This place I love so much: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

The Wildflower Center played matchmaker when I moved here, giving me the nudge I needed to fall in love with Austin’s rugged, sometimes spiky natural beauty. Still smitten, on Monday morning I strolled the grounds to see what was new. As always, I like to point out that the Wildflower Center is about so much more than wildflowers. It’s a native-plant garden meant to inspire, to teach, and to show off the beauty of native plants. The center keeps it interesting with well-placed displays of sculpture and garden art, redesigned gardens (like the new stock-tank garden), and wildlife-attracting grounds (see yesterday’s Wildflower Center post for pics of the snake, turtle, and other animals I recently spotted there).

Join me for a garden stroll? Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) is about to bloom.

Its long flower stalks are dotted with coral buds.

A smattering of Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), fast going to seed, ornaments a stand of Agave neomexicana.

Sacred datura (Datura wrightii), already in bloom

This towering American agave stands sentinel at the entrance. That’s an equally large sotol (Dasylirion) behind it.

Coreopsis? I’m not sure, but I bet Rock Rose will know.

Bluebonnets, blanket flower, and yuccas

The neatly divided and bordered demonstration garden, with the new stock-tank display at the far end.

The brilliant flower of a cactus, horse crippler (Echinocactus texensis), I think.

Bonsai of native trees are displayed on wooden tables at one end of the demonstration garden. Cedar elm, Texas persimmon, and bald cypress are beautifully represented. This is very cool.

Morning light captured in leaves high and low…

…and by the sword-like leaves of Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia)…

…and by this light-grabbing combo of Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima), spineless prickly pear (Opuntia), and Texas sotol (Dasylirion texanum).

Sotol leaves—so mesmerizing

A golden leadball tree (Leucaena retusa) glows in late-morning sunlight, as viewed from an arched passageway.

Moving closer, the golden leadball leads the eye up to the Wildflower Center’s signature tower, which is also a water cistern.

Sundrops, blue mealy sage, and Indian paintbrush

I love this low-growing combo: Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) and silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea).

Window view

A quote from Lady Bird Johnson, co-founder of the Wildflower Center and native-plant visionary

View of a savannah from a terrace at the Wildflower Center—natural beauty.

Don’t forget that tomorrow, May 8, is the Wildflower Center’s Gardens on Tour 2010, a tour of five private gardens that feature a majority of native plants. See you there!

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

22 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    You manage to capture everything that is wonderful about the Wildflower Center. It certainly is a place to inspire both with planting and design. I could easily have bumped into you on Monday as I was there giving a tour to the Long Center volunteers. Look for me at Forest Trail tomorrow where I will be in the front garden all morning. I am hoping the weather man is going to give us a cooler day.

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You make this place seem like a wonderland. Just marvelous photos.

  3. Darla says:

    What a great place. Your photography and choice of descriptive words makes me want to load up in the car and visit!

  4. linda says:

    What a wonderful, inspiring place Pam! Your photos are beautiful, as always. How lucky you are to have the Wildflower Center so close to home.

  5. Nancy Bond says:

    Beautiful photos of what looks like a wonderful place. It’s great to be able to enjoy those colourful blooms through your blog and others while we’re waiting for the temps to rise and the wind to fall here in Nova Scotia. :)

  6. Ohh, I loved seeing all of this Pam. I love the Arboretum here, but Lady Bird’s Wildflower Center is more my style. I love everything there. We are coming to Austin for a wedding in June, and I have already prepared hubby for a field trip! :)

  7. I love the pic of the columbine. Our columbine are blooming like crazy right now too. I did a post about them a couple days ago. Thanks for the lovely pics.

  8. I love the Lady Bird Johnson quote! And definitely a cool idea to have native tree bonsai examples. I wonder if many other botanic gardens do something like that; it is such a great inspiration.

  9. Jean says:

    It’s such a beautiful place. I also like the architecture there (so iconic of Texas). But I never would have expected bonsai there! :-)

  10. What a beautiful place. I can see why you like to visit. I see many of my favorites :-)

  11. Loree says:

    You fall in love with all the right places!

  12. Erna Maria Hill says:

    Oh Pam…thank you…stunning eye you have therem Sotol leaves..and such plants…ah me…

  13. Claudia Ford says:

    Yes, the Wildflower Center is a true treasure of Austin. Thank you for the beautiful pictures. You have captured the magic of a special place. And, BTW, I was so shocked to read that Bobbie T. is your mother-in-law. I went to school with Bobbie in Garland, Texas, many years ago. We ran into each other at the GHS Reunion in 2005. I knew she lived in Austin, but had no idea of the connection between you and her. She is blessed to have such a smart and talented gardener in her family. (My maiden name was Bates.)

  14. Layanee says:

    Oh, to grow Stipa as more than an annual would be a coup. I will just enjoy yours and the Wildflower Center’s. The Savannah is so inviting. Enjoy your tour.

  15. TexasDeb says:

    I love how your visits to the Wildflower Center give me a choice parking spot – right in front of my monitor. I can work all day out in my own beds (which believe me – need it!) and still have time after dark to enjoy some of the best the Center has to offer. Many many thanks!

    PS – a special *sigh* over those coral yuccas – the deer eat the flower stalks off mine annually – they only missed one this go round and I’m tempted to stand out by it all night and guard the wonderfully colored flowers.

  16. Thank you for taking on a visit with you. I never tire of seeing the Wildflower Center, and I follow them on FB.~~Dee

  17. Joseph says:

    the columbines are my favorite … but the horse crippler is stunning as well!

  18. Beautiful photographs! Lady Bird was my vicarious mentor, too. We are so lucky to have this right in our own backyard.

  19. ESP says:

    How about that silver ponyfoot and feathergrass combo…oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. I think everything looks good planted along side this grass! The horse crippler (Echinocactus texensis) (what an apt name) was a stunning shot Pam.

  20. Lynn says:

    Thank you for the tour Pam. I loved seeing all the sculpture, flowers, and use of natural stone.

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