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.
Five years ago the Wildflower Center set out to achieve the ambitious goals included in a newly minted strategic plan. As we end 2010, we are gratified by our progress in accomplishing those goals.
With our greatly expanded Native Plant Information Network (NPIN), our new website offerings and our leadership in national efforts, we have established the Center as a leading voice for native plants. Last year the online NPIN had nearly 4 million visits. We have built our reputation for research with globally recognized work on green roofs, native grasses, prescribed burn ecology and other ecologically important subjects. We have substantially increased the demand for native plants through our leadership in the Sustainable Sites Initiative™, which created voluntary guidelines and a rating system for sustainable landscapes. The recently completed Landscape for Life™ online resource brings those guidelines to homeowners.
And despite economic hard times, we have kept the Center's bottom line in the black and taken many steps to improve our financial stability.
As the New Year begins, we have even higher aspirations for the Center.
While we've made a number of improvements to our 279-acre site, including a new permanent exhibit in the Visitors Gallery, there is much to do and several transformational projects underway. Thanks to Mollie Steves Zachry, the Texas Arboretum that will bear her name is fast taking shape on some of our most beautiful acreage. Fundraising for the Children's Garden, an outdoor earth science laboratory cleverly disguised as an enchanted playland, is going well, and we hope to break ground in 2012.
We plan to make the Wildflower Center a destination where the overwhelming beauty and structure of our native plant gardens inspire imitation by homeowners and professionals in the landscaping industry. We intend to make improvements on our entire site, not just the cultivated gardens, and to improve interpretation across the property so that visitors understand the many values of native plants.
Working with our partners, the American Society of Landscape Architects and the U.S. Botanic Garden, we will take the Sustainable Sites Initiative to the next level: certification. Some 162 diverse pilot projects in 34 states, Iceland, Canada and Spain are now testing the 15 prerequisites and 51 different credits covering areas such as the initial site selection, water, soil, vegetation, materials, and human health and well-being. Offering professional training for landscape professionals will be a next step toward shifting conventional landscaping practices in a more sustainable direction.
We will strengthen our native plant research by drawing scientists from other institutions to collaborate on projects and by improving our facilities. Our plant conservation program will be expanded by leveraging the capabilities of the more than 800 citizen scientists that we have trained to collect seeds and identify invasive plants, as well as by placing stronger emphasis on conservation of threatened and endangered plants.
Our education efforts will build on the strong foundation of our Go Native U gardening courses and our popular family Nature Nights. Bringing students to the Wildflower Center is the best way we know to teach them about nature, and we will work with schools to make that opportunity available to many more children. And we will make information for teachers, students, parents and children much richer and more easily available by offering it online.
With the strong support and assistance of our talented Advisory Council and our hard-working staff, we are ready to realize a key goal of our strategic plan: realizing the full potential of our gardens, natural areas, outdoor laboratories and buildings. We are refocused and moving forward. Because never has our work been more important.
— Susan K. Rieff, Executive Director