The Geraldine Watson Rare Natural Plant Preserve is the enchanting former home of Geraldine Watson, a local self-taught botanist and fierce conservationist.
It is nestled in the Big Thicket National Preserve, which Watson helped to create. The garden is surrounded by a dense tapestry of ecosystems, from towering long-leaf pine forests to cypress bogs. Carnivorous plants and cacti dwell alongside orchids and azaleas. As an ecologist and ranger for the National Park Service, Watson cataloged the flora of the Big Thicket Preserve. During her work, she discovered this patch of land, which represented all of the major plant communities in the area.
According to the Watson Preserve website, the rare native plants here include seven species of orchids, 10 species of ferns, milkweeds, gentians, wild azaleas, blueberries, trilliums, violets, and four of the five types of carnivorous plants native to North America. (The only natural habitat for the Venus flytrap is a relatively small area in North and South Carolina.)
The 10-acre property has a path that leads visitors through a pine forest rising from a bed of ferns to a wooden boardwalk with flowers peeking through its slats, past cacti, fields of pitcher plants, and white-top sedge, and a small pond.
At the end of the boardwalk stands a somewhat dilapidated A-frame cabin.