Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

It was cloudy and cold yesterday, but it didn't get in the way of a wonderful visit with my cousin, Ruth. Ruth and I hadn't seen one another in over 40 years. That's her little dog Rufus there in the picture with us.

Ruth is a member of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. We were able to go in with her, and we spent the morning wandering around. Of course, not much is in bloom this time of the year, but I imagine this is a wonderful place in the spring and summer. Also, it was a perfect place for families. I'll say more about that in a minute.

At the entrance was this quote from Mrs. Johnson. I realize it's a little hard to read in an image below, and so I'll tell you what it says:

My special cause, the one that alerts my interest and quickens the pace of my life, is to preserve the wildflowers and native plants that define the regions of our land, to encourage and promote their use in appropriate areas, and thus help pass on to generations in waiting the quiet joys and satisfactions I have known since my childhood.

There was lovely rock work at the entrance, and a nice gift shop.

Through that window in the wall, we could see the American century plant, which feels like an old friend. We've seen them many times in our travels. They put out a huge long stalk...perhaps 12 feet tall...with a big flower on the end when they bloom. After that one shining moment of blossom, they die.

Of course there were a lot of cactus at the center. These were very cute, and aptly named.

A docent met us as we wandered along and took us on a tour. This structure was a carriage house at one time. It has been turned into an exhibit hall.

She pointed out the plant of the Texas Bluebonnet, and Mike and I made what was (for us) an astonishing discovery. The raindrops sitting in the center of that leaf cluster gave it away.

This next image was taken of the mountain lupine while we were hiking on Mt. Rainier in Washington one summer.

Here is an image of the flowering Texas Bluebonnets.

This is an image of the Mountain Lupine.

They're practically the same plant! In fact, they are from the same genus of lupinis. This was both good and bad news to us. We've had on our bucket list to visit Texas when the bluebonnets are in bloom. Now that we know we can see an almost identical flower right in our own back yard, we no longer feel a need to make that pilgrimage. I'm not sure whether to be joyful or sorrowful. Oh well...we can probably think of other reasons to visit Texas while the bluebonnets are in bloom.

Here's something else we learned. Apparently holly plants come in many forms. Of course everyone is familiar with Christmas holly and its prickly waxy leaves. But we have seen different forms of holly plants all along the way. Here are just two that we saw at the gardens yesterday.

There were a number of leafless trees with red berries on them at the garden, and they too are members of the holly family.

The docent especially wanted to show us the "family garden" built by Lady Bird Johnson's younger daughter, Luci Baines Johnson.

Luci Johnson wanted a garden where children could play without hearing the word, "no," and so this garden was designed with that in mind. It was colorful and playful.

These "eagles nests" were made from grape vines. The one on the right is how they look from the back, and the one on the left shows a platform where children can play.

The center keeps preservation in mind, always, and so these dead tree tops were used to create play structures.

Same goes for these logs.

There was a waterfall and wading stream, and it was possible to enter a tunnel behind the waterfall and look out.

Walking toward the waterfall, we passed this tunnel with tiled-in "pictographs."

Looking out from behind the waterfall, one sees this.

There were some marvelous sculptures all over the garden. It was fun to look out and see these two birds.

Here are some chairs made in the form of butterflies.

Across this open expanse was gym equipment. The docent explained that children are unable to use gym equipment until they reach the age of 12 (usually), and so there was some provided here.

To the right was a nice area for sitting, resting, and meditation, and there were also some nice picnic areas.

Eventually, we came upon this structure, which is a water containment system.

It was possible to climb the steps to the top.

From there, we could look down and see water inside the tower. You can see a reflection near the center of the image below.

On a structure to the side, the water is captured and runs down the ridges on the roof into the "gutter" that extends through the center and into the foreground of the image below. It dumps into the water tower.

From the top, there is a view of the surrounding desert.

Here are some more cactus we saw. They were about as big as my fist, but look at the intricate needle structure.

This next flower was the one and only blooming thing we saw on yesterday's walk through.

February is member appreciation month, and so the center gave this gift of a bag to my cousin, which she passed along to me. Pretty! Thank you, Ruthie!

We were cold and hungry by then, and so we took Ruth back home, and we returned to the RV to check in on the kitties, eat some lunch, and rest for a bit. We had plans for dinner that evening. On the advice of my friend, Kate, we visited the Salt Lick for some great Texas barbecue. Oh my goodness...it was fun to see it cooking there over an open fire, and to watch the cooks at work. There was some pretty fancy knife handling going on. We shuddered at how close they came to their fingers as they whacked apart hunks of meat to serve up in the restaurant.

The Salt Lick is a very popular venue, and when we arrived in the parking lot we were dismayed to see literally hundreds of cars. Still, they move folks through fairly quickly, and our wait was only about 20 minutes. The food was delicious and very reasonably priced. We couldn't possibly have eaten all of it, and we took some home. Ruth will be able to enjoy another dinner tonight.

So that was our visit. Also yesterday, I finished up Block #4 for the Snow Globes quilt. This one is called "Let it Snow."

Now I've traced out Block #4 for Heart and Home. This one is called "Town and Country." I'll get to work on that one sometime today.

Next stop: Fredericksburg. So many of you have told me to visit Creations quilt shop in nearby Kerrville. Yes!!! We're going!!! I have to see what all the fuss is about, don't I? Also, we want to visit the Enchanted Rock north of Fredericksburg, and we're told Fredericksburg itself is a charming little town well worth a visit. Onward!

Edited to add just one more thing before we move along. Remember the image of the white squirrel we saw in Ochlockonee River State Park in Florida?

Here's a link to an article about them from yesterday's Washington Post. Interesting. If you're wondering, yes, I reported our sightings to the research project.

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

gpc said...

What a beautiful garden; I'm grateful to Mrs. Johnson for working so hard on an important and non-polical topic to make the world a better place. Love the children's area, too. And oh lordy, that barbecue!

Lady Jane said...

What a lovely garden tour, thank you. Love your embroidery. Hugs, lj

quiltzyx said...

I have finally caught up! Lady Bird's wildflower center is spectacular, I can only imagine it in the spring. It's great that it is so kid-friendly too. Glad you got to spend such a fun time with your cousin.
I can almost SMELL the BBQ too! Mmmm.

The link for the Washington Post article went to gmail. I tried to find the article at their website but it kept sending me in circles. grrrr. :(

Kate said...

I never realized lupine and blue bonnets were practically the same thing, either! I can think of another excuse to visit in season, though. (Hint: its BBQ.) Mmmm, Salt Lick....my very own cooler full is coming home soon!

WoolenSails said...

That is a beautiful place, even without all the blooming flowers, lots of interesting structures and art.
Love that white squirrel, so fun to have spotted one.


piecefulwendy said...

So glad you had a nice visit with your cousin after all those years! I'll bet the wildflower center is beautiful i full bloom! The Salt Lick sounds like a great place too. A fun day!

Debbie said...

What a neat place to visit and bet it so full of color in the summer. Thanks for the tour and insight to some of the neat features. I love that Lady Bird made it a project to spread wildflowers across the country and along the highways.

Brown Family said...

I have never been to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Thank you for the tour. Now I want to go and see it. Lady Bird was a great lady. She started a program to beautify Texas highways. In the spring, the roads are bordered by beautiful wildflowers. Many roadsides look shaggy because they do not mow till the flowers have stopped blooming.

kc said...

Gorgeous! We never got to THAT particular garden, but there is one in Huntsville that must have been heavily influenced by Lady Bird's. A lot of the same labeling, the stone work, the idea of the children's garden, even the same butterfly furniture & crane statues.

I'm so excited for you that you'll be visiting Creations; we found it enchanting. And Enchanted Rock was too!! (tho I did experience some issues and couldn't make it all the way up, then couldn't make it back down without assistance from dear hubs and friend. Thank God for friends, else I'd probably still be up on that chunk of stone!!)

While in F'burg, be sure to visit Wildseed Flower Farms, too....you'll LOVE the garden decor sections, and probably the restaurant, where you can sample and buy! Oh, and there's a whole storefront for nothing but hot sauce. And do try the German restaurant; it was good when we were there a few years back. There's also the Nimitz museum, if you're interested in wartime history (or Res Eng is...).

There's also a general store along the main street, I *think* it might have "emporium" in the name...but if you go in, and look over on the LEFT, it's ALL FABRIC! Good fabric too, and pretty inexpensive, as I recall.

The bluebonnets in spring are amazing, just in case you ever need to know. Perhaps we could meet up? We are SOOOO up for a road trip!!!

Stitches said...

I loved Lady Bird's Wildflower center, you did a great job showing us around. I would love to visit there sometime..thanks for the tour!!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

The Texas Hill country (starts outside of Austin) covered in Bluebonnets, with Indian Paintbrush, and other wild flowers, with cactus and large rocks and boulders, is a site to behold. My favorite picture of my oldest, is him sitting in the middle of the Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush at one year old. Eat some German food for me in Fredricksburg. Fun town!