Austin: Wildflower Center, part 2 - in sun

In honor of Wildflower Wednesday, I return to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a beautiful, warm place for an armchair revisit.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center grotto tunnel_AlyseLansing.jpg

Being as how it’s Wildflower Wednesday (the native-plant-honoring meme hosted on the Clay and Limestone blog), now is a good time to resurrect my online journaling and publish the second half of my visit to the Wildflower Center. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, to be exact, in Austin, Texas.

This botanical garden and teaching facility is a lovely, warm place for a winter armchair revisit. So settle in for a long one…this is one of the longer blog posts I’ve written. You are forewarned, BUT this garden is worth it!

Returning to the Wildflower Center

After having missed most of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on my May 4 tour with the garden bloggers 2018, I returned with my husband and daughter after the conference, this time on a warm, sunny day. (On the first trip, all of us from out-of-state learned what an honest Texas rainstorm can be!)

My traveling companions this day:

L to R: myself, Joe Gass, and Emily Gass - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, May 7, 2018

L to R: myself, Joe Gass, and Emily Gass - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, May 7, 2018

I was not alone among the bloggers who were excited to come back and see what the Center looked like—in sun. I caught a few in the background here, with Joe believing I was taking a picture of him. (Well I was. Sort of.)

Wildflower_Center_Part2 - 2.jpg

In “Part 1,” I covered the Center’s entry and central plaza courtyard. It looked stunning in the pre-storm light of three days earlier:

Wildflower_Center_Part2 - 00.jpg

Since I thoroughly covered that courtyard earlier, I skipped it now, knowing how fast I needed to move in order beat the high noon light. Just out of the plaza, one passes through a meadowy clearing with several themed components.

Wildflower_Center_Part2 - 4.jpg

I chose the straight-ahead path, and entered the Hill Country Stream garden, a shaded glade devoted to Texas native plants.

After the Hill Country garden, I passed through the Theme Gardens, laid out in their geometric grids in full blazing sun. I scooted through, as I had a long way to go before getting to the north side of the grounds before the sun got higher.

Agave americana, American Century Plant

Agave americana, American Century Plant

The most famous plant in the Theme Gardens is a huge specimen of Agave americana, our native American Century Plant. It’s the size of a Volkswagon. The photo above will have to suffice, as I neglected to get a photo of the largest one!

Wildflower_Center_Part2 - 16.jpg

By way of the Woodland Trail, I approached the north half of the realm, first crossing the creek (above), and then pausing every 10 feet to identify the trees in this arboretum of woodland natives. (Note to husband and other non-botanical family members, don’t wait for Alyse on these trails!)

Wildflower_Center_Part2 - 17.jpg

I passed through some little meadows of the wildflowers this place is known for…

Eventually I emerged out into the back side of (what I’ve since learned is) “The Luci and Ian Family Garden.” It is a large area, and stretched beyond where I could see. I had not known of it before, so it was a happy surprise.

The place I had surfaced is named “Dinosaur Creek,” and it’s impressive. Obviously conceived by a community of people whole love this place, everywhere within the Luci & Ian Garden is thoughtfully imagined (and funded), from the big-picture on down to infinite small details.

Continuing around the huge family garden, there is NATURE PLAY of all forms. I took a particular study of the different areas, and how they achieved them, as I am involved with my local city’s advisory committee on parks. “Nature play” or “natural playgrounds” are The Thing. For a built environment, they’ve done them well here.

As the sun was now straight overhead, it was tough to get a good photo of the prairie/meadows east of the play area. Late to meet my family, I cruised through pretty quickly, but I grabbed a few shots of the more unusual things.

The view out our window during lunch was this gaggle of sweethearts—school children, waiting in a line with their whole-body expressions of such perfect 1st-grade-ness. There are MANY outdoor school programs going on at the LBJWC. Austin children have it good.

Wildflower_Center_Part2 - 39-.jpg

Cooled down and sated, we emerged from the cafe back to the verandas that give such a great sense of protection to the plaza courtyard.

This is such a beautiful garden. The built elements and the plantings have harmony and eloquence, each the better for the other’s company.

From the viewpoint above, you are looking down the axis of the central courtyard. In the distance is the archway where we came in.
We are back where we began.

Today’s Wildflower Wednesday blog-sharing is hosted by Gail Eichelberger over at Check it out.

Please leave a comment below, if inclined. I’d love to hear from you!

(If you are reading from an email, you may comment here.)