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Houston's own world-class Botanical Garden? Power brokers are closer than ever to making it sprout

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2 Mary Pat Matheson, from left, Emily Wilde, Jeff Ross and Nancy Abendshein at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
Mary Pat Matheson, from left, Emily Wilde, Jeff Ross and Nancy Abendshein at the Houston Botanic Gardens luncheon. Photo by John R. Lewis
News_Shelby_Atlanta Botanical Garden_December 2013
The grandeur of the Atlanta Botanic Garden is something that Houston organizers are striving for. Courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden
23 Mary Davis, from left, Lisa Mears and Katie Mears at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
Mary Davis, from left, Lisa Mears and Katie Mears at the Houston Botanic Gardens luncheon. Photo by John R. Lewis
27 Lily Andress, left, and Suzanne Holley at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
Lily Andress, left, and Suzanne Holley at the Houston Botanic Gardens luncheon. Photo by John R. Lewis
26 Jim Reeder, from left, Sue White and Eric Nevil at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
Jim Reeder, from left, Sue White and Eric Nevil at the Houston Botanic Gardens luncheon. Photo by John R. Lewis
22 Susie Criner, left, and Susan Cooley at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
Susie Criner, left, and Susan Cooley at the Houston Botanic Gardens luncheon. Photo by John R. Lewis
16 Nancy Thomas, left, and Lindsey Sawyer at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
Nancy Thomas, left, and Lindsey Sawyer at the Houston Botanic Gardens luncheon. Photo by John R. Lewis
15 Bass and Jackie Wallace at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
Bass and Jackie Wallace at the Houston Botanic Gardens luncheon. Photo by John R. Lewis
11 Becky Scott, from left, Lynn Wilson and Lynn Swanson at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
Becky Scott, from left, Lynn Wilson and Lynn Swanson at the Houston Botanic Gardens luncheon. Photo by John R. Lewis
10 Chris LaChance, left, and Virginia Siegfried at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
Chris LaChance, left, and Virginia Siegfried at the Houston Botanic Gardens luncheon. Photo by John R. Lewis
2 Mary Pat Matheson, from left, Emily Wilde, Jeff Ross and Nancy Abendshein at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
News_Shelby_Atlanta Botanical Garden_December 2013
23 Mary Davis, from left, Lisa Mears and Katie Mears at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
27 Lily Andress, left, and Suzanne Holley at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
26 Jim Reeder, from left, Sue White and Eric Nevil at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
22 Susie Criner, left, and Susan Cooley at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
16 Nancy Thomas, left, and Lindsey Sawyer at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
15 Bass and Jackie Wallace at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
11 Becky Scott, from left, Lynn Wilson and Lynn Swanson at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013
10 Chris LaChance, left, and Virginia Siegfried at the Houston Botanical Gardens luncheon December 2013

Although the seeds were planted in 2002 by founder Nancy Thomas, plans for a Houston Botanic Garden are only now making strides forward in fundraising and development. Case in point, the inaugural fundraising luncheon held recently at River Oaks Country Club.

Inspiring participation in the Houston project was Mary Pat Matheson, president and CEO of Atlanta Botanical Garden, a 30-acre oasis next to Piedmont Park in midtown Atlanta. She wowed the gathering with her eye-popping visual presentation of the lush garden vistas, an example of what Houston could have. Even with the serene Japanese Garden and the 15-acre McGovern Centennial Gardens both in Hermann Park, organizers feel the city has room for an area dedicated strictly to botanicals.

Consider the dedicated botanical parklands across the country — 55 acres in San Francisco, 52 acres in Vancouver and 250 acres for the New York Botanical Garden.

Jeff Ross, president and CEO of Houston Botanic Garden, explained to the gathering that Houston could achieve similar botanic greatness. All that remains to make it happen is finalizing and acquisition of a garden site, he said.

Nancy Abendshein and Emily Wilde chaired the luncheon that grew garden enthusiasts including Mayor Annise Parker, Lisa Mears, Mary Eads, Susie and Mel Glasscock, Elizabeth and Albert Kidd, Courtney Sarofim, Marcy Taub, Ann Lents, Ellie Camberg, Laura Bacon and Jill and Dunham Jewett.

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