The University of Texas at Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is one of the country’s premier native plant botanic gardens dedicated to the conservation and restoration of native plants and resilient landscapes.
A world enriched and supported by human interactions with the land.
To conserve, restore and create healthy landscapes.
The Center was founded by Lady Bird Johnson and Helen Hayes as the National Wildflower Research Center in 1982 and later renamed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in 1997. It is a signature piece of Mrs. Johnson's environmental legacy, and is complementary to the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs on the university’s campus. Originally opened on land in East Austin, the Center moved to its current site on a transition zone between the Edwards Plateau and Blackland Prairie ecoregions in 1995.
The Center has achieved great success since its founding, evolving from a private non-profit research organization narrowly focused on Texas wildflowers to a major botanic garden and research unit of the university known for plant conservation, landscape restoration and sustainable approaches to landscape design and development. Through plant-based research, demonstration projects, education and the development of national-scale programs to promote sustainable landscape design, the Center is making a difference for the health of the planet.
Our vision thus embodies the university’s similar charge to change the world and serve the state and nation through education and research programs.
The Center's gardens and arboretum display the native plants of Central, South and West Texas. Our Plant Conservation Program protects the ecological heritage of the entire state by conserving its rare and endangered flora, while the Native Plant Information Network provides online information on more than 8,000 North American native plants. The Research and Ecological Design program engages in landscape research and applies knowledge of ecological processes to restore damaged landscapes in both urban and rural areas. The Center’s education programs for children and adults teach about our environment and provide lessons on sustainable landscape design and native plants.
Gardens & Campus
Our botanic garden includes nine acres of cultivated gardens representing the most diverse collection of Texas native plants in North America, a 16-acre Texas Arboretum, a Family Garden, and three miles of trails. The cultivated gardens feature a collection of more than 650 plants native to Texas and demonstrate their use in various designs. The gardens include a butterfly garden, a woodland space, water gardens, homeowner design examples an English-style border garden and others. The Texas Arboretum places an emphasis on the more than 50 species of oaks found in the state. The Luci and Ian Family Garden uses native plants exclusively and was developed as a model of sustainable design. It provides opportunity for both structured education and informal play and exploration in nature. The Family Garden received a 2-star SITES rating.
Research & Plant Conservation
Plant conservation work at the Center addresses the increasing threats to plant diversity and healthy native ecosystems. Ongoing projects include seed collection and banking of Texas plants for various state and national programs, using stored seed for restoration of large landscapes damaged by catastrophic events (fire and floods), conservation and propagation of threatened and endangered plants in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, training citizen scientists as part of statewide invasive species identification and control efforts, and conducting plant surveys for the National Park Service and other entities.
Ecosystem research at the Center focuses on using native plants and sound design to address environmental problems, particularly water scarcity, climate change and loss of healthy ecosystems. Active projects include studying the impact of prescribed fire on Central Texas ecosystems, combating invasive species and testing the effectiveness of different native plants and growing media in green roofs designed for arid and semi-arid climates. A signature accomplishment of the research program is the development of a native turf grass, Habiturf®, a resilient and water-saving alternative to commonly used turf grasses. This product is now commercially available as seed. The Center’s recently patented SkySystem™ is a planting medium developed specifically for growing native plants on roofs in hot climates.
Education & Training
Education is at the core of the Center’s mission. Center staff teach classes at the university, while extensive on-site educational programming includes programs and special events for children and adult learners. We provide classes for adults on gardening with native plants, art in nature and sustainable landscape practices. Various annual educational events also draw adult learners. Landscape for Life, an education program based on the sustainability principles of SITES, is a web-based program designed primarily for homeowners. The Center hosts numerous professional workshops and conferences and provides professional training in sustainable and ecosystem-based design and other topics with online information and interactive webinars.
Off-campus consulting extends the Center’s reach by demonstrating sustainable, ecosystem-based landscape approaches in large scale, highly visible projects. These projects often incorporate results from the Center’s research. Center staff work with private and public landowners to create sustainable landscape design and maintenance plans and to oversee their installation and performance. Restoration of degraded lands is another service provided by the Center. Staff researchers also provide botanical survey consultations for national parks and other governmental agencies.
Outreach & Information
The Center’s website, wildflower.org, provides a full range of information useful to garden visitors as well as students, gardeners, native plant enthusiasts, landscape designers and others. It also hosts the Native Plant Information Network, a free and searchable database of information about more than 8,000 native plants, including 43,000 plant images, how-to tips, answers to plant and natural gardening questions and more. Wildflower magazine is a nationally recognized source of native plant information and inspiration for our members.
She was INSPIRING.
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