Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Into the Woods

If you want to go on a stroll in the woods, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is the place for you. Located at the western edge of Memorial Park, the Arboretum has over 5 miles of walking trails traversing the 155 acres of pine forests. The Observation deck at the meadow is my favorite spot in the Arboretum. The deck overlooks an acre-wide pond covered with dense water lilies and is an ideal place to take a pause in your hike; if you stay still long enough, you might be able to watch the sunbathing turtles and the swooping multicolored dragonflies.
Observation Deck at Meadow Pond
Lily-pads at Meadow Pond 

Wooden platforms wind through the pines

The Arboretum is home to over 33 kinds of Butterflies 

Swamp Rabbit blending into his surroundings

Hibiscus flowers surrounding the Swamp 

Turtles sunbathing at the Swamp 

Yellow Crowned Night Heron
The Outdoor Classroom is a wonderful place for children to learn about Nature

Indoor Display of Wildflowers in the Discovery Room

Trail Map: link on HA website: http://houstonarboretum.org/visit/plan-your-visit/map/#

The Arboretum has an extraordinary offering of classes and events:
for July: 
6-10 Summer Camp
10 Photographic Bird Safari with Kathy Adams Clark
11 Nature Revealed: Wetland Ecology 
13-17 Summer Camp
18 Edible Wild Plants
18 Wine, Cheese, and Frogs!
20-24 Summer Camp
26 Cheeses of the World 
27-31 Summer Camp

Arboretum grounds open daily dawn to dusk. Dogs on leashes are welcome.  The Nature Center Building is open daily from 9am-5pm except major holidays.  The Discovery Room is open daily from 10am - 4pm except Mondays.  

Keep Exploring!
The Bayou Botanist 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Seeing Green Downtown

Downtown Houston seems like an unlikely place to find tranquility, but between Hermann Square, the Julia Ideson Library, and the Sam Houston Park, you can take a deep breath while diving into Houston's history.

Tents and Food Trucks around Hermann Square
Every Wednesday (from 11am- 1:30pm), the City Hall Farmer's Market takes place on the Hermann Square in front of the City Hall downtown. Dozens of food trucks come to sell their delicious cuisine; including crepes, Vietnamese sandwiches, paninis, and salads. Vendors also sell fresh produce, cheese, breads, and smoothies. There's something for everyone!

View of Farmer's Market

Directly across the street is the Julia Ideson Library which recently went through renovations in 2010. Surrounded by lush gardens, the library is a sanitary in the middle of the city. The interior hosts the Texas Room, a one-of-a-kind Reading Room, the Norma Meldrum Children's Room, and brilliantly curated exhibitions (the last was on "Where the Wild Things Are" author and illustrator Maurice Sendak).

Julia Ideson Library Gardens

A view from an upstairs outdoor reading balcony at Julia Ideson Library

Children's Room at the Julia Ideson Library

If you walk a few blocks away to the edge of downtown, you'll encounter Sam Houston Park. Founded in 1899,  Sam Houston Park (originally City Park) it is the oldest public park in Houston. In 1954, the Heritage Society began moving 10 historic structures built between 1823-1905 to their new resting place at Sam Houston Park.  The quaint buildings on display are a stark contrast to the towering downtown skyscrapers. It feels as though you've been thrown back in time. As an added bonus, you can listen to a walking phone tour for a very informative history of each of the buildings on site.

Entrance to Sam Houston Park

Sam Houston Park circa 1910; don't you wish we still had a swimming hole! Image from the Julia Ideson Library Archives

Fox sculptures around small water feature 


Native Wildflower Butterfly Garden behind the Staiti House

Contrast between the old and the new 

San Felipe Cottage 1868

Expansive green lawn with small pond in rear of park 

Dog statues in front of the Pillot House 1868

St John Church 1891

Nichols-Rice-Cherry House 1850

The Baker Family Playhouse has an exciting history; you can read all about it inside the Museum. 

The Sam Houston Park is also home to the Heritage Society Museum of Texas History which has rotating exhibits, a replica of the Duncan General Store, and an informative timeline of Houston's history. Tours of the homes in Sam Houston Park are given TuesdaySaturday: 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m.,  & 2:30 p.m.

Sam Houston Park Hours: open daily from dawn to dusk.

The Julia Ideson Library Hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs: 10am-6pm, Wed: 10m-8pm, Friday: closed, Saturday: 10am-5pm, Sun: closed

Keep Exploring!
The Bayou Botanist

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Art on the Esplanade

For the past few months, I've been doing a slow drive by of the Esplanade of Heights Blvd. It's always a wonderful surprise to find public artwork in places where it's least expected. In this historical Heights neighborhood, you'll find the Paul Carr Jogging Trail Park, a 1.5 mile trail lined with large shady oaks, exquisite Victorian Houses, and now a beautifully curated sculpture exhibit "True South." This is the second exhibit of large sculptures on the Esplanade co-curated by Gus Kopriva and Chris Silkwood (preceded by "True North").

The show includes works by the following artists: Joe Barrington, Mark Bradford, Tara Conley, Kermit Eisenhut, Tim Glover, Sharon Kopriva, Hans Molzberger, and Emily Sloan.

MarkBradford, "Constant Gardener", 2014

Tara Conley, "Bunny", 2015

Eisenhut/Ramos, "Heart of the Heights", 2015

Hans Molzberger, "Retired Cowboy Clown," 2015

The Houston Heights WWII Memorial Plaza

Emily Sloan, "In Broad Daylight," 2015

Detail of "In Broad Daylight"

Sharon Kopriva, "Marcella," 2015

Detail of wings made of paintbrushes

Joe Barrington, "Sock Monkey", 2015

Tim Glover, "Whirlwind," 1999

Detail of "Whirlwind" 

So jump on your bike, take a jog or a stroll to view these little moments of magic while they're still there.

When:  "True South"can be seen April 15 - December 15, 2015
Where: Along the Esplanade of Heights Blvd. between 1-10 and 20th St

Keep Exploring!
the Bayou Botanist

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