City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Mercer Botanic Gardens in Full Bloom

Gardens offer artful, idyllic springtime getaway

Article by Erica Hernandez

Photography by Mercer Botanic Gardens

Originally published in Cypress Lifestyle

Nothing’s more iconic about springtime than a garden in full bloom. This month, Mercer Botanic Gardens is a quiet idyllic 400-acre garden space brimming with colorful plant life, birds and hatching Monarch butterflies. The gardens, less than five miles south of Highway 99 and the Hardy Toll Road, offer a relaxing, artfully designed space where families can connect with nature. Admission is free. The garden hosts regular classes, storytimes and lunches as well as a springtime plant sale on April 18. This month, visitors can see winter plants giving way to colorful spring salvias, petunias, tropical pentas and Texas bluebonnets. “Everytime you come you’re going to see new stuff,” says Chris Ludwig, Mercer Botanic Gardens director. “It’s constantly growing and changing.” Aldine Westfield Road splits the property into the east side botanic gardens and the west side arboretum. The east side is made up of 60 acres of manicured gardens featuring a children’s garden, a stunning plaza, goldfish pool, endangered plant species and winding walking trails. The west side includes two playgrounds, several miles of walking trails and a Cypress swamp. The garden is the only one of it’s kind in northwest Houston and owes its existence to Thelma and Charles Mercer, who bought 14 acres of brambly woodlands alongside Cypress Creek in 1949. Over the next 24 years, they battled floods, mosquitoes and droughts to create a garden oasis. They slowly cleared the land to make more room for dogwood and hawthorne trees. The couple built their first home on the property which still stands today. They designed and built a koi pond known as “Thelma’s pond,” now a popular photography attraction. Then, in 1973 the couple decided to retire to the Rio Grande Valley. Rather than sell their beloved gardens to developers, they chose to sell the property far below market price to Harris County as a place for education and public enjoyment. “The idea of bulldozers coming in here and destroying the work of nature that we had tried to preserve and learn about and learn to love and enjoy is hard to take,” wrote Thelma in a letter to Harris County in 1973. Today, the garden hosts some 350,000 yearly visitors and has plans to expand. In June, the gardens will reopen its Creekside Ramble and Storey Lake two areas that were damaged heavily by Hurricane Harvey. Other plans include building new production greenhouses on the southernmost part of the property to allow for even more expansion in the coming years. GARDEN FUN FACTS + Mercer Botanic Gardens began as a 14-acre property with small garden areas donated to the county by Charles and Thelma Mercer to be kept and maintained as public gardens + The center has the largest ginger collection in southeast Texas + The gardens have propagated several thousand "Mercer grown" vegetables and native plants that can be purchased by local residents + Mercer maintains a national seed bank of rare native species for restoration and research and a prairie preserve for 200 native species, four of which are rare 22306 Aldine Westfield Road Humble, Texas 77338 713-274-4160 PULL QUOTE “We are beautiful green oasis where you can escape and enjoy nature and see a wide variety of plant material that can be grown in the Houston area.”