Nursery visit: The Arbor Gate near Houston


My sister, who lives in Houston, expressed amazement at how many gardens I managed to squeeze into my visit to her city a couple of weekends ago. It’s true. I’ve shown you four Open Days tour gardens, plus four drive-by gardens that were pretty fabulous, plus a nursery visit to Thompson+Hanson, plus wildflowers in Brenham along the way. Whew!

But I have one more nursery visit to share with you, The Arbor Gate in far northwest Houston (Tomball, to be exact), a lively, customer-oriented, garden-art-packed destination nursery for Houston-area gardeners.


I was touring with my friend Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden, and we popped into the shop first just to say hi and make sure they were OK with us taking photos. I spotted this congregation of bluebirds on the porch rail. It was my first taste of the fun garden art placed whimsically and en masse throughout the nursery and display gardens.


Like these ceramic koi splashing through the chard.


See how they color-coordinated the orange and red fish with the hot-colored stalks of the chard?


And the poppies


Painted metal birdhouses and flying pigs were hung from seemingly every tree and arbor.


Signs, suns, and winged hearts galore decorated a painted fence.


A whole flock of parrots and cockatoos festooned the nursery aisles.


This is the place to go if you need to brighten your garden with art…


…or give a bird a home.


The pottery selection is nice too, with shade from the intense Texas sun.


A ceramic owl stool amid the blue pots


There were, of course, plenty of plants tucked among all the garden art, like these azaleas, which grow well in East Texas.


Plus lots of flowering perennials…


…and hanging baskets. The sales staff was helpful when needed, and Diana and I found a few new plants to bring home. Not azaleas though.


The Arbor Gate offers lots of talks, and I think this elaborate copper arbor is probably where speakers are set up.


Two gift shops at opposite ends of the nursery offer housewares, books, and gifts of all kinds. The front shop, pictured here, is packed with home accessories and garden-related goodies.


Even table settings


This was a fun stop on the way into Houston, requiring only a slight detour to the north as we drove in via Hwy. 290. So, would any of the garden art have tempted you? I loved those ceramic koi but resisted — this time anyway.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

14 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    You did your research well before this trip. It is amazing how much garden art is out there these days. I remember going to a nursery in St Louis, in the early 90s, to find a gift for a friend. All I could find was a concrete stepping stone with some garden related imprint on it. Today I wouldn’t have any trouble picking out a gift. And for myself I am getting that blue owl. I am going to add it to several owl items I have which will go under the ‘owl box tree’, as an offering, in the hopes that it would bring an owl.

  2. Kate S. says:

    I, too, am coveting that blue owl stool!

  3. Alison says:

    I would love to have some ceramic koi to put in my stream, but I’m not sure how to do that without puncturing the lining. Also, I want one of those hanging parrots. This looks like such a fun place!

  4. TexasDeb says:

    What a delightful shop! They well deserve the increased traffic your post will send their way (and I hope you’ve warned them to stock up on blue owls!). I often justify garden art purchases with the reminder that they’ll need no watering, no weeding and will never be eaten by deer or die!

    PS – I think one of those koi would look striking nestled among the many beautiful blue pots you have.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Ha ha — those blue owls! And no one’s tempted by the little bluebirds, I guess, which I thought were so cute. Also, you’re being a total enabler on that ceramic koi. ;-) —Pam

  5. Kris P says:

    I’ve vowed not to pick up any more tchotchkes for the garden but I would have been tempted by the ceramic koi. thank you for this and the earlier tours.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I know. I keep vowing that too. And I was strong this day and resisted. They did have some fun and/or pretty things though. Diana got a blown glass “swoop” on a stake, reminiscent of the glass art we saw on the Seattle Fling. —Pam

  6. Cheryl says:

    OMG! I could spend a FORTUNE there! So many fun things!We have nothing quite like that in Sacramento.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Do you not see lots of Mexican garden art there? That’s where the painted metal stuff comes from, and Austin nurseries carry it too. —Pam

  7. They used to have a wonderful herb garden dedicated to Madalene Hill where they grew many of the herbs she was instrumental in getting introduced to the nursery trade. BTW – I, too, am dying for one of those owl garden stools. Maybe we should get a pallet drop shipped to Austin!

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