Summer/Fall 2019
Plant a Pollinator Garden for Healthier Plants
Gardeners face many tough decisions when planning a new garden. Should you plant a formal or cottage garden? Or perhaps you’re torn between tropical and native plants.
No matter your style, chances are you can incorporate a few key pollinator favorites into your design. 

Not only will these plants add color and vibrancy to your landscape, but they will also provide an important nectar source for insects, including bees and butterflies. Gardens featuring these beneficial insects are likely to experience fewer pests and higher fruit and vegetable yields. 

Fortunately, establishing a pollinator garden can be easy and inexpensive. Check out tips to learn how to start your own low-maintenance pollinator garden here
Johnny Appleseed: A Nature-lover Worth Celebrating

If Americans were to rank their favorite holidays, Johnny Appleseed Day probably wouldn’t score much higher than International Talk Like A Pirate Day or National Butterscotch Pudding Day. 

That’s a shame. Although the holiday doesn’t come with the typical perks – days off from work, themed merchandise, or festivals – it can be a fun opportunity for plant lovers to celebrate the man who helped make the modern American apple possible. 

In honor of this famous apple lover, Mercer Botanic Gardens invites the public to celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day with apple-themed books, crafts, and games on Thursday, Sept. 26, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

Click here to read more about why this famous apple planter is worth celebrating.
Mercer's Seed Program Preserves Plants, Promotes Plant Diversity

Before chain nurseries and superstores rose to prominence, gardeners relied on seed swaps to expand their gardens. The practice not only saved gardeners money, but also promoted plant diversity and preservation.

Much like the gardeners of the past, employees at Mercer Botanic Gardens also swap seeds, just on a much larger scale.

“We store surplus seeds to share or trade with other botanical institutions, gardens, and universities,” said Jacob Martin, Mercer greenhouse manager. “Sharing materials also helps preserve plants. If your only plant died, but you shared some seeds with another garden and those seeds grew, then they can send you a plant or even seeds back.”

Don't Miss Mercer's Seed Giveaways this Fall

Bluebonnets, larkspur, or a wildflower mix what will you choose? 

Several types of native and non-native seeds are now packaged and ready to give away during the Sept. 7 Tropicals, Cacti, and Succulent Plant Sale and the Oct. 5 Pollinator Festival at Mercer Botanic Gardens.

Attend these events to pick up a complimentary packet of seeds to plant in the fall and enjoy in the spring. 

Click here for a listing of available seed varieties.
Scarecrow Contest Kicks Off in October

Show off your creative skills and join Mercer Botanic Gardens for a fun-filled scarecrow decorating contest this fall.

Entries will go on display in October, and voting begins during the Oct. 5 Pollinator Festival through Oct. 31. Entry forms must be submitted by Sept. 7.

“Sixteen scarecrows greeted park guests last October,” said Jamie Hartwell, Mercer’s volunteer coordinator. “This year, we’re hoping to double that amount. Anyone can enter – individuals, schools, churches, scouts, businesses, clubs.” 

Become a Mercer Ambassador

Volunteers who enjoy working with people can soon enjoy new opportunities on the weekends! Learn how to become a Mercer ambassador here.

Click here for more volunteer opportunities.
Name That Flower

The petite, elegant flowers of this plant seem to dance as they hold on to reed-like stems. The delicate flowers bloom in summer and last for weeks in the garden.

Can you guess this flower? Click here for the answer.
Take a Look Behind the Scenes at Mercer

Most park visitors come to Mercer to enjoy the diverse plant life, themed gardens, and extensive walking trails.

But Mercer is more than just a pretty face. Behind the scenes, Mercer staff and volunteers manage a 4,100-square-foot research facility on Titleist Drive at Aldine Westfield called Mercer Botanical Center.

As Mercer’s research hub, Mercer Botanical Center features a library, herbarium, seed bank, botanical art collection, and plant collections database. Plant researchers can access 2,400 pen and ink botanical drawings, approximately 4,400 reference books, and more than 50,000 preserved plant specimens.

Click here to learn more about Mercer Botanical Center.
Volunteer Appreciation

Top Mercer volunteers were honored in May at a celebration recognizing 45 years of service, commitment, and community at Mercer Botanic Gardens. Fifteen volunteers who have contributed more than 2,000 hours received engraved walkway pavers, which were installed between the staff building and greenhouses at Mercer. Collectively, these recipients have volunteered more than 38,000 hours at Mercer – the equivalent of more than 18 years of full-time work. 

Congratulations to the paver recipients: Mary Helen Pritchett, Vickie Snyder, Barbara Ashburn, Helen Dowling, Carol Hellwig, Jere Noreager, Sherry Cruse, Don DuBois, Cynthia Douglas, Matt Strommer, Merle Reynolds, Dennis Samoska, Janet Winkler, Glenda Balione, and Carol Kobb. 
Featured Historic Tree:
Ben Milam Bald Cypress

When Texas Revolution hero Benjamin Milam rallied the troops for an assault on the Mexican-held city of San Antonio, he asked a famous question: “Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?" 

The impassioned plea struck a chord with 300 volunteers whose assault on San Antonio on Dec. 5, 1835, led to the surrender of the Mexican army. 

The siege ended on Dec. 9 and, in less than three months, Texas was declared independent. However, Milam did not live long enough to see this victory. During the battle, he was shot from a cypress tree. That cypress tree, along with several public schools and a county, was later named in his honor.

Today, history lovers can view the Ben Milam tree along the river walk in San Antonio as part of the city’s riverboat tours. Arborist Laura Medick with Precinct 4’s Legacy Tree Project has also cultivated descendants of the tree to grow in Precinct 4 parks and to donate to schools and nonprofits. Anyone who would like to foster a Ben Milam tree can contact Precinct 4’s Legacy Tree Project at

Mercer in the News
Save the Date

Student Research and Education Symposium
Wednesday, August 7, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Big Stone Lodge

Plumeria Introduction and Propagation Techniques
Saturday, August 10, 9 a.m. *
Mercer Botanic Gardens

Lunch Bunch: Birds of a Feather
Wednesday, August 14, noon – 2 p.m.
Mercer’s East Side Gardens 

Specialty Plant Sale: Tropicals and Desert-themed
Saturday, September 7, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Mercer’s East Side Gardens 

Lunch Bunch: Don’t Lose Your Plants this Winter!
Wednesday, September 11, noon – 2 p.m.
Mercer’s East Side Gardens 

Pollinator Festival and Plant Sale
Saturday, October 5, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mercer’s East Side Gardens 

Lunch Bunch: Surprisingly Spooky,
Marvelously Mysterious Plants
Wednesday, October 9, noon – 2 p.m.
Mercer’s East Side Gardens 

*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!