Blogger field trip: Antique Rose Emporium, San Antonio

Garden path at the Antique Rose Emporium

Rose Garden: two words that induce irrepressible yawns. I’ve never enjoyed traditional rose gardens, where different varieties of roses are spaced out across a sunny square and unaccompanied by any other plants. It makes for a hodgepodge of color and same-size blobs in summer and a twiggy, gray mess in winter. Rose gardens can turn anyone off of roses.

The Antique Rose Emporium (ARE), on the other hand, knows how to do roses right. Extensive display gardens at both the San Antonio and Brenham locations showcase roses growing amid native and adapted perennials and grasses, with small trees and groundcovers rounding out the mix. The roses fit into such gardens naturally, providing focal points of color and scent when in bloom but blending into the background during the off-season.

The Austin garden bloggers visited ARE in San Antonio last Saturday, following a visit to the San Antonio Botanical Garden. I’ve been to both locations numerous times (and have ordered roses from their website as well), and I’m always wowed by the gardens, charmed by the old-timey Texas farmhouse structures that serve as stores and garden backdrops, and seduced by their gift-shop offerings.

I’d spent my plant budget at Madrone Nursery, an earlier stop that day, so I just enjoyed the gardens while the others shopped. I was tempted, however, by this cuphea, which stood about 4 feet tall.

Pomegranate trees were loaded with rosy fruit…

…as were citrus trees.

How many rose nurseries can boast of a working vegetable garden?

Garden furniture, decor, and books are scattered throughout a few buildings and on their porches.

This dress form draped with filmy fabric would make a unique porch ornament.

The roses for sale are neatly labeled and displayed. There are so many to choose from, and all were in bloom.

While we were here, a bride was having her wedding photos made, and we were told that a wedding had occurred on the grounds earlier that day, probably in this pavilion.

It would be a lovely place for a wedding in the spring or fall.

Plenty of color can be found even when the roses aren’t blooming.

Philippine violet

Grasses were in bloom amid the roses.

I’m in love with this blue courtyard garden at the end of the display garden.

I’ve shown you pictures of ARE’s blue courtyard before but can’t resist a revisit.

This time Mexican mint marigold offered a pop of contrasting color to the blue-greens of tall yuccas.

Plumbago played up the blues.

More blue

I’d seen this butterfly flower (Rotheca myricoides ‘Ugandense’) at the botanical garden, and it was perfect for ARE’s blue courtyard.

The spider was enjoying her lunch near a trio of fountains…

…which added their burbling music to the scene.

Outside the courtyard’s adobe walls, this magnificent Agave americana stood about 7-8 feet tall.

Its sharp spines were beautiful to behold but not to touch.

Toothy leaves curled and writhed. The agave’s smooth “skin” begs to be touched, but watch out for those teeth.

A second courtyard is painted a sun-warmed terracotta and anchored by a Mexican-style tiered stone fountain.

The tempting gift shop

At last it was time to head back to Austin. Just look at how many plants we were toting home from the Rose Emporium and Madrone Nursery. I should point out that ARE carries a variety of interesting plants, not just roses.

My delightful carpooling companions, from left to right: Me, Rachel of In Bloom, Amy of Go Away, I’m Gardening!, Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden, and Meredith of Great Stems.

My thanks to the folks at the Antique Rose Emporium for being so welcoming to our group. Check out employee Cindy’s blog, A Daily View, for more pics and info. Also, the main website for ARE has a wealth of information on the roses they carry, plus directions, hours, and event info.

For my post on the Brenham Antique Rose Emporium, click here. For a previous post on the San Antonio Antique Rose Emporium, click here.

UPDATE: The San Antonio location of Antique Rose Emporium has gone out of business. The Brenham location remains open.

All material © 2006-2009 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

35 Responses

  1. Layanee says:

    I know what you mean about rose gardens but this one is a delight. If you have to be ‘blue’ it should be in a courtyard such as this one. Beautiful blue and so soothing. Glad you had us along with the fellow Austinite bloggers. What fun was that day?!

  2. Lovely blues mixed in with the roses, Pam – never saw a Philippine Violet with so many flowers! But when did the Blue butterfly flower get shoved into Rotheca, darn it? I finally had Clerodendrum ugandense memorized after mine first bloomed last summer. The fruit-filled pomegranate and satsuma(?) make me more jealous than the rose photos do.

    That’s one plant-packed vehicle – you guys are dangerous ;-]

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. Jenny says:

    I think next time we do a garden tour I will come along with you because you always see so much more. I think I spent most of my time sniffing roses. I do love inviting nurseries like this where they put the plants into the perspective of the home owners’ garden. All the sheds and statuary and features add so much. I imagine it is a wonderful venue for a wedding.

  4. chuck b. says:

    Do they have any rooms for rent? I could move in.

  5. I’ve gotta go there. It looks like a great place for inspiration.
    My mother used to have rose gardens. You’re right. They were a jumble of colors in the blooming season and the picture of death in the winter. Much better to mix them into the landscape.
    Terrific pictures, again.

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    They do give roses a good name. Like you I hate a typical rose garden. Roses themselves can be wonderful additions to the garden. Another fun post. I felt like I got to see some of the really fun parts of the outing. I love those big old agaves. I think they are facinating. Sort of like dinosaurs of the plant world.

  7. Meredith says:

    I was very pleasantly surprised at the variety ARE offered. I wish I had explored all the different areas before we left — right at the last minute I discovered the veggie garden, and I just couldn’t give it the time I wanted to before we had to leave.

  8. Vertie says:

    Sorry I missed the trip but I’m glad to see your pictures of the emporium in the fall. I’d only been there in the spring before. And you actually included pictures of vegetables! Could your vegetable gardening days be far behind? -)

  9. Phillip says:

    I’ve ordered from them many times and would love to see the nursery in person. I’ve never seen a cuphea like that!

  10. Oh my. I’m IN LOVE with the blue courtyard… and I’m not even a monochrome girl!

    That dress form is gorgeous on its own. And just think about how much fun you could have with something like that on Halloween?!

  11. Susie says:

    Yuou always capture the greatest shots! Looks like it would be one of my favorite places if I lived in Austin. I think it is a Cuphea micropetala, I just planted a baby one. They are winter tender, so this one must be protected. I will have to cover mine if we get frost this winter.

  12. Wow! What a great post with some beautiful photography. I thoughly enjoyed it. RO :)

  13. It’s nice to see that the Austin garden bloggers didn’t dry up and blow away in the summer heat. Y’all look spry in fact! You know how much I love ARE, and their way of displaying roses. I love the San Antonio location best of all, and sometimes folks are surprised when I say that.

    That agave was amazing. Could the cuphea be Mexican cuphea? I bought one in North Carolina. Gonna see how well it overwinters here.

    Your photos are so good Pam. I am always inspired.~~Dee

  14. Mamaholt says:

    I’ve never been and now I wanna go! I LOVE that last shot of you with the shadows…really cool. I want a Dublin Dream rose bush, even though I am not a rose girl myself either. I LOVE all the cobalt blue in there. I have a Lady Bankshia that takes up half my front yard…I’m in love with her, for sure.

  15. Les says:

    This post makes me want to go to work tomorrow and redesign the whole nursery. I feel so inadequate right now. Lovely photos!

  16. Sweet Bay says:

    What a beautiful nursery. ARE is one of my favorite nurseries and I’d love to visit one day. Thank you for the tour. The photos are wonderful too!

  17. Gail says:

    What a fantastic place…The ARE cobalt blue courtyard was wonderful…I totally get how a gardener could fall in love with Texas gardening after visiting this nursery. I could go on and on…it was a treat to go on this tour with you! gail ps Cobalt is the perfect color.

  18. I love the blue area too(-: All of it was beautiful though(-:

  19. Diana says:

    I was so focused on collecting plants, I didn’t see many of the things you captured. It’s so nice to see it through your eyes and your lens.

  20. Frances says:

    A plant lover’s, not just a rose lover’s dream, Pam! Make that garden lover’s! You always show us the best of the best on your excursions, thanks. We have that Cuphea too, from our local Mouse Creek. She was trialing it for U of TN gardens and they are hoping it will be hardy here. There is one similar to your photo at the Hort school’s gardens, I was wondering how many plants it was. Mine is small but healthy so far. ARE is my go to place for roses and rose info. The San Antonio place looks wonderful. Love that a group of like minded folks went together and filled the car with plants. I recognized Diana’s brown cute jacket in the photo. :-)

  21. Cindy, MCOK says:

    I’ve only been to the San Antonio ARE once but you’ve convinced me I need to return! The Brenham location is so close, though, that it’s hard to justify driving all the way to San Antonio to buy roses. I’ll have to come up with some other reasons to go!

    Hey, if you want some of the Cuphea macropetala, e-mail me! I just dug some the other day that I can save for you.

  22. commonweeder says:

    What a fabulous trip. I have a number of roses from the ARE that are doing beautifully in my Massachusetts hill garden. I’d be more jealous of the trip if I hadn’t just had my own field trip to the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the NYBG. Lots of roses still in bloom and lots of talk and information from Peter Kukielski, the Curator of the Rose Garden. That rose garden is now about the most environmentally friendly public rose garden in the world so I got lots of good advice. On my blog, and in my column which will ultimately go on the blog. Aren’t roses amazing!

  23. Cindy says:

    Thanks for the link. I have been enjoying everyone’s photos. You guys are amazing photographers.

    I had so much fun with you all. Thanks so much for stopping by.


  24. […] Here are a couple more images from the Antique Rose Emporium in San Antonio. […]

  25. I would love someday to visit the ARE. I’ve read about it, now seeing your photos, I really want to see it in person. I agree with you, Roses are best in a mixed border setting, making the plants around them look better, and vice versa. I also really like that blue courtyard & all that blue. It’s helped me realize how much cobalt blue adds to a garden. Now I’m all hepped up to go paint my new garden sculpture blue.

  26. […] seeing the botanical garden we headed over to the Antique Rose Emporium (click for my post about it), where this picture was taken. From left to right, front to back: […]

  27. Amy Emerick says:

    Oh, …what wonderful pictures. I love the blue photos that you took. That pic with the grasses and Okay, I could go on and on….. :)! I enjoyed your post and I’m glad you got a pic of the philippine violet with the gate. I bought one and I thought that gate was pretty.

  28. Pam/Digging says:

    Thanks for your wonderful comments, everyone! I appreciate the ID guesses on the cuphea that I admired too. If you’re ever in San Antonio or Brenham, Texas, I highly recommend a visit to the Antique Rose Emporium. Both locations have inspiring gardens and of course a fantastic collection of roses and other plants for sale. —Pam

  29. A nursery with character–I’d end up with a trunkload of plants if I went there too. I’m surprised the butterfly flower isn’t grown more. I have a shrub of it that’s survived a couple of transplants and was at its most floriferous this year. It’s surroundings, the blue garden, are gorgeous, definitely worth a second look!

  30. Yolanda says:

    These gardens are beautiful ..
    The rose garden photos I’ve loved, I recently discovered the roses and they look exciting
    I have been impressed those blue tones combined with the green plants, is a powerful combination.

  31. Jean says:

    Good thing you all brought a large enough car! The rose garden looks beautiful. I’ve been to the one in Brenham but looks like the one in San Antonio is just as good. Interesting to see those citrus trees (were they tangerines or satsumas?) there. That would indicate a milder climate than Austin. I guess when I lived there we had a few cold winters! Love that cuphea too. I’ll bet you got some interesting plants at Madrone. I remember hearing the owner speak about natives one time and he really had some unusual ones.

  32. Thanks Pam for sharing your trip. What an enchanting place. I love the blue wall, framed windows and doors.


  33. […] seen these metal trees before at the Antique Rose Emporium in San Antonio, but this one was transformed into a colorful bottle tree with the addition of pretty, ribbed-glass […]

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  35. […] If raised beds aren’t your style or you prefer a looser arrangement in your vegetable garden, make a strolling garden with winding paths lined with found stone. A bench off to the side from which to enjoy the view would add the finishing touch (Antique Rose Emporium, San Antonio). […]