More than just a green space, botanic gardens provide an educational experience far beyond just a stroll in the park. The curated plant collections and gardens contribute to research and conservation while also promoting a healthier local ecosystem.
Though Houston is an ecologically diverse urban area, it is one of only two major U.S. cities without a botanic garden in its city limits—a statistic that’s soon changing with the construction of the Houston Botanic Garden. The non-profit organization behind the garden recently met the terms of its thirty-year leasing agreement with the City of Houston to develop the 120-acre Glenbrook Golf Course along Sims Bayou. In addition to the many visitors expected to flock to the garden once completed—currently projected at 100,000 in the first year, leading to almost $1 million in visitor spending—the garden’s construction will offer job opportunities during the master plan development and supporting the operations of Houston Botanic Garden.
Houston Botanic Garden’s proximity to the Hobby Area District will benefit the local economy and the community, serving as an attraction near Hobby Airport where many visitors begin and end their Houston stay. Beyond the economic impact, the garden offers District residents a nearby avenue for healthy living and educational opportunities, leading to a better understanding of plants and local ecosystems.
Sims Bayou’s edge will serve as a frame for the more formal display gardens, distinguishing wilderness from paradise. The natural ecosystem gardens will showcase the biodiversity of Houston’s numerous ecoregions, including coastal prairies, wetlands, and woodlands. Importantly, garden visitors will interact with native plants and learn how they positively impact the local ecosystem in relation to flooding, climate change and other environmental conditions. The garden will also showcase beautiful collections of plants from around the world that flourish in Houston’s diverse climate.
The golf course will close this April, when the first phase of development is underway. Designed by the landscape architecture firm West 8, final plans for phase 1 include display gardens, ecosystem gardens, hiking and biking trails, and tree-lined bridges.
It’s anticipated that the botanic gardens will have its grand opening of phase one in 2020, but there are many ways to get involved in the meantime. Volunteer opportunities prior to opening include tree plantings, programming support, and administrative work, among other tasks. A community garden and educational programming are also scheduled to begin this summer. For more information, visit the website at www.hbg.org, follow the Houston Botanic Garden Facebook page, sign up for the e-newsletter, or for specific questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.