More than 30 years ago, Nancy Thomas and Kay Crooker had a vision of a magnificent botanic garden in Houston to rival ones they had visited in Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York City. They understood the important role a botanic garden could play culturally, educationally, and scientifically in the lives of Houstonians. They kept their vision alive by searching for an ideal site with the right topography, acreage, and location.
In 2002, Houston Botanic Garden formed a Board of Directors which developed a more formal approach and put a planning process in place. Nancy Thomas served as the first chairperson. The original board members included Keiji Asakura, Sadie Gwin Blackburn, Kay Crooker, Wendy Kelsey, Merrill O’Neal, Cynthia Taylor, and Kingslea von Helms. By 2004, the Board had expanded to include John Craddock, Peter Doyle, Ann Jones, Margarette Jones, Anita Stude, and Bass Wallace. They spent many hours meeting with city and county officials, learning much along the way.
Other community leaders and garden enthusiasts joined them in their mission to establish a premier botanic garden that would promote public appreciation and understanding of plants and gardens and of the conservation of the natural world. They included Kathy Huber, Rebecca Hutcheson, Chris Knapp, Ann Lents, Odette Mace, Mike Stude, Judy Tate, Sharyn Weaver, Emily Wilde, Pauline Bolton, Jeanie Carter, Zinkie Benton, Susan Garwood, Hester Hawkins, and Terry Hershey.
On January 21, 2015 the HBG reached an important milepost in its journey. Mayor Parker and the City Council approved a lease agreement with HBG to transform the 120-acre Glenbrook Park area in Meadowbrook into a botanic garden.