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Friday, December 2, 2011

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

My husband and I have been talking about taking a trip to Austin for awhile now. Both of us briefly went to college there, before we knew each other, and we haven’t spent any significant amount of time there since. I strategically planned our trip for the weekend of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center fall plant sale in October. I have given the front yard flowerbeds a complete overhaul and my intention is to plant primarily natives in the new and improved beds. The only downside to my plan was that he is not a gardener, so my time to spend wandering around and taking pictures was limited.

This was my first trip to the Wildflower Center. The entire center covers almost 300 acres, but the display gardens are all pretty close to the main entrance. There are also trails representing different ecosystems, but I didn’t have a chance to explore those.

Here are some shots of the gardens from the top of the tower

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I went directly to the plant sale after we arrived at the Wildflower Center. I already had a list of plants that I was looking for. After I scored my loot, I took a leisurely stroll through some of the gardens. I was on the look out for appealing shady scenes. After all, my small front yard is almost entirely shaded by three 30 year old live oaks.

Here are some of my inspiration photos.

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This is our native red turk’s cap, blooming in the shade of an oak tree.

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The fall blooming asters were electrifying the shade in every part of the gardens.

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In the above photo, there is more of the red turk’s cap and something new that caught my attention…

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Inland Sea Oats. After seeing these, I had to take another trip back through the plant sale to pick up some of these for the new front yard beds.

This is what I came home with:

For the front gardens:
Malpighia glabra, Barbados Cherry
Salvia Regla, Red Mountain Sage
Chasmanthium latifolium, Inland Sea Oats
Conoclinum coelestinum, Blue Mist Flower
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, Fall Aster
Callirhoe involucrata, Winecup
Salvia arizonica, Arizona Sage
Chile Pequin

And for other parts of my garden:
Monarda Lindheimeri, Lindheimer’s Bee Balm
Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot (I haven’t had much luck with Monarda since I moved back to Texas, so maybe these natives will succeed)
Sphaeralcea incana, Gray Globemallow
Passiflora incarnata, Maypop
Passiflora foetida, Scarlet Fruit Passionflower
Flame acanthus
Mexican Red Hat
Salvia gregii, Red Autumn Sage
Erythrina herbacea, Coralbean

Even though these are all Texas natives, Texas is a big state, which means these plants aren’t guaranteed to do well in Houston. So, this is my own little SW Houston experiment. Some might be too invasive, some may not be quite right for Houston, but that’s why gardening is so much fun! I can’t wait until next summer to see how these plants will handle the whims of Houston weather.