Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, Orange

#1 of 7 in Things to do in Orange
Must see · Garden · Wildlife Area
Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center (252 acres) are private botanical gardens and a nature preserve located in the center of Orange, Texas.

H. J. Lutcher Stark began work on Shangri La in 1942. His azalea gardens first opened to the public in 1946, but in the mid-1950s they were destroyed by very cold weather. The area was subsequently closed to the public and maintained on a very limited scale. It was then bequeathed by Nelda C. Stark to the Nelda C. and H. J. Lutcher Stark Foundation (established 1961), which has been working to restore the botanical gardens and create a nature center.

Shangri La contains a mixed deciduous forest, cypress tupelo swamp, wetlands, and a large lake. Many of its trees were heavily damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Rita in September 2005. The formal Botanical Gardens contain more than 300 plant species in five formal "rooms" as well as four sculpture "rooms." Adjacent to the Botanical Gardens is a bird blind which allows visitors to observe nesting birds in Shangri La’s heronry.

It opened in Spring 2008 to close again for nearly six months due to the damage sustained from Hurricane Ike (Sept. 2008) and was reopened to the public on March 7, 2009.

Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is the first project in Texas and the 50th project in the world to earn the U.S. Green Building Council's Platinum certification for LEED-NC; the design and construction of Shangri La reached the highest green building and performance measures.
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Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
219 reviews
  • A hidden gem in the middle of Orange. Beautiful gardens and ponds with year-round blooms. Lots of beautiful birds also. Incredibly helpful staff that answer all of your questions. Great...  more »
  • The weather was gorgeous. The grounds are well taken care of. We were there for an informal wedding. The staff greeted us and made sure we had a perfect setting for the ceremony. A beautiful garden.  more »
  • this place is amazing, my girlfriend and I went over the weekend and was blown away at how beautiful and perfect this place is. this place is so massive that you wouldn't tell how big it really is just by driving on the side of the road, I recommend to anyone that likes nature and sight seeing to go there, I took some really nice photos from my trip. will return to take more photos another time
  • Best summer camps! My girls love being EcoRangers. Such a blessing to have such high quality in our awesome small town community, I have friends from Houston asking about Stark programs every summer. Thanks for everything y'all do

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