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Central Gardens

Our unique native plant gardens are designed to inspire, to educate and to demonstrate the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes. The newest garden, the 4.5-acre Luci and Ian Family Garden, combines whimsical features by one of the nation’s leading landscape architects with dramatic native plantings.

South Texas Mission Garden

The South Texas Mission Garden is inspired by the Spanish missions of South Texas and is complemented by the vegetation that is native to the southern parts of the state.

South Texas Mission Garden

As you stand facing the front of the Auditorium, what most likely catches your attention first is the architecture. As part of our rainwater harvesting system, the roof, shaped like an open-winged butterfly, is designed to maximize water collection. This water feeds via the Roman-styled aqueduct, to the cistern at the front entrance.

The stylized sandstone arches are inspired by the Spanish missions of South Texas and are complemented by the vegetation you see here that is native to the southern parts of the state. The buildings and walls radiate heat and offer protection from wind for these South Texas species, some of which are north of their normal adapted range.

To the left of the auditorium doors you’ll find a clump of thorn-crested agaves, a drought tolerant and well armed, evergreen succulent. Behind the agave stands a Mexican olive that will eventually become a small tree. It blooms throughout the summer with 2 inch wide white, crepe paper textured flowers. In this same bed during the summer you can see the small, bright red peppers of the Chile pequin, a favorite with our mockingbirds. These peppers are tasty, great for cooking, and very hot!

On the east side of this small courtyard is a spineless prickly pear cactus. No, we haven’t removed the spines, they just grow that way. Often you’ll find white cottony looking clumps on the surface of the prickly pear. This is a covering protecting tiny insects called “cochineal”. Cochineal insects are important commercially as a source of magenta dye. In the past they provided the red for the British “Red Coats” and are used today as a natural food coloring.

Audio Podcast

Listen to a description of the South Texas Mission Garden.


Audio para Ipod South Texas Mission Garden.

Plant Lists

View South Texas Mission Garden Collection in Native Plant Information Network.

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