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Location: Magnolia, Texas
The Skinny: Even in a state well known for its love of extravagant residential estates, Emerald Lake Estates stands out for its 185-acre, heavily landscaped grounds. The owners have spent 15 years shaping the land here, creating a 25-acre private lake dotted with 10 islands, a nine-acre Japanese garden, and a seven-acre botanical garden complete with an Azalea Walk and more than 5,000 examples of the flowering shrubs. The Japanese garden alone has become a multi-decade project that began in 2002, with planting planned in 10-year phases. The Azalea Walk, which is open to the public once a year, meanders through the botanical garden along the shore of Emerald Lake, with 15 bridges criss-crossing the irrigation gully and waterfalls that feed the artificial lake. There's also a 120-foot limestone bridge spanning the fully stocked lake, with a gate midway across that allows for jumping into the water below on hot summer days. For those disinclined to jump into a lake stocked with bass and other gamefish, the main house has an expansive swimming pool ringed by waterfalls and palm trees. It's asking $24.5M.