December 6, 2023

Celebrate with Us All Winter Long

Pagoda structure in daylight.
Pagoda structure lit up at night.

It has been such a joy walking through Radiant Nature in the evenings seeing families, friends, and couples creating happy memories. People walk in and see the giant Amaryllis (that mirror the ones in our collection, only MUCH bigger) and start taking selfies, with no idea of the grandeur they are about to encounter. 

A favorite place for me to linger is at the end of the Global Collection Garden where the space opens to the giant pagoda and cherry tree — where everyone stops in awe of the size and beauty of what is before them! The near mile-long path is in two loops; one immerses you into the beauty of the natural world of flowers, insects, and critters, and the second into stunning Chinese heritage imagery with dragons, lanterns, fans, and the zodiac. It’s hard to pick just one favorite!

Daytime visitors are enjoying the lanterns just as much — their colorful forms offer an equally rich experience in the light of day — while also getting to see all the flowering annuals, perennials, and shrubs throughout the Garden. The cooler days make a day-long visit flutter by just like one of Alex Heveri’s delightful sculptures in the Glass in Flight exhibit featured in the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden.

This holiday season of giving, please consider giving the gift of the Garden to those you love. Giving a gift membership, tickets to Radiant Nature, something from our Garden Shop, or a donation in honor of someone is a thoughtful gesture that benefits the Houston Botanic Garden.

It was such fun meeting so many members at the Radiant Nature preview night. One member even asked me if I was “the New One,” so thank you for reading the newsletter! Please keep visiting, and keep introducing yourselves! I look forward to meeting even more of you in the New Year.

—Jill Barry, President & CEO

Radiant Nature Illuminates the Holidays!  

Visitors walk through giant flower lanterns.

Radiant Nature photos used with permission from Houston First Corporation.

Radiant Nature, presented by Reliant Energy, showcases large-scale lantern installations that give the Garden a seasonal glow you don't want to miss. Now through Feb. 25, you can enjoy Radiant Nature's three themed zones, including a fully interactive area featuring illuminated swings, seesaws, and more. Celebrate the beauty of nature and look forward to the Lunar New Year with a visual delight that the entire family will love. 

The lantern festival is open each Friday through Sunday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on select weekdays and holidays [although note it will be closed on Christmas Day].

Google reviewers are raving about Radiant Nature! 

  • “One of the best holiday light attractions I've ever been to.”
  • “Do not delay, go!!!”
  • “It's definitely a must-see. The lighting displays are excellent.”
  • “Radiant Nature is SPECTACULAR!!! A fantastic exhibit for the entire family. I was very impressed by the creativity and execution.”
  • “This was an amazing experience and completely exceeded my expectations. You don't want to miss it!!!”

Learn About the Artisans Powering Radiant Nature

More than 100 Chinese artisans from Zigong, a city in the Sichuan Province with a rich tradition of lantern making, crafted the large-scale lanterns featured in Radiant Nature. Twenty-five of them also traveled to Houston and spent a month installing them in the Garden. Several of these talented artisans recently shared with us some of the history and passion behind their work.

Chinese dragon head lantern rests on the grass in the sunshine.

Sidewalk sign advertises KHOU 11 Secret Santa Toy Drive.

Drop Off Your Toy Donations at the Garden

Our Radiant Nature presenting sponsor, Reliant Energy, is also sponsoring the KHOU 11 Secret Santa Toy Drive, and we’re getting in on the gift-giving fun. This year, the Garden will be a drop-off location for toy donations that will give more children the holiday gifts they deserve. 

Through this Friday, Dec. 8, you can add a new, unwrapped gift to the box located in our Garden Shop, and it will be distributed to a local child in need through the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program. 

Online and monetary donations will also be accepted using the link below. 

Glass in Flight Glints & Gleams

Glass in Flight sculpture shines in the sunlight.

Gorgeous glass "creatures" have taken over the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden and are waiting for you to appreciate their sparkling iridescence. The steel and hand-cut Dalle de Verre glass sculptures of butterflies, bees, dragonflies, and more seem ready to come to life when sunlight shines through their colored glass. Created by Tucson artist Alex Heveri, the sculptures will be on display through April, and access to the exhibit is included with your general admission to the Garden.

Horticulture Help:
Caring for Amaryllis, a Festive Favorite

Native to South America, the red, white, pink, and orange blooms of the Amaryllis have made it a favorite of Houston gardeners. As our Director of Education Dany Millikin explains, "The blossoms can reach impressive sizes, adding a touch of elegance to gardens and indoor spaces alike." 

Find out exactly what it takes to care for these flowering bulbs and where to get a special wax-dipped version you can give as a long-lasting holiday gift.

Red Amaryllis blooms.

BotaniCamp is Back for Winter Break!

Children explore marshland habitats with a Garden staff member.

Plan ahead to give your kids one last dose of excitement before the end of their winter break. The Garden will host three days of BotaniCamp January 3-5. The Potions & Provisions sessions -- which you can register and pay for by the day -- will introduce participants to the Garden's natural ecosystems, where they will learn to identify and harvest edible and medicinal plants that grow in the wild. The camps are open to children from kindergarten through 5th grade and run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Reserve your child's spot today!

Shop Truly Unique Gifts This Year

Mangiacotti gift sets are stacked aesthetically.
Palm tree ornament hangs on greenery.
Mini LEGO sets are stacked in the Gift Shop.

Come by the garden any time we’re open to find unique gifts in our Garden Shop. If you’re having trouble finding just the right present, we carry the popular Mangiacotti line of home and beauty products. These wonderfully scented items are exquisitely packaged by people with disabilities, and the company emphasizes green production methods. 

Remembering back to the fun of last fall's Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects exhibition made with LEGO Bricks, you can also create your own whimsical masterpiece when you take home a Tiny Building Block set. They are perfect for stocking stuffers. In addition, we have botanic-themed ornaments in stock and ready to add to your tree, or you can pick up some of the freshest Garden-branded merchandise.

Stop in soon and see everything our hidden gem of a shop has to offer!

Meet the Author:
A Sweet Lesson About Finding Your Unique Talents

Author J. Juniper will be at the Garden on Saturday, Dec. 16, to read her children's book, "Sneezy Bee Rose." Guests will hear the delightful story of a honeybee who is allergic to honey, but finds another way to contribute to the hive. Meet the author and purchase a Bee YOU-nique gift set full of kid-friendly goodies for the beloved young ones on your shopping list. As a special bonus, participants will also have the chance to sample some fresh honey from the Garden's on-site beehives. 

Give Handmade & Locally Sourced Presents This Year

Succulent arrangement sits on the table with candle on a table.

Candle Ring Crafting

Give your holiday table a decorative boost from Mother Nature with a candle ring featuring succulents, holly, pine cones, and more. Best of all, the succulents can be placed in soil after the season, where they will root and continue to grow. Amanda Barone of Enchanted Forest Nursery in Rosenberg will lead this tiny gardener class this Saturday, Dec. 9.

Hands work on a wreath on a table top.

Wreath Making

You'll have two opportunities to try your hand at wreath making this season. Bring scissors and any custom decorations you'd like to incorporate as Katherine McDaniel of arts incubator Synkroniciti instructs you how to transform found, natural objects into your new favorite holiday decoration. 

A shadowbox is arranged with butterflies.

Shadowbox Building

Bring a little bit of nature indoors with a lovely butterfly shadow box. On Saturday, Dec. 16, entomologist Erin Mills will teach participants how to spread and dry butterflies and help them craft a custom shadow box for your own enjoyment or to give to a loved one this holiday season.

Vistor stands by table

Wellness Gift Shopping

Find the perfect gift for the health-conscious family and friends on your gift list at the upcoming Holiday Market on Sunday, Dec. 17. A variety of wellness vendors will be on hand with healthy foods, yoga gear, and more. 

Making Memories at the Garden:
Community Effort Adds Nature-Inspired Mural to the Garden

Mural takes shape along Sims Bayou trail.
Volunteers work together to paint a mural.

Artist David Cobb is putting the many ecosystems of Texas on display in a new way at the Garden, but he isn't doing it alone. Since the fall, volunteers and visitors have been helping to paint a 300-foot mural along Sims Bayou where it runs through the Garden. Thanks to a familiar paint-by-numbers system, artists and amateurs of all ages have joined the effort to bring even more color to the site. Find out how Cobb landed his role as a mural maker and keep watching as he and a team of volunteers push to finish the project before the end of the year.

Trees shade a path at Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center.

Take Advantage of the Reciprocal Garden Network

Every member of the Houston Botanic Garden can take advantage of the American Horticultural Society's Reciprocal Garden Network. This perk of membership provides special admission privileges and discounts at more than 360 gardens throughout North America, including several in Texas.

Santa Claus is making an early Christmas stop at Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center in Orange, TX. On Saturday, Dec. 16, you can use your Houston Botanic Garden membership to meet him there. Take the whole family to Shangri La’s Dreaming of a Green Christmas event and enjoy the holiday activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., then stick around for a stroll through their daily lighted display beginning at 6 p.m., all at no charge.

How Our Garden Grows:

Double Your Gift's Impact

Thanks to a generous commitment from Houston Botanic Garden supporters Cathy and Joe Cleary, all gifts of $100 or more made by December 31, 2023, will be matched dollar-for-dollar. 

Help us finish the year stronger than ever by donating to the Garden before the matching opportunity is gone. 

Your gift will support the next generation of environmental students by funding essential programs like primary and secondary school trips, our K-5 BotaniCamps, and various classes for nature lovers of all ages. It's all part of our mission to enrich life through discovery, education, and the conservation of plants and the natural environment. 

This holiday season, you can also honor someone you care about by making a tribute gift to the Garden in their name. It's a fantastic way to help us share the Garden's role as a place for discovery, celebration, and connection. 

You can give at any time by visiting our website or texting give2garden to 41444

Doug Tallamy speaks at the Garden.

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

Private Rentals:
Say “Yes” to the Perfect Proposal

Did you know the Garden is a popular place for proposals? The natural beauty is a perfect backdrop for your first step toward a new life with someone you love. We offer two proposal packages to accommodate your surprise; one includes admission to the garden for three and a private garden area for you to pop the question, while both provide full access to the grounds for photography to commemorate the day.

Garden Membership

Remember, a Garden membership makes a great gift this holiday season. Consider sharing your love of nature with someone special this year with a Gift Membership!