Culture / Newsy

Brand New Houston Botanic Garden Brings an Outdoor Wonderland to America’s Fourth Largest City

132 Acres of Green and Nature's Creatures

BY // 09.16.20

The yellow butterflies fluttering through the banks of blue salvia and sunny chrysanthemums anchored along the pathways of Houston Botanic Garden served as nature’s welcoming committee as we strolled through the splendid gardens that open to the public on Friday.

Eighteen years since the first seeds of the concept were sewn and nearly two years in construction, the soon-to-be flourishing garden is probably a growing season or two from full-on perfection. But as gardeners worked feverishly to complete planting edibles and medicinals in the culinary garden and tended to flowering plants only a few days before opening, the effort appeared spectacular.

The 132-acre park gracefully strides Sims Bayou on land carved from the old Glenbrook Golf Course. With traffic diminished due to COVID-19, it’s a quick jaunt down I-45 South to the entrance off of Park Place Boulevard, opposite the freeway from Hobby Airport.

Thanks to the generations-old oak trees, the gently rolling terrain and areas left in their natural state, the park enjoys something of a bucolic nature in addition to its informative themed features. There are eight facets to the park design, each with an educational component.

The Global Collection Garden

Three acres of themed tropical, subtropical and arid zones with 350 species of plants, all of which can flourish in the Houston climate.

Houston Botanic Garden
The Houston Botanic Garden’s Global Collection Garden is populated with 350 varieties of plants. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)

The Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden

Showcasing Water Play and Nature Play areas, the garden features an eco-friendly lagoon created from a former golf course water hazard.

Grill Master Haven

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Houston Botanic Garden_Wetlands Plants along Littoral Shelf of the Lagoon in Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden
The lagoon in the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden is one of many natural attractions in Houston Botanic Garden which opens to the public on Friday. (Photo by Michael Tims)

The Culinary Garden

Featuring edible plants from the Mediterranean and the Americas and medicinal plants in the Culinary Garden’s Apothecary Corner.

Stormwater Wetlands

A natural habitat attracting wildlife while exhibiting how green infrastructure can help with flood control.

Coastal Prairie

A sustainable habitat of prairie grasses and other native species that promotes conservation of soil, water, air and wildlife.

The Pine Grove

Just inside the entry gate, a bevy of towering pines provide shaded spaces with French-inspired tables and chairs for relaxation.

The Community Garden

According to the Houston Botanic Garden website, this space “will provide bed space, supplies, resources, and classes to allow neighbors to come together to grow organic produce, learn new planting techniques, and deepen their understanding of the nutritional importance of plants.”

The Woodland Glade

This special feature of the garden is shrouded by magnolia trees and flanked by sculpted hedges, which create an open space for special celebrations.

“When you come to the garden, you will be able to enjoy a beautiful natural place with wonderful plants and a gorgeous setting to be outdoors,” says  Claudia G. Vassar, Houston Botanic Garden’s president and general counsel. “Also a place for inspiration and education, a place to learn about plants, to be curious about our natural ecosystem and what our part is in order to take care of plants and this beautiful planet.

“We’ll have experiences for people of all ages, classes for children and adults, for people who are interested in learning about gardening at home, people who would just like to enjoy some wellness outside, or if you want to even get scientific and get deep knowledge about botany and horticulture.”

Houston Botanic Garden
A splashing fountain welcomes visitors just inside the gate the Houston Botanic Garden. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)

The project includes 2.5 miles of walking trails, ample seating for rest and reflection, a 380-foot shaded sidewalk featuring 21 distinctive alcoves, and a sleek Welcome Pavilion. The HBG design is the work of internationally renowned urban design and landscape architecture firm West 8, based in the Netherlands.

Funding for the $30 million park comes from private philanthropy.

The park will be open seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm, with timed tickets and controlled access during the pandemic. Weekday tickets are $12.50 for adults, $8 for children and students; weekend tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children and students. Membership is $50 or $100 for a family membership with other membership levels available.

More details on visiting Houston Botanic Garden can be found here.

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