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Growth in Houston: Houston Botanic Garden Opens

Jenna Mazzoccoli
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  • Tropical section

    The tropical section in the Global Collection Garden provides a serene setting for a gorgeous afternoon getaway. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Claudia Gee Vassar

    Claudia Gee Vassar addresses the press at a sneak peak of Houston Botanic Garden. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Water features

    Water features are a central part of Houston Botanic Garden. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Global Collection Garden

    The Global Collection Garden spans across three acres of themed tropical, subtropical and arid zones

  • Fence

    This unique metal fence stands near the entrance of the Houston Botanic Garden. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Cactus garden

    The cactus garden in the arid section of the Global Collection Garden shows the variety of plant life between the different climates. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Culinary garden

    The Culinary Garden will feature edible and medicinal plants. The garden is between planting seasons right now, so Houstonians will have the chance to watch it grow throughout the fall months. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Sims Bayou

    The Sims Bayou runs through and around the Houston Botanic Garden. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden

    The Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden is an interactive garden with water features for all ages to enjoy. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Water features

    The interactive water features in the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden will not yet be open to the public, due to Covid-19. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Lagoon

    The Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden is centered around a lagoon where turtles swim and ducks roam. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Rainbow garden

    The rainbow garden within the Family Discovery Garden displays a colorful array of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple flowers. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Entrance sign

    Each garden has an entrance sign with a quote to capture the sentiment of the area. This quote from Maria Montessori eloquently describes the intention of the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

  • Tropical section
  • Claudia Gee Vassar
  • Water features
  • Global Collection Garden
  • Fence
  • Cactus garden
  • Culinary garden
  • Sims Bayou
  • Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden
  • Water features
  • Lagoon
  • Rainbow garden
  • Entrance sign

The long-awaited, highly-anticipated Houston Botanic Garden (One Botanic Lane, Houston, TX 77017) opens to the public on Friday, Sept. 18. What used to be a 132-acre municipal golf course has been repurposed into an expansive oasis of biodiversity. Especially timely during these days when Houstonians are looking for safe, socially-distanced activities, the Houston Botanic Garden has delivered. 

Amongst the many Gardens and Collections at Houston Botanic Garden is the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden. Sisters Beth Black and Gretchen Hilyard donated the public garden in their mother’s memory; the garden pays tribute to their mother and her love for the outdoors.

“This is not a one time visit,” said Gretchen. “I hope it will become a place that parents and grandparents enjoy taking their children to play and discover together.” The Family Discovery Garden is an area of the garden for families to roam and explore, interacting with nature and enjoying each other’s company. 

Beth Black, Gretchen Hilyard

REMEMBERING MOM To honor their mother and her appreciation for the environment, sisters Beth Black and Gretchen Hilyard (along with their father, Mike Garver) dedicated a public garden in her memory. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

“Our mom would be sincerely flattered by the gesture of her family to honor her in this way,” continued Gretchen. “She had deep love for flowers and for children. She would be so excited to see children playing, learning, and discovering about flowers, nature, and water.”

“People are wanting to learn outdoors,” added Beth. “This is the perfect place to be together learning and exploring.” The Discovery Garden will captivate visitors of all ages with its winding boardwalks and hands-on water pumps and channels that flow into the lagoon. Everything is interactive from the acorns that fall on the ground to the see-saw that controls the splash pad.

Houston Botanic Garden will be showcased with a series of opening season weekends. Every other weekend starting Sept. 18 through the end of October, this living museum will host outdoor, educational events celebrating regions of the world from which the Garden has drawn its inspiration - including Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean. For example, during the Latin America weekend, there will be an expert presenting demonstrations about coffee beans native to the region.

“Instead of lectures and classes, there will be continuous demonstrations set up throughout the Garden to promote social distancing and ensure the safety of visitors and staff,” said Justin Lacey, director of communications and community engagement for the Garden. “There will also be entertainment and food trucks with cuisine that represent the different regions.” See details about upcoming events here

Plants in Global Collection Garden

These vibrant plants in the tropical section of the Global Collection Garden provide a splash of color in contrast with the neighboring cactus garden. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Houston Botanic Garden has a 30-year master plan and intends to grow and expand over the next several decades, adding further to the biodiversity and varying experiences offered.

“What we hope is that people will come here and be inspired. They’ll learn to love plants even more and have a greater appreciation [for nature],” said Claudia Gee Vassar, president and general counsel of Houston Botanical Garden. “We hope that they might make small changes in their lives to help make sure we can protect our precious biodiversity.”

For the safety of visitors and staff, HBG has in place Covid-19 safety standards, including requiring that visitors (ages 10+) and staff wear masks, making it a perfect place for a day trip during these uncertain times. See more details here.

Grand Entrance

The grand entrance welcomes visitors to Houston Botanic Garden, located at One Botanic Lane, Houston, TX 77017. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Daily hours are from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and on-site parking is available. Pets are not allowed. Houston Botanic Garden strongly recommends purchasing tickets in advance online. Tickets on weekends (Friday-Sunday) are $15 for adults, $10 for children (ages 3-15) and students (with valid student ID); tickets on weekdays (Monday-Thursday) are $12.50 for adults, $8 for children (ages 3-15) and students (with valid student ID). Admission cannot be guaranteed at the door if the garden is already at capacity.

Editor's note: For more on the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden, read The Garden That Came to Be: Honoring Susan Garver's life and loves by Pooja Salhotra.

Tropical section

The tropical section in the Global Collection Garden provides a serene setting for a gorgeous afternoon getaway. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Claudia Gee Vassar

Claudia Gee Vassar addresses the press at a sneak peak of Houston Botanic Garden. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Water features

Water features are a central part of Houston Botanic Garden. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Global Collection Garden

The Global Collection Garden spans across three acres of themed tropical, subtropical and arid zones

Fence

This unique metal fence stands near the entrance of the Houston Botanic Garden. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Cactus garden

The cactus garden in the arid section of the Global Collection Garden shows the variety of plant life between the different climates. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Culinary garden

The Culinary Garden will feature edible and medicinal plants. The garden is between planting seasons right now, so Houstonians will have the chance to watch it grow throughout the fall months. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Sims Bayou

The Sims Bayou runs through and around the Houston Botanic Garden. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden

The Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden is an interactive garden with water features for all ages to enjoy. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Water features

The interactive water features in the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden will not yet be open to the public, due to Covid-19. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Lagoon

The Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden is centered around a lagoon where turtles swim and ducks roam. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Rainbow garden

The rainbow garden within the Family Discovery Garden displays a colorful array of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple flowers. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

Entrance sign

Each garden has an entrance sign with a quote to capture the sentiment of the area. This quote from Maria Montessori eloquently describes the intention of the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli) 

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