Early March go to to Mercer Botanic Gardens in Humble

March 12, 2024

Two weekends in the past, throughout a visit to Houston to see household and mates, I made a morning go to to Mercer Botanic Gardens within the northern suburb of Humble. The gardens had been simply waking up for spring, and I loved a leisurely stroll alongside backyard paths and trails. This properly pruned-up loropetalum tree in full bloom greeted me close to the doorway.

This was my first go to to Mercer, which is nonetheless recovering from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Harvey submerged buildings and grounds underneath 8 ft of fetid water. When the water lastly receded, timber lay uprooted, benches had been askew, and 5-foot mounds of silt coated plantings. The management at Mercer didn’t quit. They undertook a restoration of the gardens and the destroyed customer heart, which reopened final yr.

In accordance with a 2023 article within the Houston Chronicle, “Earlier than Hurricane Harvey, [Mercer] had 10,000 [plant] species of their assortment. After the devastating results of Harvey, together with a twister that ripped by means of a part of the park, the gathering was practically reduce in half. ‘Presently we’re between 7,000 to eight,000 species and rebuilding,’ [education director Christy] Jones stated.”

You’ve bought to admire the dedication of workers, volunteers, and supporters of the backyard. And now let’s discover.

Fringe-needled longleaf pine is a particular East Texas native not present in my very own area of Central Texas. I all the time admire this tree after I see one. Right here’s a bit historic context:

“Two centuries in the past, longleaf pine forests stretched throughout the southeastern United States, from east Texas to Virginia. Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) was the dominant tree species on an estimated 60 million acres, and an essential a part of the mixes of tree species on one other 30 million acres…Immediately, longleaf pine ecosystems are discovered on simply over three million acres, or three % of its historic vary, primarily in scattered tracts on federal, state, and conservancy lands.”

Nationwide Park Service: Huge Thicket Nationwide Protect

Feels like a great motive to plant a number of, in the event you reside in East Texas and have the area.

I used to be additionally excited to see a yellow-berried yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), a enjoyable change from the same old red-berried selection.

Parsley hawthorn (Crataegus marshallii) was abloom with white flowers tipped with hot-pink anthers. Leaves resemble these of parsley, its namesake.

Bumblebees had been buzzing among the many fairly flowers, though they eluded my digital camera.

Parsley hawthorn is native all through the Southeast from Florida to East Texas.

Alongside a path winding by means of the rear of the backyard, I noticed a set of Louisiana iris planted in elevated flue liners.

And a white-flowering tree of some variety

And a shiny-leaved camellia with pale burgundy flowers

A shade pavilion and boardwalk wrap round a big pond with good-looking bald cypresses.

It’s a nod to the swamplands that Houston and its environment had been constructed on. The Gulf is now vying to put declare, however I hope the redesigned Mercer can discover a technique to coexist with rising waters.

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Digging Deeper

March 16: Attend the third annual Budding Out Plant Sale & Pageant on 3/16 on the John Fairey Backyard in Hempstead. Uncommon and distinctive vegetation from the backyard’s nursery and from choose plant distributors shall be on the market. Further choices embody artwork, ceramics, jewellery, meals, music, and shows. Admission: $5 for members, $10 for non-members, kids underneath 12 free. Hours: 10 am to 4 pm; members get early admission at 9 am (memberships obtainable on day of occasion).

March 30-31: Come see the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society Present at Zilker Botanical Backyard on 3/30 and three/31, from 10 am to five pm. Features a plant present with specimen cacti and succulents, handcrafted pottery, every day silent public sale and hourly plant raffles, and skilled recommendation. Admission is included with paid admission to Zilker Backyard, $5 to $8 for adults, $3 to $4 for kids (underneath 2 free).

April 6: Come out to Austin’s Mayfield Park on 4/6 for the Mayfield Park Gardening Symposium & Fundraiser, 8:30 to 11 am. This annual profit for the park features a raffle, plant sale, and backyard audio system.

Might 4: Discover “good backyards, excellent swimming pools and pergolas, and outside rooms and gardens” on the ATX Outside Residing Tour on 5/4, 10 am to three pm. Panorama architects, designers, and builders shall be readily available to reply questions. Tickets are $33.85 for adults, $17.85 for teenagers age 10-17.

Might 11: Save the date for Austin House’s Nice Outdoor Tour on 5/11.

June 1-2: Take a self-guided, 2-day tour of ponds and gardens in and round Austin on the annual Austin Pond and Backyard Tour, held 6/1 and 6/2, 9 am to five pm. Tickets are $20 to $25.

Come study gardening and design at Backyard Spark! I manage in-person talks by inspiring designers, panorama architects, authors, and gardeners a couple of instances a yr in Austin. These are limited-attendance occasions that promote out rapidly, so be a part of the Backyard Spark e mail listing to be notified upfront; merely click on this hyperlink and ask to be added. Season 8 kicks off in fall 2024. Keep tuned for more information!

All materials © 2024 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized replica prohibited.

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