Designed in the 1950s by noted landscape architect Ralph Ellis Gunn, Rienzi's gardens are an accomplished combination of formal gardens and natural Texas woodlands. The 4.4-acre property in the Homewoods division of River Oaks is nestled on two sides by steep ravines leading to Buffalo Bayou. Initially heavily wooded, this landform was carved by annual inundations over geologic time. The variation in elevation has resulted in a range of native plant communities, from floodplain species to upland forest trees such as beech and Southern magnolia. Gunn embraced the challenge of celebrating the property’s natural topography while fostering an artistic yet logical garden program in response to the engaging architecture of the Mastersons’ John Staub-designed home.
Today, Rienzi's gardens are beautifully maintained by the Garden Club of Houston. Seasonal plants and flowers bloom throughout the year, and springtime guests will be welcomed by a particularly delightful palette of colors.
Rienzi’s gardens are open and free to the public during regular hours. A welcome escape from the noise of the city, the lush green spaces house a plethora of wildlife and plant species. A docent-guided tour of the gardens is available upon request with advance planning.
The Garden Club of Houston and Rienzi: A Partnership
Rienzi’s gardens have been a project of the Garden Club of Houston for more than 10 years. Members of the club help to care for Rienzi's grounds via various activities and plantings.
The GCH and MFAH also partner to produce Florescence, a biennial Garden Club of America Major Flower Show.
Rienzi has been a featured stop on the River Oaks Garden Club’s Azalea Trail since 1999. The house and 4.4 acres of beautiful gardens are open to all ages.
The 2014 Azalea Trail took place March 7, 8, and 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit riveroaksgardenclub.org or call 713.523.2483.