New Houston Botanic Garden: Now Open!

Fountain at the entrance of the new 132-acre Houston Botanic Gardgen near I-45 and Park Place Blvd.

Houston: Houstonians no longer have to take the Gulf Freeway all the way to Galveston to escape to an island, now that the Houston Botanic Garden, the city’s new living museum for plants, has opened its gates today to the public, just east of I-45 South on Park Place Blvd. Approximately half of the Garden’s 132 acres – which was once a municipal golf course – are on the Island, a feature completely surrounded by the original Sims Bayou meander on three sides, and the later Sims channel to its south.

The Houston Botanic Garden has transformed the Island, and the adjacent South Gardens on the opposite side of the Sims channel, into an oasis of learning, discovery, and horticultural beauty, with outdoor gallery spaces displaying a collection of tropical, sub-tropical, and arid plants from around the world to showcase the biodiversity that thrives along the Texas Gulf Coast.

“Adding a world-class botanic garden to enhance the breadth and depth of Houston’s cultural offerings has been a long time in the making,” said Claudia Gee Vassar, president and general counsel of the Houston Botanic Garden. “We believe the benefits of an extensive outdoor museum like the Houston Botanic Garden will be especially desirable at a time when so many are looking to engage with and be inspired by nature.”

Through its design and programming, the Garden, a collaboration with West 8, an award-winning international landscape designer, seeks to enrich lives through discovery, education, and the conservation of plants and the natural environment. “The intent of the site design is to seek balance in all aspects, from planting and soils, through topography and materials—the careful juxtaposition of order and chaos that is at the heart of enduring gardens,” said Donna Bridgeman-Rossi, PLA, director of implementation, West 8 NY. “With this being Houston’s first garden of this kind, it was exciting to be working with a client group that not only expects best practice but is open to the complexities required to push status quo into new territory or specification.”

Each time visitors come to the Houston Botanic Garden, they will exchange the bustle of the city for the enveloping serenity of multiple features, which include:

Global Collection Garden: Three acres of regionally themed zones that demonstrate the wide variety of diverse and beautiful plants from around the world that flourish in Houston’s climate.

Culinary Garden: An artistic display of edible and medicinal plants – many of which visitors could grow in their own yards – that have served as a basis for economic and cultural exchange across the history of the world.

Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden: A sensory-engaging area that presents opportunities for families to engage with nature in a variety of ways, including a boardwalk maze around a lagoon; simple water machines, and nature play structures crafted from trees that previously grew on the property.

Woodland Glade: An intimate-yet-open space that visitors can rent – beginning later in the fall – to host weddings and other celebrations under a mature overstory of trees surrounded by the beauty of magnolias and sculpted hedges.

Curated natural ecosystems surrounding these features have visual appeal as well, while also promoting conversation of soil, air, water, and wildlife. To reflect the cultural richness of Houston and the diversity of its collection, the Garden is presenting an opening season across four weekends, with special educational opportunities to showcase how people groups connect with plants in several regions of the world from which plants in the Garden originate:

• Sept. 18, 19, and 20 – Celebrating Latin America

• Oct. 2, 3, and 4 – Celebrating Asia

• Oct. 16, 17, and 18 – Celebrating Africa

• Oct. 30, 31, and Nov. 1 – Celebrating the Mediterranean

To ensure visitors can come as often as they like to experience the different blooms each season will bring, the Garden is offering memberships at several levels, starting at just $50, that include unlimited general admission, among other benefits.

The Garden’s entry drive, One Botanic Lane, is located at 8210 Park Place Blvd., and the Garden is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ticket prices on Mondays-Thursdays are $12.50 for adults and $8 for students (with current ID) and children age 3 and older; prices on Formed in 2002, Houston Botanic Garden is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enrich lives through discovery, education, and the conservation of plants and the natural environment.