Pond of the Blue Moon and Bird and Alligator Watching at Shangri La Botanical Gardens

Pond of the Blue Moon and Bird and Alligator Watching at Shangri La Botanical Gardens

December 16, 2022

Yesterday I launched you Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, which sits alongside a bayou in Orange, Texas, proper on the Louisiana border, and I shared a tour of the internal gardens. In the present day I’ll conclude the tour by beginning in the back of the 250-acre property, the place a circle of water often known as the Pond of the Blue Moon displays the encompassing backyard. O the garden website explains:

“In James Hilton’s 1933 novel misplaced horizon, the mystic Shangri-La was situated in Blue Moon Valley. Inside the trendy Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Heart, the Pond of the Blue Moon is a mirrored image of HJ Lutcher Stark’s unique Shangri-La gardens, impressed by Hilton’s novel. Through the Nineteen Forties, Mr. Stark used the reflection of the azaleas blooming in Ruby Lake to supply placing magnificence for his spring guests. In current day Shangri La, the identical impact is recreated at Pond of the Blue Moon with most of the similar varieties utilized by Mr. Stark.

You would need to are available in early March to see the azaleas in bloom. I visited in early November and appreciated extra delicate colours, together with rusty orange tones in bald cypress bushes.

Blue Moon Lagoon and Cypress Gate

A vaguely Asian-style gate fabricated from tall cypress trunks sits in the midst of the lagoon, accessible by way of a zigzag boardwalk that floats over the water. That is Cypress Gate, constructed with cypress logs salvaged from a large explosion brought on by Hurricane Rita in 2005.

I like this design – and never every thing needs to be closed off with bars. Right here, as in Japanese gardens, you must watch out to not fall into the water. It is shallow, however nonetheless.

Lovely autumn containers greet you at turning factors alongside the boardwalk.

Bald cypress bushes develop on small islands within the lake, with water-loving grasses and different crops sprouting up round them to make inexperienced skirts. I’ve learn that Orange will get a median of 60 inches of rain a yr—way more than Austin’s 33 inches (and sadly, we’re solely all the way down to 25 inches this yr). I used to be impressed by all of the water in Shangri La, not simply Blue Moon Lake or the Wetland Demonstration Backyard (see Half 1), but in addition Ruby Lake, Adams Bayou and wetlands close to the paths. It is a totally different world right here alongside the Gulf Coast!

A curved fountain wall helps muffle site visitors noise from a close-by street.

backyard rooms

Alongside the paths by the backyard, I took in Texas coastal views reminiscent of ferns, oaks, and much of Texas dwarf palm hearts.

A pole with previous copper bells provides a musical contact.

A shady backyard path

A number of hearth spikes (Odontonema cuspidatum) in flower

You understand hummingbirds love that.

On a sunny ledge, I admired taller palms, plenty of fox-armed ferns, and annual colours in previous sugar kettles.

Marigolds, croton, millet and different showy autumn annuals in a sugar kettle planter. When you’re not from the South, sugar kettles had been used within the 1800’s to boil sugar cane juice, and you may see these previous, rusty pots used as planters in lots of Southern gardens.

These foxtail ferns

Yet another sugar kettle planter

Daylight shining by the bushes

An early camellia in bloom

Water administration is a giant factor in Shangri La. Our information Jennifer Buckner, the backyard’s director of horticulture, informed me that streams like this one, full of water-loving crops, transfer water from one a part of the backyard to a different. I do not keep in mind if that is a part of the water purification system or for irrigation, however it was attention-grabbing.

Canna d’água (Thalia geniculata) with its paddle-shaped leaves and delicate flowers hanging from fishing rod stems

Muhly grass native to the Gulf (Muhlenbergia capillaris) in cotton sweet flower

scarecrow competition

backyard annual scarecrow festival it had simply completed and volunteers had been taking down the show circumstances. The townsfolk actually do create “scarecrows” and we have seen some enjoyable ones, like this Thanksgiving turkey made out of air-con and fan components.

A skeleton scarecrow with Dia de los Muertos vitality

A scarecrow Edward Scissorhands and a pumpkin girl sitting all the way down to get a haircut

And right here is a huge chicken scarecrow – a crow to scare away crows? — made out of palm leaves by Nederland Excessive Faculty college students. Offended!

Ruby Lake chicken blind

A blind chicken on the 15-acre Ruby Lake provides the chance to watch anhingas drying their wings after diving in to fish. Shangri La, like different components of South Texas, is a superb place for birding, particularly between March and Might when birds reminiscent of egrets, nice egrets, spoonbills and mallards may be seen nesting or passing by.

And alligators! I noticed this massive boy or woman resting on a terrace in the midst of the lake.

Individuals within the alligator area are fairly blasé about them, and so was Jennifer once I requested her, at first of our tour, if alligators are discovered within the backyard’s waterways. I used to be excited to see one.

Jennifer informed us that throughout the saltwater flood from Hurricane Ike in 2008, many bald cypress bushes within the lake died, decreasing habitat. The backyard has introduced in tons of topsoil to create a berm that extends to the lake and plans to replant bushes on it, giving them a bit increase above the water stage.

Yet another have a look at the anhingas

Nature Discovery Heart

Our final cease was the Nature Discovery Heart, a protected pavilion within the Shangri La tupelo-cypress swamp, adjoining to Adams Bayou.

Inside you will discover a desk displaying bones, alligator skulls, tortoise shells and different pure objects to deal with and discover. Screened home windows throughout provide marsh views.

Whereas not at the moment open, the backyard additionally provides a one-hour boat tour of the bayou swamp known as Outpost Tour. I might love to try this in the future.

When you missed Half 1 of my Shangri La tour, click on right here. From there, you may observe the hyperlinks, beginning on the backside of this publish, again to all of the gardens and nature walks throughout our Austin to Asheville spherical journey. Hope you loved touring with me!

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going deeper

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