FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Hoke, Director Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center 409.670.9113 mhoke@shangrilagardens.org  

Shangri La Announces Winning Christmas Tree Designs

ORANGE, Texas, December 27, 2012 – Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center was filled with many unique Christmas tree designs created by area businesses, organizations and individuals as part of the Dreaming of a Green Christmas and annual lighted evening Christmas Strolls. Trees lined the garden pathways and were adorned with seasonal decor made of recycled and repurposed items to represent Shangri La’s mission of environmental-consciousness. Over 6,000 visitors participated in this year’s holiday-related events at Shangri La and had an opportunity to see and vote on their favorite decorated trees. Each year, a Christmas Tree Decorating Contest is held to choose the most outstanding decorated tree in one of seven categories. Christmas tree design winners for 2012 are as follows. Best of Show: Orange County Master Gardeners Business Division: 1st Place – Kroger’s 2nd Place – In-Focus Camera & Gifts 3rd Place – LaQuinta, Bridge City   School Division: 1st Place – Van Buren Elementary, Groves 2nd Place – West Orange-Stark Middle School Visual Arts Department   Church Division: 1st Place – Grace Lutheran Church   Organization Division: 1st Place – Red Hot Flashers 2nd Place – Orange County Auditor’s Office 3rd Place – Cub Scout Pack 311   Family Division: 1st Place – McCormack Family 2nd Place – Bill and Nancy Peveto 3rd Place – Speck Family Director’s Awards, chosen by Shangri La’s staff, were given to R & R Auto Supply and Horizon Dental for their commitment to meeting Shangri La’s mission through their environmentally-friendly tree designs. Located at 2111 West Park Avenue in Orange, Texas, Shangri La is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Group tours are available. For more information, call 409.670.9113 or visit www.shangrilagardens.org.   Orange County Master Gardeners Best of Show: Orange County Master Gardeners.   Kroger's First-place Business Division: Kroger’s.   Van Buren Elementary, Groves First-place School Division: Van Buren Elementary, Groves.   Grace Lutheran Church First-place Church: Grace Lutheran Church.   Red Hot Flashers First-place Organization: Red Hot Flashers.   McCormack Family First-place Family: McCormack Family.   R&R Auto Supply Director’s Award: R & R Auto Supply.   Horizon Dental Director’s Award: Horizon Dental.   For larger or high resolution images, contact Jay Jones at jjones@starkfoundation.org.   About Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center Nestled within 252 acres in the heart of Orange, Texas, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is a program of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, a private operating foundation whose mission is to improve and enrich the quality of life in Southeast Texas and encourage and assist education. The unique ecosystem of Shangri La presents an ideal opportunity to further that mission as well as carry on the vision of H.J. Lutcher Stark, the man who originally developed the gardens more than 60 years ago. Amid nature’s pristine ecosystems, the formal gardens at Shangri La reflect a use of more than 300 plant species to paint beautiful landscapes among a series of theme-based garden rooms.  Around every corner a new vista awaits the visitor with exquisite sculptures, a great lawn, serene waterscapes reflecting beautiful colors and a Cypress Gate framing blooming plants and soaring birds. The Nature Center includes Adams Bayou excursions to educational outposts, a 15-acre Beaver Pond, a state-of-the-art bird blind, a bat house, and more up-close encounters with nature. Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center is the first project in Texas and the 50th project in the world to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s Platinum Certification for LEED-NC, which verifies that the design and construction of Shangri La reached the highest green building and performance measures.  Shangri La was also named by the American Institute of Architects and its Committee on the Environment as one of the top 10 green projects throughout the world. Shangri La offers a glimpse of how people can live in harmony with nature, as it strives in its mission to Mentor Children of All Ages to Be Kind to Their World. Other programs of the Stark Foundation include the Stark Museum of Art, The W.H. Stark House and the Frances Ann Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts.