From May 4 through May 12, celebrates nature's bounty of wildflowers across the nation.
At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which oversees the annual week each May, the beauty of native wildflowers will be celebrated during National Wildflower Week with a special photo exhibit: the "wild and wonderful Photography Exhibition."
This year’s exhibit of more than a dozen images is co-sponsored by Texas Highways magazine and highlights photos collected for their April issue. Among the images are: a closeup of winecups and Texas bluebonnets near Kerrville by Tim Fitzharris; Joe Lowery’s dazzling display of Indian blanket in a field near Evant; and a “bouquet” of Zexmania taken by the magazine’s J. Griffis Smith in Walnut Springs.
The exhibit in the McDermott Learning Center opens May 4 so you have two weekends of viewing opportunities! And on Saturday, May 11, Texas Highways photo editor Griff Smith will be at the exhibit from 9 to 11 a.m. to give photo tips.
In addition, Friday May 10 of National Wildflower Week, the Wildflower Center will participate in National Public Gardens Day. And Saturday, May 11, the Center hosts Gardens on Tour, featuring five Austin gardens that highlight native plants and the Wildflower Center gardens.
National Wildflower Week was first held in 1988 by the American Wildflower Society. In 2002, initiator Charles Spencer approached the Wildflower Center about becoming the celebration's permanent home while Spencer chaired the National Ecology Commission.
Across the nation, wildflowers growing beside highways, in gardens and elsewhere are valued for their natural beauty. "As Lady Bird Johnson once said, these and other native plants 'give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours,' "said Damon Waitt, senior director of the Wildflower Center.
National Wildflower Week aims not only to highlight wildflowers' beauty, but to encourage citizens to understand their value and take steps to protect them. Wildflowers and native plants help conserve water, reduce mowing costs, provide habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife and protect the soil from erosion. In addition, native plants often require less resources to maintain than plants that aren't native to a region.
But many wildflowers nationally are in danger from habitat loss, non-native plants that grow aggressively and compete for resources (called invasive plants) and other factors. Some fun ideas on how to participate in National Wildflower Week are below. For a full list of suggestions.
The first National Wildflower Week was launched in 1988 as the primary focus of the American Wildflower Society, which was founded the same year. A few years later the American Wildflower Society became defunct and the week languished in obscurity until revived by Charles Spencer to honor his mentor, Edward Piela, naturalist and botanist. At the request of Spencer, the Wildflower Center became the permanent home of NWW in 2003.
Some fun ideas on how to participate during National Wildflower Week include:
Participate in a Local Event
Chances are, there is a wildflower event happening in your neighborhood. Visit our National Organizations Directory (http://www.wildflower.org/organizations/) to find a native plant society, conservation group, botanical garden or other plant-related organizations in your neck of the woods.
Wildflower Walks and Garden Visits
Explore for yourself. Bring a field guide. Visit a sanctuary, state or local park, national forest or refuge, public or private garden, and other locations to experience the joy and beauty of wildflowers.
Wildflower Beautification Projects
Introduce native wildflowers along roadsides, in parks, and around church, public, and private buildings. Request government and private support for such projects. Encourage local nurseries and garden centers to stock native plants and seeds.
The national forests, national parks, national wildlife refuges, grasslands, and millions of acres of public lands are truly America's wildflower gardens. Celebrating Wildflowers' promotes the many programs featuring the important role that the Nation's public lands, over 630 million acres, play in providing diverse habitats for much of America's flora. Visit http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/index.shtml for more information.