Moody Gardens
Galveston, Texas
March 2008

It’s difficult to evaluate Moody Gardens as a garden, in the same way it’s difficult to judge most zoos as gardens. They have beautiful plants but the plants are just an amenity to enhance the rest of the collection. Plants are certainly a wonderful amenity and most of these attractions provide excellent care, but generally do not give them the interpretation or curation that really makes a public garden special. There are exceptions of course, but Moody Gardens was not an exception.

Despite the criticism, I have to say that everything is nicely done, designed to provide a great visitor experience.

The entrance into the Visitor Center is beautiful.
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Even the parking lot plantings are beautiful.
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Moody Gardens is a visually spectacular visitor attraction with an aquarium, lots of animals, an IMAX theater, a science museum and more. We visited in March so the outside garden areas were not at their best but there were lots of interesting and beautiful plantings, including an herb garden, a representative backyard planting and a butterfly garden. There are spectacular plantings of palms everywhere.

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But except for the few small gardens already mentioned, most of the plantings were a hodge-podge of tropical and subtropical plants with no signage or interpretation. Lots of beautiful plants but if you wanted to know what they are or why they are planted, you're out of luck.

The Palm Pyramid is a spectacular looking conservatory, filled with beautiful tropical plants. The conservatory is divided into geographic regions and there is signage talking about each region. There are also interpretive signs about some of the important economic plants, and others illustrating important concepts,
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but there are too few of them. There are no signs to identify plants, which is sad because there are lots of beautiful and unusual plants. Walking through the rainforest is a great experience. The pathways are well-laid out and there are interesting plants and animals around every corner.
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Lizards, birds and other animals roam free among the plants.

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It's great fun, but garden-wise, a bit disappointing.

Outside the story is much the same. There are lots of beautiful plants but no interpretation and no identification signage.


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As a garden it was disappointing, but I can't say we didn't have a great time. For a family vacation, I'd recommend it as a great alternative to Disney or LegoLand.

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