Spring 2018
Mercer Opens Shakespeare Garden
Shakespeare’s famous for his colorful characters and timeless themes, but plant-lovers have another reason to love him: the Shakespeare gardens he created and immortalized.

From the lovingly restored historical gardens of Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon estate to the seasonal wonders of New York’s Central Park, Shakespeare gardens have steadily gained popularity throughout Europe and the United States since the 1900s.

These cottage-style or formal gardens feature plants and flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays and grown in Shakespeare’s private garden. Now, visitors can check out a Shakespeare garden up close at Mercer Botanic Gardens. Read more to learn about this new addition at Mercer.
Mercer Summer Camp
Children's Garden Opening Summer 2018

Mercer’s excited to dedicate an area to some of its smallest patrons. 

Mercer’s new Children’s Garden, opening Saturday, June 9 at 9 a.m., will be the first garden at Mercer featuring touchable plants and herbs.

Since Mercer is home to many rare and endangered plants, staff have historically discouraged visitors from touching the plants.

Herbarium Provides Glimpse into the Past

Did you know that Mercer Botanic Gardens offers more than stunning garden views? Behind the scenes, Mercer has a thriving research center boasting a growing collection of pressed and dried plant samples, known to botanists as a herbarium. 

Mercer’s herbarium collection started in 1986 and is now located at the Mercer Botanical Center on Titlelist Drive just across Cypress Creek.

Mercer Volunteer Awards Luncheon

Did you volunteer at Mercer last year? If so, mark your calendar for the Mercer Volunteer Awards Luncheon Wednesday, May 16 from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Mercer Botanic Gardens. 

Join us as we recognize all volunteers who made a difference at Mercer, both before and after Hurricane Harvey. Be on the lookout for invitations! For more information, contact Jamie Hartwell at 713-274-4160 or jhartwell@hcp4.net.
Mercer Internships

Know someone who needs an internship? Mercer Botanic Gardens is looking for eight college students to serve as summer interns!

Opportunities are available for students studying education or horticulture.
Students can help with educational programs, assist with planting, or study plants in the herbarium. Interested applicants can contact Melodie Hill at mhill@hcp4.net.

Mercer Botanical Center Library

Mercer Botanic Gardens is proud to announce that the botanical library at Mercer Botanical Center is now open by appointment, thanks to volunteers and staff members who helped restore the library after Hurricane Harvey.

This valuable collection started more than 40 years ago to help staff and volunteers maintain plant collection records. 

Name That Flower

The roots of this Texas-native legume have nitrogen-fixing nodules that make it an important source of nitrogen for the soil.

Bacteria, known as Rhizobium, grow on the plant’s roots and allow it to absorb nitrogen from the air.

When the plant dies and the tissue decomposes, gardeners can use this plant as a natural fertilizer.

Volunteers Needed

Looking for a fun way to help Mercer close to home? Become a volunteer!

The Mercer Society Plant and Gift Shoppe at 400 Main Street in Old Town Spring seeks volunteers who love retail and interacting with the public. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Those who prefer to work on the technical or trades side can help with irrigation, construction, propagation, and data entry in the herbarium’s plant database. Outgoing individuals are also needed to lead guided tours and help with children’s programming. 

Enjoy digging in the dirt? There are plenty of gardening opportunities in the pollinator garden, children’s garden (scheduled to open June 9), and vegetable garden.

Anyone who would like to volunteer can contact Mercer Volunteer Coordinator Jamie Hartwell at jhartwell@hcp4.net. Volunteers ages 12 to 15 must volunteer with a parent or guardian. New volunteers must complete a volunteer application and visit with the volunteer coordinator before beginning. Click here to fill out an application.
Featured Historic Trees:
Battle Oaks

Harris County Precinct 4 is collecting historic trees across the state to grow in Precinct 4 parks. To spotlight these important trees, Mercer Botanic Gardens will feature one historic tree or group of trees per Leaflet issue.

This issue’s featured trees are the Battle Oaks ( Quercus virginiana) at the University of Texas. Now more than 250 to 300 years old, the trees are all that remain of a once large oak grove partially destroyed during the American Civil War. According to legend, Civil War troops harvested all but three trees in the grove to build a fortress around the Texas Capitol.

After the harvest, the trees grew undisturbed until 1923, when University of Texas officials announced plans to remove the trees to make room for new labs. Fortunately, a faculty member named Dr. William Battle convinced board members to spare the trees, which were later named in his honor. Since then, the trees have become a prominent feature at University of Texas that has endeared them to generations of students.

Last October, Mercer arborist Laura Carlton and office manager Brooke Williamson brought the offspring of these trees to Precinct 4. Of the 323 acorns and one sprout collected, 20 are growing in Precinct 4 greenhouses and will one day grow in Precinct 4 parks!
Volunteer Spotlight: Latin School of Chicago

Traveling the world, exploring the city, or trying something new is all part of the curriculum for students at the Latin School of Chicago.

Every year during Project Week, students leave the classrooms to perform a service project or pursue a topic of interest in locations from Iceland to Uruguay.

Volunteer Spotlight:
Don Dubois

For Mercer volunteer Don Dubois, a childhood interest in insects turned into a lifelong passion for native plant gardening.

Now, as a volunteer at Mercer Botanic Gardens, Dubois brings his passion for wildflowers and insects together in Mercer’s native plant group, where he specializes in growing native plants for March Mart.

Save the Date
Lunch Bunch: Think Outside the Box–Succulent Art 
Wednesday, May 9 from noon to 2 p.m. 

Tea in the Gardens
Friday, May 11 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Summer Reading Program at Mercer 
Wednesday, June 6 to Wednesday, Aug. 1 

Lunch Bunch: Butterfly Gardening
Wednesday, June 13 from noon to 2 p.m. 

Summer Garden Club
Saturdays, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, and Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to noon 

The Mercer Society Gift and Plant Shoppe
400 Main Street, Old Town Spring 77373 
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Phone: 281-651-5475