Buffalo Bayou Gardens

Jane Gregory Garden — Courtesy of James Ewing
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A series of gardens mark entrances to Houston’s definitive next generation park. Thresholds and gateways, the gardens are situated between the Allen Parkway and the sloping, bulwark edges of the Bayou. Among them are shady spaces for quiet repose, trails and open lawns for recreation, an urban plaza and a planted lagoon — all examples of the city’s emerging civic beauty.

Buffalo Bayou Park brings to fruition an early 20th-century ambition for a linear park expressive of Houston’s iconic natural landscape. Reed Hilderbrand has served as garden designer for the following four discrete areas within the larger park. We also provided consultation to SWA Group on the entire park through design development on the subjects of urban trees, circulation, and landscape character.


Renewal of this garden enhances an established grove of live oak and magnolia trees with a mixed groundplane of evergreen shrubs that establish a buffer edge between the Buffalo Bayou trails and Allen Parkway. Shrub roses and magnolias and redbuds provide seasonal displays above the evergreen carpet. The garden provides a passive refuge from the more active areas of the park, while still accommodating diverse civic functions.


The Jane Gregory Garden draws on native vegetation to create a quiet, contemplative garden beneath historic magnolia and live oak trees. Beautyberry, coralberry and camellias frame a tapestry of woodland sage, Turk’s cap, and ruellia setting up views of the bayou of and Henry Moore’s 1968 Spindle sculpture, which is located on a prominent knoll. The design wraps a new ellipse pathway around the knoll, lined by loblolly pines and fields of wildflowers, re-establishing the region’s upland character.


A formal bosque of Mexican sycamore is set on a gravel plane around historic Gus Wortham Fountain. Where an entry path to the park wraps around the plaza, seasonal flowering plants mix with the Bayou’s woodland edge. An elliptical lawn terrace, which frames a prospect between city and the Bayou, also establishes a moment of deference before one of the park’s great cottonwood trees.


Inwardly focused Lost Lake encapsulates a full cross-section of planting in hydric conditions from lowland to upland. The lagoon is a planted with cypress, iris, water-lily and pickerel weed that soften the water’s edge. The slopes are a planted tapestry of lush groundcovers and shrubs — sweetspire, ferns, palmetto, and piedmont azalea — giving way to a canopy of sweetgum, magnolias, and oaks at the periphery. Paths scissor up and down the slope, bringing visitors to a gravel plaza under the shade of the cypress trees.


Houston, Texas




Garden Design




  • From Rendering to Reality: The Story of Buffalo Bayou Park by The Buffalo Bayou Partnership, 2017