The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas introduces visitors to the diversity and beauty of wildflowers and other native plants. Some might think the winter months would be less vibrant at the center, but this is certainly not the case during the annual Luminations event when it is transformed into a holiday wonderland with thousands of luminaries and twinkling lights. If it weren’t for events like these, it would be much harder to get in the holiday spirit in Austin where the winters never really quite feel like winter.
The wildflower center is much more than just a garden. It is recognized as a leader in plant conservation in the state of Texas, emphasizing the ecological advantages of native plants through its many partnerships, educational programs, rare plant monitoring and research efforts, and novel citizen science projects. An impressive project is the Native Plant Information Network (NPIN), a national web portal for native plant information and resources for 8,500+ species. From this database they put together a list of all the plants that are in bloom each week, which is the the ultimate garden-goer cheat sheet. Since moving to Austin, I am trying to familiarize myself with the native vegetation as much as possible and have found this to be a great resource.