Bayou Bend Gardens: Who Would Have Known Houston Has Its Own Versaille!

Have you ever gone to a place, on a sporadic moment, because the something about the way the sun shined that day just screamed, “Be adventurous and do something different today?”  And, suppose that moment did happen for you – when you tried that something new, did you ever find yourself so happy you followed that inner voice.  And, the place you embarked upon was just so awesome you realized you could have stayed so much longer than you did?  Well, you – my friend – and I have something in common because this is exactly what happened to me when venturing to the Bayou Bend Gardens in Houston, Texas a few weeks ago!

Initially, I was in a solemn mood on a recent March day … a sweet soul that I would like to remember as a friend I had just heard passed away unexpectedly, naturally casting a sadness over me … the sky was in this overcast/sunny conflict and it couldn’t make up its mind on what it wanted to be for the morning … and for the up-teenth year in a row I found myself disappointed that the Azalea Trail was upon us in Houston and I still have not taken the time to go check it out.  In my car, I am driving next to Memorial Park and the sun just decided to shine so brightly and almost as if my dear friend from above was speaking to me, I made the snap decision to turn my car around and follow the signs along the street that pointed me into the direction of the Azalea Trail.  The first sign led me to the Bayou Bend Gardens, a place I have never been.  Driving up into this somewhat hidden space off such a busy street, I found myself a little perplexed to where the azaleas were, but I wasn’t going to let that deter me from following my newfound sense of adventure.  And, oh my gosh, I am SOOOO happy I followed my instinct.

After stopping quickly to the front desk to get a gist of what the Bayou Bend Gardens have in store, it didn’t take long for me to realize I stumbled upon a hidden gem in Houston, Texas.  Although my sadness in hearing the azaleas have come to their nearing end of bloom, my center of bewilderment was easily diverted to what I now refer to as Houston’s Versaille: Ima Hogg’s Mansion.  This beautiful wonder is so nestled, and tucked away, from the passerby’s eye that on one hand I understand how this lends to its enchantment, but on the other hand I was almost ticked that I have been in this city for so long and NEVER knew about this place … especially given I have lived in Paris, France for goodness sakes and spent so many days at the real Chateau Versaille because I just LOVE the gardens and palace to an extreme case of obsession!

So … why did I fall in love with this quintessential haven?  There are so many reasons, but to name the top:

  • This is definitely a place I can see spending a spring or summer afternoon(s) with my daughter … just walking the fairgrounds and house in our spring dresses, admiring the gardens and water features.  The trees and foliage are so mature that they provide ample shade, even in the warmest of Texas days.
  • Given my son is a history buff on steriods, I found this place one where he and I can equally let our minds take us back to a time of both Texas and American history.
  • Even for my own selfish moment for solitude, this is definitely a spot I can take a book, or my iPad, and just sit under the trees … or park bench … and let my mind escape for as long as I can.  Heck, I think I found my next blog writing spot 🙂
  • Thanks to the hospital staff, I learned the Bayou Bend Gardens has “Family Days” throughout the year, typically the third Sundays of the month, with free admissions from 1:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.  Family Days provide themed activities, as well as a bonus activity with station-guided tours of the mansion throughout the first floor!  I have outlined the remaining Family Days for 2017 below, so find one … or a few … you like and mark your calendar in advance so you won’t forget:
    • Sunday, April 23, 2107.  Remember the Ladies: Women in America
    • Tuesday, July 4, 2017.  July 4th at Bayou Bend from 12:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M.   This is an extravaganza of Americana – performers, crafts, games, and treats.  With its unique blend of arts and American history, it is a great place to be reminded of the American freedoms. FREE Admission!
    • Sunday, September 17, 2017.  We the People.  Celebrate the U.S. Constitution Week!
    • Sunday, October 15, 2017.  Fabulous Foodways.  Feast your minds on the diversity of American food.
    • Sunday, November 19, 2017.  Our National Thanksgiving.  Discovery historical traditions of the holiday season.

This place clearly captured me.   And, to help you perhaps understand why … or, from a different perspective, give you a glimpse into my first experience at the Bayou Bend Gardens, I thought I’d provide a pictorial guide of my footsteps throughout this beautiful place, with the photos lending an opportunity to share what I took most profound with me when I left.  Ready?  Here we go!

Let’s Start With …

A little history here first, because much like myself, you may be at this point with some questions floating around that a little clarity would be nice.

Is there a story behind the Bayou Bend Gardens?

There is a great story to be heard about Ima Hogg, the Houstonian who left this rich land and property for future Houstonians.  In a moment of full transparency, I hadn’t even heard of Ima Hogg before touring this property and feel her history lends equal joy to the experience in visiting the gardens.  I would feel as if I’m cheating you from the depth this place offers without sharing some historical context.  And, much to my digging from my own natural curiosities, I opted to share a little insight into the property’s own scandalous journey that eventually led to the Hogg family.  But, before I dive into the property’s story and pictures I think it’s most befitting to gain a little background into the people who have inspired and gifted us Bayou Bend Gardens: The Hogg Family.

James Hogg.  Ima and her three brothers are the children of James Stephen Hogg (1851 -1906), Texas’ first native governor.  Often known as “Big Jim”, due to his healthy size of 300 pounds, he was born on a plantation and by 1863, the middle of the Civil War, both of his parents were dead, leaving him and his siblings … at the young age of 12, to keep their livelihood afloat.  Initially working as a newspaper typesetter back when child labor laws did not exist, James Hogg tried everything to help keep his parent’s estate but eventually, fate would have they had to sell the plantation in order to have money for food, clothes, and their education.  Some interesting factoids about his young budding life: he was shot in the back fighting outlaws; in Quitman he served as a justice of the peace; he pursued his education in Alabama, leading to obtaining his law license in 1875 at the age of 24; at the age of 26 he was elected county attorney for Wood County; he created the Texas Railroad Commission (the oldest regulatory agency in Texas); served two terms as Texas Governor (from 1891 to 1895); due to his avid love for Texas history (something he had in common with his only daughter, Ima) he helped start the state archives; he proposed the first anti-lynching law in Texas, passing the law after his terms of Governor.  James was adamantly known for his “earthy but not profane” character, often demonstrating his ability to “find a middle ground between populist demands for reform and conservatives’ interests in maintaining the status quo”.  As stated by Nancy Beck Young, History Professor at the University of Houston, “He is the gold standard.”  Due to his hard, tenacious work ethic, James Hobb found fortunes from his law practice and variety of investments, such as the Varner Plantation in West Columbia.  After given explicit instruction to his children that after his passing they should not sell this property for 15 years – this sound advice paid off and the property was found to be awash in oil (or Texas tea as we Texans refer to it! … and a mass of wealth was divvied amongst the surviving children: Ima, Will, Tom, and Mike.   Together, the siblings used their fortunes for individual purposes, but also in partnership to help build the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Houston Symphony, and Bayou Bend.  We can also thank them for Memorial Park because they sold this land back to the city of Houston!  They established the Houston Child Guidance Center, and created the Austin-based Hogg Foundation for Mental Health … not to mention being major financial contributors to the University of Texas.  Jame’s rag to riches journey, accomplished from fervent calls for public service in conjunction with undying desire for hard work, was known as a “native son of Texas who knew his people, how to criticize them and how to move them … he would strip off his coat in the hot Texas sun, loosen his suspenders and take on ‘the interests’, which in his view were discriminating against the common man, especially the farmer.”, shares Joe Bertram Frantz.  He was Texas’ Teddy Roosevelt in his day!

Ima Hogg.  Ima (yes, her first and last name together do lend for a giggle!) was known as her dad’s pet, although he “tried to inspire all of his children to work hard, do good and not spend money foolishly.”, shares Bernhard in his published book, The Hoggs of Texas: Letters and Memoirs of an Extraordinary Family, 1887 – 1906.  After Ima’s mother, Sarah Ann “Sallie” Stinson, passed from tuberculosis it was Sallie’s sister that become the prominent mother figure for Ima and her siblings growing up.  Ima, considered the matriarch of the Hogg Foundation, was born on July 10, 1882, in Mineola, Texas, a railroad town at that time.  At the age of 4 years old, Ima’s family moved to Austin where she’d spend her life up thru her university years, attending the University of Texas.  Being the daughter of the Governor of Texas afforded her the privilege to many things: because of her inhabitants at the governor’s mansion, this is where she formed her appreciation for fine furnishings and antiques while assisting her mother in an endeavor to renovate the “dilapidated” mansion.  This early interest towards furniture became a self-indulgence of pleasure for Ima, and at one point her expertise in American historical furniture made her a trusted advisor in furnishings for the nation’s capital, the White House.  Ima’s childhood being raised in the Governor’s mansion also afforded her the privilege to travel with her dad, lending exposure to numerous schools for the blind and deaf, as well as mental health facilities she felt were more of a prison than an environment for healing – fueling her lifelong passion for an underserved populous.  Last, but not least, it was during this formative period while inhabiting the Governor’s Mansion she fell in love with music, under the instructional influence of a German musician and teacher.  Ima, never having married or bore a child, enraptured her life in the cause for better humanity for Texans, as well as all Americans thru her philanthropic energies, vision, work, and financial support.  Her father’s legacy remained a permanent stream in her veins, as she felt it her duty to fight and defend the arts and nature, the mentally ill, and preserve history’s many artifacts and stories.  To learn more about the Hogg Family visit Hogg History.

Who owns Bayou Bend Gardens?

In 1957, Ima Hogg deeded Bayou Bend, its park, and its treasures to the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston, along with the trust to maintain and preserve it’s vision so that Houstonians and visiting peoples could have a sanctuary for respite and historical enrichment.

Why is Bayou Bend Garden’s association to the Azalea Trails?

As shared in the Bayou Bend Garden’s brochure, “A key chapter in Bayou Bend’s history began in 1934, when the gardens became part of the River Oaks Garden Club’s first Azalea Trail.”  In 1927 the River Oaks Garden Club (ROGC) organized, with 1935 earmarking their first Pilgrimmage” as a showcase of the azalea’s blooming in the lushest landscapes of Houston’s most elite residents within the River Oaks district.  Ima Hogg’s residence of Bayou Bend was 1 of the 12 homes participating in the Azalea Trail of 1935, with historians noting Ima was responsible for bringing the azalea plant to the Houston area as a horticulture experiment to see how it would survive Texas conditions.  After seeing it flourished and bloomed magnificently during a short period of spring, other River Oaks residents (being the only Houstonians at that time who could afford such plants) took note and followed suit by planting azaleas throughout their large properties.  This ultimately led to a beautiful landscape of floral majesty for anyone visiting the area at full bloom and the River Oaks Garden Club decided it would organize an Azalea Trail, a tour that would be of charge to anyone wishing to visit private gardens with full bloom azaleas.  Proceeds were used to beautify the River Oaks School grounds.  By 1945, attendance grew to over 10,000 visitors, including service men and women fighting in WWII who were honorary guests, treated to a weekend retreat in honor of their service.  For more information on the Annual Azalea Trail of Houston, visit the River Oaks Garden Club website.

So now that you have a little background into the people that influenced the Bayou Bend Gardens we have today, I thought I’d share some of my best shots of the gardens during my early March day trip.  I explored three of the eight gardens available for enjoyment and even in not visiting half of what the property boasts in nature’s beauty it took me back to a time when I was often picnicking in Marie Antoinette’s gardens in Chateau Versaille’s fairgrounds … some of my most cherished and fondest memories when I spend endless hours laying on a blanket, reading books, people watching, letting my mind wonder as it wished, and just peacefully glistening with the sun.  The Bayou Bend Gardens took me back to the place …

The Gardens

Once you get your entry ticket paid at the gift shop building, the staff will point you down the road … asking you to look for the bridge that steeps over the bayou. It didn’t seem quite right to me at first because I thought I knew ALL about the bayou’s passings in Houston … but, I digressed once I found the bridge! Once you cross the bridge (and don’t forget to take a few shots with the family on it) … you’ll find you’re immediately captivated by what’s on the other side.
Once you pass the friendly ticket agent greeting you upon passing the bridge, you’ll find another kind of warm ready to welcome you: The Clio Garden. The statue itself, Clio, is the muse of history. Ima Hogg’s, the once-owner of the mansion whom upon death generously donated the gardens and home for all of Houston to relish, was a known admirer and enthusiast for history. It is said Miss Hogg commissioned the studio of Antonio Frili in Florence, Italy, to create the marble statue!  Clio was first positioned at the center of the parterre in 1939, 27 years before the fairgrounds were even open to the public. Blue pansies decorate the garden from January through April, while wisteria blossoms adorn it from March and April.
Ima Hogg was a true soul for nature’s beauty, finding herself at her highest sense of tranquility and peace when within one. Here you’ll find one of the majesties of the garden’s within the fairgrounds, lending its design from boxwoods, azaleas, water features, evergreens, and hidden surprises throughout.
Ima had a large role in the vision of the gardens and specifically wanted the opportunity for anyone to marvel at their own pace, hence the variety of beautiful benches you’ll find tucked throughout the gardens.
The Euterpe Garden was created from 1938 – 1939, an addition to the garden Ima wanted to pay homage towards her appreciation for music, hence Euterpe being the muse of music. As the statue’s base you will find maidenhair fern with azalea’s complimenting the landscape.  Surrounding this garden you will find two large trees – a loblolly pine and an American sycamore – predated to the 1920’s.  Also, redbud, pink oriental magnolia, and Mexican plum trees are found within the garden.
While sitting in the Euterpe Garden you’ll find large grassland that provides ample space for kids to play ring-around-the-rosy … or chase each other! In the distance, you’ll see the Clio garden through the tall bushes.
The Diana Garden was the first to statue acquired for the gardens. The focal point is Diana, the goddess of wild animals and hunting. This garden was created to exemplify balance and architecture to the fairgrounds, connecting the Euterpe and Clio Gardens. Ima’s vision for this garden to be as an outdoor room, offering classical simplicity from the walls of evergreen yaupon hedges, native to the bayou woodlands. Japanese yew, amid evergreen shrubs, azalea, and crape myrtle all adorn this perfectly manicured landscape, which is also the scene that warms your eyes when entering the mansion from the front column pillar entrance.
This beautiful door you’ll find next to the Clio Garden, inviting you towards the mansion. Other gardens you’ll find at the Bayou Bend Gardens, but that are not featured here are: Carla Garden (a garden created in memory of hurricane Carla of 1961 … a fun space where you will find an antique carousel figure of a bright-colored peacock in the center), East Garden (the first area Ima laid out in 1928 and inspired elements of English garden design: trees, hedges, law, and a water feature), Woodland Ravines (a protected area of indigenous plants, this space was strategically planned for preservation of the native environment. You’ll find tulip poplar, maple, and hornbeam trees. Gravel paths and wooden bridges guide you thru), White Garden (Surrounded by ravines, this garden was completed in 1936 and is entirely green and white!), Butterfly Garden (A garden planned for symmetry, the butterfly’s body, antennae, and wings are recreated through the combination of brickwork and whimsical boxwood patterns. You’ll find over 350 azaleas planted in this garden, with cast-iron benches sprinkled throughout for leisure), and Diana Terrace (The mansion’s original footprint did not include the beautiful Diana Terrance; Ima’s brother, Will Hogg, salvaged original pink flagstone materials from downtown Houston neighborhoods in the 1920s, as the city was going thru infrastructure upgrades to concrete, paved sidewalks, and roadways … an enduring nod to preserving local history for a sister he adored.)

Now that you’ve seen a little teaser of what the gardens have to offer, I want to take you along my experience going into The Mansion.  But, like above, I really want to share a little history first of the property because once I personally dug a little deeper into it’s origins I became even more fascinated with the bindings to American and Texas history.

The Mansion.

An American Heritage Collection, the Mansion was built in 1927, but not by the Hogg family originally!  Legend has it that this sprawling home and land was originally claimed in 1824 by Martin Varner.  At that time Stephen F. Austin, the only president of Texas, issued 307 parcels to individuals seeking Texas land and granted Varner land at number 297 of the 307 allotted by Stephen F. Austin.  The Varners at that time received 4,428 acres where they established the land initially as farmland to raise livestock and establish a rum distillery.  Perhaps the most unpleasant aspect of Varner’s vision for his property was that his land was developed by the hands of enslaved men.

But, only having had the land for 7 years, he ended up selling the property to a Kentucky-native, Columbus R. Patton in 1934.  In similar fashion, he relocated a large slave labor force to his new property.  It is was noted that three of these slaves were active and served in the Texian army during the Texas Revolution.  Between 40 to 60 men lived and worked on the plantation during the ownership of Patton, which at that time was known as “Patton Place” by Houstonians.  These slaves made bricks by hand, constructed the formative plantation structure, built the smokehouse … sugar mill .. and their own sleeping quarters.  The fruits of the labor paved way for Patton to develop a sugarcane enterprise.  And, rumor has it that he developed a long-standing, intimate relationship with one slave mistress, Rachel, that became a point of contention for many Houstonians.

Patton’s fate wasn’t meant to remain flourishing when in 1854 he was admitted by his family into an asylum after they self-diagnosed him insane.  Speculation is that a brain tumor triggered symptoms of insanity, but at that time there were few options for medical treatments and proper diagnosis.  And, as much as the family was hoping Patton’s good fortunes would become theirs, his will left everything to Rachel!  Not only did she inherit a fortune, she was also granted her freedom.

By 1876, after the property having been sold the Texas Land Company purchased the 4,428 acres of land and it’s artifacts and readjusted its purpose to ranching.  Cowboys replaced slaves, although interestingly enough the majority of the cowboys were African Americans.  As the new century embarked, the big hurricane storm of 1900 that destroyed Galveston, Texas, also left destruction on the land and demolished the sugar mill structure, as well as many of the other original buildings.  It was at this time, in 1901, Governor James Hogg decided to purchase the land because he was convinced of large oil reserve undiscovered.  Although he was never to realize finding of oil during his lifetime, his instincts served him right when during the 15 years proceeding his death, his children (having kept the property intact and not selling it) struck wealth when oil was eventually found on the property!

With an abundance of wealth coming to all of the surviving Hogg children, including Ima Hogg, they decided to keep the land during their lifespan.  Initially, in combined efforts and vision, Ima, Will, and Mike Hogg decided to reinvigorate the original plantation structure.  For a period of a few years, prior to Mike and Will marrying, the three siblings resided on the property together.  In compliment to the fairgrounds and gardens on the property, the shared vision for the mansion became a lifelong project for Ima.  The siblings wished it to be one where their father’s passion for Texas and American history could be captured.  Drawing into the shared love Ima and her father both had for history, she leveraged this hobby and gift for historical treasure to fill the mansion with artifacts and furniture that gives Houstonians a rare opportunity to relish in national history.

Ima spent decades transforming this grounds and property to a Texas treasure, and in 1958 … years before her passing … she donated the plantation to the State of Texas.  As a visitor to the Bayou Bend Gardens, you can expect to relish in a fully furnished estate with furnishings, arts, and artifacts spanning from America’s formative years as a nation, up thru the 19th century.

The Formal Dining Room.




Fun things I learned when visiting this room:

  • Don’t be misled by the wallpaper – it actually isn’t wallpaper at all!  It is all hand-painted!  And, the paint incorporates real gold.  Secondarily, Ima had small mice painted in the patterns of the mural as an opportunity to encourage conversation should dining guests be dull!
  • The room was built at a time when formal dining was just becoming the trend, and therefore china buffets and formal dining furnishings were making an intro into the furniture scene in America.  This was one of the first homes in Houston to have a built-in china buffet!
  • Because America was still forming industry, at this time there were not any fine china, or porcelain, companies in America.  Therefore, to obtain high-quality china, it was made, ordered, and shipped from either England or China.  The china in this room, in particular, was custom made in China.

The Guest Bedroom.



Fun things I learned when visiting this room:

  • I love that the bed is an original Chippendale bed, crafted by Thomas Chippendale (1718 – 1779), a craftsman born in England whose furniture designs became initial American inspiration staples during America’s formative years as a nation.
  • All of the tapestry and fabrics are original to when Ima purchased the furniture.
  • Ima had a huge admiration for George Washington, and a famous painter who was known to make portrait oil canvas paintings of George Washington was Joseph Badger.  You’ll find a few of Joseph Badger’s paintings throughout the house.  In this room, in particular, you’ll find a painting of what appears to be a small girl standing in front of a fireplace.  In close view, you’ll find it isn’t a girl at all!  It is speculated this is a portrait of Joseph Badger’s son because in the painting the child is holding a wooden horse, a toy at that time only played by boys.  Also, it wasn’t uncommon at that time that boys were dressed in more feminine attire by their mothers.  Also, another interesting element of the painting is the that above the chimney painted on the canvas appears the same painting of the same child!  A reflection of the painting within the same painting.
  • The hardwood floors are original to when the house was built.


Ima’s Living Quarters.




Fun things I learned when visiting this room:

  • Her living quarter was the largest surface area of living space throughout the entire residence.  On the left-hand side of the main second-floor pathway, you’ll first find the part of her living quarter where she set up space for entertainment and receiving private guests.  A table for playing cards, this table did not require coasters for glasses because perfectly carved glass contours were etched on each corner.  Her desk … a nicely nestled fireplace … and a chest for keeping papers and games was found.
  • Directly across the hall you’ll find her sleeping quarter, a smaller space that has her bed, a beautiful white chair and reading table next to the windows and conveniently close enough to the fireplace for natural heat, and her favorite wooden chair that she fell in love with during one of her first trips to New York City.
  • You don’t see it in the pictures, but along the wall next to her bed is a wooden, ornate box that resembles a cuckoo clock.  In fact, it is a medicine box with a lock that at such time many used to lock up their medicinals because herbs and medicine were hard to come by!


Activity Room.




Fun things I learned when visiting this room:

  • It is said this room was inspired in the Neoclassical period of America, (1790 – 1810), with a beautiful fireplace (not pictured).
  • This room pays homage to a time in American history when men, during the 19th century, were beginning to work more outside of the home and wives were dutifully assuming the role of estate management.  That being said, one of my favorite pieces from this room is the “woman’s desk”, a piece specifically crafted for a woman’s stature … comprising of small hidden compartments within the desk for safe-keeping written papers.  The desk’s top expanded out and collapsed in for ease of workspace.
  • Another artifact in the room, not pictured here, is a stand next to the fireplace that was used to hold needlework while ladies perfected their embroidery pieces.
  • One of the immediate elements of the room that stole my attention and heart was the wallpaper.  The Robin’s Egg blue and orange pattern was the subtle touch of feminine qualities that really complimented the purpose of the room.


The Texas Room.









Fun things I learned when visiting this room:

  • Ima wanted to dedicate one room to Texas, her beloved home state.  The staple that will immediate grab your eye is the cow horn chair with wildcat upholstery adorning the corner next to the desk.
  • The desk, itself, has the Texas star integrated onto the top.
  • The room is crafted in all native Texas tree wood, and one wall is embellished with arch cases, paying design tribute to the arches of the Alamo.  The china within the shelves are Texian Campaigne (1846 – 1852), provided in all six production colors.
  • An interesting treasure in this room is the pianoforte to the Texian Grand March, a piece crafted and dedicated to General Sam Houston and his Companion in Arms for their victory in Texas Independence, written by Edwin Meryrick.
  • A beaded coin purse, inscribed with a declaration for Texas’s independence in 1843, is speculated to be an artifact made from a Mexican national and gifted to an individual in Texas at the precipitous time when Mexico finally conceded victory.  Although we all know April 21, 1836, is the date Sam Houston’s army defeated Alamo, Mexico refused to acknowledge or relinquish defeat for years following.
  • This room is the only one with a screened, terrace porch.  And, on this porch, you’ll find a wonderfully crafted long wooden bench with individual chairs to sit in leisure while enjoying the views of the gardens.


The Murphy Room.




Fun things I learned when visiting this room:

  • The table, crafted from early American era (1620 – 1730), has a bowl on top of it that was oftentimes used during that period for rinsing wine glasses during a meal.
  • The room was inspired from the late Renaissance period (1620 – 1690), a time when American was truly in adolescent formation.
  • Ima wanted the floors in the black and white checker pattern because during the 1600 – 1700’s this was a popular pattern for kitchen and family dining floors.
  • At that time, apparently men were the only ones seated formally at the table and the children and wives had to be asked to join.  And, if children and wives were asked to join they would pull up a bench seat along the table’s lengthier sides, which the benches they referred to back then as “boards”.  There is legend this is how the “Chairman of the Board” came into a popular phrase!
  • The windows from this room overlook the beautiful gardens 🙂


The Foyer.

Coming from the formal entrance of the house, which faces Diana Garden, you’ll see what a beautiful surrounding your eyes adore before entering the house!




Fun things I learned when visiting this room:

  • Upon entering from this entrance, immediately to your right you’ll find an oil canvas painting of Ima Hoggs.  The tour guide noted that she wasn’t one to embellish on diamonds and expensive jewelry, most likely due to her father’s insistent education living modestly, which remained with her throughout her life.
  • The staircase and foyer were inspired by Texas’ Governer’s Mansion, which she lived in as a young woman.  In fact, the staircase is an exact replica of the same staircase you’ll find in the Governor’s Mansion.


My own Chateau Versaille hidden in the Bayou Bend of Houston!  One last factoid I thought I’d share that I discovered about the gardens: They are recognized as the first historic public garden in Texas that practices organic gardening!

Well, friends and hopefully new admirers of Bayou Bend Gardens, my cyber tour has come to an end.  I have exhausted my first experience of the Bayou Bend Gardens on a beautiful early Spring day and hope I have left you with an urge to add this to your must-go-see list soon while perusing Houston.  I should probably share that I didn’t get to see all of the gardens, nor did I share all of the rooms in the mansion.  I didn’t want to completely spoil the fun and intrigue for you 🙂  Mark on your calendar a time to come visit and don’t forget about the monthly family days.  For good reason or no reason at all, either way, you won’t be left disappointed 🙂

Important Information You’ll Want To Make Note:

Garden Tours

  • Tuesdays – Saturdays, 10:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. (last admission at 4:30 P.M.)
  • Sundays, 1:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M. (last admission at 4:30 P.M.)

Location Information



  1. Angela Yegyayan

    Great post! I don’t know why I haven’t gone there yet!! Funny how we often don’t visit places in our own city… I have those shorts too 😆


    1. Bridgette Penel

      You know, I thought often of you and Lola enjoying just a little mother-daughter stroll when I was visiting. This is definitely a sweet place to pack a few yummy macaroons and leisurely nibble on them while strolling through the gardens – they really are beautiful. And, I initially was concerned once Texas heat really settles in that this place would not be an option for a walk about, but given the maturity of the trees and foliage, there is ample shade with small hints of sun beaming to show off the flowers along the pathways. Of course, should you want to go with a friend, count me in!

      I LOVE these shorts, BTW. Funny you have the same – does it surprise me? … No! We’re two peas in a pod aren’t we!


  2. Bridgette Penel

    Reblogged this on To Be Simply Happy and commented:

    Come on … it’s beautiful these days around Houston and this gem of a find should make it a no-brainer to want to visit, with or without the kids! Take a look at what I now call my Chateau Versaille of Houston and get yourself there soon 🙂


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