Summer 2018
Mercer Opens Little Blue Library
For many patrons to Mercer Botanic Gardens, a visit to the park isn’t complete without a stop at Baldwin Boettcher Library.

So, when the library closed last year due to severe flood damage, Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, Jim Nutter, interim director at Mercer Botanic Gardens, and Edward Melton, director of the Harris County Public Library system (HCPL), started working together to bring books back to the garden. They called it ‘Operation Dreamers and Schemers.’

Tropical Garden Reopening

Just days after the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, Mercer Botanic Gardens will officially reopen the Tropical Garden on Monday, Aug. 27.  

Although the garden required work after last year's flood, plans to update the garden actually began six years ago.

“The garden needed wider paths to meet ADA standards, along with other improvements” said Jeff Heilers, Mercer’s horticulture operations manager.

First Look: Pollinator Festival and Fall Plant Sale

Support local and migrating pollinators in your community while adding color to your fall landscape!

Discover caterpillar- and butterfly-host plants during Mercer’s Pollinator Festival and Fall Plant Sale Saturday, Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the East Side Gardens.

These plants not only provide a critical food source for bees and butterflies, they also add beauty to the landscape. Click here for a sneak peek of some of the plants that will be available at the plant sale.
Vegetable Garden at Mercer

Even children who refuse to eat their vegetables can have fun growing them! Earlier this summer, Mercer staff introduced children to vegetable gardening in the Children’s Garden.

The garden featured tomatoes, corn, peppers, potatoes, radishes, beets, and greens, as well as broccoli, cauliflower and strawberries. Standout crops included tomatoes, potatoes, radishes, and strawberries.

"Children are just as excited to see you pull a beet out of the ground as they are when you show them one of the rarest plants," said Education Director Jennifer Garrison. "We loved seeing the excitement on children’s faces as they caught a glimpse of a tomato ready to pick. The new vegetable garden is proving to be a delight to all our attendees!"

Be on the lookout for new crops throughout the year in the Children's Garden.
Saving Pollinators

Mercer’s always been butterfly friendly, but now it’s a certified waystation. Mercer recently introduced a Pollinator Garden after being chosen to receive grant funds from the Native Plant Society of Texas.

Located near the Children’s Garden, this garden features pollinator favorites such as milkweed, black-eyed Susans, and Mexican sunflowers. The garden’s location was chosen carefully as a transition between the Shakespeare Garden and the Children’s Garden, which also contains nectar-producing plants.

Jacob Martin, Mercer’s greenhouse manager, said Mercer hopes the garden will help spread awareness about the nation’s dwindling monarch and bee populations. 

"We want people to be inspired to plant their own pollinator gardens when they visit," he said.

Mercer Interns at Work

Thank you to all our wonderful interns for their hard work this summer!

Each year, Mercer hires new interns to assist with specialized projects in their fields of study. Interns offer valuable insight and productivity, while Mercer provides work experience, training, and instruction in new career paths.

Pictured: Angeles Zuniga, Samantha Mota, Jevon Richeson, David Figueroa, Krista Jajeh, Alexis Cotie-Gale and Amelia Gonzalez; Beck Laake, Laura Garrison and Hannah Bosco.
Volunteer Picnic

Mercer volunteers who played significant roles in the early days and weeks following last August’s flooding were recognized as Harvey’s Heroes at the May Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.

Suzzanne Chapman presents Carl Yung (left) and Y.C. Loh with golden hammers in recognition of their service. Other volunteers received golden gloves, books, zip ties and even a lawn mower blade to honor their service.

Check out photos from the picnic here.
Looking for a Fun Way to Help Mercer? 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. All volunteers will be trained on a simple point-of-sale system using Square. Shifts are varied with occasional weekend hours required. Plant knowledge is a plus but not a requirement. The Gift Shoppe is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Enjoy working with children? There are plenty of opportunities to serve our youngest gardeners. Volunteers are needed for children’s events, hosting interactive education booths, working in our vegetable garden, and leading children’s tours. Volunteers working with minors will be required to do a background check.

Mercer has a variety of fall volunteer opportunities including the Pollinator Festival and Holiday in the Gardens. Anyone who would like to volunteer or has questions can contact Mercer’s Volunteer Coordinator Jamie Hartwell at jhartwell@hcp4.net. Volunteers age 12 to 15 may volunteer with a parent or guardian, while those over 16 may work independently. New volunteers must complete a Mercer Volunteer Application and visit the volunteer coordinator before beginning. An application can be found here.
Featured Historic Tree:
Courthouse Cedar

Harris County Precinct 4 Arborist Laura Carlton 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 is the Courthouse Cedar, located in front of the Brazos County Courthouse in Bryan, Texas. 

In 1854, Colonel Harvey Mitchell, known as the Father of Brazos County, dug up a small cedar sapling from the banks of the Navasota River and moved it to the grounds of a new courthouse in Boonville. Over the years, the sapling was moved to three other courthouses before finding a permanent location in 1870 at the Brazos County Courthouse in Bryan, where the colonel cared for it until his death in 1901. Since then, the tree’s longevity has continued to impress residents and visitors to Bryan.

Today, visitors can find a descendant of this tree planted at the entrance of the Judy Bell Greenway Trail at Jesse Jones Park. The 15-gallon tree, donated by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, also recently starred in a Precinct 4 tree-planting video. Be on the lookout for it on the Mercer Facebook page!
Volunteer Spotlight: Darian Paul

When it comes to volunteering, 16-year-old Darian Paul chooses to follow her passions.

Since becoming a Mercer volunteer at 13, the teen has participated in volunteer projects that correspond to her interests in art, science, and gardening.

"I was always interested in science," she said. "When I learned how cool butterflies were, I started doing more research and really educated myself about butterfly gardens."

Volunteer Spotlight:
National Charity League

Before becoming a mother, Robyn Soileau considered her volunteer experiences as some of the most meaningful in her life. Now, she’s excited to share those experiences with her daughter, Camille. 

"I’ve always enjoyed helping others," said Soileau. "I’ve worked with T-ball teams, Meals on Wheels, Boys and Girls Club, Texas Children’s Hospital, and more. I’ve always enjoyed volunteering, but being able to work with my daughter was the main appeal of the National Charity League."

Mercer Volunteers Travel to Mexico

Earlier this year, Mercer volunteer Liz van der Laag (center) led a group of butterfly enthusiasts to a small region in the mountains of Mexico to witness the winter habitat of the monarch butterfly. Mercer volunteer Betsy Hunter (third from left) also made the rugged trip to the El Rosario Butterfly Reserve.
Name That Flower

This plant is a favorite of the sulphur butterfly caterpillar!

When the butterfly emerges from its cocoon, it will either be yellow or green depending on whether it ate the flowers or the leaves of the host plant! Do you know what the host plant is?

Save the Date

Student Research and Education Symposium
Wednesday, Aug. 1 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Big Stone Lodge at Dennis Johnston Park


Lunch Bunch: Skins & Skulls
Wednesday, Aug. 8 from noon to 2 p.m. 
Post Oak Pavilion at Mercer’s West Side Arboretum

The Art of Kokedama
Saturday, Aug. 18 from 10 a.m. to noon 
The Pole Barn at Mercer’s West Side Arboretum


Lunch Bunch: Behind the Scenes at a Botanic Garden
Wednesday, Sept. 12 from noon to 2 p.m.
Post Oak Pavilion at Mercer’s West Side Arboretum

Terrarium Time
Saturday, Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to noon
The Pole Barn at Mercer’s West Side Arboretum

Pollinator Festival and Plant Sale
Saturday, Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mercer Botanic Gardens East Side


Message From Commissioner R. Jack Cagle

Thank you for reading this edition of Leaflet. I hope you learned something new about the services, activities, and programs Mercer offers to the community. Our parks provide educational and recreational opportunities as well as environmental benefits, such as cleaner air and reduced flood risk.

Dedicated park-lovers like you make Mercer the beautiful park it is today. Since opening with only 14 acres, Mercer now boasts more than 300 acres that serve our growing community. As your county commissioner, I’m so very proud of the work my staff and our volunteers perform every day to improve access to greenspaces, such as Mercer. We pledge to continue this service in the future. 

Please stay tuned for our next issue to learn more about Mercer events, activities, and news!
Harris Co. Precinct 4 logo - R. Jack Cagle, Commissioner
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