The Shangri La Botanical Gardens has had the worst luck with hurricanes. The 250 acre nature center was getting ready to open in 2005 when Hurricane Rita leveled it. After three years of repairs and new plantings, it reopened in March of last year, only to be shut down again five months later by Hurricanes Gustave and Ike. Director Michael Hoke says he hates hurricanes.
“Yeah we’ve had some bad luck, we’ve had three hurricanes and a fire, but we’re very lucky in the fact that we will be reopening this garden on March the 7th.”
Hoke says the upside to their story is that after all the center has been through, with all the destruction, they had all the time they needed to get it ready to reopen, so they took their time and did it right.
“It’s more beautiful than ever because it’s had time to grow in, and we’ve changed some things to make it more beautiful. So it is exciting, but you have to get over the doom and the gloom and kind of look forward to the future.”
And, that future, Hoke says, depends on spreading the word of their reopening far and wide, especially to the Houston area.
“Houston is our biggest place where most of our people have come from. It’s still number one in tourism for us. A lot of local people come, a lot of people from the Golden Triangle come, but Houston is still number one for us.”
Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is in Orange, on the Louisiana line about a hundred miles east of Houston on I-10. For more information, view the Shangri La Botanical Gardens web site.
Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.