Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Higher Elevation

One of the Houston's newest Gardens, the McGovern Centennial Gardens, is a true gem. On 15 acres, landscape architect Doug Hoerr combined a rose garden, an arid garden, a family educational garden, a meandering path through woodlands, and a 30 ft land sculpture that allows visitors to have a 360 view of the garden.  Each individual space is unique encouraging the visitor to explore every hidden corner.   When the Garden's first opened a few months ago, I was sure it was still a secret but over the last few weeks the gardens have been full of visitors of all ages. So put on your favorite wide brimmed hat, bring your camera or a book, and enjoy a stroll through the gardens! Below are photos of a few of the points of interest from the McGovern Centennial Gardens.

Aerial Map: to view PDF go to McGovern's website here
Entrance to the McGovern Gardens

Chinese Pavilion 

Rose Garden

Arid Garden

A view from the Mound

Family Garden

Celebration Garden
Keep Exploring! xo The Bayou Botanist

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Butterflies for Earth Day

For Earth Day, I decided to celebrate by spending the afternoon sketching in my favorite indoor rain forest, The Cockrell Butterfly Center .

Photo Credit Andy Hemingway  http://andyhemingway.com/

Unfortunately, I failed to realize that a few hundred grade school children would also be celebrating in my 'secret' sanctuary. . . It turned out to be one of my favorite visits ever. How quickly you forget what its like to be a young explorer, especially in a place like the Butterfly Center. The lush landscape is enhanced by winding paths, a 50 ft waterfall that ends in a cave, an orange iguana named 'Charro', and of course, hundreds of fluttering butterflies swooping from flower to flower.

Ferns next to the cave

In the Cave at the bottom of the path

Looking up

As I sat on one side of a bench along the path to sketch, I was constantly being engaged by curious passersby. It's funny to take in the different reactions to live drawing. Some stand a few feet away inconspicuously starring at what you're doing, other brave children come up close to view the work in progress and give a small critique. My favorite interaction of the day?:  One little boy very seriously asked if monarchs were poisonous, to which I definitively answered, 'No,' and then he ran away, apparently satisfied with my authority. I look forward to learning more about these graceful creatures over the next year as any other questions would currently be fielded.
A Sketch of the Butterfly Center 4-22-2015 4PM

Enjoy the Outdoors! xo The Bayou Botanist

Monday, April 20, 2015

Prints around Houston

There is something special about Spring time in Houston. Houstonians flock outside to experience as many glorious days of good weather as possible - hoping to avoid the torrential downpours and trying to forget the upcoming furnace that we call summer. Today, I attended a yearly event called "Rockin' Rollin' Prints 2015" held at St. Arnold's Brewery and sponsored by PrintMatters Houston. Participating artists produced 3' x 5' or 4' x 5' carved wood blocks based on the theme "Everything's Bigger in Texas." The event functioned like a well-oiled machine.  Volunteers inked the wood blocks, carried them to the area right in front of a steam roller (umbrella included), covered the wood block with a huge sheet of paper, covered the paper with protective layers, the steamroller chugged over and back, and voila!, a large print emerged that proved that once again 'bigger is better.' 

Learn More about PrintMatters Houston here: http://www.printmattershouston.org/

Volunteers, Wood Block by Artist Luisa Duarte, and steamroller about to get the job done.
See Luisa's website here:  http://www.luisa-duarte.com/

A row of the printed wood blocks

Inking in Progress

A few hours later, I arrived at the Japan Festival held at Hermann Park. Kites, paper umbrellas, traditional Japanese performers and music, Japanese flower arrangements, and the visitor's best cosplay costumes were all on display. 

Drumline along the reflecting pool 
It had something for everyone, but of course, I was particularly drawn to the Ikebana booth showcasing arrangements by students at the Tachibana School. The arrangements were elegant and stunning in their quiet presence. From the Tachibana School website describing Ikebana (the Japanese fine art of floral arrangement) : 

The central canon of ikebana for centuries has been Ten-Chi-Jin (Heaven-Earth-Man), where heaven is symbolized by the tall central flower, man by a medium branch placed at the side, and earth by the shortest branch, placed before the heaven branch. 

I couldn't leave Hermann Park without visiting the Japanese Garden. It's one of my favorite places to sit and reflect, sketch in one of the small teahouses, stroll next to the pond, or to watch the turtles sunbathe on the rocks. Make this garden the next location on your list for an afternoon retreat.  

From inside of the teahouse

Sketch from inside the Tea House, Japanese Garden, 4/10/2015

A new sculpture caught my eye as I exited the park. The whimsical piece was by none other that Yinka Shonibare (one of my favorite artists). Since 2014, Hermann Park conservancy has been placing new artworks around the Park to everyone's delight. You can view the current art installations on their website here:

Yinka Shonibare MBE 
Wind Sculpture IV, 2013
Steel armature with hand painted fiberglass resin cast
240 x 134 x 31.5 inches

Detail of Sculpture

Sculpture and Kites
Get Outside and Enjoy the Spring! xo,  The Bayou Botanist

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