The arboretum and gardens cover 325 acres overall. About 20 acres of botanical gardens spread out on the east side of Aldine Westfield Road and abound with butterflies, insects and the lizards and birds that feed on them. The arboretum on the west side is more of a family park, with picnic tables, grills and pavilions.
The botanical gardens’ paths wander from room to room, each devoted to a particular theme – color, perennials, herbs, ferns, azaleas, wildflowers. The Tropical Garden has one of the nation’s largest collections of ginger, while the tall Bamboo Garden boasts 15 different varieties. A dry rock garden nurtures cactus and other drought tolerant plants, while evergreen cypresses and manicured topiary set the tone in the Formal Garden.
The edge of the gardens blends smoothly into the surrounding native landscape, with trails into the adjacent woodlands that overlook Cypress Creek.
On the arboretum side of the road, a network of trails connects the park’s special features, including an “oxbow” pond left behind when Cypress Creek changed its course, a small swamp of Bald Cypress trees with their “knees” climbing from the moist bog, a tunnel of Trident maple trees that turn a fiery red and gold in the fall and a small Hawthorn Loop, where Virginia Magnolia and Post Oak trees form a canopy above the native Parsley Hawthorn and Pasture Haw.