Children and families will bloom outside this spring as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of The University of Texas at Austin unveils its new Luci and Ian Family Garden at a public grand opening on Sunday, May 4.
The 4.5-acre Family Garden is the only native plant garden in Central Texas developed for families. It is designed to encourage hands-on, creative outdoor play, with sustainable features including giant birds' nests, a creek, caves 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.
"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 mosaicinlaid 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 birds' 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 more than $5 million to fund the project.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is located at 4801 La Crosse Ave, Austin, Texas 78739. To learn more about the Family Garden, built by SpawGlass, visit, http://www.wildflower.org/family_garden.