collection of styles, plants, and outdoor living rooms sure to inspire your own hands-on takeaway.
Photo by Shirley Fox
Plus, it is so fun to explore with fellow gardeners and share the camaraderie of idea-seekers and plant care geeks like us! Watch now.
Photo by Shirley Fox
Photo by Shirley Fox
Get tickets online and maps to the gardens.
Photo by Shirley Fox
Visit Shirley’s blog to explore her plant adventures at home and out and about!

On our visit to one of the gardens, in the San Antonio suburb of Terrell Hills, Mary and Lewis Fisher grow awareness of the past that impacts the present and our future.
Mary Maverick Fisher and Lewis Fisher native plant garden Central Texas Gardener
Lewis, renowned for his books that tell the stories of old San Antonio, founded Maverick Publishing, named for Mary’s family. Recently purchased by Trinity University Press, he published 45 books by 27 authors.
Chile Queens by Lewis Fisher Central Texas Gardener
Mary serves on the boards of the San Antonio Botanical Garden Society and the Brackenridge Park Conservancy.
Mary Maverick Fisher San Antonio Central Texas Gardener
Born into the iconic Maverick family, her early home influenced her decision to restore drought-tough natives (and adapted) plants when they took out turf grass.
flagstone sidewalk fieldstone detail Central Texas Gardener
When they added a screened in porch to the front yard, they ripped out the traditional sidewalk in favor of stacked flagstones.
flag stone style porch steps screened in porch Central Texas Gardener
flag stone porch and sidewalk steps Central Texas Gardener
At the curb, they widened the pathway with Oklahoma stone.
Oklahoma flagstone sidewalk Central Texas Gardener
In back, they inherited ancient oak trees and an historic wall built in the 1930s around the historic Lutcher Brown estate. To add dimension and seasonal flowering in shade, they worked with designers Scott Ogden and Patrick Kirwin to layer blooming understory trees, perennials and bulbs, along with structural succulents and evergreen groundcovers.
flagstone patio brick raised bed native plants Central Texas Gardener
The Fishers added the flagstone patio a few years ago. Recently, Scott and Patrick framed it with shrubs, trees, and grasses, most still growing in during their first few seasons.
flagstone patio bordered with native plants Central Texas Gardener
Mary lucked into the perfect historic touch with old light fixtures from the Olmos Dam. Mary rewired them to light the night on their own mini bridge.
historic San Antonio lanterns patio lighting Central Texas Gardener
I sure hope you get to meet charming Mary and Lewis on October 14! In Mary, I found a kindred soul warrior to change our garden philosophy in a water-restricted future.
charming screened porch living room Central Texas Gardener
Here’s the Ogden/Kirwin plant list additions.

Watch now for Mary’s own words that express this all much better than I ever can.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda