Issue IV
Volunteers Restore Mercer's Creekside Ramble
Exciting news! Mercer visitors could have access to an additional 4.5 acres of gardens by spring.

In September, more than 100 veterans with The Mission Continues and 17 CarMax employees volunteered to install sod and prepare raised beds throughout the Creekside Ramble and parts of Storey Lake, which were damaged during the Tax Day flood of 2016 and Hurricane Harvey. Thanks to these volunteers, Mercer Botanic Gardens will reopen the Creekside Ramble and Storey Lake months ahead of schedule. 

Get a sneak peek of the Ramble’s progress here .

Read more about the Creekside Ramble here .

Want to volunteer? Click here.
Discover Seasonal Cheer at Holiday in the Gardens

Celebrate the holiday season with music, food, crafts, shopping, and more during Holiday in the Gardens Saturday, Dec. 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Mercer Botanic Gardens.

This family-oriented event offers a holiday market, winter plant sale, and a Children's Corner. Attractions include face painting, a visit from Santa, and holiday-themed crafts. Entrance is free, and children’s activities are available while supplies last.

Interim Director Shares Vision For Mercer

Big changes are coming to Mercer! Chris Ludwig, Mercer’s new interim director, announced Mercer’s new master plan will include a partnership with Baldwin Boettcher Library and several flood mitigation projects.

“Our master plan will help us grow by identifying the best use of Mercer’s resources,” said Ludwig. “We may not be able to move the gardens, but we can make the inevitable floods less damaging.”

What's New: The Healing Garden

Mercer now includes a tranquil location of healing for those who have been affected by natural disasters. 

The Healing Garden, made possible through a $10,000 donation from members of The Garden Club of Houston, features boxwoods, seasonal color, a sundial, and new brick pavers. See photos of the new garden here.
Exploring Mercer's West Side Arboretum

Taking the path less traveled at Mercer Botanic Gardens leads to amazing sites!

Escape the crowds and head to Mercer’s West Side Arboretum for views of native plants, wildlife, and natural scenery.

Click here to learn about what you’ll find on Mercer’s West Side.
Scarecrow Contest Winner Announced

The votes for Mercer’s Pollinator Festival Scarecrow Contest are in! Demeter, Goddess of Pollinators was chosen from among 16 pollinator-themed scarecrows on display at Mercer in October.

The competition was fierce, but in the end, Brandon and Rachel Hubbard's lifelike display featuring tropical plants from the couple's own garden stole the show.

Thank you to everyone who participated. Next year’s contest will be even larger, so start planning your scarecrow now! Check out some of the contest entries here .
Recognizing Mercer Volunteers

Mercer installed engraved pavers honoring five outstanding volunteers during a Volunteer Picnic Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Together, these volunteers contributed more than 30,000 hours in their time at Mercer, participating in tasks such as planting seeds, growing and cultivating plants, organizing the library, tracking volunteer hours, and organizing fundraisers for The Mercer Society.

Read about some of their impressive accomplishments here.
Mercer's Mobile Kitchen

Fresh food from Mercer may soon be on your child’s menu! 

In June 2018, The Mercer Society was awarded a $9,000 United Way Community Building Grant to purchase a Charlie Cart, which is a mobile kitchen specializing in hands-on learning experiences. 

Mercer will debut the Charlie Cart during the Winter Children's Camp Wednesday, Jan. 2 through Friday, Jan. 4. Activities include vegetable gardening, fruit and vegetable harvesting, and healthy cooking to acquaint children with the natural flavors of fresh fruits and vegetables.

In addition, Mercer will host a recurring Cooking Thyme program at 10 a.m. on select Wednesdays beginning in January. This free, hands-on opportunity equips children with the knowledge to make and enjoy their own healthy dishes. Classes begin Wednesday, Jan. 16 for children in third through fifth grades and Wednesday, Feb. 6 for children in kindergarten through second grade. Reservations are required.

Mercer education staff plan to use the Charlie Cart to teach children about nutrition and how to make healthy food choices. Children will explore where food comes from and how it moves from the garden to the table, ending with a sample from the kitchen! 

The new outdoor kitchen complements Mercer’s existing vegetable garden. Blending the vegetable garden and Charlie Cart mobile kitchen experiences will promote life-long sustainable gardening practices, encourage healthy eating choices, and bring excitement to the family dinner table.

Click here to learn more about the Charlie Cart.
Featured Historic Tree:
Hero Oak

Harris County Precinct 4’s historic tree collection is growing! Arborist Laura Carlton with Harris County Precinct 4’s Legacy Tree Program is collecting historic trees across the state to grow in Precinct 4 parks. 

Precinct 4’s latest addition, the Hero Oak, is a live oak memorializing a pilot whose selfless act spared the lives of countless Houston-area residents.
Fifty-seven years ago, Captain Gary Herod, a Texas Air National Guard pilot, was flying through the Houston area when his plane stalled over Meyerland. Rather than bail out, Herod guided his disabled plane away from a heavily populated subdivision to an open field near Brays Bayou, where he fatally crashed. Because of Herod’s actions, there were no other casualties that day.

Herod’s sacrifice didn’t go unnoticed. The city dedicated a tree and plaque in his honor at Meyerland Plaza in 1961. The tree remained intact until early 2018 when the tree developed crown rot and had to be removed. The original plaque memorializing Herod’s sacrifice was moved to Herod Elementary, and wood from the tree will be made into keepsakes for Herod’s family. 

To keep Herod’s memory alive, Precinct 4 Arborist Laura Carlton collected sprouts from the tree to become part of Precinct 4’s historical tree collection. Now, memorials to Captain Herod’s sacrifice will live on in parks throughout Precinct 4. 
All the Buzz: Inaugural Pollinator Festival

Mercer Botanic Gardens was buzzing during the Pollinator Festival on Oct. 6. More than a thousand visitors streamed through the gardens, where they enjoyed pollinator-themed presentations, an observation beehive, and shopping at The Mercer Society’s Pollinator Plant Sale. 

Check out photos from the festival here.
Name That Flower

Appearing to rise directly from the ground, this beautiful flower blooms from the base of the rhizome.

Though small, this tropical plant’s bright color is visible under the tall foliage. What am I?

Save the Date

Holiday in the Gardens 
Saturday, Dec. 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Mercer Botanic Gardens East Side

Lunch Bunch: Winter Color
Wednesday, Dec. 12 from noon to 2 p.m.
Mercer Botanic Gardens East Side

Children’s Winter Camp 
Wednesday, Jan. 2 through Friday, Jan. 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Mercer Botanic Gardens East Side
Reservation required

Monarch Train the Trainer Workshop
Friday, Jan. 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Big Stone Lodge, located at 709 Riley Fuzzel Road, Spring, TX, 77373
Reservation required through the National Wildlife Federation

March Mart
Saturday, March 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Invitation Only: Mercer Society Supporting Members and Higher
Friday, March 15 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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!
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