Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
The Gift of Trees
Many of us literally were dancing in the hallways (with enthusiasm if not talent!) on the day the check came in, a gift from an anonymous fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation made at the request of Mollie Steves Zachry, a well-known San Antonio philanthropist and longtime friend of the Wildflower Center. This transformational gift will fund the entire cost of constructing and maintaining a new arboretum, which will encompass 16 acres on our site and represent a major step toward realizing our garden master plan goals.
As you will read in this issue of Wildflower, the Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum is designed to celebrate the magnificent trees of Texas. Mrs. Zachry hopes that it will become known simply as the Texas Arboretum. We intend to make it the best in the state, a showcase for Texas’ natural heritage as well as its cultural history.
Located on a beautiful savanna/woodland area within our 279 acres, the arboretum will display all 53 species of oak trees that are native to this ecologically diverse state. It also will feature the “Hall of Texas Heroes,” a collection of descendants of some of the great trees that helped shape Texas history – the Alamo Live Oak, Austin’s Treaty Oak and Sam Houston Kissing Bur Oak.
There will be other tree species, of course. Cedar elm, mesquite, Ashe juniper, Texas redbud, Texas persimmon, sycamore, walnut and, of course, Texas’ state tree – pecan – all will add to the diversity and beauty of this large space. We even have a toothache tree on the site.
For several years we have been forging ahead with our arboretum plans, using staff labor, borrowed and donated equipment, and – most important – the services of volunteers who helped clear brush to better display the beautiful trees that already exist on this section of the Wildflower Center. Skilled local arborists volunteered their time to trim and shape specimen trees. Certified oak wilt specialists donated time to preventative treatment. These contributions have been invaluable and have revealed the site’s beauty and potential.
But to create this “garden of trees,” we needed funding to acquire certain new trees, construct trails, and build the educational displays and picnic areas. These features will engage researchers and students while also making the arboretum a place that families will visit again and again. Mrs. Zachry’s thoughtfulness made this possible, and we are proud that we can name this special place in her honor.
Mrs. Zachry has told us that what she loved most about serving on the Wildflower Center board some years back was knowing Mrs. Johnson and hearing her speak about the joys and importance of saving our native trees and landscapes. “I bought into that message with my whole heart,” she said.
If all goes as planned, the public opening of the Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum will coincide with the centennial of Lady Bird Johnson’s birth in 2012, when we will celebrate together the legacies of these two extraordinary conservationists.
— Susan K. Rieff, Executive Director