The somewhat secret garden
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Garden features an environmentally sustainable design.
Published: Sunday, June 27, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Garden is not a well-known feature of Texas A&M, though some will come to find — after learning more about what makes the garden work — it should be.
Located on the third floor of the Mitchell Physics building, the non-cylindrical shaped structure includes an array of native Texas plants and places to sit, eat lunch and do homework.
The garden stands as a testament to environmentally sustainable constructions.
"There is a very unique irrigation system in the garden," said Lewis Ford, professor in the department of physics.
All of the water used for the plants is collected from rainstorms. The rainwater then is sent to a tank in the physics building and used to water the various plants that inhabit the garden. Along with the physics building, it is one of the greenest parts of the campus.
Ford said it was really important that all plants in the garden were native to Texas. Some various native greeneries are the prostrate rosemary, smooth prickly pear and the scarlet gaura. A botany lesson is included in the short descriptions next to each plant.
"We are supposed to be doing things creatively and with imagination," Ford said. "The garden creates a nice place for people to go and discuss."
Michael Graves and Associates designed the Mitchell Physics building and Mitchell Institute, said Heather Walker, an administrative coordinator in the physics department.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell, who died last December, was the wife of billionaire George Mitchell, who donated the money to build a new physics building. The Mitchells had a storied relationship with A&M, donating more than $50 million through out his life, particularly to the college of science and the physics department.
The Mitchells also set up an endowment to maintain the garden. In semesters to come, the garden will be fully-grown and will offer an even more secluded place to study. However, some students already frequent the garden to get an escape from the University grind.
"The irrigation system and the fact that it's a balcony make it a cool place to chill and relax," said Drew Parks, junior mechanical engineering major. "When the plants are fully grown, it will be so much cooler."
The ranch where the Mitchells resided was also a conservatory, Ford said.