The communications office of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin provides media with timely, accurate information about the Wildflower Center. Below are recent press releases related to Center events and to staff expertise on conservation practices, native plant gardening, nature education, and native plant resources and research findings. For more information or photos beyond those on the newsroom site, please contact:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 1, 2013
Dr. Mark Simmons, director of research and consulting at The University of Texas at Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, is being recognized with a national research award from the American Society of Landscape Architects for advancing the landscape architecture profession.
Simmons oversees the center’s Ecosystem Design Group (EDG), which conducts research to improve urban green infrastructure and consults on sustainable approaches to developing landscapes. He will receive an Honor Award in Research for identifying and investigating challenges in the landscape architecture profession.
He will receive the award Monday, Nov. 18, during the society’s national meeting for his work developing a mix of native grasses that requires less maintenance than many traditional turf grasses. The award will be given at a luncheon in the Boston Convention Center. Simmons was recognized in May for his impact on environmental awareness and policy by the society’s Texas chapter.
The winning project is based on research that led to the development of a sustainable lawn alternative called HabiturfTM. This fine-leafed lawn contains several grass species native to North America that are especially suitable to hot dry climates of the southwest. Habiturf has been installed in residential yards, as a test plot at The University of Texas at Austin campus and at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.
EDG also supplied general design guidance for the 23-acre campus as a consultant to Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. so it would reap the benefits that native plant communities provide. The Presidential Center campus showcases native species in six-plus acres of prairie, one acre of meadows and nine acres of Habiturf throughout the lawns, in parking lots and along the median of SMU Boulevard.
The Ecosystem Design Group’s research has also included a comprehensive study of the features of manufactured vegetated (green) roofs and the native plants that function well on them. The EDG has consulted on green roof design in Austin and at the Dallas Presidential Center, and studies how to enhance their capabilities in subtropical climates.
Simmons has directed research at the Wildflower Center since 2000 and became EDG director in 2010. He teaches university and professional courses on ecological landscape design and sits on technical committees such as one for the national Sustainable Sites InitiativeTM.