About Us

Texas Discovery Gardens is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization in Dallas, Texas.

Texas Discovery Gardens is where
Discovery = Explore, Experience, Entertain, and Educate.


Our Mission and Vision

Texas Discovery Gardens is where children and adults discover and learn to sustain the natural world.

Our Vision is to provide a safe and natural oasis where the Dallas Community and other visitors can have fun while they Explore, Experience, Entertain, and Educate themselves.

There is something for everyone at Texas Discovery Gardens. You may come for the exotic butterflies in the world famous Sammon’s Butterfly and Insectarium but end up doing a picnic in our meadows area. The axolotls in our 450 gallon lobby tank are super cute, but the native free-flying butterflies and hummingbirds might also be your thing. The history of the 1936 PCH from the Texas Centennial-Worlds’ Fair might catch your historic nerve, but the snake and reptile building might be something you didn’t expect. If you’re of the younger set, the rock-climbing wall in the outdoor playscape might test your skills. Or maybe just watching the garden trains as they chug past the model of the real Alamo. And don’t forget about the variety of learning opportunities that cover plants, bugs, solar power, and water conservation. Yes, something for everyone of all ages.

Explore, Experience, Entertain, Educate.

About Us

Texas Discovery Gardens is a 501c(3) non-profit organization funded in part by the City of Dallas. Our 7.5 acre organic garden features Texas native and adapted plants. Inside, our indoor two-story Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House and Insectarium transports you to a tropical rainforest, complete with hundreds of free-flying, exotic tropical butterflies from all over the world!

Our 7.5-acre grounds include garden trains and replica historic buildings, the snake & reptile shack, the 1936 historic World's Fair Centennial House, an outdoor children's playscape featuring a rock climbing wall, a rope bridge, sandbox, ponds and fountains, outdoor gardens to attract native butterflies and hummingbirds, and more. Scattered around are picnic tables and green meadows for blankets.

Located in Dallas' historic Fair Park, Texas Discovery Gardens is a year-round organically maintained urban oasis filled with natural wonders. Family festivals, workshops, and our extensive (and always growing) EarthKeepers® student education program introduce children and adults to natural outdoor learning experiences.

We are the first public garden in the state of Texas to be certified 100% organic. The gardens are maintained using sustainable methods that conserve water and help to protect the environment.

At Texas Discovery Gardens you can discover ways to sustain the natural world. Learn from experts at our events, in our exhibits, or by volunteering. We are open daily 10am-5pm to the general public.

Our Board Members

George Baker - Chair

Ron Natinsky - Executive Director

Joe Elsener - Treasurer

Susan Roberds - Secretary

Michael Bosco

Jessica Brazealle

Ann Dyer

Katie Febbroriello

Chris Psencik

Michelle Robberson

Janet Valz

Nancie Wagner

Honorary Advisory Board Members

Barbara Crow

Texas Discovery Gardens History


  • The Hall of Horticulture (Texas Discovery Gardens) was built for the Texas Centennial Exposition. The building included the first public conservatory in the Southwest; it was called the "Garden Room" and was half the conservatory’s present size.

  • Four “Houses of the Future” were constructed on the grounds to illustrate home building and interior decoration trends. (Of the four houses, the one built by the Portland Cement Association remains on the property.)

  • The Hall of Horticulture became The Dallas Garden Center after the Centennial Exposition ended.

1942 - 1945

  • The Dallas Garden Center served as the headquarters for the War Rationing Board during World War II. 

1945 - 1949

  • The main building served as the Women's Building during the State Fair of Texas.


  • The Scent Garden, one of the first permanent gardens on the site, was constructed on the northeast side of the main building.


  • The Main Hall was added to the building to create a space for garden club flower shows.

1960s & 70s

  • Renowned landscape architect Joe Lambert created the Callier Garden, Leftwich Reflecting Pool, and Circular Lawn.


  • Texas Discovery Gardens' name changed from The Dallas Garden Center to The Dallas Civic Garden Center.


  • The Grand Allee du Meadows was completed, including construction of the large fountain in the south corner of the property.


  • The Conservatory was renovated and the terrazzo floor in the lobby was restored to resemble its original appearance in 1936.

  • The Faerie Banton Kilgore Rose Garden was dedicated on March 14, 1990 by her son, Mr. James A. Kilgore.


  • The Dallas Civic Garden Center was renamed The Dallas Horticulture Center.


  • Texas Discovery Gardens (The Dallas Horticulture Center) hosted the first live tropical butterfly immersion exhibit in North Texas in the Conservatory during the State Fair of Texas. The exhibit became an annual attraction.


  • The Benny Simpson Texas Native Plant Collection was added to the gardens.

Recent History

  • The Dallas Horticulture Center was renamed Texas Discovery Gardens.

  • A new mission statement was adopted: "To have a positive impact on the future of Texas by teaching effective ways to restore, conserve and preserve nature in the urban environment through the use of native and adapted plants which illustrate the interrelationship of butterflies, bugs and botany."

  • The Scent Garden was renovated with City of Dallas Bond Funds.

  • The Texas Organic Research Center designated Texas Discovery Gardens as the first “Certified Organic Public Garden” in the State.

  • The Metamorphosis began as ground was broken for the Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House and Insectarium.

  • Phoenix I Restoration and Construction created a new front entrance, designed by Oglesby Greene; which included a new “Texas” landscape, irrigation system, walkways, and a recreation of the original 1936 Bas Relief panels depicting native North Texas plants and insects.

  • On February 27, the City of Dallas approved $4,700,000 in Bond Funds for the continued renovation of the Conservatory and Main Building.

  • Construction of The Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House and Insectarium progressed and Phoenix I Restoration and Construction, along with Oglesby Greene Architects, began the final phase of this project on March 17, 2008.

  • The Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House and Insectarium was completed and the grand opening of the new Texas Discovery Gardens occurred September 12, 2009. 

  • The Discovery Art Gallery opened in the Main Building to further Texas Discovery Gardens' mission of environmental education, through the use of artistic expression.

  • The Gallery hosted its first Art Exhibition called ‘Global Swarming’. This group show was created by Texas WAX/Dallas to illuminate the global plight of Honeybees suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder.

  • Vancouver based artists, Michael Vandermeer and Cheryl Hamilton, of i.e. creative, installed ‘Imago’, in collaboration with the City of Dallas Public Art Program. This series of seven hand-blown glass and steel hanging sculptures depicting insects, flowers, and other elements of the natural world, was designed to hang from the ceiling in the Main Building's two-story lobby. 

  • The Dallas County Master Gardener Association broke ground on the Master Gardeners' Garden, featuring native and adapted drought tolerant plants, garden ornaments, and butterfly seats. 

  • New displays were built to house exotic arthropods and Texas Discovery Gardens began receiving shipments of butterflies and moths from Africa.

  • The Master Gardeners' Garden was expanded.

  • Muralist Areli Duran installed two, four-panel murals covering TDG’s outdoor restrooms near the Greenhouse. The murals illustrate to garden visitors both the Trans-Pecos and blackland prairie biomes of Texas.

  • Biologist-Artist Laney Green installed a floor-to-ceiling mural, spanning the entire length of the EarthKeepers Children’s Multipurpose Room. The mural depicts four of Texas’ ecoregions, displaying a variety of native flora and fauna for thousands of visitors attending programs at Texas Discovery Gardens.

  • Construction began on TDG’s Natural Playscape.

  • The Grand Allee du Meadows and fountain were renovated.

  • Construction of the Children's Natural Playscape, a challenging outdoor recreation attraction was finished.

  • The Conservation Canyon project began in the gardens, which reclaimed an asphalt street to native Black Land Prairie.

  • The remodel and conversion of the interior of the historic Centennial House to a large Wedding Suite.

  • The unique Model Train Garden takes residence in the gardens.