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The San Antonio Botanical Garden is a must-see for both visitors and natives. Even those with the blackest of thumbs will come away hopeful.

From downtown, jump on the number 7 VIA bus on Commerce at Alamo. The garden, located at 555 Funston at N. New Braunfels Ave., is opened 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for seniors, active military and students; and $5 for children ages 3-13. Individual and family memberships are also available.

You’ll enter through the Sullivan Carriage House, a jewel of a building designed by noted architect Alfred Giles. The 38-acre spread will give you a taste of Japan, deserts, South Texas, the East Texas Piney Woods and the Texas Hill Country without having to spend nearly $4 a gallon to get there.

Don’t miss the new Bird Watch pavilion given by Bill, Bob and Elizabeth Lende in honor of John C. Holmgreen. The day we were there, bright yellow goldfinch were feasting at nearby feeders. The garden provides a handy list of commonly spotted bird species on their website.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Southeast Texas, but the East Texas Piney Woods area is my favorite spot in the garden. (The Japanese Garden runs a close second.) If you only have a limited amount of time to explore, be sure this soothing, pine-scented area is on your agenda. Sit for a spell on the porch of the East Texas Cabin and gaze at the sunning turtles.

The garden offers a variety of educational programs and special events all year long. In addition, it has Anne Marie’s Carriage House Bistro, a lovely venue to enjoy a Sunday brunch or weekday lunch, and a find-your-heart’s-desire gift shop, whose sales benefit the San Antonio Botanical Society‘s many programs.

On Saturday, May 7, the garden is hosting a children’s day sponsored by the Japan-America Society from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Attending would be a great way to show your support for the people of Japan, who have suffered a great deal recently.

After you’ve finished exploring the San Antonio Botanical Garden, you may head down Funston through Mahncke Park to Broadway, where an earlier post described the fun things to do and see along this interesting avenue.