I have spent many happy hours at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center walking around and this time I had a goal in mind in writing a blog piece. I wanted to take lots of pictures and made my way down there only I forgot that they are closed on Mondays. I was lucky enough to run into someone with some authority who I happened to know through coaching his younger daughter at soccer a few years ago. We chatted and he told me to go ahead and take as many pictures as I wanted. Not needing a second invitation, I took out my Nikon 5100 putting my extra lenses in my photography vest and we were off. It was great having the place to myself.
It is truly a wonderful place to walk around and the flowers are out in abundance. It is hard to believe that ALL of the flowers are native plants there are so many of them. To think that Lady Bird Johnson had the vision and foresight to see Texas Native flowers and plants as something different from weeds and what is even more incredulous is that she got a lot of other people believing in her vision including this writer. My own garden has nothing but Texas Natives growing in it. I can remember a few years back when I viewed most Texas Natives as “weeds” not appreciating the beauty that every plant has.
I began my walk at the entrance where there is a wildlife pond display and was lucky enough to take a picture of a submerged turtle. The water is so clear that it shows up very well. Walking through the courtyard and past the Visitors Center I made my way up the tower and took pictures of the awe-inspiring view from above. From there, I made my way to the Display Gardens which consist of 23 laid out gardens each one about 15 feet by 25 feet. The gardens all have different themes and the plants are a reflection of those themes. Things like Butterfly Garden, or a pond with wildlife, succulents and grasses and many more. I took a lot of pictures of many of the name signs and I made this area the focal point of my trip. The straight lines of the gardens and the plant covered walkways made for very good scenes different from the plants and trees and their irregular shapes. There is so much to see and the Wildflower people have been very creative even going so far as to set up example type layouts complete with plants and all of the trimming for the visitors to carry the ideas back to there homes and hopefully at least try. I found one sign very amusing where there was a circular lawn of texas native grass and the sign said, “Please walk on the grass”…
There are several trails that lead away from the developed area of the center and then curve back to it so that you don’t have to cover the same ground twice. They are all signposted with little alcoves with seating to rest and drinking fountains for the thirsty. I took the John Barr Trail which true to form, looped around and eventually ended back where I started. I took many pictures along the way of the beautiful and rugged countryside covered as it was with many yellow flowers of several different varieties, native grasses, cactus and typical scrubby trees. Occasionally, there are Oak trees mixed in with the Cedar and natural vegetation. All of this has adapted to the very dry and hot conditions that make the Texas summers. I also walked the Restoration and Research Trail which is the newest of the trails. This one will specialize in the native trees of Texas and there are many new trees of many different (Texas) varieties planted along the way. All of the trails have signboards depicting different aspects of the vegetation and make comparisons to todays life.
The land is harsh and uninviting and you have to wonder what the early settlers thought when they first laid eyes on it. In many places, the rock is on the surface and in others maybe a foot or two below making it difficult for anything except natural plants and grasses to grow. Yet, it has its own form of beauty and for those of us who have been here for a while, is appreciated because of it.
I have tried to lay out the slides somewhat in the order of the words written above. Basically, there are the pictures from the Tower, the walk around the Display gardens and finally the walk on the two trails that I covered. For those that are interested in growing Texas native plants, the Center holds a plant sale twice a year the next being on October 13/14. I encourage you to try these plants some of which are pretty dramatic, other just plain beautiful and some are just masses of green foliage. They all have a place in your garden.
I cannot do justice to such a wonderful place in the few words that I have written. If you live in or close to Austin, it has to be a must visit place.
Enjoy the slide show.
Below is a map of the Center. A better one can be viewed on the Wildflower website at http://www.wildflower.org/ plus a lot more information about this wonderful place.