Austin Wildflowers . . .
Founded in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady to President Lyndon B. Johnson, along with the late actress Helen Hayes, the center was originally located on a small tract of land in east Austin, but relocated here in 1995. Since its relocation, additional adjacent tracts of land have subsequently been acquired.
The Wildflower Center primarily functions as an educational and advocacy organization promoting the preservation and use of native plants and flowers.
And, to that end, the center offers informal classes (the program is called Go Native U) through the University of Texas.
The Wildflower Center also maintains 16 separate gardens that serve as models of the use of native flowers and plant species for individual gardeners.
It's a popular destination for youth groups and school field trips, and the center's website offers free downloadable teacher resources pertaining to everything from Wildflower Fun Facts to information on how to create your own butterfly friendly garden.
The center's own Butterfly Garden is very engaging during season, and the Little House with its hands on materials and fun activities is an equally entertaining destination for the younger crowd.
[Note: children are still expected to be accompanied by an adult while in the Little House.]
More Than Educational . . .But the Lady Bird Wildflower Center is more than just an educational resource. There are scientific based reasons (including water conservation issues) for using Texas native flowers and plants, but beauty is not just for instruction; it's also for inspiration.
In addition to the gardens, there are extensive trails running through adjacent meadows, a wide assortment of outdoor sculptures, ponds, a cafe, a visitor's center, an art gallery, a gift shop, a really wonderful court yard (this is actually my favorite spot) and the San Antonio Tower, an observational stone tower accessible via a steep, spiral staircase that offers a bird's eye view of everything.
In spring, the wildflowers in central Texas explode. Obviously this is the most popular time to visit, but it's a great Austin Things to Do destination all year round. Even during the hot summer months, visits here can still be enjoyable (but try to go early in the day at least).
Fortunately, there are numerous refrigerated water fountains strategically scattered in various locations.
And this really is a first class operation.
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