November 3, 2022

Free TLC from Mother Nature

You know that feeling when you go for a walk surrounded by grasses waving in the breeze or sunlight dancing through each leaf on a tree, and your shoulders relax, you release the jaw you didn’t realize you were clenching, you slow your step, and the long to-do list fades away? We are, each of us, Nurtured by Nature. 

This year’s annual luncheon centered on the theme of how nature cares for our human health. The keynote speaker, Jay Maddock PhD, FAAHB, shared that a mega-dose of nature will activate our cancer-fighting, NK cells, and that effect will last for weeks, even months. Doses of nature improve our mood and mental health, our problem-solving skills, and our concentration (Herzog et al. 1997). “High residential exposure to green spaces is associated with an 8% lower risk of all-cause mortality” (Gascon et al. 2016).

We need our daily doses of nature, and regular mega-doses, when we immerse ourselves for a longer period of time, to absorb as much of the healing power of nature as we can. Over half of American adults report spending 5 hours or fewer outside in nature each week. Being in nature will reduce stress, aggression, and ADHD symptoms. It will lower blood pressure, reduce obesity and diabetes, and improve eyesight (Frumkin et. al, 2017)!  

One of the most powerful vignettes Dr. Maddock shared was a research study in which patients who could observe nature through the window, or even on a TV screen, had a reduced hospital stay. Our connection with nature is powerful. We don’t necessarily need all this research to know that we are nurtured by nature. We can feel it. And yet, most of us could use a prescription to remind us to get our daily and mega doses. Come be nurtured by nature at the Garden. It’s an easy prescription to fill.

Claudia Gee Vassar, President & General Counsel

A Can't-Miss Festival of Lights

Lightscape, presented by Reliant, is returning this holiday season, Nov. 18 to Jan.1! Marvel with friends and family under brilliant light displays, including the Winter Cathedral, Neon Tree, Fire Garden, and a field of Green Herbum (pictured above). Get your tickets early as popular dates are sure to sell out. Check out what Houstonia Magazine has to say about the light show that everyone in Houston is sure to be talking about this holiday season!

Be a Volunteer Researcher For Budburst

Join us on Saturday, Nov. 12, to be a part of Budburst, a community science project where researchers, educators, and community scientists collaborate to assist with observations in the Garden to help monitor plant phenology and identify local pollinators. We’re looking for individuals and groups, including high school or college students, that would like to learn and be part of this community-based, grassroots project.

ROCO Returns to the Garden

Get ready for a brunch that’ll bring music to your ears! On Friday, Dec. 2, the ROCO Brass Quintet will perform a family friendly concert featuring your favorite holiday tunes in both classic and jazz arrangements. Space for ROCO Connections is very limited, so be sure to register today!

Discover Garden Art at Hobby Airport

Artwork inspired by the Garden is now showing at Hobby Airport! Coordinated with Alton DuLaney, curator of public art at Houston Airports, these pieces include photographs taken at the Garden as well as three commissioned art pieces. The best part is, you don’t have to buy a plane ticket to see the art! Simply park in the airport garage then head for the lounge area across from the check-in counters for Frontier, American, Delta, and Allegiant.

Artworks include (from left to right, top to bottom, in above photo): Nymphaea ‘Purple Joy’ by Paul Pelc, Curcuma by Michael Tims Photography, Hippeastrum by Jennifer Courtemanche, Musa by Joseph Roberts, Echinacea purpurea by Camille Mokhtari, Work of the Child by Eli Gaffney, Wooly Cactus by Jessica Snow, and Nature Journal by Sandra Garcia.

Making Memories at the Garden

Speaking of traveling during the holidays, the Garden is a great place to bring out-of-town guests during Thanksgiving weekend! Be sure to show them our pumpkin display in the Pine Grove as you enter the Garden, featuring 500 unique pumpkins and gourds. Look for a bench and a decorative ladder for the ideal fall family photo or selfie spot.

Reminder: if you’re looking to take professional photos, please reserve a one-hour session for your photographer to capture seasonal portraits as well as joyful moments like weddings, engagements, anniversaries, quinceañeras, birthdays, maternity photos, and more.

Host Your Holiday Party in Nature

Guests enjoy a seated dinner under the Alcoves

An unforgettable holiday celebration awaits! The Global Garden Collection Tent is perfect for your evening parties and corporate year-end events, especially on Lightscape nights. Check out these photos for inspiration from a party from last year.

Prefer to escape the office and get together during the day? Some popular daytime celebration spaces include the Petite Pavilion and Alcoves. Contact us to learn more about rental options and available dates. 

What’s Happening at the Garden

Nature's Delights

On Saturday, Nov. 12, in partnership with Cocoa & Mo' and Russell's Reserve, the Garden presents a chocolate and bourbon tasting rich with locally grown, barrel-aged treats and overviews on the harvesting and growing of the cacao plant.

Shop on Green Saturday

Join 40 local plant, craft, art, and food vendors for early holiday shopping at the Garden on Saturday, Nov. 19! The Houston Plant Market will also feature some great green gifts you can give yourself, including educational workshops, yoga, and art therapy sessions.

Botanic Paper Embroidery

Create storybook-style landscapes with repurposed materials! Embroider, assemble, and frame your own 3D botanical art depicting native Texas plants often visited by monarch butterflies. ​Join Leslie Espino, an environmental scientist at NASA who also creates sustainable art, for a Saturday, Nov. 19, workshop that will set your nature-loving heart aflutter.

Create Your Own Holiday Decor

Get crafty on Sunday, Nov. 27, 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.

Connect to Nature through LEGO Art

Sean Kenny’s Nature Connects® Made with LEGO® Bricks art exhibition is a family outing dream-come-true. Presented by sponsors Anne and Bob Baillio, this engineering marvel of an art exhibition runs through Feb. 19, in the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden. Like the pumpkin display, this will be a magical spot to capture family memories during the holidays.

Scientifically Speaking

Why do leaves change color in the fall?

Fall color development is tied to plant genetics, which determine the color shown – yellow, orange, red, or purple – based on leaf pigments. Exposure to sunlight, duration of night, and temperature factor into the development of fall color as well. In general, warm, sunny days alternating with cool nights produce the best results for fall color. 

While weather conditions and plant species native to Houston are not favorable to much color change, there are some plants to keep an eye out for as the season marches on. Triadica sebifera (tallow tree) is the most consistent performer for fall color in our area (where it is, unfortunately, invasive), but you might see some color from Lagerstroemia sp. (crepe myrtles), Liquidambar styraciflua (sweet gum) and some oaks including Quercus shumardii (Shumard oak) as well.

Learn more from Director of Horticulture, Fran de la Mota.

Lagerstroemia sp. (crepe myrtles) photographed near the Garden's clubhouse.

Learn With Us

A Thanksgiving Meal Your Guests Won't Forget 

Join us on Thursday, Nov. 10, for Cook the Garden with Chef Keisha: Holiday Meals. This hands-on cooking class incorporates fresh produce from local farms within a classic holiday meal that’s perfect for any fall family gathering. Space is very limited, so please sign up today!

Family Fun in Nature 

On Saturday, Nov. 12, bring your budding gardeners to our Sprouts & Seedlings family gardening series for the opportunity to get their hands dirty and explore various aspects of gardening, including prepping, planting, and harvesting. Each child gets to take home a pollinator-attracting plant!

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

Horticulture Help 

Interested in harvesting your own homegrown herbs and veggies? Now is a great time to sow cool season crops. Cilantro and dill, for example, are easy to start from seed and prefer cool weather. Carrots, beets, radish, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and more are also simple to grow. 

Roll up your sleeves and get to work on your fall garden while the weather is nice! Learn more tips from Horticulture Manager, Brent Moon. 

Unique Refugee Training Program Flourishes at the Garden

In 2021, the Garden established a new refugee job training program thanks to generous funding from the Baxter Trust, a Houston-based non-profit committed to helping people from underserved communities improve themselves and their station in life. 

This program employed four Congolese refugees as seasonal workers on the horticulture team, all of whom have become a valuable part of the Garden’s staff and an asset to the community. 

The success of the program has paved the way for future projects that will also align with the Garden's mission to create an environment where absolutely anyone can blossom. 

Get Involved

A corporate volunteer group from this year’s presenting Lightscape sponsor, Reliant, helped us mark Earth Month earlier this year! Volunteer groups like theirs help with crucial work for the Garden, performing hefty tasks that require lots of hands to accomplish.

Twenty-three Reliant volunteers assisted Garden staff in various projects, including weeding and mulching garden beds. 

On why Reliant chose to volunteer at the Garden:

Reliant has a deep commitment to supporting the community in our hometown of Houston and making a meaningful difference in the places where we live and work. Throughout the year, our employees are empowered to lend a hand and donate their time to support local efforts through volunteerism. For Earth Month, we encouraged our colleagues to spend time at the Houston Botanic Garden and help the staff maintain this beautiful green space.

On the response from Reliant staff who attended:

Our employees really enjoyed visiting and learning about the Houston Botanic Garden (many for the first time!). We appreciate opportunities that allow us to get outside and come together with colleagues we don’t normally interact with while helping support our city’s natural resources.  

What would you tell other corporate teams considering volunteering with the Houston Botanic Garden?

The Houston Botanic Garden is really a gem. That’s why Reliant has signed on as a partner. We encourage corporations and the Houston community at large to support this wonderful organization committed to the conservation of our natural environment. Volunteering is such an important aspect to the garden’s mission, and we look forward to future opportunities to roll up our sleeves.

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

How Our Garden Grows

Tribute video honors Mel & Susie Glasscock.

Supporting the Garden for Future Generations

We are so grateful to the nearly 400 guests who attended our recent luncheon and helped raise over $585,000. These donations to the Garden will provide Houstonians with access to nature that is vital to our health and wellbeing, as we learned from keynote speaker Jay Maddock PhD, FAAHB.  

If you couldn’t make it, please click on the image above to watch our video recognizing honorees Mel and Susie Glasscock. Be sure to save the date -- Oct. 5, 2023 -- for next year’s luncheon, to be co-chaired by Kit Detering, Carmen Knapp, and April McGee. 

Special thanks to 2022 Honorary Chairs, Linda Anderson, Kathleen & Bob Clarke, and Elizabeth & Albert Kidd; Chairs, Elle & Clarke Anderson and Tammy & Bob Casey.

Year-End Giving

Thanks to generous year-end donations in the past, the Garden has flourished into a place that delights and educates each visitor that walks through the grand entrance gates. In 2023, we look to build on that momentum through programming and unique offerings that will continue to positively impact the community. We are truly grateful for your contributions to making our big plans for Houston a reality. 

You can donate to our annual fund at any time by visiting our website or texting give2garden to 41444. You can double your impact with a gift of $100 or more, which will be matched by board member Lynne Hudson and her husband Joe.  

*Donations made on or before December 31, 2022, may be claimed as charitable tax deductions.

Membership Perks

For Members

Stop by the Ticket Window the next time you visit for your complimentary membership pin!  

The Bloomers

This month, the garden’s next-generation group will host a preview of Lightscape as well as a volunteer day on Nov. 12.