September 25, 2020

During my inaugural inspect to the brand-new Houston Botanic Garden last weekend, my attentions widened when I rounded a deform and saw this — a rocky garden-variety of agave, yucca, and cactus. After all, this is Houston, municipality of sauna-like summers and 50 inches of annual rainfall. You simply don’t see agaves or xeric weeds in great numbers in Houston.

Naturally I enjoy it, agave freak that I am.

It’s called Arid Valley. So what do you think? Is this the garden version of an uncanny valley? Hah , no. It inspects quite authentic, actually. But as my daughter pointed out, it feels more like a valley with those stratified rock walls. So we’ve renamed it Desert Canyon in our pates — sorry, HBG!

Sunset-hued Arizona onyx boulders stacked into low walls are backfilled with gravelly soil for dry-loving seeds.

‘Jaws’ agave showing off its toothy leaves

They even have torch cactus, which I never see in Austin. Houston is a hardiness zone warmer than Austin( in addition to being much rainier ), which must make this possible.

This matte blue beauty is Agave americana’ Kerbey Lane ‘. I’ve been to Austin’s original Kerbey Lane Cafe many times but never knew an agave is worded for it. What’s the story, I wonder?

I like those sinuous leaves.

This looks like a little whale’s tongue agave, maybe.

‘Silver Surfer’ agave

Check out these zigzagging leaf stamps, manufactured before the needle unfolded.

Tall cacti — cholla and wooly lamp cactus — review otherworldly in a wan gravel expanse.

These floras are more familiar to Austin eyes: pincushion-like golden barrel cactus,’ Brakelights’ hesperaloe, and a lime-green variegated prickly pear. Yucca rostrata’s shimmery, geometry formations stand guard in the background.

Look at that shade and constitute!

A wider view shows the palms of the savanna garden in the distance.

The prickly pears and gilded casks segue into the torch cactus area.

Wooly torch( Cleistocactus strausii ), native to the mountains of Bolivia and Argentina, is fluffy with grey spines.

Cholla, which looks like a children’s constructing toy with its segmented, tubular stems.

Lemon-lime cholla fruits

Agave symmetry comes me every time.

Whaaaat? A ‘Cousin Itt’ acacia? Will it flourished in Texas? Jealous !!

Golden rat tail cactus( Hildewintera aureispina) looks a lot like Medusa’s hairdo.

Its backbones beautifully catch the light.

One last look at Arid Valley Desert Canyon.


Next we explored the Savanna garden, a grassy seat with an oasis of palm trees bordering a contemporary-style oval pond.

Austin has savannas too, but our pastures are smaller and the trees that boundary them are normally oaks and junipers.

What place does this evoke for you? Northern Africa?

The grasses were in bloom and catching the light.

Marshmallow stools offer seating near the pond, but the developed boundary is clearly the best spot.

Water is a magnet in a garden.

A couple of chairs in a gravel terrace atop a low-grade hill render a excellent smudge to sit like Simba and inspect the landscape.

Pollinator Garden

Heading back we came across the Pollinator Garden, where red salvias and other flowering floras seduced hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.

Bright red blooms are hummingbird bait.

Here’s another curiosity closet, like the one I registered in Part 1, simply this one has a path guiding out from the kid-sized door in back. Eventually these open-air houses will contain entries meant to be touched and explored. But perhaps that must wait until after covid-times.

Tucked in the forking of a tree trunk and temporarily suspend fields, epiphytic plant look like tree jewelry.

Culinary Garden

Back at the entryway we investigated the Culinary Garden’s edibles, including olive trees producing fruit.

Rectangular berths feature” palatable and medicinal seeds — many of which guests could germinate in their own grounds — that have performed as a basis for fiscal and cultural exchange across the history of the world .” Beyond, a” irrigate wall ,” slated to open in December, be constructed. This and other plot cavities still to come are reasonablenes enough to return soon for another visit. Lucky Houstonians to have this in their backyard!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the opening-weekend tour. For a looked at at Part 1 of site visits to Houston Botanic Garden, click here.

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