Tuesday, April 12, 2016


On Saturday fellow gardener and blogger Pam Penick and I traveled down to San Antonio to attend the Watersaver Landscape Tour. A tour of 6 private gardens in the Inverness neighborhood. All the gardens had been landscaped for both low water use and maintenance. In fact the developer of this area, who lives in the subdivision, required the landscaping to be so. The tour should have been held last fall but inclement weather resulted in its cancellation until the spring.

Saturday morning's skies were threatening, with a few drops of rain on the drive down, but mercifully the day remained dry and cloudy skies made for pleasant garden viewing and photography. We were taken by bus from the designated parking area into the gated neighborhood.
The first garden, A Way with Whimsy, took us into the lawn-free back garden filled with colorful art. I always find with this kind of garden my eyes dart from one installation to another barely taking in the plantings. And there was plenty to catch the eye.

Add caption

But this planting in particular really caught my immediate attention. A swag of succulents snaking up the trunk of the large tree. I took a closer look to see how it had been achieved. Just a long cage made from coated wire and stuffed with sphagnum moss and attached to the tree. Definitely doable, but, that's a lot of succulents and I wonder about the care.

The garden of house number 2 was front garden only and could easily be viewed from the street. Once again no lawn and simple plantings in gravel. A neat and low maintenance design but holding little interest to an avid gardener.

The homeowners of the third garden had requested a lawn-free design. The designer had used Berkeley sedge, Mexican feather grass, Inland sea oats to replace grass in the shady and dappled sun areas. Wide pavers leading to the front gate added some nice structural interest and contrast with the grassy plantings.

Stepping stones lead from the front to the back garden where the large limestone pavers pick up the theme once more as they led to a shady covered terrace.

We stood for a while discussing, with fellow blogger Shirley Fox of Rock Oak Deer,  the bloom stalks on the Berkeley sedge, surprised at their size. In one corner an oak leaf hydrangea was just beginning to bloom.

As we walked towards the next garden we couldn't help but admire this planting of ghost plant( in flower) along with a blooming red yucca. Succulents can make the most stunning container gardens as we were soon to see in garden number 5.

 Garden number 5 was the ultimate low water garden featuring structural cactus and agaves. Corten steel had been used widely to create planting areas.

An outstanding display of Sticks of Fire Euphorbia tirucalli rosea. I wish mine would put on such a show.

And horsetail reed, Equisetum hyemale, making a fine single species display along the side of the house.

A line of Mexican slipper plant, Pedilanthus macrocarpus.

Side garden looking to the front

Limestone wall with natural texture.

Corten steel planters with Ocotillo, Fouquiera splendens. Only one was in full leaf the others looked almost dead save for some life at the tips of the stems. I'm not sure if this is a natural state of affairs or the plants were not happy.

The somewhat minimalist landscape treatment was well suited to the style of house.

Returning to garden number 4 we found ourselves in a secluded courtyard which was at the back of the house. The house was built on back to back lots the front being on the street behind. The landscape was suited to the Spanish style of the house with ivy covered walls, palms and ferns giving a more tropical feel.

At the last property the garden had been left in a more natural state with most of the lot left untouched. In consultation with a SAWS Conservation Consultant the homeowner had converted his watering system to drip for more efficiency. A pathway led to an enclosed courtyard with a very attractive wall feature.

The Water Savers Landscape Tour was sponsored by the San Antonio Water System, Garden Volunteers of South Texas and the San Antonio River Authority. There was no charge to take the tour.
We met up with Heather of Xericstyle, who works for SAWS and was running the tour. A job well done Heather and all the volunteers who helped to make everything run smoothly.
But we were not ready yet to leave San Antonio. We had been invited for a private visit to a garden which had been on a previous SAWS tour, and we were to be treated to afternoon tea. What better way to end the day. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, you can catch up with Pam Penick's favorite memories of the tour at Digging through her wonderful photography and words.


  1. I really like the Graptopetalum-Hesperaloe combination - I may steal that idea!

  2. That (live) Ocotillo looks great! I really want one for my front garden. Thanks for sharing this inspiration!

  3. I enjoyed your photos of extra details I didn't capture, Jenny. But even more I enjoyed spending the day touring gardens with you. :)

  4. Though by Texas standards I enjoy plentiful rains, it's always a pleasure to see how folks deal with restricted water. One can still have a beautiful garden despite a very dry climate. Loved the photos.

  5. So interesting to read Pam's post and then yours about the day. Some wonderful ideas -- love the succulents on the tree trunk. It would be a lot of work to copy but I may try to do it.

  6. Thanks for the photos. I was planning on going, but allergies got to me first.