Issue I
March Mart Plant Sale
Planning a lush landscape makeover? While major retail garden centers may seem like a good place to start, they often offer a limited variety of plants.

Make your yard stand out by heading to Mercer Botanic Gardens for the annual March Mart Plant Sale Friday, March 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, March 16, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Early shopping is available for The Mercer Society (TMS) members Friday, March 15, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and for TMS members with VIP Early Access Thursday, March 14, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Shoppers will discover a variety of hard-to-find plants, flowers, and trees that thrive in sun or shade, winter or summer. Whether you are looking for ornamental trees or rare plants, March Mart offers a plethora of botanical gems. 

For a sneak peek of some of the plants you’ll find, click here.
Celebrating 45 Years

We’re excited to announce that Mercer turned 45 years old on Jan. 8! Come visit the park and see how it’s grown.

Beginning as a 14.5-acre homestead owned by Charles and Thelma Mercer, Mercer Botanic Gardens has matured into a nearly 400-acre educational and horticultural facility, featuring 20 acres of cultivated gardens, an arboretum, a herbarium, nature trails, picnic areas, and a playground. 

Each year, 250,000 visitors are drawn to Mercer’s plant collections, plant sales, themed gardens, educational events, and festivals.

Volunteer at March Mart

Preparations are underway for Mercer’s largest plant sale of the year. Help us create a bigger, better event by becoming a March Mart volunteer!

“We are taking March Mart back to what it was prior to the floods of 2016 and 2017,” says Kitt Burnsides, now in her fourth year as March Mart chair. “All growing groups are back up and running and seeking more volunteers.  We are growing more plants from seed and plugs than in past years, so more help is needed.”

To volunteer for the March Mart Plant Sale or inquire about opportunities, please complete a March Mart application  here

What's New: Spring Break Camp

Spring Break is just around the corner, and Mercer Botanic Gardens has big plans!

Mercer’s new four-day Spring Camp aims to help children ages 8 to 11 develop healthy eating habits. Children are invited to explore the world of vegetable gardening by planting, harvesting, and caring for fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Staff also will demonstrate healthy cooking techniques using the Charlie Cart mobile kitchen.

Children will have opportunities to taste fresh produce and engage in fun, outdoor physical activities.

Volunteer Spotlight: Tina Davies

Get Tina Davies talking and there’s no telling what you’ll learn. This educator has studied everything from mushroom taxonomy to music. In addition to her love of biology, Davies is a talented musician who plays the dulcimer, piano, pipe organ, and bells. 

You can find Davies working at the Mercer Botanical Center updating the herbarium database, an important process for plant identification and preservation. Although the process can be challenging, Davies is proud to help preserve scientific knowledge.

Name That Plant

This unique specimen derives its common name from its unusual, long wands of perfectly flat, jointed, and often leafless half-inch wide stems. 

Employee Announcement

Someone is blooming! Mercer Program Coordinator Melodie Hill and her husband, Cameron, are adding their first little gardener to the family! Melodie is expecting a baby girl, Rylee Bly Hill, this May! Congratulations, Hill family! 
Thank You For Supporting Mercer's Angel Tree Wish List

Thank you to everyone who so generously donated to Mercer Botanic Gardens and The Mercer Society through our Angel Tree Wish List. Donated items, such as butterfly-catcher kits, a compost starter, and composting worms, will benefit nearly all areas of Mercer! We were even given a wooden beehive frame and a beekeeping jacket that will allow us to kick off a beekeeping program soon.

We greatly appreciate the support of these generous donations and look forward to working with our new supplies!

It’s not too late to shop from the Angel Tree Wish List. Items donated from our wish list support Mercer’s continuing educational programming for children and adults, our volunteers, greenhouses, the herbarium, and botanical library. Prices for some items are as low as $1 each, and donations are tax deductible. The best part is that purchased donated items will be shipped directly to Mercer!
Featured Historic Tree:
Wedding Oak

Harris County Precinct 4’s historic tree collection has a new addition!

The Wedding Oak, also known as the Matrimonial Oak, is an escarpment live oak growing near the San Saba River, a tributary of the Colorado River in San Saba County. This massive tree is hundreds of years old with a diameter of around 74 inches, which is the equivalent of five people joining hands around the trunk!

This historic tree was a popular site for Native American courtship rituals, where warriors and maidens honored Mother Earth and prayed for a strong marriage. According to the State Historical Survey Committee, the tree sheltered many marriage services through the 1900s. In fact, three occurred on Dec. 24, 1911. Today, the tradition continues as many couples look to exchange vows under its canopy. 

In October 2017, Laura Carlton, Mercer arborist, collected seven acorns from The Wedding Oak. One of the acorns sprouted, and the seedling will be repotted in a 3-gallon container this spring. Since then, Carlton has collected more acorns that are just now beginning to show signs of growth!

Recently, locals shared with Carlton that a major limb had failed, leaving a significant wound at mid-trunk of The Wedding Oak. Carlton hopes that her efforts to collect wood and foliage samples along with herbarium specimens will help keep the traditions of The Wedding Oak alive. As English Poet George Herbert once said, “Storms make the oak grow deeper roots.”
Save the Date

Lunch Bunch: Honeybees and Backyard Beekeeping
Wednesday, March 20, noon 2 p.m.
Mercer Botanic Gardens East Side
Ages 12 and up

Lunch Bunch: The Incredible Edibles
Wednesday, April 10, noon 2 p.m.
Mercer Botanic Gardens East Side
Ages 12 and up

Children’s Spring Break Camp
   Monday, March 11, Thursday, March 14, 9 a.m. 3 p.m.
Ages 8 11. Cost: $40 per child and registration is required.

March Mart
Friday, March 15, 10 a.m. 4 p.m. 
Saturday, March 16, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.  

March Mart Early Shopping
Invitation Only: Thursday, March 14, 4 p.m. 7 p.m.
TMS Members: Friday, March 15, 8 a.m. 10 a.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!