The same day we went to the Beaumont Botanic Gardens we drove over to Shangri-La Botanic Gardens to see what they had in store. This was an affordable garden, $6 entry for a regular garden tour and then $10 for a garden tour and a boat tour down a bayou to a few of their education centers and maybe to see a beaver dam or two!
We opted for the $10 and arrived there when they opened so our boat tour was completely empty. The naturalist leading the tour and the pontoon driver were interested in what we were doing in Beaumont and then everything lead to the AT and FT of course! Since we already knew a lot of the ecology of the area she skipped the general tour information and we opted to go up the river to some beaver dams. No beavers in sight, but it was still cool to see. We came across a few dams in the Big Thicket and a coworker has been lucky enough to see one.
The gardens itself were pretty cool. They reopened after 50 years a few years ago. Apparently there was a big hurricane 50 years ago that damaged a lot of the garden and the owner decided to let the property just heal itself. Then the Stark Foundation opened it back up only to have Hurricane’s Rita and Ike come through again. Apparently the bayou used to have a lot of alligators but they disappeared after one of the hurricanes only to be found down at the junction of another bayou, dead. I was a bit disappointed to see they aren’t really doing much on the invasive species front as they have a lot of Chinese tallow and salvinia taking over some of their areas. I’m sure there is lygodium in there, too.
But, the gardens were beautiful and they also host a rookery that is very popular with birders.
I would definitely recommend going to this garden again and if we have the time when we head back to Beaumont in a week we might drop by again on one of our weekends off.