Welcome & Discovery Complex


Enter the expanded Botanical Garden through the Welcome and Discovery Complex, which includes the Halsell Welcome Building, The H-E-B Discovery Center, Gift Shop, and a number of seating and gathering areas. The new entrance provides easier accessibility for those with limited mobility. The H-E-B Discovery Center brings expanded opportunities for educational instruction for school programs, camps, professional development, and a variety of garden-related classes.

Halsell Welcome Building

The Halsell Welcome Building, along with the new Gift Shop, creates the dramatic new entrance to the San Antonio Botanical Garden, and contains the educational and volunteer offices. This is where inspiration for garden programs is fleshed out into plans, where volunteers learn important details for their day’s projects, and where staff bustle to prepare for the next field trip program. The new admissions kiosk speeds ticket and membership sales, while nearby the new Cypress Courtyard and Garden Gate Terrace provide resting and gathering spaces for you to meetup with family or enjoy a midday meals. Just inside, the new Mays Family Display Garden highlights the rich colors of South Texas.

front gate with kiosk

Admissions kiosk (r) and Gift Shop (l) at the Halsell Welcome Building

H-E-B Discovery Center

The H-E-B Discovery Center will be the new home for the Garden’s formal educational programming.

The Exploration Station will be an inviting first stop for your visit as you begin to plan your day at the Garden. It will highlight the importance of plants, our region’s water story, environmental stewardship techniques you can do at home, and engaging nature play activities. It will invite you in to gather for Garden tours, grab a Discovery Guide to add depth to your visit, and learn about conservation features at the Garden such as the solar panels on the Goldsbury Pavilion and the water harvesting tank under the Culinary Garden. The Exploration Station will showcase what’s in bloom with daily clippings at the Bloom Cart, and be a resource for you to learn about upcoming programs and events at the Garden.

The H-E-B Discovery Center also includes 2 ‘dirty’ classrooms that allow students of all ages to get their hands dirty in a classroom setting. These classrooms seat 50 students and can be combined to create a larger classroom or meeting space. Hands-on classes will explore many subjects with an underlying theme of environmental education including ecology, biology, and chemistry.

Expanding programming focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) will use the garden as the classroom lab to connect multiple subjects to nature. Unique offerings such as critter scene investigations, plant forensics, or a children’s course on wizardry making potion are among the endless possibilities. Increased school field trip programs capturing the 7th – 12th grade curricula by connecting all subjects will eventually be offered along with expanded family and adult programs all aimed at connecting people and society to plants – a critical theme in environmental education. Programs will include lessons that teach the value of plants and how they provide everything we need in life: oxygen, clean water, food, clothing, shelter, medicine, recreation, and plant-based therapy. Teens will also have new opportunities to learn valuable skills through an entrepreneurial gardening and landscaping skills certification that focuses on marketable skills like lawn and turf care, floral arrangement, and landscape design. Girl Scouts will come to the Discovery Center to work on skills toward Outdoor Adventurer, Naturalist, and Outdoor Art badges. Community-minded guests will learn to conduct citizen science projects. New offerings on regional plant history, plants in art and literature, and a plant-based Book Club featuring guest speakers add to the Garden’s cultural programming. Teach the teacher programs and courses designed to help parents safely engage their children in the natural world will also have a starting point in the new classrooms. Garden favorites like floral design, fairy gardens, and succulents expand to become parts of larger workshops taught over several sessions.

Two outdoor amphitheaters and the shaded East Porch add spaces for children to gather for lessons, dramatic reenactments, and imaginative play.

16_0720-discovery-center-exterior-viewExploration Station in the H-E-B Discovery Center

“I am thrilled when I see the possibilities offered by this expansion for connecting all people, especially young people, to the plants in their world, to offer them the opportunity to understand and participate in where their food comes from and discover the delight in learning how to grow it.”

Mary Irish


Mays Family Display Garden

The Mays Family Display Garden will be a diverse and ever-changing showcase for texture, color and fragrance. Featuring an abundance of show-stopping native and adapted plants, the Mays Family Display Garden celebrates the rich possibilities of horticulture in South Central Texas.

entry garden enlargement for signage

Garden Gate Terrace and colorful Mays Family Display Garden

The Mays Family Display Garden will focus on long-blooming plants with hot and energetic color schemes that celebrate the heritage of San Antonio. It will also celebrate and provide the tranquility richly deserved for the cherished Kumamoto En Japanese Garden. Seasonal plantings will illustrate compositions and act as a living curriculum whether you’re an amateur or professional gardener.

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For more information, please contact Karen Kimbell, Director of Development, at 210-536-1406 or kkimbell@sabot.org.