Even in the midst of “winter”, the San Antonio Botanical Gardens are abundant with blooming shrubs, edible plants, and trees that don’t lose their leaves.
The Gardens are located at the terminus of the wonderful and relatively undeveloped Mahncke Park. This linear park connects San Antonio’s crown jewel, Brackenridge Park to the Botanical Gardens. All of these properties came to the city via George W. Brackenridge in 1899, as his Water Works Company realized that the water supply demands on the San Antonio River and its underground aquifers were unsustainable.
The Gardens are home to a lot of interesting architecture too. The modern, low slung welcome center brings you into the grounds. From there you can head to the culinary garden whose name suggests that these plants are edible. Then there is the amazing kid-focused Family Adventure Garden – which I firmly believe should be the goal of every city park system to emulate in at least one part of their city! Kids can run through water courses, dig in the sand under structures made from branches, explore wooden play houses, and dangle their feet into water below mini limestone ledges. It is natural play at its best!
The Texas Native Trail was another delightful gem – taking visitors through three different ecosystems: the Hill Country; South Texas; and the Eastern Piney Woods. A replica of a historic home from that area is located in each of the sections.
We loved walking through the catcus and succulent garden – where saguaros mixed with more native cacti like prickly pear. Watersaver Lane is a cool exhibit that showcases drought resistant landscaping with 6 different types of front yards (in front of their very own, distinctive cottage!)
We didn’t even make it into the Conservatory Gardens during our visit – it was simply to beautiful outside. And the Japanese Gardens are under construction. I knew we’d want to spend more time strolling this stunning place in different seasons so we got an annual membership.
Pictures tell a better story and this gallery includes photos from our visit on February 1st.