Here in Austin, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is known for its beautiful gardens and extensive trails that wind through the vibrant Texas hill country. Established in 1982 by actress Helen Hayes and Lady Bird Johnson, former first lady and Texas native, the center’s mission is to promote the conservation and sustainable use of native Texas landscapes, plants and, of course, wildflowers. In 2006, the center became an official research unit for the University of Texas, where researchers work to preserve the numerous endangered plant species of Texas. The center is constantly growing, and has recently announced its latest project- the Luci Baines Johnson and Ian Turpin Family Garden.
This new section of the center, scheduled to open in 2014, will consist of 4.5 acres of fun exhibits which focus largely on educating visitors (specifically children) about the diverse wildlife native to Texas. Gary Smith designed the garden to emphasize hands-on learning and interaction with the surrounding nature. The Giant Birds’ Nests will give children a chance to be a bird for an afternoon, as they tend to extra-large eggs and learn about the various bird species of Texas. The Nature’s Spiral exhibit will represent the cyclical pattern of plant and animal life in a colorful wall surrounded by native vegetation. The Spiral is also the flagship exhibit, which adheres to the standards of the Sustainability Sites project, an organization which promotes eco-friendly landscapes. Other exhibits include the Hill Country Grotto, the Metamorphosis Maze and the Giant Play Yard.
Throughout the year, the center also hosts many events which are both educational and fun! Nature Nights are held throughout the summer, where kids learn about specific nature topics through entertaining presentations. The annual Halloween event Goblins in the Garden always draws a crowd for trick-or-treating and a scavenger hunt. Lady Bird Johnson Tribute Day is coming up on July 28, where all visitors enjoy free admission and fun activities all day! For more information about the new garden and the fun events happening year round, check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website.