A historic water garden gets a makeover!

Restoring the Lily Ponds,
Japanese Tea Garden
of the Sunken Gardens,
Brackenridge Park

San Antonio, Texas
Chapter 1

by Don Pylant - Click images to enlarge

Image courtesy of the
Institute of Texan Cultures

The San Antonio Parks Foundation, Friends of the Parks, and City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department are partnering in the restoration and repair of the water garden ponds of the Japanese Tea Garden of Sunken Gardens, a part of George Brackenridge Park. This garden was constructed in an abandoned cement quarry near downtown San Antonio in the 1920s, and was once a major tourist destination.

The current restoration phase includes the repair of the lily ponds with the installation of a recirculation and filter system, the restoration of the waterfall, and a spray-on liner to seal the limestone quarry floor that contains the two large pools. On Monday, January 14, the ponds were filled with water and the start-up of the filter system began on January 15. The pool will be stocked with a few koi in February, and lily planting will begin in early April.

Old postcards from Edwards Aquifer.net
The lower one says "one of the flowered wonders of the world" and points out
that over 1400 different flowers and lilies
were grown year round.

The ponds will be home to around 60 waterlilies and many other aquatic plants. Giant Victorias were one of the attractions of this municipal water garden in the 1930s. Early summer will see the installation of Victorias donated by Kit Knotts.  

< Hand-written under the photo:
Rae - Ruth - Mary Jingu - Mr. Hugo Gerhart (Gardener for 20 yrs.)

The Japanese Tea Garden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been an ongoing focus for the San Antonio Parks Foundation and its affiliate organization, Friends of the Parks. Long considered a beloved city treasure, the ravages of time have taken a toll on the Garden. Through the leadership of the Parks Foundation and Friends of the Park, the Garden will be restored to its original beauty, for all to enjoy and appreciate.

The restoration of the Japanese Tea Garden is being accomplished through a public-private partnership between the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Parks Foundation, and its affiliate organization Friends of the Parks. WGI Online will follow the progress of this project.  

WGI ONLINE Journal Table of Contents

Water Gardeners International
Home | Join WGI | Members' Exclusive | Gateway to Water Gardening