December 8, 2022

Holiday Cheer Grows Here 

I just love this time of year. Our front porch is bursting with festive, red poinsettias. This favorite, bold and bright holiday plant signals that the season of cheer is here. Maybe your favorite is a Christmas cactus or an amaryllis. Perhaps the fresh scent of wreaths, garlands, or trees brings this season to life for you.   

The changes in the seasons and blooms are often tied to memories and traditions. Poinsettias remind me of the holiday season because my childhood home always had poinsettias in December. They remind me of decorating the house for the season and adding that little, extra festive joy. When the days shorten and poinsettias get 12 hours of darkness, they change their leaves from green to their signature bold, bright red. When the poinsettias hit the stores, I bring home that little, extra joy and connection to cherished memories and traditions.

Amidst all the hustle and bustle, we carve out time during the holidays to be with loved ones, to share gifts with one another, and make lasting memories. My family will forever have memories of time together at Lightscape, singing along with the songs, being awed by the displays, and roasting marshmallows for s’mores. We have so much fun just being together in an atmosphere that brings joy, laughter, chatter, and lots of photos.

During this time, the poinsettias and firs remind me that it’s time that we look back at all the good of the year and out at all the good in this beautiful world. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Claudia Gee Vassar, President & General Counsel

Lightscape is LIT!

Lightscape, presented by Reliant, is back and brighter than ever! A dazzling Winter Cathedral, flickering Fire Garden, and a field of twinkling Bluebonnets are surefire ways to light up your holiday season.

“Lasers jump, branches glow and stars blaze in the theatrical light shows with soundtracks selected by the artists. The effect is a different kind of immersive experience at each stop along the 1-mile trail,” described the Houston Chronicle in a recent article.

Be sure to get tickets soon, because dates are selling out. Lightscape T-shirts featuring the iconic Neon Tree will also be available in the Garden Shop, if you’re looking for a memento from your magical evening in the Garden.

A Stunning New Art Exhibit is On Its Way

Steve Tobin's Rooted, at San Antonio Botanical Garden, Summer 2022.

Mark your calendars! Steve Tobin’s Intertwined, Exploring Nature’s Networks opens at the Garden on Jan. 28, 2023. The exhibition, co-chaired by Nancy O’Connor Abendshein and Bill Stewart, will feature almost two dozen monumental sculptures from the internationally renowned artist’s Bronze Roots and Steelroots series, as well as new works making their Texas debut.

If you’d like to support this significant moment for the Garden and public art in Houston, please contact us to learn more about a wide range of available sponsorship opportunities.

Making Memories at the Garden

Giving the gift of membership is about giving loved ones a place to blossom. This blog describes a gifted membership, which the author received from her husband when the Garden opened (and every year since) as her “perennial, favorite birthday present.” Through her eyes the Garden is “...both wild and tamed, educational and exploratory, playful and serious about its mission.” 

Now imagine the Garden experienced through your loved ones’ eyes—the new, surprising discoveries they’ll make each time they visit, the fresh air and the peaceful moments they will enjoy, and the deep connection to nature that they’ll experience. Sounds like one of the best gifts you could give!

What’s Happening at the Garden

Gifts That Keep on Growing

The Houston Plant Market will be at the Garden Saturday, Dec. 10, and again Saturday, Dec. 17, for all your last-minute holiday shopping needs! The market features 40 local plant, craft, art, and food vendors, along with inspiration and encouragement for taking your home garden to the next level.

Join a Community Science Project

Budburst is an opportunity to learn about the impacts of climate change on our native plants and explore how to identify phenological changes. Join us on Wednesday, Dec. 21, as we walk educators of all types, formal and informal, through the garden, explaining the Budburst program and exploring fun classroom activities.​

BotaniKids Winter Day Camp

No more hiding in the car while wrapping gifts! Send your kids on an adventure through nature on Thursday, Dec. 22. During the one-day BotaniKids camp, they can connect with nature, discover plants and creatures, and do a fun garden craft while you catch your breath and put the finishing touches on your holiday plans.

Bring the family to see LEGO® Art!

Sean Kenny’s Nature Connects® Made with LEGO® Bricks art exhibition is an engineering marvel that’s sure to entertain your family and serve as the perfect backdrop to their holiday cheer. Check out this clip from ABC13's Localish segment for a sneak peek! 

Presented by sponsors Anne and Bob Baillio, the exhibition runs through Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023, in the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden. Bring the kiddos, the grandparents, a nice camera, and plenty of smiles.

The Garden Shop's Holiday Haul

Looking for stocking stuffers or the perfect gift for nature lovers in your life? Houston Botanic Garden merchandise is just the thing.

  • Elevate your decoration game with botanic-themed ornaments.
  • Surprise youngsters inspired by the Nature Connects exhibition with a Tiny Building Blocks set.
  • Freshen up a room with Mangiacotti’s White Spruce fragranced products.

Scientifically Speaking

Did you know that mistletoe, of which there are 1,300 different species, is actually a parasite; a food source for birds, butterflies, and bees; and a festive holiday tradition all at the same time? 

While a few strands of it might elicit a warm embrace or feed a hungry critter, it’s important to prune excessive growth to prevent large infestations. This is especially the case for cedar elms (Ulmus crassifolia), poplars (Populus spp.), and pines (Pinus spp.) in Texas. 

Want to know more surprising facts about mistletoe? Check out this recent article from Fran de la Mota, our Director of Horticulture.

Learn With Us

This month, we’re hosting classes designed to help you create meaningful, handmade holiday gifts and decorations.

Create Your Own Holiday Decorations 

Get crafty with us on Saturday, Dec. 10, as Katherine McDaniel, founder and director of Synkroniciti, an incubator for arts and creativity, will show you how to use found natural objects to decorate a 14” grapevine base perfect for hanging on your front door during the holidays.

Pickle Me This 

On Saturday, Dec. 10, Scotty Sheridan of Scotty’s Fermented Foods will provide an in-depth look at preserving your garden harvest by fermenting surplus veggies, which, by the way, make for VERY tasty gifts over the holiday season. 

Explore our Events Calendar for more opportunities to grow your gardening knowledge. 

Horticulture Help 

How can I prepare my plants for the winter?

Great question. Now is the time to cut back on watering, fertilizing, and pruning, which can help prevent weak winter growth that’s easily damaged during cold snaps. It’s very important to note, however, that moisture is necessary to keep roots alive and to prevent stems and leaves from drying out, so please don’t stop watering entirely! 

For more information, check out this article from our Horticulture Manager, Brent Moon.

Get Involved

Student volunteers assist with mulching at the Garden.

One of the most wonderful parts of volunteering at the Garden is coming back and seeing the fruit of your labor. This happens to be a leading factor in attracting students from the University of Houston’s Hispanic Business Student Association (HBSA) to our grounds. In each of the last few semesters, as many as 45 HBSA students have volunteered to help plant, weed, mulch, and tackle other special projects. We talked with Llernan Torres, HBSA's community relations director, to learn more about the organization and why they enjoy volunteering with us.

To get involved, contact us at or call 713-715-9675 ext. 152.

How Our Garden Grows

We are so grateful to everyone who has given this year. Your generous donations have helped the Garden flourish into a place that delights and educates every visitor who walks through our grand entrance gates. As we prepare to enter 2023, we look to build on that momentum through expanded programming and unique offerings that will continue to positively impact the community. Any contributions you make toward our big plans for Houston would be greatly appreciated. 

End-of-the-year donations, made on or before Dec. 31, 2022, may also be claimed as charitable tax deductions. For more information on charitable giving tax deductions, visit the IRS website.

You can donate to our annual fund at any time by visiting our website or texting give2garden to 71777.

Membership Perks

For Members

Want an exclusive invitation to Steve Tobin’s Intertwined, Exploring Nature’s Networks exhibition opening next month? Become a member today to get on the list. And don’t forget to pick up your complimentary membership pin at the Ticket Window the next time you visit. 

Start Blooming Socially in 2023

Looking to connect with more like-minded, Garden-loving professionals in the new year? Resolve to join our next-generation group! From social events to volunteer efforts, the Bloomers have become an integral part of the Garden community.

FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY: Get Rewarded When You Refer Friends & Family for Membership

Get three extra months added to your membership, two free classes/programs*, a one-time 10% discount at the Garden Shop, OR a one-time 10% discount on private rental fees (excluding July & August reservations) by referring your friends and family to the Garden. If they join as members, you get to select one of the rewards above as a special thank you! Offer valid through Dec. 31, 2022. *Some exclusions may apply.