Doreen's Picks

Doreen Stoller, president of Hermann Park Conservancy for over eleven years, loves spending time in Hermann Park. Some of her favorite things to do include taking in the view of McGovern Lake from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Bridge, relaxing on the Moonscape Bench and watching birds congregate on the islands in McGovern Lake, standing in the arch of the Sam Houston Monument and gazing across the Jones Reflection Pool, then stopping in Molly Ann Smith Plaza to wave to children on the Hermann Park Train as it winds its way through the Park. She also enjoys watching colorful Koi dart in the stream in the Japanese Garden and taking the pedestrian underpass to the Bill Coats Bridge to watch birds fishing in Brays Bayou. Check out Doreen’s favorite spots for yourself with this guide!

STOP 1.

MOONSCAPE BENCH

This unique bench is the work of Jesus Bautista Moroles, known for his abstract, granite sculptures. The carved stone bench was situated in Hermann Park in 1999 and offers a pleasing view of McGovern Lake. 

STOP 2.

BIRD ISLANDS

McGovern Lake is home to several islands that provide a protected habitat for plants and wildlife. The islands are important to the area’s waterfowl, and provide a landing spot for a stopover for migratory birds. The islands are not accessible to pedestrians. 

 

STOP 3.

TIFFANY & CO. FOUNDATION BRIDGE

The attractive Tiffany & Co. Foundation Bridge spans the corner of McGovern Lake near the pedal boat lagoon and connects the Lake Plaza and Lake Picnic areas. A $1 million grant from Tiffany & Co. Foundation in 2008 made this scenic bridge possible. The bridge was designed by Overland Partners with White Oak Studio. 

STOP 4.

SAM HOUSTON MONUMENT

General Sam Houston, sitting atop his horse, Saracen, has watched over the entrance to Hermann Park at Montrose and Main streets since 1925. The bronze sculpture was created by Enrico Filiberto Cerrachio (1880-1956) and was funded by the Women’s City Club. Frank Teich (1856-1939) sculpted the massive granite arch that supports Sam Houston and his horse. The iconic statue was lovingly restored by the Houston Municipal Art Commission in 1996. 

STOP 5.

LAKE OVERLOOK AND MOLLY ANN SMITH PLAZA

Located on the north shore of McGovern Lake, picturesque Lake Overlook and Molly Ann Smith Plaza offer picnic areas on a raised lawn, shaded seating, and playful interactive fountains for children to enjoy. The Pioneer Memorial obelisk honors the early pioneers who founded Houston.

STOP 6.

MARY GIBBS AND JESSE H. JONES REFLECTION POOL

One of the most popular features in Hermann Park, the Mary Gibbs and Jesse H. Jones Reflection Pool measures 740 feet long and 80 feet wide. Sculpted stone edges create an attractive border for the pool and a black bottom offers maximum reflection. Both sides are lined with beautiful mature live oak trees.

STOP 7.

HERMANN PARK RAILROAD

The Hermann Park Railroad has been a favorite with children for over 50 years. The train winds its way around the Park on a scenic tour, delighting riders of all ages. Riders can board at Kinder Station, the main stop for the train, or at one of three substations. The train drops off and picks up riders at the M.D. Anderson Train Station, whose destinations include the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Two other stops accommodate METRORail riders and walkers from the Texas Medical Center and Rice University areas. Train tickets ($3.50 per person) are sold at the Conservancy Gift Shop at Kinder Station in Lake Plaza. For hours and information about riding the Hermann Park Railroad, click here.

STOP 8.

JAPANESE GARDEN

With its waterfalls, bridges, and stone paths that wander among crepe myrtles, azaleas, Japanese maples, dogwoods, and cherry trees, the Japanese Garden is a peaceful hideaway in Hermann Park. The garden was designed by world-renowned landscape architect, Ken Nakajima. Natural materials are used, such as rock, wood, and plants, to give a feeling of serenity. The Japanese Garden features a teahouse and winding paths to explore the lush gardens.

On October 19, 2012, 20 cherry trees were planted in the garden to commemorate the original gift of cherry trees to the United States by Japan in 1912.

The Japanese Garden is open daily for your enjoyment and there is no admission charged.

Japanese Garden Hours:
March 1 - October 31: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m
November 1 - February 28: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The entrance to the Japanese Garden is near the Pioneer Memorial obelisk just off Molly Ann Smith Plaza near the Heart of the Park. The closest parking lot is Lot A located just off Sam Houston Monument circle. To get to the Japanese Garden from Lot A, follow the decomposed granite path along the Jones Reflection Pool under the double allée of trees and you'll see the entrance just off the plaza with the obelisk. View our interactive map for more information.

For more information on the history of the Japanese Garden, click here to visit the Houston Parks and Recreation Department's page. 

Click here to donate to the Japanese Garden.

The Japanese Garden is not available for rentals.

List of Plants 


1. Oga Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)

This Asia native herbaceous perennial produces pink and white flowers from summer to fall. The Oga Lotus was a gift from Houston’s sister city, Chiba City, Japan.

Light: Full sun           

Size: 3 - 6’ tall, 3 - 4’ wide

Water: Wet

Special Cultural Requirements:  Aphids and red spider mites are occasional pests; fish can help control it. Watch out for blights.

2. Taiwan Cherry Tree (Prunus campanulata

This cherry tree comes from Taiwan and blooms bright pink flowers in early spring.  It attracts birds, but its cherries are not edible for human consumption. This cherry tree is well adapted to Houston’s climate.

Light: Full sun - partial shade

Size: 10 - 25’ tall, 10 - 15’ wide

Water: Moderate

3. Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii) 

This evergreen tolerates deer, high salt content, and can be grown as a bonsai.

Light: Full sun

Size: 20 - 60’ tall, 12 - 20’ wide

Water: Moderate 

4. Japanese Apricot (Prunus mume 'Kobai')

This deciduous tree blooms in winter with fragrant red flowers. The aromatic plant is native to Japan and attracts butterflies.

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Size: 15 - 20’ tall

Water: Moderate

5. Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

This deciduous tree blooms in spring with small reddish-purple flowers. This plant is native to Japan and attracts rabbits.

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Size: 10 - 25’ tall, 10 - 25’ wide

Water: Moderate

Special Cultural Requirements: Avoid hot and dry sites, and plant in areas protected from strong winds.

6. Osmanthus/Fragrant Olive (Osmanthus fragrans)

This evergreen tree blooms in spring with white flowers. The aromatic plant is native to Japan and attracts butterflies. It tolerates heavy clays, and drought tolerant once established.

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Size: 10 - 15’ tall, 10 - 15’ wide

Water: Moderate

Special Cultural Requirements: Feed with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring.

7. Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda)

This deciduous vine is native to Japan and blooms in spring with lilac flowers.

Light: Sun to partial shade

Size: 30 - 40’ tall

Water: Moderate

Special Cultural Requirements: Do not overwater; also this plant self-sows

8. Camellia (Camellia Japonica)

This evergreen perennial blooms every season with white, pink, red, yellow, and lavender flowers. This aromatic plant is native to Japan and attracts butterflies.

Light: Partial shade

Size: 7 - 12’ tall, 5 - 10’’ wide

Water: Moderate

9. Nandina/Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)

This deciduous shrub blooms in spring with white flowers and produces berries in winter. This plant is native to Japan and is deer resistant and attracts birds.

Light: Partial shade - full sun

Size: 4 - 8’ tall, 2 - 3’ wide

Water: Moderate, but only occasionally once established

Special Cultural Requirements: Feed with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring.

10. Indica Hybrid - George Tabor (Rhododenron x 'George Tabor')

This evergreen perennial blooms in mid-spring with pink flowers. It attracts hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators.

Light: Full to partial shade

Size: 6 - 8’ tall, 4 - 6’ wide

Water: Moderate

Special Cultural Requirements: Keep roots cool with a thick layer of mulch and feed with an acid fertilizer.

 


STOP 9.

PEDESTRIAN UNDERPASS

A pedestrian underpass provides safe passage below North and South MacGregor Ways and connects walkers, joggers, and cyclists to the Bayou Parkland area of Hermann Park. The underpass also provides access to the Bill Coats Bridge crossing Brays Bayou and and leads to a 35-mile trail system. 

STOP 10.

BILL COATS BRIDGE

Spanning 290 feet, this contemporary suspension bridge connects the banks of Brays Bayou in the Bayou Parkland area of Hermann Park. Named for a Conservancy founder, the bridge is an important link that connects the Park to nearby neighborhoods and to a 35-mile trail system. Cyclists and pedestrians enjoy the convenience and safety it offers.