Historic San Antonio style in Tupper Beinhorn Garden: San Antonio Open Days Tour

Compared with the formality of the Ware Garden, the rambling Old San Antonio style of the Tupper Beinhorn Garden couldn’t be more different. I visited last weekend during the San Antonio Open Days Tour sponsored by the Garden Conservancy. Located in the historic and charming Monte Vista neighborhood, the 1928 Spanish Colonial Revival home was the star of this property, with shrubby palms, mature trees, groundcovers, and potted plants playing a supporting role to the architecture.

A pieced-stone front walk leads through a small lawn with two different kinds of turf laid out in asymmetric curves. I found that a bit distracting, but I do like the walk with circular focal point, and I love that cobalt and tiled door surround. At the left corner of the house…

…a patio with a built-in bench echoes that asymmetry using the same rusty flagstone as the front walk. I don’t know that this casual patio with stacked-stone edge works in the context of this particular house. A more formal, geometric layout would perhaps be a better fit, especially if constructed as a welcoming terrace between the driveway and the front door. However, I do always appreciate a front-yard sitting space, and this one enjoys privacy thanks to a dense planting along the street and driveway (at right).

Another patio space appears in the side yard along the driveway, with lacy iron seating painted a mustard yellow. What instantly grabbed my attention, however, were white stucco walls with inset tile-mosaic pictures of rural Mexican scenery. Cloaked in fig ivy and topped with a woven extension for added privacy, the walls create the feeling of a romantic hideaway.

The driveway leads to a small parking court and detached guest house.

Under a pergola for sheltered parking, you see more tile pictures on the wall, with wavy prickly pear in a narrow raised bed below.

The tile pictures portray scenes of rural life in Mexico a century ago.

This one is my favorite, with an out-of-scale variegated agave resembling a kraken from the deep!

The guest house is charming with scrolled ironwork and a doorway awning. Matching hanging baskets trail greenery on each side of the door.

Built into the right corner of the guest house is a Moroccan-style niche with benches and beautiful mirror-tile mosaic — a focal point from the driveway.

A hideaway for romantic liaisons?

Mosaic detail

From here you enter the back garden behind the main house.

A casual array of container plants creates separation and privacy, and a wide, vine-swagged arbor offers entry.

The landscaping is not over-fussed. A bit of lawn, a collection of containers, and a relaxed vibe indicate that the owners are pretty casual about their garden.

Again, the architecture of the home is what stands out: an outdoor fireplace with built-in bancos, a woven awning held up by scrolled ironwork, another mirror-tile mosaic (fabulous), and a red-tile roof.

A turquoise lap pool surrounded by a narrow, brick-paver terrace is the focal point of the garden.

The terrace widens behind the pool, allowing space for a dining table surfaced in matching brick pavers.

The stucco walls, softened with climbing vines, create enclosure and privacy and show off more mosaic-tile pictures. A stucco-walled woodshed is stocked for the outdoor fireplace.

A flagstone patio at the back of the guest house connects via a stepping-stone path. Gingers, ferns, and sago palms add lush, subtropical greenery under the shady tree canopy.

Dwarf mondo grass outlines the terracotta-hued flagstone, and a cushioned bench adds a similar dash of color. At right, atop a low stacked-stone wall, a large urn with a spigot collects rainwater from a downspout, allowing the owners to easily water their containers.

Touring this casual garden in one of San Antonio’s prettiest neighborhoods was a treat, especially for the chance to see a historic home with plenty of Alamo City charm.

Up next: Linda Peterson’s green-walled, low-water garden and courtyard patio. For a look back at the Europe-meets-Texas Ware Garden, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.

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10 Responses

  1. Pat Webster says:

    Pam, It is a rare treat to read a review of a garden that contains both positive and negative remarks. Too often reviews fail to mention things that could be improved.

    I agree that the two types of turf weren’t successful in this context or in the particular way they were laid out, but what an interesting idea. It has many possible applications and by drawing critical attention to it, your comments were helpful.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Pat, thanks. As a blogger with deep roots in the Central Texas gardening community, I have found it more and more difficult over the years to say anything that could be construed as negative, for the simple reason that I don’t wish to hurt anyone’s feelings. And since it’s always a privilege to be invited into someone’s personal garden for a tour, I also want to express my gratitude for each visit. That said, I do feel there’s great value in figuring out what works and what doesn’t work, according to my own point of view, as doing so helps me to be a better designer myself. Perhaps it also helps others to think more deeply about their own experience of a garden.

      I’ve always admired the deep consideration you give the gardens that you blog about. I think that’s a sign of respect for the intentions of the designer, don’t you? —Pam

      • Kate S. says:

        Was going to say similar as Pat. You are clearly thoughtful and discerning in any criticisms, and they are so important. Ultimately I really appreciate the ‘what works/what doesn’t’ because it can be so challenging to have vision for a space and these investments cost time/money. This one in particular (patio with stacked stone meets house style) because I am grappling that garden style vs. architecture style issue myself, having an 1980s-build red brick colonial with columns here in ATX while trying to keep a Texas garden. Not something that one can just Google. :) Wish I could find more writing on such a niche subject!

        • Pam/Digging says:

          Thanks for your comment, Kate. That would be a good topic indeed for a garden or design blog. In fact I’d love to see more landscape/garden design blogs altogether, especially if they do more than just show their designs but explain why they made the design decisions they did, like Ravenscourt Gardens in Houston. —Pam

          • Kate S. says:

            Oh! thank you for pointing me there. I’d not seen this site (I’d heard of it). Also makes me think of Curt Arnette’s personal garden. Excellent job of making something Austin-suitable while considering the architectural style of the home and even enhancing that style without it being contrived. Also someone I’d love to see do a Garden Spark Talk. (Is this where I tell the genie that my last wish is for 3 more wishes? :) )

  2. I like most of this garden. I guess because it is relaxed, not over done except for that entrance with the funky changes in grass.

  3. Kris P says:

    It’s a beautiful house and I liked the use of the painted tiles as outdoor art but what most impressed me was the pieced stone walkway and patio – that’s not easy to do!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      No, not easy, although I have learned that masons often cut or break pieces in order to fit stones together tightly. They’re not just finding random pieces that fit together, the way we amateurs do. The result is impressive, for sure. —Pam

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