Winter at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center brings dramatic swings in temperature, seasonal color, magnificent birding opportunities and this year, lots of progress on their master plan.
FIRST UP: The Arboretum’s new entrance off the 610 feeder is now open to the public. This entrance represents the completion of Phase 1 of the organization’s master plan project and provides access to a new parking loop with 120 spaces, a network of connector trails and woodland landscape restoration. The new entrance improves accessibility and provides a special drop-off location for the many school buses that bring students to the Arboretum for field trips.
The 610 entrance features a large area of woodland restoration. Over time, the diversity of the Arboretum’s woodlands has dwindled. The site is home to only about nine species of canopy trees that are present in large numbers – trees like the loblolly pine, post oak and willow oak. Mid-understory trees are even less diverse as the majority of this layer has been filled with a wall of invasive and native aggressive species.
The Arboretum’s objective for woodland restoration on site is to remove and control the invasive layer and allow new plants and trees to grow and flourish. The master plan calls for increasing species diversity in this area by planting 10 additional canopy species and 20 new mid-understory species of trees. For weeks, their landscape team has been carefully planting these trees – numbering in the hundreds – throughout the new parking loop and entrance.
New species like southern magnolia, red maple and flowering dogwood will increase diversity and create a more ecologically robust site. A special seed mix with an array of native grasses and forbs has been spread to establish a ground cover, and plugs, grown from local seed collected from the Arboretum and other nearby prairies, will be planted in shady wet areas where seed establishment is more challenging. This effort will restore important native plant communities, improve wildlife habitat and enhance the ecological function of the site.
For more information, visit www.houstonarboretum.org.