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NATURE'S GYM: Houston Botanic Garden

Houston's newest greenspace just opened on Sept. 18.

HOUSTON — What floated around as an idea for decades is finally a reality: Houston has its own botanic garden.

"It’s just been meeting and exceeding expectations and we are so proud of that," says president Claudia Gee Vassar.

The Houston Botanic Garden opened to the public on Sept. 18. For five years since signing a lease with the city, organizers and volunteers turned 132 acres along Sims Bayou into a horticultural hamlet from the real world.

"I think people are really recognizing, especially because of the pandemic, how healing it is to be out in nature -- physically, mentally and emotionally," Vassar says.

You can find that healing by wandering around what used to be Glenbrook Golf Course. There's the Global Collection Garden, the Culinary Garden, the Coastal Prairie and even a Family Discovery Garden.

"I’m so fortunate," laughs Vassar. "This is where I work, so I get to be out in nature every day!

Parts of the garden are still under construction, like the water walls that are slated to get running in December 2020. But this is only Phase 1 of this project. Organizers have a whole lot more planned.

"In the future, we hope to have an education and events building, a seasonal garden so people can see what they can plant in their own gardens and get some great inspirational ideas," Vassar says. "Production facilities for research, a conservatory, so many wonderful things that we want to build!"

Whether any of that happens depends on how many Houstonians visit and support the garden. Right now, things are looking good.

"I think what has been so wonderful to hear from our guests so far is that this was even more than they even could have imagined," says Vassar.

For more information, click here.

Have a favorite park you want me to check out? Email me at bsmith@khou.com or message me on Twitter or Facebook.