Inspired by Nature: Mandell Park Prairie Garden

Planting in a Post-Wild World

The Upper Texas Coast was once covered in a prairie landscape of grasses and wildflowers. Beneficial insects, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians all thrived in this diverse and complex system. Over 99% of our prairie habitat no longer remains, and places like the Mandell Park Prairie Garden connect us to what existed here in Houston many years ago.

Ecological Landscaping

The Prairie Garden highlights plants and seeds collected from our local area. Some may consider it radical that the garden does not use mulch, but relies instead on native ground cover to control undesirable weeds. In fact, maintenance itself is inspired by nature--small adjustments, such as trimming, are made after careful observations of the plants' habits and needs. The garden changes by the year, by the season, by the day, and by the hour. Honoring the garden as a work in progress is a key part of its joy and success.

Plant Blindness

Have you ever seen the classic picture of an Elephant standing in front of a group of trees? The caption asks, what do you see? Most people obviously reply, Elephant! Even if the trees are ancient and glorious, it is hard for people to see plants when a mammal is in view. It brings up the point that our plants have evolved millions of years, yet rarely get their much-deserved respect for their essential role in a healthy eco-system. This Garden is designed to combat Plant Blindness!

Plant List

Over sixty species can be appreciated at Mandell Prairie Garden. If you are interested in learning more about which plants are present, please click on the list below.

Mandell Plant List

Don Verser manages the Mandell Park Prairie Garden. It is helpful to have a key person or "owner" for project like this, a person who is committed to the site.

The Garden in October. Note the colorful native grasses.

A large winter trim (Jan.) imitates grazing or burning.

Spring growth comes quickly (May).