Sunday, April 13, 2014
The dogwoods have bloomed, the mimosas are quickly emerging, and the harshness of winter is waning into a lovely Spring. Flowers perfume the air, soft clouds sway in the breeze and among all the season's festivities, a special occasion arises. On May 4th, join me and my husband as we celebrate the grand opening of the Luci and Ian Family Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.
Open to the public, this celebration showcases the 4.5 acre native plant Family Garden designed to encourage hands-on, creative outdoor play, with sustainable features including giant birds' nests, a creek, and a maze.
Named after lead donors Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, and her husband Ian Turpin, the $5 million Family Garden will double the maintained garden acreage at the 279-acre Wildflower Center that is part of The University of Texas at Austin.
"The Wildflower Center is on the cutting edge of sustainability,” says Luci Baines Johnson. “Our hope is that the Family Garden will be a place where families go to play and discover the wonder and importance of nature.”
The Luci and Ian Family Garden aims to connect children and families to the natural world by providing more than a dozen interactive and educational features made of natural materials such as Nature’s Spiral, a mosaic–inlaid limestone wall that illustrates the spiral shapes found in nature. Other features include a maze made of native shrubs, giant tree stumps for kids to climb on, giant bird nests made from native grape vines, a grotto with caves and a waterfall, a lawn designed with native turf, a creek with dinosaur footprints and water activities, and much more.
“There is nothing like this garden in Texas on many levels,” says Susan Rieff, executive director of the Wildflower Center. “The Luci and Ian Family Garden will offer children a safe environment for exploring the natural world that we hope will instill a sense of wonder and excitement.”
Designed by landscape architect and artist W. Gary Smith and architecture firm TBG Partners, the Family Garden is a model for eco-friendly landscaping as a pilot project of the national Sustainable Sites InitiativeTM(SITES) program. The Wildflower Center developed SITES in partnership with the U.S. Botanic Garden and the American Society of Landscape Architects. It is the most comprehensive national system for rating the design, construction and maintenance of sustainable landscapes.
The Luci and Ian Family Garden was made possible by more than 200 generous donors, including Lynda Johnson Robb, also daughter of President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, whose family funded the Robb Family Pavilion. Taken together, these donors contributed over $5 million to fund the project.
I encourage you all to take time this season and visit the Luci and Ian Family Garden. And, if you’re available on May 4th, come join me in the garden!
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is located at 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, Texas 78739.