Fall/Winter 2019
'Mercer Grown' Plants to Debut in 2020
The Mercer Society will debut a new plant line in early 2020 just in time for the annual March Mart Plant Sale. 

More than 200 “Mercer Grown” plants will be available at March Mart, including edibles and pollinator host plants.

TMS, the nonprofit providing financial support to Mercer Botanic Gardens, has hosted the annual March Mart Plant Sale for nearly 20 years. The plant sale proved so popular that the organization added an extra day to the event and kicked off monthly specialty plant sales in 2019. 

Eagle Scout Projects at Mercer

If you’ve ever rested on a bench or taken shade under an arbor at Mercer Botanic Gardens, chances are it’s the work of a Boy Scout.

Ever since Arthur Eldred earned the first service award in 1912, Boy Scout projects – from benches and trails to birdhouses and boardwalks – have transformed parks throughout the country. 

Today, Mercer has more Boy Scout volunteer opportunities than ever. In fact, Scout groups with the Boy Scouts of America recently restored more than 50 benches damaged by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey to earn their Eagle Scout Award, the highest achievement the organization offers. 

Texas Arbor Day Tree Giveaway

Do you have an empty spot in your yard to fill? Pick up a free sapling during Texas Arbor Day at Mercer! Fall is the perfect time to plant trees in Texas. Cooler temperatures give saplings time to develop a robust root system long before the heat of summer hits.

The celebration begins Saturday, Nov. 2, at 1 p.m. with activities and crafts for all ages, including face painting and a tree-planting extravaganza. Guests can take home a complimentary sapling while supplies last, and a certified arborist will be on site to answer all your tree questions. An outdoor library corner will also be available, with books and resources on everything you need to care for trees.

Click here to learn more about the saplings you can pick up on Texas Arbor Day.  
Name That Flower

Native to tropical areas of Asia, this fast-growing tree reaches at least 30 feet tall.

The plant only blooms at night and produces a fetid odor attractive to bats and other pollinators. Can you name this plant?
Chew on This...

Did you know an apple is 25% air, which is why it floats on water! 

So next time you go bobbing for apples, share this fun fact with your family and friends!
Monarchs and Milkweed

It’s no secret that butterflies love milkweed. The long-blooming plant features tight flower clusters packed with nectar, and the leaves are filled with a milky substance that caterpillars adore. But more importantly, monarch butterflies cannot live without it. Adult monarchs seek the plant for its nectar and lay their eggs exclusively on the plant during the warmer months.

Now that fall monarch migration is in full swing, we’ve compiled a list of your top questions about monarchs and milkweed. Learn about pollinator plants, the fall monarch migration, how to tag butterflies, and plenty of other information about these winged beauties here.

Top Places to See Monarch Butterflies

Timing is everything when it comes to spotting monarch butterflies. Like birds, butterflies migrate to their northern breeding grounds in the spring and to warmer wintering sites in the fall.

Because Texas is an important waystation for butterflies to rest and refuel, you’ll likely catch a few more butterflies than usual fluttering in your garden from September through November.

Looking for the best places to see monarchs? Check out some of Precinct 4’s Top Pollinator Gardens here

What's All the Buzz About

Some of Mercer’s busiest residents recently received some much-needed assistance. 

Volunteers Roger Nelson and Jerry Maxwell, owner of Maxwell Family Bees, added a new honey storage box to Mercer’s beehive just in time for the fall nectar season. The additional box will allow the bees to store more honey as plants ramp up nectar production.

Visitors will have a chance to view the honeybee hive when Mercer’s Creekside Ramble opens next year. In the meantime, plant lovers can take pleasure in knowing that some of nature’s busiest gardeners are helping Mercer’s gardens thrive!

These little creatures make big contributions by pollinating Mercer’s local native flora and agricultural crops, as well as producing honey and beeswax for harvest. 

Anatomy of a Beehive

Wondering how a beehive works? Let’s explore one of the most common backyard beehives, a Langstroth hive.

This multilevel bee high-rise features removable boxes containing vertically hung frames for easy honey access and an inner cover and roof to provide weather protection. The queen always claims the bottom box as her brood chamber. The remaining boxes may be used for honey storage.

Similar to a pantry, each box and frame set, called a honey super, is used for food storage. Bees build honeycomb onto each frame and fill the honeycomb with honey. A single hive may contain one or more supers stacked upon each other, depending on honey flow. When honey production is strong, a hive can fill a super in as little as a week, though it typically takes a little longer.

The Big Tree at Goose Island Park

One of the largest live oak trees in Texas, and in the nation, will soon have roots in Precinct 4. Seedlings harvested last year from The Big Tree at Goose Island Park in Rockport are now available for fostering.

At 44 feet tall, this giant tree lives up to its name. The tree’s trunk measures an impressive 35 feet around and the crown has a spread of 89 feet. Also known as Mighty Oak, Bishop’s Oak, Lamar Oak, and Grandfather, The Big Tree was crowned the State Champion Coastal Live Oak in 1966.

Don't Lose Your Plants This Winter

Winter can be tough on tropical and exotic plants. Although few plants compare to these showy beauties in the heat of summer, low light and freezing temperatures turn even the most robust tropical plant into a shriveled mess. But preparing early can help avert such gardening disasters.

Click here to learn about how the professionals at Mercer Botanic Gardens protect sensitive plants. Using these tactics, you can reproduce your most valuable plants and protect tender outdoor plants from the next freeze.
Save the Date

Lunch Bunch: Gardens Exhibit
Wednesday, Nov. 13, at noon. 
Mercer’s East Side Gardens 

Specialty Plant Sale: Camellias and Holiday Ornamentals
Saturday, Nov. 23, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Mercer’s East Side Gardens 

Cooking Thyme: Johnnycakes
Wednesday, Dec. 18, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Seeking Volunteers!
Saturday, Dec. 14
from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Help make the season bright by volunteering for Holiday in the Gardens. Volunteer shifts are 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Volunteer and Market Vendor Check-In
Holiday Market assistance
Entertainment Assistance
Garden Angel Tree
Mercer Café 
Food Truck/Dining Area
Front Gate Greeters
Shuttle Escorts
Children’s Crafts
Flexible – whatever is needed! 
Come help us decorate the park the week of Dec. 8! For more information, email us at mercerbotanicgardens@hcp4.net.
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 your Precinct 4 staff and 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!