Issue II
Check Out Mercer's Tool Library
Books aren’t the only items you can check out from Baldwin Boettcher Library at Mercer Botanic Gardens. Visitors can now also borrow tools! 

Baldwin Boettcher’s tool library opened in March for visitors interested in do-it-yourself gardening and landscaping.

Learn how you can check out tools for your project by clicking here.
Enjoy a Day at the Tropics at Mercer

Harris County residents can explore the world of tropical plants during next month’s all-day Tropical Symposium at Mercer Botanic Gardens. Activities will include tropical plant presentations, a plumeria workshop, a tour of the tropical garden, and an exclusive tropical plant sale.

Discover new tropical plants during the Tropical Garden Walk and Talk with Ceil Dow, The Mercer Society’s ginger grower and a Harris County master gardener. Guests can also learn techniques to propagate plumeria from seeds and cuttings with Galveston County Master Gardener Loretta Osteen.

The Tropical Symposium will run Saturday, July 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Click here to learn more.
Summer Lawn Care Tips

Love your lawn, and your lawn will love you. These words ring true for Jeff Heilers, horticultural operations coordinator at Mercer Botanic Gardens. The challenge with summer lawn care is knowing how to beat the Texas heat.

“People think their yard needs more water just because it’s hot outside,” Heilers said. “The truth is, if you’re not careful, you can overwater. Too much water can hurt your lawn almost as much as not watering it at all. It can also create fungi and eventually brown patch, which looks like a bruise across the yard.”

May is the ideal time to prepare your lawn for the harsh summer months, before temperatures start to rise significantly.

What's Blooming at Mercer

Wondering what’s in bloom at Mercer? Mercer keeps a detailed list of flowers blooming by the month.

Click here to check out some of our top bloomers.
Name That Flower

This beautiful Texas native is endemic to the Edwards plateau in West Central Texas. The plant thrives in rock gardens, which mimic its natural habitat. Can you guess what it is? Click here to find out.

Volunteer Spotlight: Amy Conroy

Ask Amy Conroy what she enjoys doing most and she will tell you spending time with her children is her favorite pastime.

Her other passionate pursuits, art and gardening, are tied for a close second. As a Trees and Shrubs volunteer at Mercer Botanic Gardens, Amy relishes both.  

Click here to learn how she balances family, work, and play, and where she gets her inspiration.  
Specialty Plant Sale at Mercer

Want to bring the beauty of Mercer Botanic Gardens to your landscape? Visit Mercer on Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a specialty plant sale in the courtyard. Find flowering tropical plants, including hibiscuses, roses, azaleas, and hydrangeas.

Specialty plant sales will continue once a month through summer. Begonias, gingers, and heat-tolerant plants that love the shade will be available Saturday, June 15. Each month will feature a new speaker.
Build a Backyard Beehive to Bring Back the Bees

It takes hard work and dedication to grow fruits and vegetables. Thankfully, most gardeners have help from one of nature’s most efficient providers: bees. Even with the proper lighting, soil, and climate, some plants won’t produce without these little guys. In fact, 30% of the world’s crops depend on pollinators, including bees.

Beekeeper Jerry Maxwell learned this lesson the hard way. Maxwell watched for years as his fruit trees cycled through the seasons without producing a single piece of fruit. Seeking a solution, Maxwell added plants known to attract bees and butterflies. When the trees still hadn’t fruited by the following spring, Maxwell took his efforts to the next level by ordering beekeeping equipment and a shoebox-sized package of bees.

“Beekeepers like to say if you can garden, you can raise bees, and that’s absolutely true,” said Maxwell. “I started researching beekeeping online, bought books, and talked to as many beekeepers as I could find. Now I have fresh fruit every year. My neighbor’s orange tree just exploded with oranges. She had no idea it was even an orange tree.” 

Since then, Maxwell has added five beehives to his collection and opened Maxwell Family Honey from his suburban backyard. 

Maxwell isn’t alone in his backyard beekeeping enterprise. While starting his business, he stumbled upon the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association, a local beekeeping organization with members ranging from backyard beekeepers to multimillion-dollar business owners.  

As a member of the association and beekeeping mentor, Maxwell now educates others about the benefits of beekeeping. Check out some of his tips for getting started below.

Featured Historic Tree:
Founders' Oak

One of the Texas A&M Forest Service's Famous Trees of Texas, the Founders' Oak, is an escarpment live oak (Quercus fusiformis) believed to be more than 318 years old. 

This gentle giant grows near Comal Springs in the 51-acre Landa Park in New Braunfels. The tree is also referred to as a Hill Country live oak, a species known to be more drought-tolerant and cold-hardy than the live oaks of the Gulf Coast. 
Since the founding of New Braunfels in 1845, Founders Oak has become a popular gathering spot for church services, picnics, community events, and Independence Day celebrations. The area’s first teacher even organized folk, classical, and patriotic performances under the tree’s shade. 

As the tree matured, large brick structures were built to support its heavy limbs. Today, the tree is treasured for its impressive size and rich history. Many New Braunfels residents still visit Landa Park to admire the tree’s massive 100-foot canopy. The Texas A&M Forest Service measured the tree’s circumference in 2009 at 17 feet 2 inches wide and its height at 50 feet. 

To ensure the tree’s memory lives on, Precinct 4 arborist Laura Medick collected 93 acorns from it last season. Of those, one seedling is now growing at Mercer!
Save the Date

Lunch Bunch: Snake Identification
Wednesday, May 8, at noon*

Lunch Bunch: Behind the Scenes at Mercer
Wednesday, June 12, at noon*

Lunch Bunch: Tree Care for the Dog Days of Summer
  Wednesday, July 10, at noon*

*Register by calling 713-274-4160.

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!