Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens in Humble, TX
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This fantastic botanical garden opened to the public in 1974. My husband and I visited there along 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 is dramatic!
While much of the back part of the botanical gardens was naturally wooded, now most of that 325-acre property has been cultivated into more garden spaces showcasing a myriad of plants that grow well here from all around the world.
They certainly have space, but it took a lot of time and effort to create the gardens such as they exist today.
The photo at the top shows a portion of the Thelma Loraine Mercer sculpture. It had a sign at the bottom which had the following information posted on it.
“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.”
The Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is 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 of the year that they are closed are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Day and Thanksgiving.
We have very moderate temperatures in the Greater Houston Metropolitan area. It would be time well spent visiting these gardens during every season of the year. Plants, trees, and bushes would be flowering at different times.
The preservation of native plant species is one feature of what this botanical garden has as a goal.
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 which are no longer around. It is worth 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 it can be accomplished there. 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 to happen if one learns about the proper soil, light needs and hardiness of plants suited for our local 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 as well as 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. Plaques displayed in the gardens honor those whose names are remembered through donations at various levels.
When first entering the garden one sees a pond with some 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.”
We saw a professional photographer taking photos in the garden that day. Many distinct areas exist within the expansive grounds of the Mercer Arboretum.
The east side has the visitor center with restrooms. They also have classrooms for those taking courses learning about plants. A library is located there as well as a building called the volunteer cottage.
The east side was the first area developed and has many of the formal gardens and manicured lawn area.
The west side of the gardens has many trails. Some have steps leading up to places where one can overlook the Cypress Creek which borders the entire garden on the north side.
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, a person can get an idea of what does well in our climate.
Spotting a lily of the valley shrub got me excited. I grew lilies of the valley many years ago when my husband and I spent four years in Wisconsin. They were a bulb plant. I was unaware that there was a shrub bearing similar flowers until seeing it planted here.
I must have taken hundreds of photos 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 remember their 15th birthday!
You can find these spectacular gardens at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble, Texas 77338.