Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

A research center for University of Texas, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin was founded by actress Helen Hayes and First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. The First Lady saw an urgency in protecting the native landscapes of America and with 30% of native species in America on the verge of extinction, the National Wildflower Research Center was born in 1982 with just $125,000 of funding and on 60 acres of never developed land.

A Journal of all the wildflowers of Texas was published as well as a Wildflower Handbook over the next few years. Mrs. Johnson was bestowed the Congressional Medal of Honor for her work in keeping America beautiful. Photo: Tamara Kulikova/Fotolia


»History

History


In 1995, the Center moved to a 43-acre plot of land and represents a complete resource conservation effort. The center was also renamed to the current name, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center around this same time frame. The center was also awarded a $5 -million-dollar donation in 1997 to establish an education program which resulted in The Brown Center for Environmental Education being founded. Two years later, an additional 136 acres of land was acquired to be able to expand and create the landscape restoration program.

2002 so many expansions for the property as well. A butterfly garden, carriage house, and The Margarette and Eugene McDermott Learning Center were all added in addition to the 100 acres of adjacent land that was acquired. In 2006, the center was officially integrated into the organized research unit at the University of Texas. The next major expansion was in 2012 when the 16 acres Texas native trees arboretum opened and two years later a 4.5 -acres garden in honor of Lucy Baines Johnson and Ian Turpin was opened.

The center’s gardens proudly display native plants from all over Texas and the conservation center is home to several endangered flora species. There is also a landscape restoration program that provides education and encourages families to grow wildflowers in their own backyards. Their main purpose, however, is to restore landscapes that may have been destroyed due to building, farming and other purposes back to their native and original state. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas - Photo: tamascsere/Fotolia

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»Central Gardens

Central Gardens


There are 20 gardens that make up the central gardens, or main part of the Wildflower Center. Each of the gardens is entirely comprised of plants that are native to Texas. There are also plenty of picnic tables, benches and shelters scattered throughout the gardens for relaxing and enjoying the space. An entrance trail leads into the gardens from the admission desk that aims to completely immerse you in nature and create a separation between the gardens and the real world. Throughout each of the gardens there will also be black plaques along the sidewalks that explain the significance and history of plants in that exhibit.

The Meadows is the first stop after the entrance garden and is planted with a rainbow of wildflowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The North meadow garden features the aqueduct that is covered in vines and carries water from the auditorium roof to the cistern. The south meadow has blooms throughout the year and attracts many butterflies.

Wetland Ponds feature many plants that only grow when they are completely saturated or underwater such as Lily pads. There are turtles, fish, birds and many other animals here and visitors will enjoy being able to get up close without getting wet or muddy themselves as they walk on stone platforms.

The Courtyard Garden is the center of the wildflower center in the middle of the café, gallery, vending machines, gift store, restrooms, and visitor’s center. There are trees along the perimeter with shaded benches and a spring in the center that shines under the sun.

Café Garden is semi-landscaped to present a more formal arrangement at the restaurant but is comprised of prairie plants and wildflowers. Memorial benches and art exhibits can be found in this garden. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas - Photo: rootstocks/Fotolia

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»More Central Gardens

More Central Gardens


Little House Garden is specifically designed for play and exploration. At the corner of the main courtyard, adjacent from the little house, this garden is all about hands on learning. There is a Native American hut for kids to play in, grassy areas for picnics and pots used for digging for insects.

Seed Silo Garden is at the base of the seed silo and shows native flowers that bloom at different seasons that have vibrant colors and textures such as the Texas Rose.

Woodland Garden serves as a wooded classroom with over 120 species of Hill County plants, vines, shrubs, bushes, and flowers. This garden is a shade garden, everything that grows here will thrive in shaded or semi-shaded areas. Many homeowners find inspiration for their own backyards in this garden. There is a stream that flows through here as well.

Erma Lowe Hill Country Stream has landscaped stone borders and plenty of areas for sitting and listening to the stream move through the gardens. The water is fast flowing and encounter areas of shade and sun which creates a variety of plants and flower that can grow along the banks.

Theme Gardens are 23 individual bordered beds of flowers that are surrounded by limestone walls. Each bed has a separate theme from cacti to edible plants, native grasses and ground covers. Each of these spaces also demonstrates a garden that even the most amateur of gardens can accomplish at home and is the most extensive garden at the Wildflower Center.

Texas Mixed Border Homeowner Inspiration Garden was created to give options for several different landscaping ideas for backyards in Texas. There is an English style to the gardens that feature stone patios and arbors as well. These are also each all-season garden. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas - Photo: Jill Lang/Fotolia

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»More Central Gardens

More Central Gardens

Formal Homeowner Inspiration Garden is for the homeowner who is dedicated or has hired gardeners committed to sustaining symmetry and geometry in the landscape designs. These patterns for landscaping are not seen in the average neighborhood backyard.

Traditional Homeowner Inspirations Gardens takes the Formal designs to a smaller scale and makes them achievable to the homeowner that wants a formal garden with less space and easier to maintain. Some of the plants require intensive care while others are natural.

Naturalistic Homeowner Inspiration Gardens teaches homeowners how to create a garden that will attract wildlife such as butterflies, birds and other backyard friends. These designs are meant to be more natural and less formal looking.

Ann and OJ Weber Pollinator Habitat Garden is also called the butterfly garden and grows flowers year around that collection pollen such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. This garden is always filled with lots of colors blooms and a stream that flows through.

Dry Creek Bed features the types of landscape you can see when there is a creek that has banks that are sometimes water covered, or around homes or yards where water run off happens. The plants in these gardens have strong roots and a high survivability rate when saturated with water.

West Texas Mountain Collection feature the plants visitors might associate with the desert. These plants can thrive in drought conditions and arid environments. Harvard agave and Mexican feather grass is seen here.

South Texas Mission Garden is inspired by Spanish Missions in the south and features beautiful clay and stone architecture that visitors walk through while touring the garden. This architecture is part of the rain water gathering system as well and leads you to the auditorium. Pepper trees, agave trees, cacti, vines, and other native plants.

Trailhead Garden uses site collected stone to serve as an entrance to the trails and arboretum. The garden consists of ground coverings, oak trees, and lush foliage. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas - Photo: Dan Kosmayer/Fotolia

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»Luci and Ian Family Garden

Luci and Ian Family Garden


This garden specifically designed for children and families to learn about their environment in a fun and safe way was established on 4.5 acres of land and is the only plants garden is Texas that was developed for families. There are over 12 interactive displays and exhibits where kids can get their hands dirty. All features of this garden are made from natural elements including the playground, climbing walls, and mazes. There is weekly children’s education programs that occur in the garden as well including scouting and preschool programs. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas - Photo: Jill Lang/Fotolia

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»Texas Arboretum

Texas Arboretum


This arboretum features 16 acres of Texas trees and miles of trails for hiking and exploring. There is a swinging area where swings hang from cathedral oaks that both adults and children love to take advantage of. There are hero trees in the arboretum also that have historical significance, an exhibit that shows what the best trees to plant where are, and a spot that shows the diseased that trees can get and how they are affected by them. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas - Photo: Alexander Tarassov/Fotolia

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»Plan Your Visit

Plan Your Visit


The Wildflower Center is committed to sustainability, conservation and protection of the natural environment of Texas. There are several events and programs offered throughout the year including lectures, holiday events, Art exhibits, moonlit walks, guided tours, audio tours and workshops, such as wreath building this winter, that are for all ages. There is also a research library, café for dining and a gift shop located at the Wildflower Center.

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4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, Texas 78739, website, Phone: Phone: 512-232-0100 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas - Photo: yongkiet/Fotolia

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Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas