I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).
Evolving Garden Design
This fantastic Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Garden opened to the public in 1974. My husband and I visited these gardens with both of our mothers about three decades ago. The changes in the landscape from the time of our first visit to our recent one are dramatic!
Much of the back part of the botanical gardens was naturally wooded. Now, most of that 325-acre property showcase more garden spaces showing a myriad of plants that grow well here from all around the world. They certainly have ample acreage, but it took a lot of time and effort to create the gardens, such as they exist today.
We have very moderate temperatures in the Greater Houston Metropolitan area. It would be time well spent visiting these gardens during every season. Plants, trees, and bushes would be flowering at different times.
You can tell from my photos that we visited these glorious gardens in the spring of the year. The redbud and magnolia trees were in bloom, plus azaleas, camellias, and a host of other plants.
Thelma Loraine Mercer
The photo above shows a portion of the Thelma Loraine Mercer sculpture. It had a sign at the bottom that had the following information.
"Visionary naturalist and innovative horticulturist, Thelma Mercer and her husband, Charles, created a charming and unique garden sanctuary on the original 14.5-acre property that would become Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens on January 8, 1974. Her legacy endures in this place of beauty, serenity, and learning that is enjoyed by all who enter these gates."
Hours of Operation and Location
The Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens are open to the public every day. There is no admission fee. March through October, the hours of operation are from 8 am to dusk. From November through February, the hours are from 8 am to 5 pm. The only days they are closed are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Day, and Thanksgiving.
You can find these spectacular gardens at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble, Texas 77338.
The preservation of native plant species is a goal of this botanical garden. More importantly, they have taken on the responsibility of preserving endangered plant species. They work together with the Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) in caring for threatened or endangered species.
According to one of their brochures, over 866 plant species are endangered or threatened to become extinct. The same leaflet states that 200 have already become extinct. We could have lost potentially life-saving medicines developed from those plants that are no longer around. It is worth the time and effort to save those bordering on the endangered list!
Gardening classes are available at Mercer Arboretum. If interested in becoming a master gardener, check into their class schedule. Landscape design classes are a portion of what one can learn.
These classes would be perfect for those starting with a blank canvas! Expensive mistakes need not happen if one learns about the proper soil, light needs, and hardiness of plants suited for our local climate.
There is every type of garden imaginable at Mercer Arboretum and botanic gardens. Rock gardens to perennial, herb, bamboo, tropical and formal gardens are all found there. Considering that the plants are entirely outside, people can learn what does well in our climate.
The Mercer Society is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. People wishing to support the gardens can help in many ways.
Three significant plant sales are held each year during March, June, and October. It draws plant lovers from near and far! Unique plants are available plus typical ones that do well in our warm, humid climate. There is also a gift shop selling plants on a year-round basis.
Sponsorship is another way of raising much-needed funds. It can help preserve endangered plants while honoring a loved one with a named plaque.
Upon entering the garden, one views a pond with sculptures and plants. That feature was there during our initial visit. A plaque reads as follows:
“The Plaza Pond
Constructed in 1985, the plaza fountain pond is 14 inches deep and holds 1800 gallons of water. The bronze and copper fountain, a series of three sculptures consisting of cattails, iris blossoms and arrowheads, is an original design from an artist in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Water lilies, water snowflakes, parrot’s feather, horsetail, umbrella palm with Japanese Koi and goldfish make this pond a favorite spot for children and adults.”
The east side was the first area developed and has many formal gardens and manicured lawn areas. It also contains a visitor center with restrooms and classrooms for those taking courses while learning about plants. A library is there as well as a building called the volunteer cottage.
The west side of the gardens has many trails. Some have steps leading up to places where one can overlook Cypress Creek, which borders the entire property on the north side.
We saw a professional photographer taking photos in the garden that day. Many distinct areas exist within the expansive grounds of the Mercer Arboretum. I must have taken hundreds of pictures with my digital camera on the day of our visit. There is so much to admire! The images here are a small sampling.
There were several families taking photos of their girls wearing quinceanera dresses. Photographs taken in those lovely gardens would forever document their 15th birthdays.
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