Friday, February 12, 2016

South Texas Botanical Garden Corpus Christi Texas

We thoroughly enjoyed the Orchid Conservatory 
Corpus Christi is home to a hidden gem. The South Texas Botanical Garden is located in a mostly residential neighborhood. It's 180 acres is surrounded by housing developments and a large ranch right off of South Staples Street. It includes natural wet lands and is bordered by the Oso Creek.

Specimen from the Bromelaid Conservatory
A tour of the gardens begins at the Visitor's Center where knowledgeable volunteers showed us a site map and pointed out highlights. They encouraged to visit the reptile center at the rear of the building. The Botanical Gardens are home to 30-40 reptiles at any given time.  Snakes, Lizards and Tortoises that have been rescued from life threatening situations or donated by families who once kept them as pets have found a safe haven here.
There are also 40 Parrots and Macaws donated by the Coastal Bend Companion Bird Club that have found a home in the garden.
The smaller specimens are kept in the reptile house, The larger birds and the tortoises have protected quarters outdoors.

These sunny orange blossoms beckoned us into the gardens
We walked around the Visitor Center and passed a Koi filled pond. Beyond the pond is a Plumeria garden.  In February the trees are bare except for a few early leaves. There are more than 100 specimens of the fragrant tropical flower located here in Southern Texas.We spent some time speaking with one of the gardeners who was very enthusiastic about them. She explained that the Botanical Garden had an association with a garden in Australia that shared specimens of Plumeria. The blooms are called Frangipani there.
There are 2 large Conservatories on the grounds. They are home to a Bromelaid collection and a large number of Orchids.

A mass of epiphytes in the Bromelaid Conservatory
The Bromelaid Conservatory contains many epiphytes. I find these air plants to be so strange and otherworldly. Their ariel roots and hanging masses create such a spooky atmosphere. They hung from fences and wires and coconut fiber baskets on the walls. There were also terrestrial bromelaids with long spiky leaves and unsusual brightly colored flowers. Pot after pot of various succulents filled the shelves.

The Orchid Conservatory is amazing. So many beautiful fragile flowers in one place.We are told that they include Cattleya, Phaleonopsis, Paphiopedlum and Dendrobium genera. The orchids were part of the Don Larkin Collection, willed by him to the Botanical Garden . It is the largest public orchid display in the state of Texas.

The organization is currently seeking funding for a Tropical Rainforest Conservatory to round out it's indoor collection.
Fred finally pulled me away from the orchids and we began to wander the outdoor gardens.  We were pleasantly surprised at the variety of flowers and plants that were in bloom in early February.
There is a Tropical Garden right outside the Conservatories that is full of lush foliage and shade trees. Hibiscus are plentiful here as well as huge Elephant Ears and low growing greenery. The tropical birds are housed here and there are future plans for an aviary.  We enjoyed the garden seating area set up in the shade.

Bloom from the Hummingbird Narden
Beyond the tropicals we found a Hummingbird Garden and one dedicated to butterflies complete with a Butterfly House.  These gardens as well as an Arid garden located on the other side of the property are designed as landscape examples for local Texan gardeners. The Botanical Gardens Earth Kind Demonstration Trial Gardens are meant to help people chose the hardiest, most pest and disease-resistant plants.that are appropriate for the South Texas environment.

Butterfly Garden
The Butterfly Garden is on the edge of the wetlands. We followed an extensive trail and boardwalk system that lead us around and over the water to view birds and native water plants. There were many warning signs about native rattlesnakes. Thankfully they were in hiding during our visit.  
A stroll around the Oso Creek Trail brings you to the cactus filled Arid Garden and an area of more formal raised bed plantings that include roses, herbs and Vegetables.

Arid Garden

We stopped and sat for a while in the lovely Sensory Garden before heading back inside to thank our hosts. We enjoyed the sculptures there and in fact were delighted and impressed to see so much artwork featured in the gardens and on the trails.

Seating in the Sensory Garden made of concrete and mosaic tiles

Rose garden

If you visit Corpus Christi we highly recommend the South Texas Botanical Garden. it is an organization still in it's growing phase and utilizes community volunteers to do much of the work. It is beautiful now and will only improve with time. 

To see more photos of these lovely gardens visit our Flickr album


South Texas Botanical Gardens
8545 South Staples 
Corpus Christi TX. 78413

The Gardens contained many sculptures, this one near the wetland boardwalk


  1. Very pretty, Bonnie! Our membership at Meijer Gardens in Michigan carries a reciprocal agreement with the American Horticultural Society and gets us admission into this garden. When we get there, we will be sure to visit!

  2. You definitely should Jim and Diana. It is a beautiful place. I would suggest a little later in the year for the best experience. Would have loved to see the Plumeria in bloom.