Now is later isn't it? It's fun to go back in time and see how pretty the gardens looked that day. Perhaps it's the faded brown of late summer putting things in perspective but the gardens looked better than I thought at the time. Wildflower Wednesday is this week and why not start the week off with a visit to the place which claims wildflower.org as its web address.
The experience begins in the parking lot featuring pretty and natural native plantings like this seating area. If I were waiting for someone I might be reluctant to leave this spot.
Instead of dodging cars follow this trail to the entrance
The Wildflower Center features plant species native to central, south, and west Texas so it's a great place to see combinations of plants which work best in our climate. The entry gardens with Texas Mountain Laurel, sotol, and agave. The new ticket booth (back left) has a green roof and is designed to be easily moved during renovations.
The entranceway is lined with a stone aqueduct or acequia carrying rainwater collected from nearby building roofs.
The cistern at the end of the aqueduct collects and stores rainwater for use in the gardens.
In the main courtyard, surrounded by the gift shop and administration buildings, a natural pool is reminiscent of the springs found in the nearby Texas Hill Country.
A beautiful display of native winecup and bluebonnet wildflowers just beyond the main courtyard.
I didn't get a lot of tags, but bright red Drummond phlox caught my attention.
I headed to the display gardens beckoning through openings in the limestone wall.
The display gardens are divided by soil and growing condition types and show native plants in a landscaped setting.
I am always amazed by the array of native plants available in Texas. The yellow flowers are Texas Flax.
Among the plants featured are the standing cypress in galvanized tanks we saw through the wall opening earlier.
Of course I spent some time with the native grasses.
Kinetic sculptures by the artist La Paso were on display in the gardens. I also enjoyed work by this same artist at The Benini Sculpture Ranch last summer.
Blooming cholla with container cactus display, all of these are native to Texas. I thought the containers might be used here so they could bring tender cactus in during cold weather but I know from experience the spiral barrel will survive being covered in ice for a day or two as mine has been.
A beautifully natural pond display.
Now on to the Texas Mixed Border garden to see native plants used in a smaller garden setting.
I was a bit disappointed with extensive use of hardscape here. The sheared plants on the corners add a nice structure to the more open shapes of the flowering perennials. I'm planning to add a few of these to my own garden.
The agaves and cactus around the edges of this circle garden give me a few more ideas.
A rustic bench and vines in another garden.
Beyond the display gardens is the new Texas Arboretum which I only briefly explored.
A natural area of Restoration and Research Trails
Salvia blooms near the entry signs. Due to time limits I did not get photos of all the plant tags.
Wide open spaces. I can see this as the setting for many a bluebonnet photo or painting when the wildflowers are in bloom.
Native lace cactus was in bloom (behind the yellow flowers). We used to find these growing along the roadside around our area but haven't seen them since we've been back and I'd like to add some to my garden soon.
Closeup of the bright cactus flowers
Opuntia in bloom among the gaillardia.
Headed back to the center surrounded by blooms.
Near the entrance and a look at the pond across from the aqueduct.
This sculpture has glass inserts reflecting the surrounding colors.
Tortugas on the rocks
One last view of a natural and beautiful representation of the Texas Hill Country along the parking lot.
It was time to head out and, with a 90 minute drive still ahead, I was thankful the center is on the south side of Austin and I live on the north side of San Antonio. A big thank you also goes to Pam Penick who not only drove me all over Austin for the tour but also planned our route so I could end up conveniently near the wildflower center for my last stop. I enjoyed my quick tour and hope to return to spend more time there in the future to gather ideas for my own gardens.