Situated ten miles southwest of downtown Austin on the edge of the Texas Hill Country region, this botanical garden and arboretum is an education and research facility for the promotion of Texas wildflowers. In 1982 Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes founded the National Wildflower Research Center, dedicated to stewardship of native vegetation. The organization secured a 60-acre parcel east of Austin and, in 1995, opened a new center at its present location. Darrel Morrison, landscape planner, in collaboration with landscape architects J. Robert Anderson and Eleanor McKinney, sited the center’s buildings and designed the surrounding landscape features amidst existing remnants of prairie grasses, wildflowers, and live oaks. Between 1995 and 2002 additional parcels were added and in 1996 the project received the American Society of Landscape Architects’ National Merit Award. One year later the Center was renamed for Lady Bird Johnson and in 2006 it became affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences and School of Architecture.
Today, measuring 279-acres, the campus hosts a diversity of research plots and numerous public gardens, which exhibit hundreds of native species and sustainable design practices. Thematic demonstration gardens comprise the ten-acre core of the site with emphasis on various Texas ecosystems including woodlands, rocky hill country, and xeric environments. A courtyard with a constructed spring and the South Texas Mission Garden pay homage to the cultural history of Texas. A network of trails meanders through meadows and the sixteen-acre Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum, displaying oak native to Texas and numerous other local trees and understory plantings.