April 07, 2024

Memories of the San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden

T Mountain Laurel

In recent weeks, several Texan friends have mentioned, on their blogs and social media, that the Texas Mountain Laurels (Dermatophyllum secundiflorum; syn. Sophora secundiflora) were blooming. This reminded me of our time in the state last year. It also reminded me that I hadn't shared highlights from our visit to the San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden, which was a truly unique place!

T Mountain Laurel Tree

Several Texas Mountain Laurels were blooming outside the entrance, and we spent some quality time before and after our visit viewing, smelling, and enjoying them. The scent has been described as grape bubblegum, which I recall as being about right.

T Mountain Laurel Horse-Fly Carpenter Bee

The pollinators enjoyed them, too. I believe this is a horse-fly carpenter bee.

Rock Work 1

The tea garden, which is more than 100 years old, exceeded my expectations and was totally different than I expected. It's described as "magical" on the San Antonio Parks web site, and that seems about right. My photos and words don't do it justice: It's one of those places you have to visit to get the full effect. There's so much beautiful rock and stone work everywhere you look, and the layout is so unique.

Rock Work 2

Built in the pit of a former limestone quarry and cement factory, it was shaped into a pavilion, walkways, arch bridges, pond surrounds, an island, and more.

Gardens 4

When we were there, beautiful annuals, along with resident perennials, were on display. These colorful Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) brightened the late February landscape.

Gardens 3

Various grasses, Prickly Pear cacti (Opuntia alta), and other native perennials framed the scene around the property.

Gardens 2

The rock work, mixed with beautiful plants and blooms was truly special.


Along with the giant, 60-foot waterfall, which made a dramatic statement.

Gardens 1

If/when you visit San Antonio, don't miss this special place. I'm sure it's beautiful and incredible any time of year.

To learn more about the history of the Japanese Tea Garden, and plans for its future, visit the San Antonio Parks Foundation and the San Antonio Parks & Recreation descriptions.

April 01, 2024

Frozen Flowers in Vases


As many bloggers in many locales have mentioned, we've had a seesaw of weather since February--back and forth between record warmth and bitter cold. This reveals (even more dramatically than in a "normal" season) how hardy the late winter/early spring bloomers can be.


A few days ago, I picked these flowers in the morning when the temps were much below freezing; they were sadly plopped to the ground. Soon after, in vases, they seemed happier. They're still going strong today.


This Hellebore (Helleborus orientalis) is the anchor of the group.

Daff 1

The Daffodils (Narcissus) include large-cupped...

Daff 2

...and curly lace varieties.


When I picked it, this bloom was frozen in its partial unfurling.


About a day later, it was nearly fully open, bright, and perky.

With Lamp

They make a "welcome spring" statement in the family room--way up high where the cat and dog can't reach them. And our extended forecast is looking much better, too. :)

I'm linking in with Cathy's "In a Vase on Monday" meme, over at Rambling in the Garden. Head on over to see all the creative arrangements and beautiful combinations.

Happy Easter and Happy Spring!

March 27, 2024

Wordless Las Vegas Area 'Arrangements'

Colorful mixed planting at the hotel

City 3
Buxus sempervirens and Cyclamen persicum

Sloan Canyon Ferocactus cylindraceus
Ferocactus cylindraceus at Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area

City 2
Pelargonium × hortorum and Viola × wittrockiana

VOF Senna artemisioides
Senna artemisioides at Valley of Fire State Park

City 1
Mixed planting along 'The Strip'

Red Rocks Yucca schidigera
Yucca schidigera and desert view at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

'Flowers' on the Sphere

March 18, 2024

IAVOM: Simple Early Season Treasures

Spring is happening early in my part of the world. Flowers began blooming in February, and many plants are breaking the soil surface preparing for the growing season ahead. With the exception of the Snowdrops, I rarely pick these early season flowers--for some reason I don't want to disturb them. ;-)


Because of this reluctance, I only picked a few, and I share a very simple vase/bowl.

Two of the Hellebore (Helleborus orientalis) varieties have been in my garden for many years, and their cultivar was not listed. The one in the middle is Helleborus x hybridus 'Sandy Shores.' Also included are a few Crocuses (C. vernus) and some Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'). The Crocuses were closed when I picked them in the morning, and they opened a bit more later.


I also combined a tiny bouquet of 'Flore Pleno' with some Barrenwort foliage (Epimedium x warleyense) remaining from the previous season.

We'll have several days in the week ahead with temperatures below normal, while March, until now, has been unseasonably warm. I hope the blooms/plants outdoors will be OK.

I'm joining in with Cathy's In a Vase on Monday meme. Head on over to see the other amazing entries!