Moody Gardens & the IOS

We been very privileged to be associated with the Hope Therapy Program at magnificent Moody Gardens for many years. This program which helps provide jobs and educational support for challenged individuals has had remarkable success due to its knowledgeable staff and caring atmosphere. Mentally challenged and handicapped clients are taught self-sufficiency and self respect by patient supervisors who understand¬†the importance¬†of self worth and the importance of integration into the community.Through this fabulous venture, these once ignored and overlooked individuals are now given a chance to contribute to society and become self reliant citizens. Utilizing a step by step method, clients learn to do simple chores and progress to more advanced work. A part of this therapy curriculum is the plant production complex at Moody Gardens which has been home for the International Oleander Society’s propagation program, where hundreds of oleander cuttings are rooted and grown. These will eventually end up being planted throughout many areas of the country.Moody Gardens has major plantings of all kinds. Exotic and local varieties of trees, shrubs, vines and flowers grow side by side on acres of land in a remarkable show of color.The oleander is amongst one of the most important subjects of these plantings and although oleanders are planted throughout the magnificent grounds, they have been given a special showcase area on the north side of the elegant new Moody Hotel. This planting includes the historic Clarence Pleasants’ Collection. It has every named variety of oleander available on display, including some soon to be introduced varieties.A giant glass pyramid (the Rainforest Exhibit) , together with two other pyramid structures, one housing a huge aquarium, the other a large IMAX ride, backdrops the marvelous colors radiating from hundreds of oleander shrubs planted in both formal rows and casual landscape designs. The talents behind these artistically conceived designs are quite evident and visitors from all over the world come to study and admire these phenomenal compositions.Moody Gardens is also home to one of a pair of oleander ‘herbarium’ collections. The other set is housed at the Smithsonian Institute. ” In a letter to Prof. Octavia Hall, who prepared this extraordinary collection of herbarium specimens, Fredrick G. Meyer of the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC, wrote that he was delighted to receive the specimens of oleander…how beautifully they were prepared… were of blue ribbon quality… and would enrich their herbarium of cultivated plants very significantly.” (from THE HANDBOOK ON OLEANDERS by Richard and Mary Helen Eggenberger)Moody Gardens is truly a heaven on earth and we are forever grateful to them for including our favorite plant “the oleander” as part of the angelic sojourn.John Kriegel, Gary Outenreath, Donita Brannon and Terry O’Connell are a few of the individuals who help create and maintain this wonderful setting and deserve a hats off and congratulations for their wonderful work which is admired and commended by all who visit the gardens or are involved with the therapy program. These special people have made the collaboration between the International Oleander Society and Moody Gardens a pleasurable and successful venture.