Carolyn H Wolff Park, An Urban Arboretum
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Nature Enriches Our Souls
Those of us who live in large metropolitan areas see a lot of brick and concrete. Whether it is a few well-tended plants on a balcony, a tiny patch of lawn that we call our own, a community garden in which we can tend vegetables or a large city park, green spaces in which we can roam or do some daydreaming is essential to our souls. The Carolyn H Wolff Park fulfills that promise of being able to commune with nature while located in the heart of surrounding businesses and domiciles.
Where To Find This Park
The location of the Carolyn H Wolff Park is 11100 Clay Road, Houston, Texas 77041. The park is on the north side of the road between the Sam Houston Toll-way and Gessner Road.
A parking lot with several businesses are on the western side of the park and condos, or apartments buttress the eastern side. Several gates lead one into the set-aside land reserve.
My husband and I accessed the park from the western business side. You can see the open gate in the photo below. At the Backyard Cafe & Grill is a spacious outdoor patio area with many tables and chairs. People dining there can enjoy the park vistas from that vantage point. We discovered that this restaurant closes at 4 PM each day, but the park stays open until dark.
History Of This Park
A sign inside of the Carolyn H. Wolff Park shows an image of Carolyn and imparts the following story.
“In 1972, David S. Wolff first visited and then acquired 150 acres of land that is now Westway Park. He was drawn to this large grove of trees that anchored the land.
According to verbal history, the trees were planted around 1900 by a farmer, whose name is now unknown. The farmer desired to create an arboretum with two of every species of tree native to Harris County. Over the past 100 years, the farmer’s vision has been largely fulfilled as a great number of the original species have thrived and grown to maturity.
David Wolff preserved the grove while the rest of Westway Park developed around it over the next 30 years. In 2004, he permanently set aside the land including the trees as a nature reserve and dedicated this park to his mother, Carolyn H. Wolff, who had imparted to him at an early age an appreciation for nature.
Today and forever in the future, Carolyn H. Wolff Park is to serve as an urban nature reserve and a peaceful place of respite for people and birds alike.”
Amenities Within The Park
Vast expanses of lawn provide an anchor for the towering trees which take center stage. Seven widely spaced sitting areas offer unique benches and a couple of tables which are all made of stone.
Several dogs, as well as their owner, appeared to be happily enjoying the park. A quietude exists as one wanders through this beautiful landscape.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir
“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.” Alice Walker
“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” Frank Lloyd Wright
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” Mother Teresa
All About The Trees
A non-profit organization called Trees for Houston has joined Wolff Companies in permanently preserving this site. Their focus is planting, protecting and promoting trees because of their ability to beautify not only the environment but also their ability to cleanse the air and help absorb water to keep it from flooding areas.
One Champion tree, an Overcup Oak is on the property. Six Notable ones are also listed. They are the following: three Water Oaks, one Compton Oak, and two Cherrybark Oaks.
Other species include American Elms, a Cedar Elm, a Cottonwood, a Green Ash, numerous Live Oaks, Pecans, Sweetgums, Shumard Oaks, a Southern Red Oak and three invasive Chinese Tallow trees.
Several signs near individual specimen trees give specific details about them.
Another sign near a grove of trees informs us that this urban forested setting is the nesting spot for a Great Horned Owl.
It was wonderful taking a break from the day and being able to wander through this delightful park. It is not the largest of parks, but it is a real gem and worthy of taking some time to enjoy.