History of Gardens
On April 12, 1951, the Beaumont Council of Garden Clubs, consisting of garden clubs, plant societies, and nature-oriented organizations was formed, with the goal of obtaining and sustaining a public garden center. The Christmas Home Tour, initiated in 1964, was a major annual fundraiser. In 1968 the City of Beaumont set aside 10 acres of land in Tyrrell Park for the Beaumont Council of Garden Clubs to develop. The original Beaumont Garden Center Building was constructed using bricks from the Southern Pacific Railroad Passenger Station and was dedicated on August 20, 1971.
A master plan for the gardens was designed and adopted in 1972. Identification and labeling of the trees, vines and shrubs was begun. In 1977, the first section of the “Friendship Walk,” a concrete path through the garden area, was poured. The Fragrance Garden for the Handicapped was dedicated in 1978. The “Garden Room,” public rest rooms and a storage area were added to the main Garden Center building in 1980. In May 1986, a Spring Tour of Private Gardens was held as another annual fundraiser.
A number of garden projects were accomplished in ensuing years, consisting of several theme gardens. The pineapple, a traditional Southern symbol of welcoming and hospitality, was adopted as our logo. Several pineapples in the gardens welcome our guests. In 1996, the name “Beaumont Botanical Gardens” was adopted as a title for the gardens.
The 10,000-square-foot Conservatory was dedicated to Warren Loose on September 7, 1997. In 1999, the City of Beaumont set aside additional land for the gardens, growing them to 23.5 acres. The Binks Horticultural Center was dedicated Feb. 14, 2000 in honor of Bert & Jack Binks. A fountain and Star Plaza was completed in June 2000 in memory of Marydell Scott, a forty-year Council member. The bowl of the fountain is from the front of a railroad tank car. This large piece is a reminder of the extensive petro-chemical industry in the area.
The Bob D. Whitman Propagation House was dedicated in 2001 in honor of Bob Whitman, who dedicated many volunteer hours to the gardens and served as the first Executive Director.
September 24, 2005, Hurricane Rita paid us a visit and left behind unbelievable destruction! The Warren Loose Conservatory lost all of its Lexan panels, with some structural damage. All of the Koi in the Conservatory pond died because filters and pumps lost power. 77 trees went down and many others had major damage. A person could not walk from the front to the back of the gardens without climbing over twisted piles of trees and limbs. Sidewalks were broken by the uprooted trees. Then the heavy equipment necessary to clear the debris broke up even more sidewalks. Many plants were lost due to heat and no water available. One dedicated member came to the rescue of his display of orchids. He hauled the orchids to the main building for shade, and brought in water for them every day until utilities were restored. Next began the healing and rebuilding of the gardens.
Just as the memory of Rita began to fade, Hurricane Ike blew in with another blast in 2008. Once again all the Conservatory Lexan panels flew across the countryside. This time there was generator power for the fish pond pumps. Though not quite as destructive as Rita, Ike did manage another mighty blow to the plants. Our garden was spared the massive flooding from Ike’s storm surge.
With so much destruction in three short years, it was going to take a major effort to bring these gardens back to a place of peaceful beauty. However, Nature heals and gardens grow. It has taken lots of help from Mother Nature, our gardeners, and friends. Through the overwhelming generosity of two members, many only-dreamed-of improvements have been accomplished in the years since the hurricanes. Our Garden Center Building has been completely remodeled with a large addition. The small pond in the back was enlarged and a massive rock waterfall installed. Drainage was improved, the sprinkler system upgraded, and a storage/equipment barn built with equipment included. A large rose arbor was completed in 2013. This upgraded our Antique Rose Garden to include climbing roses, fragrant roses, and some of the original antique roses.
Through fundraisers and donations from generous individuals, organizations, and businesses, the Beaumont Council of Garden Clubs developed and currently maintains the area. As you stroll through the gardens you will note that many features are in memory of people who have contributed to the gardens. Their generosity makes this gift to our area and to visitors from near and far possible. This is the oldest public garden in Southeast Texas. We hope you enjoy your visit, return often, and bring your family and friends.