Austin: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Things have been hectic since my husband and I got back from our Mediterranean Cruise. We put our house up for sale in Florida and I moved to Austin, where I started a new job a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, my husband had to stay behind until our house sells. Here I am, alone in Austin. And, our next cruise isn’t until next April. (Sigh) So, what better to do than explore, right?

Today was Tribute Day at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The Center’s Mission is to “increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.” Lady Bird was a huge proponent of conservation and the beautification of the nation’s highways. For more about how Lady Bird influenced legislation and conservation efforts, you can visit the Center’s website at http://www.wildflower.org/environmental_first_lady/.

A couple of quotes from Lady Bird displayed at the Center.

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Normally, entrance fees range from free (for members) to $9.00 per adult. However, today, as a way to honor Lady Bird and her conservation efforts, the Center waived all entrance fees. I love exploring new places for free.

On Sunday mornings, the Center opens at 9:00 a.m. If you visit in the summer or early fall, going early morning would be best. Austin can get quite hot in the afternoon.

A nice pathway leads from the Admissions Kiosk to the Wetland Pond and then to the Courtyard.

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The Visitor’s Gallery, Café, Little House and Little House Gardens surround the Courtyard. To the right, between the Café and the Visitor’s Gallery, is the San Antonio Tower. There are nice views of the Center and the surrounding area from the top of the Tower.

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Continuing on past the Tower, a trail leads to the Nectar Garden and Family Garden entrance. In the Nectar Garden, there were a lot of butterflies hovering around and feeding on the Gregg’s Mistflower plants. Out of all the plants in the Center, the Mistflower seemed to be their favorite.

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The Family Garden is a great area for families with small children. There are several water features, a maze, some oversized birds’ nests, and an open, grassy play area.

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There are also some animal sculptures scattered along the trail.

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After passing through the Family Garden, the trail loops around and heads back toward the Central Gardens and Courtyard.

There are a couple of nice, shaded benches to stop and take a break close to the Butterfly Garden.

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I really enjoyed the Central Gardens area (located near the Courtyard). The Central Gardens present a great variety of native plants in different landscape styles, which is useful for homeowners looking to use native plants in their yards. I especially love how they integrate galvanized steel tubs into the garden beds.

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Some additional pictures from the Central Gardens area.

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After walking through the Central Gardens, you can either head back to the Courtyard and explore the buildings (Visitor’s Center, Library, etc.) or continue on to the Hill Country Trails. There are three different Trails to choose from (or, you can walk them all).

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Since it was starting to get hot, I chose to walk just the Arboretum Trail. The Arboretum Trail is well maintained and there are a lot of picnic tables scattered along the path.

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About halfway (?) down the path, there are several picnic tables and different types of swings hanging from the trees. It would make a great spot for a snack or lunch.

My favorites were the old Oak trees along the Trail.

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By the time I finished the Arboretum Trail, it was starting to get hot. So, it was time to head home.

I really enjoyed my visit to the Wildflower Center. But, Austin has a lot of different hike and bike trails that are free for the public. So, I’m not sure that I would pay the $9.00 entrance fee.  But, I will definitely go back if they ever offer a discounted (or free) admission.

 

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