Bayou Bend Gardens
In 1925, Ima Hogg and her brothers, Will and Mike, selected 14 acres of natural woodlands and winding ravines for their home in the newly developed Houston neighborhood of River Oaks. She began planning the gardens before construction began on the home in 1927. The gardens at Bayou Bend reflect her love of beauty, flowers, and natural woodlands; her passion for history and all things classical; her meticulous eye for detail, proportion, and scale; her keen sense of color; her hands-on, experimental approach to gardening; and her continuous personal supervision.
Ima Hogg created formal gardens that reflect the Country Place era (1880–1920) in American landscape design, garden formats that were outgrowths of the classical architecture of the house, formal garden "rooms" extending from the house, and classical muses as themes. She selected a goddess (Diana) and two muses (Clio and Euterpe) from Greek mythology to anchor her north gardens.
The Bayou Bend gardens were, in Ima Hogg’s words, “nothing but a dense thicket” when she started to develop the property in the late 1920s. Undaunted, she created a series of gracious and beautiful gardens intended to be outdoor rooms for living and entertaining, not just views to be admired from within the house. Her brother Will encouraged her to plant magnolias, crape myrtles, and other flowering trees with Southern associations. She also planted camellias and is credited with introducing azaleas to Houston. Most of Bayou Bend’s gardens evolved between 1934 and 1942 and changed little until 1957, when she gave her estate and collection to the MFAH. In 1961, she invited River Oaks Garden Club to supervise the gardens permanently. Since then, the organization’s volunteers have devoted their time and talents to preserving and enhancing the gardens. Thanks to River Oaks Garden Club, organic gardening methods were initiated, and Bayou Bend became the only formal public garden in Texas to practice organic gardening.
The Woodland Ravines
The beauty of native trees and shrubs form a spectacular backdrop to the formal gardens surrounding the house at Bayou Bend. Ima Hogg’s desire was that the surrounding woodlands remain more or less natural, as they are today. The River Oaks Garden Club and the Museum’s head of gardens and landscape operations, Bart Brechter, are guided by a master plan adopted to ensure that the gardens and surrounding woodlands continue into perpetuity as a historic, but not static, site. The gardens remain a living testament to Ima Hogg’s life, vision, and generosity in Houston.
Touring the Gardens
When viewing the gardens, be sure to bring your cell phone and headphones for an optional audio tour of the grounds! Handouts are also available.
Choose a tour of the plants, flowers, and trees around the grounds. Or, listen in to selections of classical music, performed by musicians from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, that complement the gardens.
► Access to Bayou Bend’s gardens is included with tickets to view the house. Gardens-only admission is also available. Learn more about admission to the gardens.
Souvenir Guide to Bayou Bend
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens
This gloriously illustrated catalogue makes the perfect gift, remembrance, or souvenir. The book introduces readers to Bayou Bend founder Ima Hogg and the time line of American style as represented at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. Rooms are shown in broad, full-page vision and curated details. Areas of the gardens are highlighted in bold, luscious bloom.
Buy online or in the Cottage Shop at Bayou Bend.