Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens
I’m always surprised that when I mention the Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens to friends or acquaintances who live in the Houston area, most of them are unfamiliar with it. I’ve always viewed it as one of Houston’s treasures, so I would love it if I could help spread the message about this wonderful place.
I first discovered the botanic garden 19 years ago, when my two oldest children were two and four. It was the perfect destination whether we were having one of those days when nothing was going right or it was already a good day and we wanted to go and make it even better. With its extensive pathways and mix of open spaces and sheltering hide-aways, it’s an ideal place for kids to explore and use up some of their never-ending energy.
No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll always find something in bloom. That being said, winter will naturally have less to see than the other seasons. If you look up the garden’s website, they have a monthly calendar called Mercer in Bloom which will show you pictures of the plants likely to be flowering during any given month.
I was shocked a few days ago when I realized that I haven’t visited the garden in over two years. All sorts of changes might have taken place without my knowing! Today I returned to visit this place that has always been a favorite.
It’s interesting here in Texas how often the passing of time is marked by natural catastrophes. After Hurricane Ike in September 2008, we visited the park to discover that many of the tallest pine trees had been snapped in half or uprooted. Then came the drought in 2011, when so many trees in this part of Texas died and had to be cut down. When I visited today, I saw the damage done by the disastrous flood in the spring of 2016. Not only had the banks of Cypress Creek been carved away but there were enormous downed trees all along the creek. In addition, one of the staff members told me, the forest at the back of the park had been under several feet of standing water and is pretty much gone. Adding insult to injury, the pine trees are now also suffering a beetle infestation. It’s sad to see the area so empty, but work is under way to restore the soil that was lost and to create new beds and plant new trees.
So my old friend isn’t doing so well, but she still has plenty to offer. The back of the park won’t be accessible for many more months, but the planting areas in the front will soon be blooming and I intend to be there for it!
The pictures I’m attaching have been taken through many seasons and many years.