By Deb Pavlosky
that I look forward to all summer. October usually brings with it some amazingly
beautiful days. It’s time to get outside and breath in and breath out and repeat, ad
infinitum. For most of the summer, I feel like I live in a tinderbox, ready to burst
into flames at any moment. I would actually love to take my family on vacation in
August simply to be away from home during the hottest part of the year, but school
and activity schedules don’t allow for that. So, I suffer through, but I do try to
remember that fall is coming and it is usually quite a reward for enduring the brutal
summer heat. I am pretty sure that I left a piece of my soul in the Pacific Northwest
the last time I visited and I will, someday, go back to retrieve it. For now, I will find
inspiration in my hometown. You should too!
Gosh, there are lots of beautiful gardens to visit in Houston, Galveston and
surrounding areas and many are FREE! Go seek and ye shall find a multitude of
beauty not far from home and it’s budget friendly too. So, I thought I would make a
list of all the beautiful places I like or would like to go to be inspired, maybe you will
like them too.
First on my list is, of course, Maas Nursery – 5511 Todville Rd., Seabrook, TX
77586. Our fall/winter hours are Mon- Sat 9am to 5pm and Sun 10 am to 5pm.
When the days are longer in spring and summer, we stay open until 6pm. We don’t
charge admission to our 8-acre wonderland, but few leave with the same bank
balance that they had when they got here, myself included. It’s easy to get lost along
the rambling trails among all the trees and statuary and plantings. There are plenty
of benches for taking a break and lots of cool garden art, water features and plants
by the bushel. Come on out and spend the day, bring your picnic lunch, and enjoy
the grounds. I don’t know of any other place you can visit where you can take plants
home with you to use in your own garden. Most of the other listed inspiration spots
would frown upon you taking their plants home. You can visit our website at
www.maasnursery.com for information on classes and events at the nursery as well
as lots of other great information. Come and see us!
Here are some other great spots around town to look for garden inspiration (in no
Hermann Park – 6100 Hermann Park Dr., Houston, TX 77030. Open daily from
6am to 11pm. Pedal Boats are open from 11 am to 5pm and rental is $10 per boat
for 30 minutes. The Railroad ($3.25 per person or $6.50 all day pass) is open from
10 am to 6pm and will take you on an 18-minute ride around Hermann Park.
Though there isn’t much truly landscaped here, the trees are gorgeous, McGovern
Lake and the Mary Gibbs and Jesse H. Jones Reflection Pool are peaceful and all the
trails are easy to navigate. Go to www.hermannpark.org for more information. You
can even catch a show or a movie or some other performance here most evenings at
Miller Outdoor Theater. Go to www.milleroutdoortheater.com for shows, dates and
times. Even the seats under the shelter are free!
McGovern Centennial Gardens at Hermann Park – 6001 Fannin St., Houston, TX
77030. This beautiful new section of Hermann Park is open from 9am to 8pm daily.
This spot is actually a collection of gardens (from arid, to rose to woodland) and
includes a spiral path to the top of a 30ft. mount. The beautiful garden settings here
will certainly inspire you to get in your own garden and do some planting. And, we
are so lucky to be able to enjoy all of this for free. For more information go to
Japanese Garden at Hermann Park – 6000 Fannin St., Houston, TX 77030. This
garden is open daily from 9am to 6pm (March 1 – October 31) and 9am to 5pm
(November 1 – February 28). Filled with water, bridges, lotus blossoms, cherry
trees, and tranquility, this part of Hermann Park is so worth a visit. Inspiration,
reflection and quiet can definitely be found here. Entrance to the Japanese Garden is
free. For more information go to www.hermannpark.org .
Houston Zoological Gardens at Hermann Park – 6200 Hermann Park Dr.,
Houston, TX 77030. Hours are 9am to 7pm daily (only closed on December 25).
Children 2-11 years are $12, Adults 12-64 years are $16 and Seniors 65+ are $9.50.
Giraffe feeding platform is open at 10am and 2pm daily and costs $5 per person.
Carousel rides are $3 per person for non-members and $2 for members. I know
many of you might question going to the zoo to get inspiration for your home
garden, but gosh our zoo is GORGEOUS and well planned and well planted. Go and
enjoy a cool day, watch the lemurs leap around (those guys are always leaping) and
get some cool ideas for your own yard. Go to www.houstonzoo.org for more
The Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science –
5555 Hermann Park Dr., Houston, TX 77030. Hours are Monday – Sunday from
9am to 5pm (last entry at 4:00 pm). Tickets prices to visit the butterfly
center are: Adults $8, Child $7, College Student with ID $7, Senior (62+) $7.
If you are interested in tropical plants, this is the place for you to find a
beautiful assortment and there are many that you can grow in your own yard
(with a little winter protection). Plus, you might gain a butterfly companion
for your walk through the rainforest. For more information, go to
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center – 4501 Woodway Dr., Houston, TX
77024. Grounds are open from 7am to dusk daily (gates close at 6:30pm). There
are lots of events to attend and you can see their calendar at
www.houstonarboretum.org . This is another place where formal plantings are not
abundant, but who doesn’t get inspired in a beautiful, woodland setting? The
Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is 155 acres on the edge of Memorial Park
with over 5 miles of nature trails to explore in an urban setting and you can explore
them all free of charge.
Lynn R. Lowery Arboretum, Rice University – 6100 Main St., Houston, TX 77005.
The campus of Rice University is actually an arboretum that is open daily and
visiting is free of charge. This arboretum was dedicated in 1999 to honor
horticulturalist Lynn R. Lowery. Plantings span the entirety of Rice University and
contain thousands of trees and shrubs as well as perennials and aquatic plants. So,
go take a stroll at Rice and enjoy this beautiful college campus. For more
information go to www.arboretum.rice.edu .
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens – 5201 Memorial Dr., Houston, TX 77007.
Self-guided garden tours are available Tuesday- Saturday from 10am to 5pm and
Sunday from 1pm to 5pm (last admission at 4:30pm). The cost for garden only
admission is $5 for 10 and up. There are different options for guided tours available
as well. Go to www.mfah.org for more information. This 14acre property features
the home of Ima, Will and Mike Hogg as well as several gardens designed by Ima
Hogg. In the gardens are multitudes of azaleas (this is a stop on the annual Azalea
Trail Tour), camellias, magnolias and so much more. Some of the gardens are very
formal, but there are also natural woodland ravines to be explored here. People
with long-term vision amaze me and Ima Hogg sure did have it. This place really
exhibits human creativity and forethought.
Peckerwood Garden – 20571 Farm to Market Rd. 359, Hempstead, TX 77445.
Open from 10am to 4pm only on Open Days. Some upcoming Open Days
are: Saturday, October 10, 2015, Saturday, October 24, 2015, Saturday, November 7,
2015 and Saturday, November 21, 2015. The one-hour guided tours are $10 and
you can reserve your spot online at www.peckerwoodgarden.org . Peckerwood
Garden was founded in 1971 by John G. Fairey, but was not opened to
the public until 1998. This garden started out with only 7 acres, but has been
expanded to 39 acres presently. The diversity here is incredible and the plantings
are truly remarkable. Go here and you will most surely find your awe and
Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens – 22306 Aldine Westfield Rd., Humble,
TX 77338. Open 8am to 5pm daily (closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve,
Christmas Day and New Years Day). Admission is free. Go to
www.themercersociety.org for more information. This amazing place is 300 acres
in the Piney Woods. Native plantings are plentiful and the trails will lead through
the most beautiful settings. Critter sightings are pretty common. Go and enjoy the
day here, you will go home feeling that good kind of tired and with lots of ideas
rolling around in your head.
The Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens – 1 Hope Boulevard, Galveston, TX
77554. Hours are 10am to 6pm from 08/23/15 – 11/13/15 (last entry at 5pm).
Ticket prices are: Adult $21.95, Child (4-12) $8.95, Senior (65+) $8.95 and Child 3
and under) free. This is another great location to view beautiful tropical plantings.
The rainforest pyramid is a great place to take a very slow stroll and take in the lush
plantings and animals too. This place is fun for kids of all ages. To get more info, go
to www.moodygardens.com .
Well, that’s it for the formal list of places to visit, but that’s certainly not all that
Houston, Galveston and surrounding areas have to offer. Don’t forget to take a drive
around your own neighborhood and local parks too. There are beautifully
landscaped gardens everywhere. For a different take on things, take a drive around
areas that aren’t in your your “neck of the woods.” AND if you are really feeling
adventurous, take a drive out to the Gardens at Festival Hill. The address is 248
Jaster Rd, Round Top, TX 78954. Also known as the McAshan Herb Gardens, there
are many interesting plantings here, and they all have a name. The Cloister Garden,
the Shakespearean Garden, the Fiber and Dye Garden and the Madalene Hill
Pharmacy Garden are just a few of the gardens you can stroll through here. It’s
completely lovely and completely free. For more information, you can go to
There are lots of great gardening ideas out there and it doesn’t matter if they are
yours originally or not. Just get out there, it’s October, find what makes your heart
sing in the garden and make plans to bring it to your home. And don’t forget to
come and see us at Maas Nursery when your inspiration turns to planning. We have
the best assortment of garden plants, yard art and water features you will find.
NOTE – Hours, ticket prices and other information provided may change. Please
check websites provided for current information.