Gardening In My DNA

We welcome our first guest blog post by our long-time customer and friend, Barbara Alsip.

Although we lived in San Antonio, we had gardens at home and also farm property in Derby, Dilley and Boerne, Texas. My father was a horticulturist, Texas A&M, Class of 1919. Daddy loved the culture of living plants–fruits, vegetables, nuts, and trees. He told me once that he could never have majored in math or chemistry or history. Those were abstracts to him. It was the living plants he loved. In truth, watching plants grow was both his profession and his hobby, and he got such an enormous kick out of it. Even if something didn’t turn out right, he’d laugh and shrug it off.

We ate fresh, wholesome food that was minimally processed. Meals were cooked from scratch and we occasionally canned vegetables. Even during World War II, we had plenty, as Daddy and Mother had produce from our own backyard garden (which predated the Victory Gardens) and the farm in Dilley. We made our own butter from dairy cattle on the farm, and we had a hog or two butchered every year. We had plenty of beef, as that is where our ration book coupons went. When Daddy was in his territory in the Valley, he would cross the Rio Grande to Nuevo Laredo and bring back sugar, which was a scarce commodity during World War II, from Mexico.

Our Dilley, Texas, farm was a real marvel and a tribute to the way Daddy felt about food. The farm was some 342 acres, on Highway 81 south of San Antonio. The land was red, sandy soil that would grow anything, provided the crops got sufficient water. I always wished that the farm had been irrigated. It would have been a real showplace. But let me tell you about the plants that Daddy and “Uncle Bill,” his foreman, grew. There were citrus trees: grapefruit, orange, Satsuma, and lime. There were several pecan trees and even an olive and a date tree. They grew peaches and plums. But of all the fruit crops, it was the acres and acres of red and yellow watermelons that I remember most. We would go out into the fields, cut open a watermelon and eat only the heart. The rest we would leave for the coyotes, which mightily enjoyed them. Daddy and Uncle Bill grew peanuts and made stacks of peanut hay, which my sister Marie and I liked to climb. We’d sit on top of the haystack and eat raw peanuts. For years, that’s the way I preferred them. They grew spinach, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, cabbage, okra, and black-eyed peas.  No wonder I like so many vegetables!

Excerpted from Barbara W. Alsip, Family Cookbook,  “The Way We Ate,” 2010

Barbara Wittman Alsip was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, of German, Austrian and Prussian grandparents. Her father was a horticulturist, (Texas A&M, Class of 1919), and her mother was active in garden clubs and flower growing. She has two grown sons and two grandsons.

She received her BA and MA in French and Spanish from Texas Christian University and her PhD in French from Emory University. She taught at the university level for a number of years.

At her first home in western Pennsylvania, she had 165 trees, evergreens, flowering trees, perennials, herbs and annuals. She is looking forward to landscaping, with Bedner’s direction and help, at her new home.

Health and Wellness Weekend

Join us as we kick off our season with a Health and Wellness weekend. Come to refresh, renew, and recreate in our greenhouse by painting a picture, planting an herb window box, or do some yoga. Guests include Hope Grows, The Cameron Wellness Center, and a Blood Drive with Vitalant.

Visit the Events page for class and workshop descriptions and registration.


Winter Interest in the Garden

Many gardeners think of the fourth season as a time for rest, but winter can be interesting and fun to plan for a bold, appealing landscape. While most of us plan our landscapes for bloom times in spring and summer, there are many plants offering color and texture appeal for the cold season landscape.

Winter Beauty in Your Landscape

Winter is a time of special beauty and interest. Berries sparkle on shrubs under a layer of frost and ice, while other shrubs have shades of bronze leaves that cling and rattle in winter breezes. The leafless branches of larger trees cast dramatic shadows across the freshly fallen snow. Bark hidden by the leaves of summer stands out gorgeously in the winter. Barks of silvery gray, white, green, yellow, purple or red hues add a burst of color when the landscape is covered in white. Even barks that are deeply fissured, sleek as satin, peeling in thin layers or curiously pocked by a pitted surface give interest to a wonderful winter landscape. Dried grasses stand out in bright contrast against the backdrop of dark evergreens, shaking snow off their delicate heads. There is even the surprising yellow ribbon-like blooms of witch-hazel which flower in mid-winter or the delicate lavenders and blues of tiny species of crocuses under the snow. Pansies are also a gr

eat addition for late-season winter color in your flowerbeds. Everywhere you look, there can be beauty in the winter landscape.

Top Plants for Winter Interest

Many different plants offer interesting features that reach their full potential in the winter landscape. Popular options include…

  • Paperbark Maple (Acer grisium)
  • Threadleaf Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum dissectum)
  • Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifalia)
  • Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)
  • Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’)
  • Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’)
  • Winter Dephne (Daphne odora)
  • Common Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis)
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
  • Christmas Rose (Heleboris niger)
  • Chinese witch-hazel (Hamamelis mollis)
  • Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) Need female and male plant for berries
  • Christmas fern (Polystichun acrostichoides)
  • Common Camellia (Camellia japonica)
  • Heathers/Heaths

Want our experts to help you plan the best landscape design for all four seasons? Fill out our Landscape Request Form and we’ll contact you to schedule a consultation.


Horticulture Careers

Horticulture is the art, technology, business and science of plants. It is the food we eat, the landscapes we live and play in, the environments we thrive in. It is the business of managing and using what we grow, while maintaining the health of our soil, air, and water, and the well-being of our children, our communities, and our world. In short – it’s all about plants! Check out career paths here! 

Want to learn more about plants? Consider joining our Team this season! Hort training and development is provided by our knowledgeable Leadership Team. To schedule an interview, click on over to fill out our employment application.

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Store Hours: April 1 – 30

Monday – Friday 9:00 – 6:00pm

Saturday & Sunday 9:00 – 5:00pm

CLOSED Easter Sunday, April 21