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McGovern Centennial Gardens in Houston's Hermann Park

Updated on March 30, 2020
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Rose Garden portion of the McGovern Centennial Gardens in Hermann Park
Rose Garden portion of the McGovern Centennial Gardens in Hermann Park | Source

McGovern Centennial Gardens

The video below showing McGovern Centennial Gardens gives one an excellent overall look at the 15 acre newest addition to Hermann Park.

There are a total of 445 acres in Hermann Park, which is one of Houston’s premier public green spaces.

We all benefit from the philanthropist and benefactor George Hermann, who presented 385 acres of this land to the City of Houston back in 1914. It has changed over the years to the fabulous park it is today through the efforts of many people.

Dr. John P. McGovern

Houston residents also owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. John P. McGovern, who was also a noted philanthropist. His name is on numerous institutions in the Houston area, and now these McGovern Centennial Gardens within Hermann Park also bear his name.

The foundation he created will continue aiding and educating people. It will also give visitors to this great park immense pleasure for years to come. He devoted his life as an allergist to treating the whole person, not just a disease. Dr. John P. McGovern leaves behind him a lasting legacy of good.

Gardens Map Design
Gardens Map Design | Source

Hermann Park 100th Anniversary

These centennial gardens help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hermann Park. The opening of the McGovern Centennial Gardens was in the year 2014. The address is 1500 Hermann Drive, Houston, Texas 77004.

The Houston Garden Center used to be here in this spot with a sensory herb garden and magnificent beds of roses. The Asian gazebo is still here but moved to a new place.

Roses are still here, and there are 350 new roses. Some of the climbing varieties are growing over numerous archways in the Rose Garden area. The rose garden makes a perfect spot for photographs. It looked like a wedding party was having some photos taken on the most recent day of our visit.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pretty Rose Garden Rose Garden View of the rose gardenRose Garden View of the rose gardenIn rose garden section: Dawn Sculpture by Helen Journey ~ Donated by Mrs. Mary Helen Vining in 1971 View of the rose gardenRose Garden View of the rose garden
Pretty Rose Garden
Pretty Rose Garden | Source
Rose Garden
Rose Garden | Source
View of the rose garden
View of the rose garden | Source
Rose Garden
Rose Garden | Source
View of the rose garden
View of the rose garden | Source
In rose garden section: Dawn Sculpture by Helen Journey ~ Donated by Mrs. Mary Helen Vining in 1971
In rose garden section: Dawn Sculpture by Helen Journey ~ Donated by Mrs. Mary Helen Vining in 1971 | Source
View of the rose garden
View of the rose garden | Source
Rose Garden
Rose Garden | Source
View of the rose garden
View of the rose garden | Source

Distinctive Garden Areas

Different areas of this park feature shrubs, plants, and flowers that grow in unique manners, and they are grouped for best effect. One of them is the Arid Garden. Plants growing together here obviously thrive in climates where water might be sparse at times. Some of the plants growing here include succulents, grasses, and bushes such as the sage shrub.

Under the shade of many trees is the Woodland Garden, which provides a respite from the heat. It was green and verdant the times we have visited but would be a thing of beauty when the numerous azaleas and camellias are in bloom. Seating is provided in this part of the garden as well as in many other places. It is perfect for quiet contemplation.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Arid Garden at McGovern Centennial GardenArid Garden at McGovern Centennial GardenArid Garden at McGovern Centennial GardenWoodland Garden
Arid Garden at McGovern Centennial Garden
Arid Garden at McGovern Centennial Garden | Source
Arid Garden at McGovern Centennial Garden
Arid Garden at McGovern Centennial Garden | Source
Arid Garden at McGovern Centennial Garden
Arid Garden at McGovern Centennial Garden | Source
Woodland Garden
Woodland Garden | Source

Family Garden and Classes

Volunteers are always welcomed to work in these gardens! They hold orientation classes for new Centennial Garden volunteers. One place they are most welcomed is the Family Garden.

Different classes occur in the Family Garden. Every Friday from 10 to 11 AM is the Children’s Story Hour. Children would not only get a better idea of how and where food is grown but can be entertained with stories as well.

Just like in other areas of the park where different seasons would highlight various plants and flowers, it is no different in this garden. Some of the beds had vegetables ready to harvest, and other beds were vacant. Perhaps seeds were prepared to be sown.

There was a class on the importance of bees held in this garden. The classes are free, but people must register ahead of time because space is limited. Another class addressed the subject of Pre-Probiotics: Fermentation for Beginners, as just two examples.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Family GardenFamily Garden SignView of the Family GardenFamily GardenFamily Garden
Family Garden
Family Garden | Source
Family Garden Sign
Family Garden Sign | Source
View of the Family Garden
View of the Family Garden | Source
Family Garden
Family Garden | Source
Family Garden
Family Garden | Source

The Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion

The second view below is from The Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion, looking across the vast expanse of lawn towards the 30 foot high Garden Mount. It is a focal point of that end of the park with the pavilion anchoring the other end.

Jetted fountains provide splashing water sounds in the pool fronting the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion. It is a very modern-looking structure designed by Peter Bohlin with a passageway clad with stainless steel.

Chairs are under a shade structure, and water and restrooms are available at this site.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
View of the fountains and Cherie Flores Garden PavilionMcGovern Centennial Gardens from the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion looking towards the Garden Mount.Another view of the shade structure at the Cherie Flores Garden PavilionLooking towards the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion in McGovern Centennial GardensView of the shaded walkwaysAnother view of the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion in McGovern Centennial Gardens taken from the bottom of the Garden Mount on the opposite side of the lawn expanse
View of the fountains and Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion
View of the fountains and Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion | Source
McGovern Centennial Gardens from the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion looking towards the Garden Mount.
McGovern Centennial Gardens from the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion looking towards the Garden Mount. | Source
Another view of the shade structure at the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion
Another view of the shade structure at the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion | Source
Looking towards the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion in McGovern Centennial Gardens
Looking towards the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion in McGovern Centennial Gardens | Source
View of the shaded walkways
View of the shaded walkways | Source
Another view of the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion in McGovern Centennial Gardens taken from the bottom of the Garden Mount on the opposite side of the lawn expanse
Another view of the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion in McGovern Centennial Gardens taken from the bottom of the Garden Mount on the opposite side of the lawn expanse | Source

While the video below is advertising a specific catering company, it does give one an idea of what it would be like to rent space in and outside of the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion.

Garden Mound in McGovern Centennial Gardens

The Garden Mound is on view from many angles within this park. The vegetation growing on the mound had become lusher than when I first took my photos.

The shade structures on either side of the vast lawn expanse called Centennial Green have wisteria vines crawling up the sides. In future years they will have grown to provide even more shade when they cover the top.

People walk in a spiral manner on a paved pathway going up to the top of the Garden Mound. At each level, different views of what lies below become evident. At one point, the path crosses a waterfall tumbling down the earthen mound into the pool at the bottom.

At the very top of the Garden Mound are three sculptures, each of which have printed words. They are the following:

  • IF YOU THINK OF A YEAR PLANT A SEED
  • IF IN TERMS OF TEN YEARS PLANT TREES
  • IF IN TERMS OF ONE HUNDRED YEARS TEACH THE PEOPLE

The views looking down at the gardens from the top of the mound give an excellent birds-eye view of things from that perspective.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Garden Mound at McGovern Centennial GardensView of Garden Mound Garden Mound View of Garden Mound Garden Mound Sculptural Benches at the Top of the Garden MoundLooking down from the Garden MoundView from the Garden MoundAnother View from the Garden Mound
The Garden Mound at McGovern Centennial Gardens
The Garden Mound at McGovern Centennial Gardens | Source
View of Garden Mound
View of Garden Mound | Source
Garden Mound
Garden Mound | Source
View of Garden Mound
View of Garden Mound | Source
Garden Mound
Garden Mound | Source
Sculptural Benches at the Top of the Garden Mound
Sculptural Benches at the Top of the Garden Mound | Source
Looking down from the Garden Mound
Looking down from the Garden Mound | Source
View from the Garden Mound
View from the Garden Mound | Source
Another View from the Garden Mound
Another View from the Garden Mound | Source

Hawkins Sculpture Walk

When on the first elevation of the Garden Mound, an overview of the Hawkins Sculpture Walk became visible. The sculpture walk is an area devoted to sculptures of notable people in history. Below you will find close-ups of these sculptures.

  • Field Marshall Ramon Castilla y Marquesado helped to liberate and was the President of Peru three times.
  • Simon Bolivar helped liberate and establish the independent countries of Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia and his home of Venezuela. He became the 1st President of Bolivia and also Columbia. He was President of Peru once and Venezuela twice.
  • Robert Burns is considered to be the National Poet of Scotland.
  • Benito Juarez was the President of Mexico.
  • General Bernardo O’Higgins was a Liberator of Chile.
  • Jose de San Martin was an Argentine General and was considered to be a national hero who helped liberate Argentina, Chile, and Peru from Spanish rule.
  • Vincente Rocafuerte from an aristocratic family was the President of Ecuador.
  • Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer of the New World. He was appointed the governor of New Andalusia which was a portion of South America.
  • Jose Marti was an intellectual who was a lecturer, writer, and author. He was a symbol of Cuba’s independence from Spain.
  • Dr. Jose P. Rizal was an ophthalmologist, writer, and martyr who was executed because of his advocating for political reforms in the Philippines under the rule of Spain.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Hawkins Sculpture Walk in McGovern Centennial GardensAlvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca Sculpture Jose Marti Sculpture Benito Juarez Sculpture Dr. Jose P. Rizal Sculpture General Bernardo O’Higgins SculptureLibertador Jose de San Martin Sculpture Robert Burns Sculpture Field Marshall Ramon Castilla y Marquesado Sculpture Simon Bolivar Sculpture Vincente Rocafuerte Sculpture
Hawkins Sculpture Walk in McGovern Centennial Gardens
Hawkins Sculpture Walk in McGovern Centennial Gardens | Source
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca Sculpture
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca Sculpture | Source
Jose Marti Sculpture
Jose Marti Sculpture | Source
Benito Juarez Sculpture
Benito Juarez Sculpture | Source
Dr. Jose P. Rizal Sculpture
Dr. Jose P. Rizal Sculpture | Source
General Bernardo O’Higgins Sculpture
General Bernardo O’Higgins Sculpture | Source
Libertador Jose de San Martin Sculpture
Libertador Jose de San Martin Sculpture | Source
Robert Burns Sculpture
Robert Burns Sculpture | Source
Field Marshall Ramon Castilla y Marquesado Sculpture
Field Marshall Ramon Castilla y Marquesado Sculpture | Source
Simon Bolivar Sculpture
Simon Bolivar Sculpture | Source
Vincente Rocafuerte Sculpture
Vincente Rocafuerte Sculpture | Source

Additional Sculptures in Centennial Gardens

Other sculptures grace this park as well as those contained in the Hawkins Sculpture Walk. Please view some of them below.

  • Mahatma Gandhi – The following words are etched into the pedestal supporting this sculpture: “An apostle of truth, peace, and non-violence who led India to freedom from British rule in 1947, and is hailed as the Father of the Nation.”
  • Dr. Martin Luther King is well known for his activism during the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. He promoted the cause of non-violence and was inspired by Gandhi. Sadly he was assassinated, but his legacy lives on to this day.
  • Confucius was a philosopher, teacher, and politician and is considered to be “China’s Great Thinker and Educator.” According to Wikipedia, “The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, the correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity.”

The white Japanese Stone Lantern pictured below was given to the City of Houston by the Sister City of Chiba, Japan, on the anniversary of the 10th year of friendship on October 24, 1982.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mahatma Gandhi Sculpture Martin Luther King Sculpture Confucius Sculpture Japanese Stone Lantern McGovern Centennial Gardens Sculpture in the gardens
Mahatma Gandhi Sculpture
Mahatma Gandhi Sculpture | Source
Martin Luther King Sculpture
Martin Luther King Sculpture | Source
Confucius Sculpture
Confucius Sculpture | Source
Japanese Stone Lantern
Japanese Stone Lantern | Source
McGovern Centennial Gardens
McGovern Centennial Gardens | Source
Sculpture in the gardens
Sculpture in the gardens | Source

Gazebo

The beautiful structure above was roped off on the day of our visit. There are so many different paths that lead to areas of quiet discovery within this part of Hermann Park.

Asian Gazebo at McGovern Centennial Gardens
Asian Gazebo at McGovern Centennial Gardens | Source

A Gardener’s Delight

Gardeners should fall in love with the McGovern Centennial Gardens! There are so many different species of trees, shrubs, and perennial flowers that can show budding gardeners how to use these plants in home landscaping projects. Even if one does not have a personal garden, this one is here to enjoy by everyone.

There is free parking nearby and also in the Houston Zoo parking lot or paid parking at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which abuts this portion of the park.

Spaces are available to rent for private events, and I imagine many weddings have now taken place on these beautiful grounds and the Garden Pavilion.

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WildflowersMcGovern Centennial Gardens
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Source
Source
Source
Source
Wildflowers
Wildflowers | Source
McGovern Centennial Gardens
McGovern Centennial Gardens | Source

Upkeep

The Hermann Park Conservancy, which is a non-profit organization along with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, is doing a masterful job of maintaining and enhancing this beautiful park of ours. Millions of dollars have been raised and spent in various parts of Hermann Park in recent years. We should all be thankful concerning their continuing efforts on our behalf.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods

Comments

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    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 days ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      You could spend days in this area and the more massive Hermann Park if you wished to see everything, including the Natural Science Museum, Zoo, etc. We have some beautiful parks in Houston!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      2 days ago from Massachusetts

      What a wonderful garden you have there in Houston. I would love to spend a day exploring. Looks like a great combination of art and garden. Houston has so much to offer, thank you for sharing it all with us.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 days ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Liz,

      McGovern Centennial Gardens has something for everyone! Thanks for the visit and compliment.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 days ago from UK

      This is a wonderfully detailed and well-illustrated article. It gives an interesting and great impression of this park.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 days ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Pamela,

      A person could easily spend hours in this garden setting. There is so much to see and enjoy!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 days ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Linda,

      You obviously like the outdoors and parks much like we do. When traveling we have often sought out such places to visit.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 days ago from Sunny Florida

      The McGovern Centennial Gardens are gorgeous. I love all of your pictures of the statues, greenery and especially the flowers. I imagine anyone could spend hours walking around these gardens, Peggy.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love this article and its photos. I always enjoy exploring botanical gardens and conservatories, especially when they contain art. I think i would have a very nice holiday in Houston by simply exploring the gardens and parks that you've described in your articles.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 days ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      The family garden is an educational area of the McGovern Centennial Gardens teaching young and old alike the many aspects that go into successful gardening.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 days ago from Olympia, WA

      I love the family garden aspect. All in all it is a spectacular haven for all to enjoy! Thanks for sharing.

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