Discover Austin: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Episode 77
Lady Bird Johnson was an advocate for the beautification of our nation and highways, so it should come as no surprise that the botanical garden of Texas bears her name. I visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in this episode of Discover Austin. If you'd prefer to read about the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the video transcript can be found below.
Greetings, I’m Craig Smyser with 1835 Realty. Located in southwest Austin is a botanic garden dedicated to the conservation of native plants. We’re going to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on this episode of Discover Austin.
Lady Bird Johnson was legendary in her love of native Texas wildflowers. In 1982, she cofounded the National Wildflower Research Center to increase public awareness and appreciation of native flora. Renamed after Lady Bird in 1997, the center is now a major botanic garden and research center affiliated with the University of Texas. While it still increases public awareness and appreciation, it’s also well known for its plant conservation, landscape restoration, and sustainable approaches to landscape design.
While it was originally located in East Austin on sixty acres of land donated by Lady Bird, the Wildflower Center is now located on about 300 acres in southwest Austin and is home to almost 900 species of native plants.
There are three main areas at the Wildflower Center. The Central Gardens is one of the core areas and has been here since the beginning. Here you’ll find gardens of different styles including a hummingbird garden, a moonlight garden, a pollinator habitat garden, and more.
The 16-acre arboretum features a wide array of Texas trees. You’ll find the collection of Texas Oaks, The Hall of Texas Heroes which is a collection of live oaks descended from famous Texas trees including from the Cabinet Oak featured in episode 33. The Cathedral of Oaks is also a popular spot with its swings of all sizes. There is a one-mile walking trail throughout the arboretum.
The Family Garden is a 4 ½ acre area connecting children and families to the natural world. It’s an interactive and educational area with a shrub maze, giant tree stumps, watering holes, giant birds nests, and more. It’s named after Luci Baines Johnson and her husband.
There are a variety of events and exhibits that happen at the Wildflower Center. Fortlandia is a popular one in which local architects and designers create forts. Check the website to see what special events are ongoing.
If you get hungry while you are visiting, the Wildflower Café is right on site. There’s also a gift store and plenty of picnic areas throughout the center.
Behind the scenes, plant conservation is a big component at the center. It deals with rare plants and invasive species, collecting and banking seeds for restoration projects, surveying and documenting the state’s flowers, and much more. As an example, after the 2011 fires in Bastrop, the Center grew over 70,000 native sapling trees that were then reintroduced to the area. The Center also does ecological research and design. The goal is to maximize environmental performance while minimizing resource use and maintenance costs. For instance, they developed the SkySystem which is designed for green roofs in hot climates. The Dell Medical School uses SkySystem for their 11,000 square foot garden on the roof of their parking garage in Downtown Austin.
As you’d imagine, a place as gorgeous as this is available for private events. Weddings, corporate gatherings, birthday parties, and more are available for up to 500 people.
There are always many native plants and wildflowers available to see. However, some parts of the year have more flowers blooming than others. You can always call or check the website to see what’s in bloom at any given time.
The Wildflower Center’s website, Wildflower.org, offers a wealth of information about native plants including lists of plants that are native to specific areas, a searchable database, photos, and more.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center truly is one of the great gems in Central Texas so find a time to visit this something something. I’m Craig Smyser with 1835 Realty, thanks for joining me for this episode of Discover Austin.