The New McGovern Centennial Gardens and Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion Takes Shape

Recent aerial photo shows Centennial Gardens progress

Recent aerial photo shows Centennial Gardens progress

Despite recent rains, amazing progress is being made toward the completion of the new McGovern Centennial Gardens and Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion in preparation for their opening day of October 18, 2014. Tons of dirt are being moved around the site as the actual gardens within the Gardens are being built. Soon the individual gardens, such as the Arid Garden, Rose Garden, Family Garden, and Tudor Family Pine Hill Walk will take their shape. One of the most anticipated gardens being constructed is the Celebration Garden which will be made available to those wishing to rent a lovely formal outdoor garden space for their event.

Both the entry pavilion off of Crawford St. and the new maintenance facility at the far east end of the 15-acre site’s new parking lot are well underway. The Bohlin Cywinski Jackson-designed entry pavilion will also be available for rental for events and meetings (contact the Conservancy’s venue manager Linda Black at for rental information). Plans are being made for the projected August planting schedule for the Garden Mount’s groundcover and hedges, the Family Garden’s structural plantings, the Pine Hill Walk’s trees and understory, and the Celebration Garden’s trees and large shrubs. Although it is August in Houston, irrigation infrastructure is in place to assure successful survival rates for these plantings. So let’s hope for good planting weather!

Remember to put the October 18 opening day on your calendar! Excitement is building!


Out of Sight!

You may wonder what is going on with all that dirt lining the edge of the Centennial Gardens construction site. The beautiful new banners along the construction fence are camouflaging lots of activity going on underground and behind the wall in preparation for the above ground activity that will make the former Houston Garden Center the future McGovern Centennial Gardens. The dirt pile resulted from digging soil to make room for underground utility work, and leveling the grade for the new parking lot that will be constructed along the east end of the Garden site. Some of the dirt has been used for ramps for vehicles to access the building of the Garden Mount.

Other activities that have taken place over the last few months include an underground water detention system that has been installed to carry drainage water to the newly installed storm water piping. Storm water catch basins have been placed at ground level to carry some storm water to those new pipes, while a cistern to be installed in the Family Garden will capture rainwater from the roof of the storage/classroom structure for irrigating the vegetable, fruit and herb gardens. Conduit has been laid to hold the electrical wiring and data connections to service the new buildings that will be constructed on the site. Utility lines to the sites of the new buildings have also been installed. The all-important irrigation main lines have been laid to eventually provide water to the new Garden “rooms”.

Stay tuned for more info as progress continues toward the October 18, 2014 grand opening of the McGovern Centennial Gardens and Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion!

McGovern Centennial Gardens and Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion Break Ground

CG Groundbreaking 162

The McGovern Centennial Gardens and the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion groundbreaking was held on September 18, 2013 on the site of the Houston Garden Center in Hermann Park. Hermann Park Conservancy chair, Ann Kennedy, began the program with the introduction of Mayor Annise Parker. Houston Parks and Recreation Department director, Joe Turner, praised the efforts of the Conservancy in securing most of the funds needed toward the $31 million transformation of the 15-acre garden space. Benefactors Kathrine G. McGovern and Cherie and Jim Flores spoke excitedly about the project while recalling memories of their experiences in Hermann Park throughout the years. Mrs. McGovern shared the memory of her and her late husband Dr. John P. (Jack) McGovern strolling around the lake looking for bass hiding amongst the aquatic plants. Cherie Flores recounted her love of gardening, especially roses, and what a thrill it is to have her name attached to the beautiful garden entry pavilion.

HPC executive director, Doreen Stoller, thanked Mrs. McGovern whose love of Hermann Park resulted in one of the first major private gifts to a public park in Houston. It was her extraordinary lead gift that made the McGovern Centennial Gardens possible. HPC board member and Conservancy Centennial Campaign co-chair, Sanford Criner, commented that at the time the idea for the Gardens was conceived, “we all thought it was a fantasy”, but Mrs. McGovern and numerous other donors made the dream come true.

In addition to thanking Mrs. McGovern and Jim and Cherie Flores, Centennial Campaign co-chair, board member, and gardens benefactor, Phoebe Tudor, noted the generosity of other donors who contributed to the Gardens project as well, an extensive list which includes The Duncan Family Foundation, Houston Endowment Inc., the City of Houston, The Wortham Foundation, Inc., The Brown Foundation, Diana and Russell Hawkins, Marathon Oil Company, H-E-B, and the Garden Club of Houston, to name a few.

Sanford gave a preview of the fun activities that will take place for Hermann Park’s 100th birthday in 2014. Centennial celebrations such as a kite festival, dog walk, Park to Port bike ride, Art in the Park, and many other activities will occur throughout the 2014 centennial year.

For more information regarding the centennial celebrations, please see our website at

Pictured above: Phoebe Tudor, Cherie Flores, Jim Flores, Mayor Annise Parker, Mrs. McGovern, Doreen Stoller, Sanford Criner, and Joe Turner. (Photo: Jean Miracle-Whitaker)


Centennial Gardens in Hermann Park: construction gets underway

It is finally happening after seven years of preparation. Hermann Park’s Houston Garden Center has closed to the public in preparation for the construction of the $30 million 15-acre McGovern Centennial Gardens.  Excitement is in the air as the official September 18, 2013 groundbreaking of the Gardens draws near.  Park visitors now see a construction fence erected around the site on September 16, 2013, as the first phase of the project begins in earnest.  The Garden Center site is immediately being prepared for construction of the new highly anticipated Gardens. The existing parking lot accessed from Hermann Park Drive will remain open until the new lot along Hermann Drive is completed, anticipated for January, 2014.