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.
Letter from the Director - Winter 2006
It was, as University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers said, "an occasion that makes our hearts sing." His remarks came at the celebration that marked the union of the Wildflower Center with the university - a special evening where Mrs. Johnson and many longtime Wildflower Center supporters mingled with university faculty and administrators. That fall celebration marked a high point of our progress in 2006. As an Organized Research Unit of the College of Natural Sciences and the School of Architecture, the possibilities for broadening our reach, maximizing the impact of our research and strengthening our voice are greatly increased.
That was a major accomplishment, but not our only one.
Our Millennium Seed Bank Project, a significant part of a global conservation effort aimed at safeguarding 24,000 threatened plant species, moved ahead. Seeds from 52 plant species originating from the Edwards Plateau and West Texas have been collected and shipped to the Royal Botanical Garden, Kew, United Kingdom, for storage, bringing the total species collected to 352. We anticipate expanding the work to East Texas.
Wildflower Center research on roadside vegetation and green roofs attracted national attention. The roadside project demonstrates the value of native plant species for landscape designers in urban settings. Our green roof project is now transmitting real-time data showing how these roofs conserve energy and hold water runoff. The 9,000-square-foot green roof we designed and created at Stratus Properties' Escarpment Village is already a media star.
With water in short supply, high energy prices and polluted skies, it's important to look at the role landscapes play in consuming scarce resources. The national Sustainable Sites initiative, which would set new voluntary standards for sustainable landscapes much as the LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program has for green buildings, would provide incentives for creating environmentally friendly parks, open space, campuses and roadsides. This effort moved to the implementation stage with the help of strong and committed partners.
Blue-chip clients like AMD, the National Aeronautical and Space Administration, the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Denver Botanical Garden at Chatfield propelled the Center's landscape restoration consulting program into national prominence, with demand for its services expanding rapidly. Not only does each consulting project produce important research findings, it also generates revenue for the Center.
Meanwhile, we were able to enhance our native plant gardens. Our new entryway, with limestone terraces that echo Hill Country contours, accompanied such improvements as the Botanists' Bed, an outdoor sculpture garden and improvements to the Meditation Garden, the Weber Butterfly Garden and the Dry Creek Bed. David Rogers' BIG BUGS exhibit made an extended stay at the Wildflower Center, boosting our attendance during the summer and fall.
We are grateful for the support of all our members and friends, who through their generous financial contributions made this a truly successful year for the Wildflower Center. Looking ahead, we see unlimited opportunities for the Wildflower Center, as part of The University of Texas, to become an even more effective site for research and a voice for protecting and conserving our vital native plants and ecosystems. a
Susan K. Rieff, Executive Director