Sitting on the cypress lined edge of Adam’s Bayou, the story of Shangri La is a dramatic tale of lost and found on the east Texas coast. Literally peeling back the layers of history on this site reveals the storied legacy of a botanical garden that nature reclaimed over the course of many years of abandonment. In 2002, the Stark Foundation elected to resurrect this forgotten gem and pair its botanical mission with an overt experience of modern environmental education and sustainability.
The 250 acre site invites visitors to explore the regional natural beauty of south east Texas. Lush gardens of native plants flow through the bayou environment – crossing through a mix of stately pine trees and live oaks. The project achieved LEED Platinum and all structures contribute to the learning experience. Demonstration gardens exhibit a water purification system that cleanses water before it drains into the bayou system. Facilities include a visitor center, classrooms, a bayou interpretive boat ride, children’s garden, and research facilities. The project utilizes geo-thermal heating and cooling, solar energy collection. With an annual visitation of over 50,000 from around the country, the project has had great impact on the economy of Orange, Texas.