Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Visit to Shangri La

East of Houston, in a town called Orange, lies Shangri La. It was created by H.J. Lutcher Stark in 1937. Shangri La was H.J.’s vision turned reality. While he was overseeing Shangri La, he would open it to the public during the spring blooming season. There were countless spring days when the garden received thousands of visitors.
After a devastating ice storm in 1958, the gardens were abandoned. Nearly 50 years later, they were rejuvenated by the Stark foundation and re-opened to the public, but this time year-round.
Two of the water gardens were packed with perennials.
This is the entrance to the children's garden.
Definitely not just for kids.
Unusual to see this many different columbines growing in these parts.
I'm always on the lookout for bottle trees.

They had some great vegetable beds and bird mansions.
Getting closer to the bird blind.
Thousands of Great Egrets were visiting.



The Stark family made their fortune in the lumber business and grew it with the oil and financial industries. The home of H.J. Lutcher Stark’s parents is still standing and is in pristine condition with all of the original furnishings (as things went out of style his mom would send them to a warehouse for storage, luckily she was a bit of a pack rat.) The only family to ever live in the house is the Starks. However, the house was not saved by H.J. Lutcher, but instead his wife Nelda. He was ambivalent towards its preservation, thank goodness Nelda had the foresight to save it.


The interior of the house was a sight to behold. Literally, I could have spent an hour in each room of the 14,000 square foot house. It was gorgeous. But, you’ll have to go there to see it for yourself. Unfortunately they do not allow photography.

The gardens were beautiful this time of year, but I bet they would also be stunning in the spring when the 41 varieties of azaleas are blooming.


  1. Very cool! Love the great egrets!

  2. How pretty. I'm glad to know about this place. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Ok. I'm a California to Houston transplant who's trying to figure out how on earth to grow plants in this climate! Impatiens? Deceased. Hydrangea? Goner. Agapanthus... Pushing up daisies. Wait- no they're not but I wish they would! Ahhh! Anywho. Googled "Houston gardening" and your blog came up. Glad to find a new blog to read.