Thoughts and plans for this garden began in 1995 when an organization, The Association for Better Community Schools (ABCS), was formed to save the undeveloped property at the corner of Jones Rd. and Grant Rd. from becoming a strip mall. This 20 acres of mostly vacant field has a number of very old pine and oak trees. Over a number of years ABCS raised funds and worked with Harris County to purchase it from the Cy-Fair school district. The field was used for soccer with minimal maintenance until park development began in June of 2006 with a parking lot and restrooms.
In 2000, Norchester Garden Club led a fundraiser to provide seed money, and initial plans were developed for a Butterfly Garden at the southwest end of the area.. An auction was held and $1750 was raised. (Garden Development then went on hold until 2007 when Precinct 4 installed water lines for us.)
In September 2006, Carol Bennett became Project Leader for the garden project and at that time drew up the garden plan seen here. She worked with Precinct 4 and Mercer Arboretum to complete plans for a Butterfly Garden and Learning Center. The initial two beds grew into three more raised beds. Fencing, benches and a gazebo were also added.
The garden is a result of many individuals and businesses donating money, materials, and labor. We received a generous gift for 2/3 of the cost of the gazebo, with ABCS making up the remaining third. The gazebo provides much needed shade, weather protection and a wonderful view of the garden. Our sign honors those contributing $500 or more towards the garden. It was constructed with the help of the Precinct 4 Parks Department. Invested in this project, as of December 2010, is $47,336 which came from grants, in-kind donations, gift cards and cash from community individuals and businesses. It does not include the donated labor required to refresh and maintain it.
The garden has been accepted as a Monarch Waystation. We are number 1905 on the international and national register. Waystation certification has requirements that include sun exposure, drainage and soil types, shelter and density of planting, (shelter for all life stages), number of milkweed plants and nectar plants with sustainable management practices. Bleyl Junior High has a Monarch Butterfly Program for its students and release tagged Monarchs. Matzke Elementary School, just to the south, has brought their kindergarten and 2nd grade students to observe the butterflies. On nice days, teachers bring their students to enjoy the garden. We also have local people raising monarchs for release here.
Goals for the Garden:
- Create a beautiful respite for walkers, joggers and students
- Create a garden designed to attract and nurture Monarch Butterflies
- Provide a learning opportunity for the community and students
- Involve the surrounding community in building and maintaining it