Mercer’s Blueprint for Growth

By Crystal Simmons

Beset by drought, hurricanes, and floods, Mercer Botanic Gardens has experienced more than its fair share of unpredictability over the past few years. Luckily, Mercer employees and volunteers now have a blueprint for growth.

Mercer’s recently revealed master plan calls for new amenities on undeveloped land south of the gardens, including a grand entryway, boardwalks, and water features. Plans include reopening Baldwin Boettcher Library within the next two years as Mercer’s new entrance. The renovated library will feature flood-resilient materials that will speed recovery after a flood. Mercer will also move its greenhouses from the flood zone to higher ground and add a wet-bottom detention basin.

About Mercer

Mercer is a 393-acre facility spanning the east and west sides of Aldine Westfield Road. Of that amount, approximately 196 acres are open to the public.

The East Side Gardens features more than 59 acres, including several themed gardens. The West Side Arboretum features 137 acres that include a Hickory Bog, Cypress Swamp, and connection to the Cypress Creek Hike & Bike Trail.

What’s New

• Storey Lake and the Creekside Ramble reopened in April 2021, adding 30 acres to the gardens.
• Mercer now hosts Storey Lake Live, featuring concerts and other live entertainment from Storey Lake. Stay tuned for details.

What’s coming this year

• A lawn area will replace the greenhouses in the Central Garden, providing space for movie nights and events.
• Three new greenhouses and a maintenance and operations center will open on newly acquired land to the south of the East Side Gardens.
• New restrooms will open on Mercer’s West Side Arboretum in late fall.

East Side Gardens and West Side Arboretum Development

Most development will occur on a 47-acre plot adjacent to Mercer’s East Side Gardens. Here are some amenities that will or may open over the next decade:
• Mercer Conservatory for rare plants
• Baldwin Boettcher Library
• Mercer Botanical Information Center
• Water wall
• Amphitheater
• Boardwalk over a new pond
• Japanese Garden
• Ziggurat, a tall earthen tower resembling the structure at McGovern Centennial Gardens
• Seven Sisters Conservatory for tender plants
• Crossover bridge spanning Aldine Westfield
• Connection to the Cypress Creek Greenway

Mercer’s West Side Arboretum, which features natural scenery, may also see a few improvements and new amenities over the years. Here’s what to expect:
• Reflective Garden
• Tree Village
• Maple Mall
• Connection to the Cypress Creek Greenway