Off-Center: Spring/Summer 2020
Sculpting a Landscape
In April 2019, the Contemporary Austin premiered a new sculpture by Chicago-based artist Jessica Stockholder at its Laguna Gloria location. Leslie Uppinghouse, a Center horticulturist, collaborated with Stockholder to create a landscape specifically for the sculpture.
Stockholder’s “Save on Select Landscape & Outdoor Lighting: Song to Mind Uncouples” juxtaposes common materials, colors and shapes with the natural environment. Uppinghouse designed the grounds with that in mind, repeating the strong geometrics of the sculpture by incorporating circles and triangles in garden beds and plant choices. She chose reddish-orange Turk’s cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) and bright green twistleaf yucca (Yucca rupicola) as one of many striking plant combinations in her design.
“Jessica was very generous with her time and ideas,” says Uppinghouse. “The hardest part was all the moving pieces — construction and infrastructure.” In the end, Uppinghouse felt “really happy with the way that the landscape showed off the new piece” and thankful for the honor of working with Stockholder. – Ashley Hackett
Center arborist Andrew McNeil-Marshall traveled to Nacogdoches, Texas, to collect seeds of native oak trees in October 2018. He was joined by Peckerwood Garden’s Adam Black and Peter Loos of the Pineywoods Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas.
McNeil-Marshall collected 11 different species of oak that are not currently present in the Center’s Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum, including Quercus arkansana, which is relatively rare and requires focused conservation efforts. “The goal of the arboretum is to represent as many woody plants native to Texas as possible,” McNeil-Marshall says. “This trip definitely contributed to that.”
Another benefit of the trip was being able to tour the arboretum at Stephen F. Austin State University, which McNeil- Marshall says “shares a lot of the same goals as the Center.” He values the opportunity to see other collections, learn about plant acquisitions, and discuss “ideas for how an arboretum can be useful.” There are currently around 87 unique tree taxa in the Texas Arboretum; trips like these enhance the collection and assist with conservation efforts. – Brianna Casselman
A decade-long relationship between Keep Austin Beautiful and the Wildflower Center, fourth-grade students participating in the Clean Creek Campus program at Travis Heights Elementary planted over 80 native plants in a “grow zone” along Blunn Creek in fall 2018. “The students walked away with the sense that they played a significant role in improving the community space,” says Andrew Gansky, former KAB development manager. “Because the students are in the greenbelt almost every school day, they’ll have the opportunity to observe the growth and changes in the ecosystem over time.”
Green Teens after-school programs at two Austin high schools, Travis and LBJ, have been planting natives in their schools’ courtyards too. “The Green Teens have built edible garden beds as well as a pollinator garden and braved a rainy day,” says Gansky, to plant Carolina cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana), mistflower (Conoclinium spp.), flame acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii), prairie goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis) and little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), all of which were donated by the Center. – Brianna Casselman