Out and About ~ The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Good day to y’all, Two weeks ago my daughter and I took a trip over to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center near her apartment home in Austin, Texas.

This is a bit long with many wonderful garden photographs for you… Grab a cup of coffee or tea and let’s tour the early summertime gardens and see what’s growing!

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is now located in western Austin, Texas off the Mopac Parkway on 500+ acres of property which the late President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson donated to the University of Texas at Austin. Originally located in east Austin, the center was moved to its current location in 1995.  

When President Johnson and the former First Lady served in the White House, Mrs. Johnson saw developers scooping up land and destroying much of the indigenous habitat available to Austin’s dwindling wildlife.

Alarmed, she felt called to action.

Among the many bills President Johnson presented to and were passed by Congress during his time in office were those to protect America’s wildlife and the creation of a number of new national parks. President Johnson also signed the Highway Beautification Act into law, and Lady Bird helped by lobbying Texas officials promoting seeding Texas’ highways with native wildflowers. 

Inside the LBJ Wildflower Center’s main entrance courtyard. Mrs. Johnson asked that native plants be used as well as some way of promoting the history of the peoples who lived or moved into the area. Stonework on each building represents the Mexican, French, Spanish and German settlers who came to South Texas and the type of stone each favored when building their offices and homes.
An aqueduct runs along the top of the entry archway carrying
rainwater to one of fourteen cisterns (the grey round tower
at the far end) collecting this precious resource. Limestone and
sandstone feature.
Later, Mrs. Johnson talked with her husband about donating some land they owned to develop a wildflower center. 

A view of water stair-stepping down from the overhead aqueduct
and into the front garden pond below, just to the left.
This wildflower center would help raise awareness about the need to preserve Texas’ unique habitats and to promote Texas’ beautiful natural flora and wildlife as a place to come and visit.

A painting of Lady Bird Johnson by Norman Rockwell with a
video playing (reflection) about Mrs. Johnson’s conservation
work and life.

Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” (Taylor) Johnson along with friend and fellow conservationist, actress Helen Hayes, championed this cause and founded The National Wildflower Research Center in 1982. 

Research gardens ~ divided into native plants using soils specific to each plant’s needs. These areas are designed as teaching gardens for the avid home gardener and for local school children. Most of the plants around are “to be touched.”   🙂

“My hope for what lies ahead in the field of landscape design … is not a revolution against the use of non-natives, but a resolution to educate ourselves about what has worked for Mother Nature through the ebb and flow of time and to put that knowledge to work in the planned landscapes that are everywhere a part of our lives.”

Lady Bird Johnson

Late spring blue salvia (foreground), pink coneflowers, past their
prime tall coneflowers (those tall black-tipped stalks) with the
area’s natural savannah in the background.

“The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the State Botanic Garden and Arboretum of Texas.” It’s mission is to “inspire the conservation of native plants through its internationally recognized sustainable gardens, education and outreach programs, research projects, and consulting work.” 

                                           ~ Overview, http://www.wildflower.org

A grove of Lebanon cedars which grow all over Texas but especially
in the hill country.
Amy and I arrived around 10am to the wildflower center and found that a guided tour was about to begin. Peter was our small group ‘s guide and we enjoyed a nice hour-plus walk through the inner gardens of the wildflower center.

Bright orange lantana grows just off to the left.
This first section of the inner garden is planted with all local native species bursting with blooms in each season. Each species stars during its normal bloom season with some plants flowering as spring bloomers, some later in summer and others through the late summer heat and into fall.

My forefinger got in this shot but I wanted to share the variety of species planted together ~ the spiky with the more feathery. Really pretty!

Of course I was there to gather ideas for my yard and I love the structures! One could make this large barn type structure with posts and pallet wood…

This lovely shade flower’s leaves look very similar to a couple of vines growing in our back garden. I am hopeful that this is what is growing!

Adorable small blooms on this white daisy-like fleabane!
Further along our guide shared that Mrs. Johnson wanted this area below to be a teaching garden for children. She felt strongly that everyone should have the opportunity to come and learn about Texas’ beautiful wildflowers.

Children get to learn about dirt and rock’s natural water filtration
process plus touch every plant and play in and around the water.
Naturally forming limestone rocks are fun to climb on and jump off.

Lady Bird spent a lot of time promoting better education for America’s youth and this was also true for the wildflower center. Here in the Children’s Garden everything is “hands-on” and kid friendly! 

Behind me (as I took this photograph) is a meadow with a small air conditioned outbuilding which is set up as a children’s library. 
Mrs. Johnson was adamant about having a special place where children could study and learn about the local wildlife and plants living and growing up around them.

Here in the adult’s section is the University of Texas’ research center (not open to the public) with garden beds sharing plants which do well in certain soils. These are test gardens and adult visitors (and children, of course) can see and touch these plants. One smelled like chocolate!

A quietly snapped photograph of my daughter Amy laughing at something funny our guide Peter told us ~ love this young lady!!!

Further along on another trail I tried to capture this industrious bumble bee…

Several monarch butterflies… also very fast in their pollen gathering!

One of my favorite shots… Love the deep pink of these coneflowers with their orangey centers!

Pink and yellow coreopsis (coneflowers)…

Beautiful pond back near the Children’s Garden…

The last section I have to share today is really one of the first. It is the water lily garden at the entrance to the LBJ Wildflower Center as you come inside the archway.

My daughter saw the little striped water snake which lives in the pond as we came around the front. I think our guide said its name is Archie or Harry. For a snake, it was pretty cute and you can just see his little eyes looking out from his head in this next photo…

Can you spy him in the middle left?? He was curious about us as much as we wanted to see him.

The right hand side of the pond boasts white-blooming water lilies whereas the yellow-bloomers float on the left side. 

Did you know that when water lilies are planted they are put in little baskets and then placed into their shallow ledges in a pond?? I saw that recently when I was watching some Monty Don and other British garden shows.
And the pond brings us back to the beginning of our guided tour and a graphic featuring this golden beauty to share…

Thank you for coming along on this garden tour with me! I hope you’ve enjoyed it and will share with your friends.

I’ve traveled to other places this year but haven’t quite got around to sharing them with you so I will be sharing those soon.  A few of the neat places I visited are in New Mexico and Arizona plus a local garden here where I live in Denton, Texas. 

Sharing with
Blogging Fifty ~ Facebook

Blessings to you and happy gardening,

4 thoughts on “Out and About ~ The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center”

  1. She was a remarkable woman wiht her commitment to wildflowers. I think I'd love this center. Thanks for sharing it.

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