McGovern Centennial Gardens | New Haven in Hermann Park
The video below showing McGovern Centennial Gardens gives one a good overall look at the 15 acre newest addition to Hermann Park.
There are a total of 445 acres in Hermann Park which is one of Houston’s premier public green spaces.
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 been transformed over the years to the fabulous park it is today through the efforts of many people.
Houston residents also owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. John P. McGovern who was also a noted philanthropist. His name is assigned to numerous institutions in the Houston area and now these McGovern Centennial Gardens within Hermann Park bear his name.
The foundation he created will continue aiding and educating people. It will also give visitors to this glorious 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.
These centennial gardens help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hermann Park. The opening of the McGovern Centennial Gardens was in the year 2014.
The Houston Garden Center used to be located in this spot with a sensory herb garden and magnificent beds of roses. The Asian gazebo is still here but moved to a new spot.
Roses are still here…in fact there are 350 new roses and some of the climbing varieties are displayed over numerous archways in the Rose Garden area. This 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.
Different areas of this park feature shrubs, plants and flowers which grow in distinctive manners and they are grouped together. One of them is the Arid Garden. Plants growing together here obviously thrive in climates where water might be limited 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.
Volunteers are always welcomed to work in these gardens! They hold frequent orientation classes for new Centennial Garden volunteers. One place they are most welcomed is the Family Garden.
Different classes are held in the Family Garden. Every Friday from 10 to 11AM 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 ready to be sown.
There was a class on the importance of bees that was held in this garden in July of this year. The classes are free but people must register ahead of time because space is limited. One on September 20, 2017 will address the subject of Pre-Probiotics: Fermentation for Beginners. It will be held from 6 to 9PM in the Family Garden.
The view above is from The Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion looking across the wide expanse of lawn towards the 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. This is a very modern looking structure with a passageway clad with stainless steel. Peter Bohlin gets the credit for this design.
Chairs are provided 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.
The Garden Mound can be viewed from many angles within this park. The vegetation growing on the mound has become more lush than when my photos were taken.
The shade structures on either side of the wide 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 becomes 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 a good birds eye view of things from that perspective.
When on the first elevation of the Garden Mound an overview of the Hawkins Sculpture Walk became visible. This is an area devoted to sculptures of notable historic people in history.
Below you will find closeups 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 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.
Other sculptures grace this park as well as those contained in the Hawkins Sculpture Walk. 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, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity.”
The white Japanese Stone Lantern pictured above 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. One of them is the Celebration Garden featured below.
Gardeners should absolutely 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 can be rented for private events and I imagine many weddings have now taken place in 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 are doing a masterful job of maintaining and enhancing this wonderful 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 with regard to their continuing efforts on our behalf.