Lucia Bettler, founder and owner of Lucia’s Garden in Houston, Texas, died on September 22, 2017, five days after her 69th birthday. A former English teacher, Bettler opened Lucia’s Garden in Houston in 1984 as a holistic herbal wellness shop, with products focused on physical and spiritual wellbeing. Due to her declining health, the shop closed earlier in 2017.
Born and raised in Houston, Bettler attended the University of St. Thomas and earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature. At St. Thomas, she met her husband Michael Bettler, and the two married in 1972. As a master gardener with a self-described “lifelong connection to the earth,” Bettler opened Lucia’s Garden to teach the therapeutic properties of plants to her customers and foster a deeper appreciation for spiritual fulfillment through meditation, herbs, and music. Lucia’s Garden offered herbs, cannabidiol products, books, and New Age items, and hosted classes. Bettler’s greatest dream for the shop was to foster a sense of community and peace.
Bettler had been a member of the South Texas unit of the Herb Society of America since 1984. Fellow member Susan Wood recalled Bettler’s active presence in the group in a tribute article for the organization’s October 2017 newsletter.1 “[Lucia] participated in all our events,” Wood wrote, “usually bringing her books and other items from Lucia’s Garden to sell, and generously donated wonderful baskets of her products as door prizes, too. Her calming and welcoming presence was always appreciated by members and guests alike.”
Henry Flowers, garden director at the Round Top Festival Institute, an acclaimed music institute and research center in Round Top, Texas, wrote in the newsletter about Bettler’s involvement in the institute’s annual spring Herbal Forum.2 “Lucia Bettler was a wonderful fixture … for many years,” Flowers wrote. “This past March was the 22nd annual event and Lucia performed the blessing of the gardens for 21 of those 22 years.” Bettler frequently presented at the Herbal Forum and other events on varied topics such as aromatherapy, potpourri, folklore, and culinary and medicinal herbs.
In addition to her work with Lucia’s Garden, the Herb Society of America, and the spring Herbal Forum, Bettler was a member of the Houston Culinary Guild, the St. Anne Catholic Community church choir, the River Oaks Business Women’s Exchange Club, and a past president of the International Herb Association.
Wood commented: “[H]er strength was always in words. Whether written or spoken, she shared her knowledge and love of life with everyone…. We will always remember Lucia as a kind and gentle spirit who guided us to be so much better in our daily lives and to each other.”1
Likewise, Flowers also remembered Bettler’s spiritual way with words in her annual blessings. “What she wrote every year was a contemplative work that had many insights into nature, gardening, and spiritualism. It didn’t focus on a religion; rather, on the way that we as gardeners commune with nature on various levels and how gardening and gardens are a boon to our souls. Lucia’s passing is a very sad event and her participation in the Herbal Forum will be greatly missed.”2
Gayle Engels, special projects director for the American Botanical Council, said: “I feel blessed to have known Lucia and called her my friend. I will miss her gentle, understated sense of humor and the immense wisdom she shared so freely. She inspired me to be the best person I could be and was a true herbal sister.”
Lucia Bettler is survived by her husband Michael, brother Richard Ferrara, sister Mary Jo Piwetz, and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. A memorial service celebrating her life and work was held on October 20, 2017, in Houston.
- Wood SG. In memory of Lucia Ferrara Bettler. Herbs Make Scents. October 2017;XL(9).
- Flowers H. Lucia Bettler and the gardens at Festival Hill. Herbs Make Scents. October 2017;XL(9).