Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Xeriscape Post-Again You Ask?

I'm sure some of you remember my posts this summer about the Xeriscape demonstration gardens in Colorado Springs. I went on and on about the "rules", points, suggestions, etc., etc. etc. Well for the past two months I've been trying to put together another xeriscape post from the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. The staff there has put together some unique demonstration gardens. They are well planned and installed exhibitions of "themed" gardens. I will start with the  Manicured Xeriscape Landscape Demonstration Garden.
On every garden there is signage explaining the details and management tips on having that type of garden. There is also signage giving the viewer the ability to call a number and listen to a recorded message explaining details of the garden. The signs were pretty dirty with droppings, as most of the staff was too busy hand watering due to the mega drought and probably not able to find much time to do housekeeping. Click on the images to enlarge.
The photo below is a wide angle view of the Manicured Xeriscape. Excuse me about this photo as it was a 108 and just a little bit sunny. The sign from the first photo is the same one on top of the small section of fence. Each garden has a sign with a uniquely designed section of fence below it. This one has a cattle panel section with a contemporary style.
Most of the turfgrass and plants are labeled. The turfgrass is zoysia, and yes that is jasmine ground cover. Many of you probably ask: how can that be xeriscape? Remember one principle is to put like plants together according to their water usage in the same zone. This example is a manicured garden for those who want to save a little more water (Zoysia lawn compared to a Saint Augustine lawn) and jasmine ground cover when once established can take some drought. Also you can allow Zoysia to go dormant as it is a warm season grass and it will recover when it rains. Rain? Well maybe. Once a week irrigation keeps Zoysia green and it can take partial shade. Also this garden has herbaceous perennials planted instead of annuals. Notice the architectural style of the small building. Each garden has their own unique building style.

 Decomposed granite is typical of the pathways leading to the different gardens. DG leads up to this building above with hardscape brick near the stoop. Wouldn't you call this manicured? I believe that is an existing live oak on the left. Shade is an important feature in this garden. Also you are viewing the sign and fence detail on the right which is an example of the next garden.

The traditional lawn. This garden is an example of the traditional American landscape. This is not a xeriscape garden.
I suppose this is not what to do. lol. Click to view the elements of the landscape and maintenance requirements in this region. Notice the high maintnance clipped Photinia foundation planting, Crepe Myrtle in the background, clipped box hedge, Saint Augustine turfgrass and annuals. It's actually a nice looking garden but uses more water to keep it green.
I suppose the only thing missing in this region is a Arizona Ash tree. In other parts of the country these plants would be interchanged with privet, large juniper, bluegrass or fescue turfgrass. The next four gardens will be posted in coming days. These will include The Texas Hill Country garden, the Cottage Garden, the Wildscape garden and the Spanish Courtyard Garden. Remember this tour was in late July this summer, so judge them on how well they look in this drought and what type of plants are being used and how much maintenance and water is being applied to "look" good.


  1. You know that is really interesting that they go to the extent they did with a shed to show people what the landscape would look like with a home.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. I'm really glad you're posting this. You've inspired me to go down to SA when it cools off to see the gardens. They've had some rain lately so hopefully the signs are a bit cleaner! LOL.

    We're anticipating day 90 tomorrow of 100 or greater degrees for the summer. 20 days over the record. I'm in planning mode for how to make my garden even more drought tolerant. Perusing the blogs to soak in as many ideas as possible. SA gardens is a good place to start too.

  3. Did you ever get to see the people who live in the tiny houses?

  4. I loved these gardens when I visited with the Austin garden bloggers a couple of years ago. I really thought it was a marvelous idea to show people what they could do. It covered all styles. I really wish they could improve on the demonstration gardens at the WFC. I think it may be coming.

  5. Cher- I thought it was unique indeed.
    Cat-I think you would get a lot of ideas, as the gardens have matured.
    Linnie- yeah, the smurfs live there.

  6. Jenny-Myfavorite is the Hill Country Garden by far. I did a landscape design for my son based on that design. Now he's moving to Oklahoma City. Oh, well. If it's been a few years I think you would be surprised how's it's matured. The south Texas garden is interesting also.

  7. I enjoyed the tour. I agree, they are pretty manicured.

  8. How wonderful to be making a real small house and labeling everything so anybody will know. I love that xeriscape first building more. I would love to be your understudy, LOL. However, i did not read everything as those plants are not suited to ours, besides i am not familiar with them. Suffice it to say that i enjoyed the tour and i appreciate all of them.

  9. Thank you for the lovely tour, I must admit that I was as taken by that purple door as I was by your post. And since that scene is the xeriscape, makes you wonder if that was their intent. I choose xeriscape... especially if it comes with a purple door. (JK)

  10. Thank you Andrea and Dona.
    Carolyn-Purple doors work for me also. or red.

  11. Very inspiring and original blog. great to read your thoughts.

    Kind regards
    MyGardenSchool (UK)

  12. Dear Greggo,
    This is a great post.
    Yesterday, I thumbed through the Colorado Xeriscape book, Xeriscape Plant Guide: 100 Water-Wise Plants for Gardens and Landscapes. Many of the Xeriscape plants they use are not used much in Texas. I am in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and my jasmine and crape myrtles are doing well without much water. It is good to see others ideas and then work with it regionally. I will be looking forward to your other posts.

  13. How did I miss these when I was there a couple of years ago? Maybe they're new? Or maybe I just missed them! Thanks for bringing this to our attention. The SA botanical gardens are fabulous, and I think everyone in Texas is thinking drought tolerant this year!

  14. I posted about Watersaver Lane when I visited a few years ago. Like you, I thought it was an inspiring and educational exhibit. If you're interested, here's my link:

  15. Interesting that they should be watering in a xerophytic garden. By coincidence I downloaded xero......;list from Colorado University only this morning.


Thanks for leaving any comments, they are always welcomed. Sorry I had to add word verification as spam was becoming a huge problem. Greggo,