Rockin’ Demonstration Gardens at the Wildflower Center

Friday’s blue skies enticed me outdoors and down to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for a stroll. For yesterday’s post about the entry courtyard, woodland garden, and Hill Country Stream, click here. A limestone wall separates the woodland garden from the sun-drenched demonstration garden, which opens up before you in a grid of limestone-edged beds. The nearest beds provide a wow factor with numerous galvanized stock tanks cut, nested together, and arranged into planters and container ponds.

A nested trio of tanks with a solo tank in front, the whole mulched with sparkly crushed glass. Too much? Well, I think it’s refreshing and fun—and very Austin.

Pink gaura, an explosion of frothy pink, was blooming in one of the planters.

Another look

Running the length of the demonstration garden on each side are shady grape arbors made of cedar posts. Luminarias have been set up here and elsewhere in the garden for the holiday Luminations event.

Rambling along the top of a picket fence was an interesting vine I’d not seen before: Corona de Cristo (Passiflora foetida).

Look how the seedpod cradles the brown seeds, like eggs in a basket.

A pretty cottage garden—the Texas Mixed Border Homeowner Inspiration Garden—is tucked behind the picket fence. I like the paver path and raised, circular patio. Wouldn’t this be a nice design for a sunny, bowling-alley-straight side yard overlooked by the dining or living room windows?

Another look

Dyckia in a green pot

At the other end of this garden, a riot of purple coneflower, Gregg’s mistflower, and datura bloom around the focal point of a glass birdbath.

Love those goofy orange cones with pink ballerina skirts

Gregg’s mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) had the sulphur butterflies in a frenzy.

Datura was covered in buds, ready to unfurl and scent the garden at sunset.

Next door, the Formal Homeowner Inspiration Garden illustrates how to use symmetry with native plants to create a garden that doesn’t look meadowy or wild. A beautifully pieced limestone path crosses the garden and divides it into four quadrants of buffalograss lawn surrounded by native trees, shrubs, and flowering perennials.

Pyramidal Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) anchors the corners, with bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum) and an understory of Havard agave in-between.

Bigtooth maple is lovely in fall color. I saw lots of these at Lost Maples State Natural Area a few years ago.

A parting glance

Silverleaf sunflower stalks (Helianthus argophyllus)

A view from the other end of the demonstration garden, looking toward the limestone wall and woodland garden on the other side

One of the limestone plots contains a tiny pond with water lilies.

In another, a contemporary, graphic design of silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea) and crushed-glass mulch.

They must do a lot of trimming to keep the silver ponyfoot in a neat line like this.

On the other side of this bed, sunny damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana) contrasts with the ponyfoot.


Nearby, spiny cholla sparkles in the sun.

That’s all for now. Tomorrow I’ll have the final post in this series, a tour of the Little House and edible gardens. For yesterday’s tour of the entry courtyard and Woodland Garden, click here.

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

3 Responses

  1. […] It seems fitting to stop here, with beautiful survivor little bluestem, until tomorrow, when I’ll continue my tour with the Wildflower Center’s demonstration gardens. […]

  2. Anna says:

    Oh, I can’t wait to see tomorrows post too.

    The passiflora cradling it’s seeds was my favorite part of today’s post. How interesting!

  3. Geez – I missed this post. Glad I remembered to check back…as usual, so unusually inspiring compared to some public gardens I know of. But the formal homeowners demo garden is more of what we need. People really cue off patterns and that does it so well!