Field Trip: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, part one

Last week my place of employment sent me to Austin, Texas to spend some time at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I was there for a native plant conference put on by the American Public Garden Association. I had been wanting to visit the Wildflower Center for a long time, so it was great to finally get the chance. Their gardens are truly amazing. I spent three days there, but could have easily stayed much longer. The native plant conference was great, too. I learned a lot about native plant horticulture, and I left feeling inspired to put those things into practice. If you are wondering “why native plants?,” the Wildflower Center has a good answer to that on their website.

While I was there I took dozens of photos, so I am sharing some of those with you in a two part post. The plant name following each photo or series of photos links to a corresponding entry in the Native Plant Database which is managed by the Wildflower Center’s Native Plant Information Network. The quotes that accompany the plant names are taken from the Native Plant Database entries.

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel). “The fragrance of Texas mountain laurel flowers is reminiscent of artificial grape products.”

Ranunculus macranthus (large buttercup). “This is one of the largest flowered native buttercups. The large butter-yellow flowers and attractive foliage of this plant immediately attract the eye.”

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Echinocereus reichenbachii (lace cactus). “Lace cactus is unpredictable in its development, one plant forming a single stem, while its neighbor may branch out and form a dozen or more.”

Dalea greggii (Gregg’s prairie clover). “Grown mostly for its silvery, blue-green, delicately compound leaves, the shrub is awash with clusters of tiny, pea-shaped, purple flowers in spring and early summer.” 

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Viburnum rufidulum (southern blackhaw). “In Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas, Correll and Johnston noted that the fruit tastes similar to raisins.”

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Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita). “Songbirds eat the fruits, and quail and small mammals use the plant for cover. It is considered a good honey source.”

lady bird johnson quote

Field Trip: University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley

Last week I attended a workshop at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Apart from receiving valuable training on how to monitor for and report plant pests and diseases in a public garden setting, I also had a chance to explore the garden. UC Berkeley’s botanical garden is located in Strawberry Canyon in the Berkeley Hills. It covers 34 acres and features plant collections from around the world, including South Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the Mediterranean, and the Americas. Most of the plants were collected from the wild or cultivated from wild collected plants, and a large number of them are rare or endangered species. I was very impressed with how beautifully designed the various gardens are, each display loaded with hundreds of different plant species all meticulously labeled. Because the garden is located in a canyon, the majority of the beds are on slopes, so there has been lots of great rock work and terracing done to create them, and there are numerous side paths that take you off the main path and up into the gardens, giving you the feeling that you are exploring a natural area. Also impressive is the garden’s focus on plant conservation. If you ever find yourself in the San Francisco Bay area, I highly recommend spending some time at this garden. With any luck, I’ll make it back there again someday. The limited time I had to spend there certainly wasn’t enough to explore it fully.

southern africa

Southern African Collection

new world desert

New World Desert Collection

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Mexico/Central America Collection

alabama snow wreath

Alabama Snow-Wreath (Neviusia alabamensis) from Alabama, USA

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Lilac Verbena (Verbena lilacina) from Mexico

spiral aloe

Spiral Aloe (Aloe polyphylla) from South Africa

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Agave victoriae-reginae from Mexico