I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).
McGovern Centennial Gardens
We all benefit from the philanthropist and benefactor George Hermann, who presented 385 acres of this land to the City of Houston back in 1914. It has changed over the years to the fabulous park it is today through the efforts of many people.
There are a total of 445 acres in Hermann Park, which is one of Houston’s premier public green spaces. The 15-acre McGovern Centennial Gardens is the newest addition to Hermann Park. The video below gives one an excellent overall look at this gorgeous new space.
Dr. John P. McGovern
Houston residents also owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. John P. McGovern, who was also a noted philanthropist. His name is on numerous institutions in the Houston area, and now these McGovern Centennial Gardens within Hermann Park also bear his name.
The foundation he created will continue aiding and educating people. It will also give visitors to this great park immense pleasure for years to come. He devoted his life as an allergist to treating the whole person, not just a disease. Dr. John P. McGovern leaves behind him a lasting legacy of good.
Hermann Park 100th Anniversary
These centennial gardens help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hermann Park. The opening of the McGovern Centennial Gardens was in the year 2014. The address is 1500 Hermann Drive, Houston, Texas 77004.
The Houston Garden Center used to be here in this spot with a sensory herb garden and magnificent beds of roses. The Asian gazebo is still here but moved to a new place.
Roses are still here, and there are 350 new roses. Some of the climbing varieties are growing over numerous archways in the Rose Garden area. The rose garden makes a perfect spot for photographs. It looked like a wedding party was having some photos taken on the most recent day of our visit.
Distinctive Garden Areas
Different areas of this park feature shrubs, plants, and flowers that grow in unique manners, and they are grouped for best effect. One of them is the Arid Garden. Plants growing together here obviously thrive in climates where water might be sparse at times. Some of the plants growing here include succulents, grasses, and bushes such as the sage shrub.
Under the shade of many trees is the Woodland Garden, which provides a respite from the heat. It was green and verdant the times we have visited but would be a thing of beauty when the numerous azaleas and camellias are in bloom. Seating is provided in this part of the garden as well as in many other places. It is perfect for quiet contemplation.
Family Garden and Classes
Volunteers are always welcomed to work in these gardens! They hold orientation classes for new Centennial Garden volunteers. One place they are most welcomed is the Family Garden.
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Different classes occur in the Family Garden. Every Friday from 10 to 11 AM is the Children’s Story Hour. Children would not only get a better idea of how and where food is grown but can be entertained with stories as well.
Just like in other areas of the park where different seasons would highlight various plants and flowers, it is no different in this garden. Some of the beds had vegetables ready to harvest, and other beds were vacant. Perhaps seeds were prepared to be sown.
There was a class on the importance of bees held in this garden. The classes are free, but people must register ahead of time because space is limited. Another class addressed the subject of Pre-Probiotics: Fermentation for Beginners, as just two examples.
The Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion
The second view below is from The Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion, looking across the vast expanse of lawn towards the 30 foot high Garden Mount. It is a focal point of that end of the park with the pavilion anchoring the other end.
Jetted fountains provide splashing water sounds in the pool fronting the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion. It is a very modern-looking structure designed by Peter Bohlin with a passageway clad with stainless steel.
Chairs are under a shade structure, and water and restrooms are available at this site.
While the video below is advertising a specific catering company, it does give one an idea of what it would be like to rent space in and outside of the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion.
Garden Mound in McGovern Centennial Gardens
The Garden Mound is on view from many angles within this park. The vegetation growing on the mound had become lusher than when I first took my photos.
The shade structures on either side of the vast lawn expanse called Centennial Green have wisteria vines crawling up the sides. In future years they will have grown to provide even more shade when they cover the top.
People walk in a spiral manner on a paved pathway going up to the top of the Garden Mound. At each level, different views of what lies below become evident. At one point, the path crosses a waterfall tumbling down the earthen mound into the pool at the bottom.
At the very top of the Garden Mound are three sculptures, each of which have printed words. They are the following:
- IF YOU THINK OF A YEAR PLANT A SEED
- IF IN TERMS OF TEN YEARS PLANT TREES
- IF IN TERMS OF ONE HUNDRED YEARS TEACH THE PEOPLE
The views looking down at the gardens from the top of the mound give an excellent birds-eye view of things from that perspective.
Hawkins Sculpture Walk
When on the first elevation of the Garden Mound, an overview of the Hawkins Sculpture Walk became visible. The sculpture walk is an area devoted to sculptures of notable people in history. Below you will find close-ups of these sculptures.
- Field Marshall Ramon Castilla y Marquesado helped to liberate and was the President of Peru three times.
- Simon Bolivar helped liberate and establish the independent countries of Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia and his home of Venezuela. He became the 1st President of Bolivia and also Columbia. He was President of Peru once and Venezuela twice.
- Robert Burns is considered to be the National Poet of Scotland.
- Benito Juarez was the President of Mexico.
- General Bernardo O’Higgins was a Liberator of Chile.
- Jose de San Martin was an Argentine General and was considered to be a national hero who helped liberate Argentina, Chile, and Peru from Spanish rule.
- Vincente Rocafuerte from an aristocratic family was the President of Ecuador.
- Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer of the New World. He was appointed the governor of New Andalusia which was a portion of South America.
- Jose Marti was an intellectual who was a lecturer, writer, and author. He was a symbol of Cuba’s independence from Spain.
- Dr. Jose P. Rizal was an ophthalmologist, writer, and martyr who was executed because of his advocating for political reforms in the Philippines under the rule of Spain.
Additional Sculptures in Centennial Gardens
Other sculptures grace this park as well as those contained in the Hawkins Sculpture Walk. Please view some of them below.
- Mahatma Gandhi – The following words are etched into the pedestal supporting this sculpture: “An apostle of truth, peace, and non-violence who led India to freedom from British rule in 1947, and is hailed as the Father of the Nation.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King is well known for his activism during the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. He promoted the cause of non-violence and was inspired by Gandhi. Sadly he was assassinated, but his legacy lives on to this day.
- Confucius was a philosopher, teacher, and politician and is considered to be “China’s Great Thinker and Educator.” According to Wikipedia, “The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, the correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity.”
The white Japanese Stone Lantern pictured below was given to the City of Houston by the Sister City of Chiba, Japan, on the anniversary of the 10th year of friendship on October 24, 1982.
The beautiful structure above was roped off on the day of our visit. There are so many different paths that lead to areas of quiet discovery within this part of Hermann Park.
A Gardener’s Delight
Gardeners should fall in love with the McGovern Centennial Gardens! There are so many different species of trees, shrubs, and perennial flowers that can show budding gardeners how to use these plants in home landscaping projects. Even if one does not have a personal garden, this one is here to enjoy by everyone.
There is free parking nearby and also in the Houston Zoo parking lot or paid parking at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which abuts this portion of the park.
Spaces are available to rent for private events, and I imagine many weddings have now taken place on these beautiful grounds and the Garden Pavilion.
The Hermann Park Conservancy, which is a non-profit organization along with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, is doing a masterful job of maintaining and enhancing this beautiful park of ours. Millions of dollars have been raised and spent in various parts of Hermann Park in recent years. We should all be thankful concerning their continuing efforts on our behalf.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Peggy Woods