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HIDDEN GEM: Houston Botanic Garden

With dinners, musical performances, art classes, workouts and more, the garden’s calendar is full of events to get you to visit.

HOUSTON — Just beyond the 610 Loop, the concrete jungle of Houston fades into the lush oasis that is Houston Botanic Garden.

"There was a lot of thought given to the plant palette so there is always something that is in season," says Justin Lacey, communications director for the garden. 

It encompasses 132 acres, most of those on an island created by Sims Bayou.

"Some of that is formal garden, like what we’re sitting in now. A lot is what we call natural ecosystem," Lacey shares.

Not all of the plants are native to the Houston area, but they seem to thrive in this climate.

"We’re growing it here, so you can grow it at home," says Lacey. "That’s one of the things we want people to take away."

The garden also includes labels, letting visitors know each plant’s name and extra details.

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"‘This attracts butterflies.’ ‘This attracts hummingbirds.’ ‘This attracts bees.’ So again if you’re looking to invite that wildlife into your own garden, take advantage of those labels and look to see what you might want to incorporate," Lacey encourages.

Other critters seem to like it here too. 

"The number species (the Audubon Society) have seen since the garden opened has more than doubled," says Lacey. "So nature has found us. It knows we’re here. It loves visiting. We’ve got turtles in our lagoon. We’ve got families of ducks all around."

If you’re worried about finding shade in the Houston heat, don't! There is plenty of it, both natural and manmade. Plus, you can pop into the air-conditioned gift shop to cool down too.

"It’s Houston. It’s summer. It’s hot," Lacey laughs. "But I will say, our plant palette loves Houston’s hot summers."

Even the plants in the Culinary Garden, which seems to always have something ready to harvest, such as bananas, apples, kumquats, even onions and herbs.

"It is an all-season garden," says Lacey.

That has helped it become a popular space for special events.

"Hometown chef Evelyn Garcia, who you could watch on Top Chef, she hosted a series of pop-up dinners with her partner Henry Lu out around our gathering table, our harvest table, as we call it. It seats about 30 people," Lacey says. "So they were having these intimate sunset dinners."

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With dinners, musical performances, art classes, workouts and more, the garden’s calendar is full of events to get you to visit and maybe become a member.

"There are reasons to come year-round," Lacey says.

Learn more about the Houston Botanic Garden here.

Brandi Smith on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Do you have a hidden gem we should check out? Let us know by emailing Brandi Smith at bsmith@khou.com!

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