The Near Northwest Community Improvement Corporation (NNCIC) coordinates with the Near Northwest Management District to promote economic growth, cultural activities and the public welfare of the near northwest area of the city of Houston, Texas, by supporting existing programs and/or creating programs that will benefit the near northwest community.
NNCIC was created in 2007 as a Texas non-profit and local government corporation and was granted status as a 501(c)(3) organization by the Internal Revenue Service on October 25, 2007. NNCIC provides support for initiatives set forth by the Near Northwest Management District and other initiatives so deemed of value to the community.
Spring Plant Sale
The White Oak Butterfly and Hummingbird Plant Sale, held each spring, supports the White Oak Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden and the Japanese Serenity Garden projects.
Save the Date!! Spring Plant Sale at the White Oak Conference Center. Proceeds for White Oak Butterfly & Hummingbird Garden and Japanese Serenity Garden. Saturday, April 2, 2016. 9 am: Presentation by Horticulture Expert Heidi Sheesley, Treesearch Farms. Presented by Near Northwest Community Improvement Corporation. Get more information here!
White Oak Demonstration Botanic Garden
The Near Northwest Livable Centers Study (2011) recommended a number of projects, design, economic development and infrastructure improvements to provide residents and businesses with more appealing places to interact and gather, to make walking, bicycling and transit more convenient, to preserve the environment and to create a unique community that acts as a catalyst for investment and development.
One major recommendation was to develop a botanic garden as a regional attraction, emphasizing the generous areas of green space in the area – including White Oak Bayou, Vogel Creek, and Cole Creek crossing the District – and leveraging the White Oak Bike Trail.
Since the target area was privately owned, the White Oak Demonstration Botanic Garden project was developed. The primary purpose of the project is to encourage property owners to utilize native and adapted plants that were both unique and more sustainable in their landscaping. These kinds of plantings will beautify the area and provide habitat for butterflies and hummingbirds. This ambitious and far-reaching project includes 1) creating an understory environment in The Grove, 2) developing the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden, 3) building a Japanese Serenity Garden, and 4) creating a Demonstration Community Garden to teach vegetable and fruit gardening, adaptive gardening for special populations, and children's gardening through hands-on interactive experiences; individuals trained through the Demonstration Community Garden will be expected to help establish new community gardens throughout the area.
Under the leadership of Heidi Sheesley, owner of Treesearch Farms and a NNMD Director, the project's goal is to 1) inspire and educate businesses and residents to improve their properties with adaptive trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses, 2) begin the changes that will lead to the revitalization of the White Oak area community, 3) attract visitors from throughout the region who will be customers of local businesses, 4) inspire community garden programs, 5) provide habitat for butterflies and hummingbirds, and 6) beautify the entrance and grounds of the White Oak Conference Center at 7603 Antoine Drive.
The Demonstration Botanic Garden has so far added understory trees and shrubs to a pine grove (The Grove), and prepared and planted a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden (pictured below). Next steps include creating a Japanese–style Meditation Garden centered around the unique Inwood Pine, adding walking paths lined with berms and grasses, as well as flowering plants, along the perimeter of the Conference Center, and developing a Demonstration Community Garden. Our long-term goal is to line the former golf cart paths (27 holes) and the White Oak Bike Trail with linear gardens.
The Grove began as a stand of pine trees with a ligustrum hedge and wild grasses. Through donations from Forged Products and Treesearch Farms, twelve understory trees – Winged Elm, Paco's Possumhaw Holly, Mexican Plum and Southern Sugar Maple – were planted in January 2012, creating The Grove.
White Oak Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden
Glauser-McNair donated the overall site design, and fundraising began for the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden component. The NNCIC hosted a Spring Plant Sale in April 2012, drawing on volunteer Master Gardeners and local volunteers to run the sale. Heidi Sheesley donated her services to lead a "plant talk" prior to the sale.
Ligustrum removal, ground preparation, walkway and bench installation happened in April 2012. Thanks to in-kind donors Tomorrow's Design, Cowboy Trucking, and IPC Building Products. 900 plants were put in place, mainly with volunteer labor, over two Saturdays in May 2012. Scotts Miracle-Gro and a number of individuals made donations that made the project possible. Ensuing Plant Sales have funded further development and maintenance of the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden.
Remaining steps for the Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden include installation of a solar-powered water feature and the design, fabrication and installation of climbing structures for vines
Japanese Serenity Garden
The Japanese Serenity Garden will be anchored by the gnarled and twisted Inwood Pine (right). The initial concept drawing included meditative pathways, seating areas, a water feature and Japanese-style garden art. Keiji Asakura with Asakura Robinson worked with a focus group from our area and created an in-depth garden plan for an authentic Japanese Garden adapted to our Houston climate.
A number of trees and plants have been considered, with the goal of using unique and adapted plants. Specimen trees have been contracted for this project, with planting anticipated for 2016. The River Oaks Garden Club, The Garden Club of Houston and individuals have made donations for this project.
Samples of trees being grown for the Japanese Serenity Garden:
SEIRYU JAPANESE MAPLE Acer palmatum 'Seiryu'
WATERFALL JAPANESE MAPLE Acer palmatum 'Waterfall'
'KOBAI' FLOWERING APRICOT Prunus mume 'Kobai'
RYUSEN WEEPING JAPANESE MAPLE Acer Palmatum 'Ryusen'
The Demonstration Community Garden
The third phase of the White Oak Botanic Demonstration Garden will be the development of the Demonstration Community Garden along the north side of the White Oak Conference Center, and extending along the boundaries of the property. The Demonstration Community Garden will provide hands-on opportunities for local gardeners to apply lessons learned through education programs through the planned Houston Horticulture Center, a venue for gardeners to demonstrate how working and learning together can make changes in the community, and a mechanism for developing a volunteer gardener corps. The Demonstration Community Garden will eventually include enabling, children's, vegetable, and heritage gardens.
List of plants and descriptions: http://treesearchfarms.biz/White_Oak_Conference_Center.html
Stories about the Garden:
Neighborhood butterfly garden helps change blight to beauty
5740 W Little York, Box 391
Houston, Texas 77091