April 30, 2023

While in Houston a couple of weeks ago, with a few hours to kill, I heeded the call of nature. That is, I visited Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, an oasis for wildlife, native plants, and people who enjoy nature strolls and birding. This 155-acre refuge with 5 miles of trails is free (with paid parking) and located in Memorial Park, just west of downtown in our nation’s fourth largest city.

Located on the Gulf Coast, Houston is far wetter than Austin, with 50 inches of annual precipitation that falls regularly, versus Austin’s dry-dry-dry-flood 36 inches. It’s also vulnerable to hurricanes and storm surges. Protecting and restoring wetlands and coastal prairie reduces the risk of flooding in urban areas and is crucial to Houston’s future. At the Arboretum you can explore both wetlands and coastal prairie ecosystems, along with wooded areas that gave the Arboretum its name.

At the entrance to the nature center, a marsh along the path glows with the backlit foliage of wetland plants like iris. Lifelike metal cattails creatively display the names of donors.

Nearby, a massive crape myrtle splays a silvery nebula of roots across the soil.

With limited time, I randomly chose the Wildflower Trail, which soon led me to a squiggly boardwalk traversing South Woodway Pond.

Here I got held up, watching local residents — bullfrogs, water snakes, turtles, dragonflies, birds, and more — as they croaked, swam, basked, and flitted around the pond.

The deep, groaning vocalizations of bullfrogs give the impression of a much larger animal — although bullfrogs are large by frog standards.

I saw 4 snakes in about 30 minutes of wandering around the ponds. For those with a fear of snakes, know that you’re up on a boardwalk, and it’s fascinating to watch these harmless creatures in their habitat.

Pond plant flowering

An anole missing part of its tail — evidence of a narrow escape from a predator? — was hanging out on a wooden post.

I adore these bold, lime-green lizards. They aren’t particularly skittish and often seem curious, allowing a closer photograph.

A second pond, the North Woodway Pond, offers more wildlife-watching opportunities.

Like this orderly row of turtles basking on a log.

While enjoying the ponds I heard other visitors talking about the Kinder Land Bridge, which I’d seen by car. I hadn’t realized it was nearby, but I googled it and saw I could walk there. I exited the Arboretum through the Woodway Drive gate and strolled along a walking path to it, about a third of a mile away. I’ll share that in my next post.

The Houston Arboretum is located in Memorial Park, with entrances at 4501 Woodway Drive and 120 West Loop North Freeway. It’s open daily from 7 am to dusk. The nature center, with displays of native plants and animals and a book shop, is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. Admission is free, but parking costs $5.50 per vehicle, unless you’re a member and then it’s free. Parking is free for everyone on Thursdays, but be aware that spaces are limited.

If you visit with kids in tow, don’t miss the fun playground near the nature center.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

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Digging Deeper

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. Season 7 starts in August. Stay tuned for the lineup!

All material (C) 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

The post Pond critters at Houston Arboretum appeared first on Digging.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is an urban oasis for wildlife, native plants, and people who enjoy nature strolls and birding…. Read More
The post Pond critters at Houston Arboretum appeared first on Digging.Read MoreDigging

April 30, 2023

While in Houston a couple of weeks ago, with a few hours to kill, I heeded the call of nature. That is, I visited Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, an oasis for wildlife, native plants, and people who enjoy nature strolls and birding. This 155-acre refuge with 5 miles of trails is free (with paid parking) and located in Memorial Park, just west of downtown in our nation’s fourth largest city.

Located on the Gulf Coast, Houston is far wetter than Austin, with 50 inches of annual precipitation that falls regularly, versus Austin’s dry-dry-dry-flood 36 inches. It’s also vulnerable to hurricanes and storm surges. Protecting and restoring wetlands and coastal prairie reduces the risk of flooding in urban areas and is crucial to Houston’s future. At the Arboretum you can explore both wetlands and coastal prairie ecosystems, along with wooded areas that gave the Arboretum its name.

At the entrance to the nature center, a marsh along the path glows with the backlit foliage of wetland plants like iris. Lifelike metal cattails creatively display the names of donors.

Nearby, a massive crape myrtle splays a silvery nebula of roots across the soil.

With limited time, I randomly chose the Wildflower Trail, which soon led me to a squiggly boardwalk traversing South Woodway Pond.

Here I got held up, watching local residents — bullfrogs, water snakes, turtles, dragonflies, birds, and more — as they croaked, swam, basked, and flitted around the pond.

The deep, groaning vocalizations of bullfrogs give the impression of a much larger animal — although bullfrogs are large by frog standards.

I saw 4 snakes in about 30 minutes of wandering around the ponds. For those with a fear of snakes, know that you’re up on a boardwalk, and it’s fascinating to watch these harmless creatures in their habitat.

Pond plant flowering

An anole missing part of its tail — evidence of a narrow escape from a predator? — was hanging out on a wooden post.

I adore these bold, lime-green lizards. They aren’t particularly skittish and often seem curious, allowing a closer photograph.

A second pond, the North Woodway Pond, offers more wildlife-watching opportunities.

Like this orderly row of turtles basking on a log.

While enjoying the ponds I heard other visitors talking about the Kinder Land Bridge, which I’d seen by car. I hadn’t realized it was nearby, but I googled it and saw I could walk there. I exited the Arboretum through the Woodway Drive gate and strolled along a walking path to it, about a third of a mile away. I’ll share that in my next post.

The Houston Arboretum is located in Memorial Park, with entrances at 4501 Woodway Drive and 120 West Loop North Freeway. It’s open daily from 7 am to dusk. The nature center, with displays of native plants and animals and a book shop, is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. Admission is free, but parking costs $5.50 per vehicle, unless you’re a member and then it’s free. Parking is free for everyone on Thursdays, but be aware that spaces are limited.

If you visit with kids in tow, don’t miss the fun playground near the nature center.

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

__________________________

Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. Season 7 starts in August. Stay tuned for the lineup!

All material (C) 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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