botanical

Houston’s new botanical garden opens

It’s a loss for golfers but a big win for plant lovers. After decades in the planning stage, the Houston Botanic Garden finally opened September 18 on the former Glenbrook Golf Course in southeast Houston. The garden serves as yet another draw for locals and visitors to explore Sims Bayou, a watershed area near Hobby Airport that already includes miles of walking and biking trails and countless places to launch canoes.

a garden with greenery and white flowers

“The garden will showcase international and native plant collections, educational classes for children and adults, and provide engaging programming that will embrace the garden and natural settings,” said Justin Lacey, director of communications and community engagement at Houston Botanic Garden. The international firm West 8 designed and managed the overall garden project, with Harvey Cleary Builders as the general contractor. Houston’s Clark Condon designed the garden’s planting and soil, with installation by Landscape Art.

Related: Failed Palm Springs golf course is being repurposed

a garden of rocks and succulents

Building a garden

By the time Nancy Thomas, past president of the Garden Club of America, and the late Kay Crooker formed the nonprofit Houston Botanic Garden in 2002, they’d already been talking about it for years. The two women dreamed of a massive botanic garden that would rival those of other metropolitan cities.

But like all massive projects, the garden took a lot of planning and plenty of money. It wasn’t until 2015 that the Houston City Council unanimously approved a plan for the garden to take a 30-year lease on Glenbrook Golf Course. Garden supporters had to raise $20 million by the end of 2017 to claim the city-owned property.

The garden has been built from the ground up. First, the garden team analyzed how long-term golfing had impacted the soil. Maintaining perfect-looking greens meant decades of intensive mowing and regularly applying pesticides and

Just in time for winter, indoor exhibits at Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden to reopen

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Just in time to provide an escape from the dead leaves and chilly winds of winter, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is set to reopen its conservatory to the public for the first time since closing in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 80-foot-tall geodesic dome, a landmark for travelers crossing the Des Moines River on Interstate 235, is home to a tropical garden featuring everything from delicate orchids to towering palms. 

The building, which also houses the Gardeners Show House, Garden Shop and an art exhibit, will be open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. beginning Wednesday. The Trellis Cafe is also open for limited hours. 

Kelly Reilly, director of marketing for the gardens, said the staff has taken its time to ensure it can reopen the conservatory safely.

“That was the first date that we had the right protocols, the right safety precautions planned out, and the resources to get the conservatory and gardens ready for the public,” Reilly said. 

General admission will be available for purchase in advance at DMBotanicalGarden.com or by calling 515-323-6290. Entry into the garden is not guaranteed to those who don’t reserve a spot, except for holders of an Iowa Libraries Adventure Pass, Museums for All participants and Pineapple Program token holders.

More: With a new reflection garden open, what’s next for the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden?

Tickets will be for specific times to aid in ensuring social distancing.

Other protocols include: 

  • Groups should not exceed more than five people unless they are direct family members.
  • Drinking fountains will not be accessible, so bring a water bottle.
  • Face masks will be required at all times, except for children under age 2. Admission will not be given without a proper face covering. 
  • Six feet

Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden luminarias 2020 tickets on sale now

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The holidays might look different this year due to COVID-19, but Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is keeping a Southwest tradition alive.

Las Noches de las Luminarias will take place on select nights in November and December, lighting up the night amid the garden’s 50,000 desert plants. Eight thousand luminarias and rows of twinkling lights will illuminate the plant collection and trails through New Year’s Eve.

Garden members can buy tickets now. Sales open to the general public beginning Monday, Oct. 19. Admission will be limited and reservations are required. You can reserve your dates at  https://dbg.org/events/las-noches-de-las-luminarias-2020/2020-11-27.

What’s new this year

For the first time, there will be a “silent night” for “self-reflection and rejuvenation” that coincides with the winter solstice on Dec. 21.

While past years have featured live entertainment such as storytelling, stargazing, mariachi bands and handbell choirs, most dates this year will only have “prerecorded  sounds of the holiday season and Southwest due to capacity restrictions of venues and trails.”

There will be a limited amount of live music during the member weekend, Dec. 4-6.

A touchless photo booth will be available for visitors who want to commemorate the evening by taking photos, GIFs and Boomerang videos.

COVID-19 safety at the garden

Tickets must be reserved online or by phone ahead of time; they will not be available for purchase at the gate.

All Desert Botanical Garden staff will be wearing face coverings, and all visitors ages 6 and older are asked to wear them as well while maintaining 6 feet of distance from other groups.

As a precaution, some experiences will remain closed at the garden, including select trails, Gertrude’s Restaurant, the Cocoon, the Cactus Clubhouse and the Ottosen Gallery.

Las Noches de las Luminarias

When: 5:30-10:30 p.m. Nov. 27-28 and Dec. 4-6, 11-13, 17-23

McNab House blossoms with plans for botanical garden

The historic McNab House in Pompano Beach is about to get a makeover. The goal is to make the house into a destination place for residents as well as visitors from around South Florida.

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Nguyen Tran, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency director, said he sees a lot of potential for a redeveloped McNab House and grounds. The McNab House, originally owned by an early 20th-century farming pioneer family, was built in 1926. It was moved from its original location on Atlantic Boulevard in March when the owners sold the land.

The Pompano Beach CRA, along with the city’s Historical Society, saved the home, moving it several blocks to McNab Park, 2250 E. Atlantic Blvd. The goals for the historic building have taken on a bigger vision under Tran’s guidance.

“The house has been in the McNab family for three generations,” he said. “The house is a huge part of Pompano’s history. This is the major farming family that helped shape what Pompano is today.”

While Tran acknowledged the value of simply preserving the home, he and the city saw even more potential in terms of gaining value for residents and visitors.

“We at the CRA typically don’t get involved in a project, unless it makes business sense for us,” he said. “It’s always about economic impact and projects that drive the economic growth of the area. When we looked at it, we realized that houses like this are very rare to come across.”

Tran said he realized the value of the house transcends just its historical value.

“The inside of the house is beautiful,” he said. “That sort of craftsmanship doesn’t exist anymore. There’s a quaintness that you can’t capture in new construction. So we decided we wanted to try and convert it.”

One of the first thoughts

Rare cheese plant stolen from New Zealand botanical garden ‘could fetch thousands on black market’



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A rare indoor plant has been stolen from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens amid a boom in the houseplant industry.

The variegated monstera is hard to come by in New Zealand due to biosecurity laws, making it prized among Kiwi houseplant lovers.

Christchurch plant enthusiast Bridget Rennie told Stuff that even a cutting of the plant could fetch NZ$3,000 (£1,500).

She added: “The leaves are like fingerprints, no two are the same. It’s a very rare, very slow-growing plant. I only know of two people who own that plant.

“I’m angry, I’m disappointed, I’m really sad, every emotion you can imagine.”

Wolfgang Bopp, director of the Botanic Gardens told Stuff that the thief must have been “quite athletic” as they had to have scaled a high safety glass wall to reach the prized plant.

The gardens had begun installing security cameras at the time of the theft, but they were not operational when the daylight theft took place on September 19.

He said that the plant possessed “particularly nice” vegetation.

Mr Bopp added: “The thing I find sad is due to the selfishness of one or two individuals we can no longer share this plant with the public. It was there to be enjoyed.”

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