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Nature on the Forty Acres (In Photos)

The relatively quieter summer months are a good time to explore the natural beauty of campus. These photos are a glimpse into what you might find.

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A green heron taking flight in Waller Creek, showing water dripping from its golden legs and feet
Photo by Marsha Miller.

Campus is a busy place, but if you slow down, you can see a whole other world thriving. The Forty Acres has countless green spaces providing sanctuary to native and adapted species, from red-eared sliders in the turtle pond and water fowl in Waller Creek, to our resident falcon perched above us all. The landscape is dotted with vibrant color: yellow prickly pear cacti, stands of bluebonnets, fiery pride of Barbados flowers, lush green oak trees and shimmering sage succulents. These beautiful ecosystems on our urban campus provide faculty members and students a living laboratory to study the nature of Texas.

“Where flowers bloom, there blooms hope.”
—Lady Bird Johnson. Quotation displayed on Lady Bird Plaza at the LBJ Library.
A single stem of horsetail, showing a closeup of the geometric patterns found in nature
Horsetail in the garden on the south side of Patton Hall. Photo by Marsha Miller.
From left to right: Red-eared slider in the turtle pond. Photo by Marsha Miller. A dragon fly on a new lily leaf in the turtle pond. Photo by Marsha Miller. A twisting leaf in the garden on the south side of Patton Hall. Photo by Marsha Miller.
When spring climbed toward summer, you opened once more the curled sleeping fingers of newborn leaves as though nothing had happened …”
—- W.S. Merwin, from the poem “Elegy for a Walnut Tree”
A green heron with yellow legs and long bill wades in the shallows of a small waterfall in Waller Creek
A green heron fishing in Waller Creek the morning after a rain. Photo by Marsha Miller.
From left to right: Lily in the turtle pond. Photo by Marsha Miller. Submerged water lily leaves in the turtle pond. Photo by Marsha Miller. Geometric pattern of leaves in front of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Photo by Marsha Miller Pride of Barbados in front the the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Photo by Marsha Miller.
A blooming cactus, with pink flowers and an insect with long legs.
An insect on a blooming cactus east of the Tower. Photo by Marsha Miller
A closeup of a golden sunflower bud in the garden by Jester Dormitory
A sunflower bud in the garden outside of Jester Dormitory. Photo by Marsha Miller.
Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.”
—Richard P. Feynman, American Physicist
From left to right: Cacti on the east side of the Tower. Photo by Marsha Miller A blue jay near the Battle Oaks and the Barbara Jordan statue Photo by Noah Israel. A tangled pattern of leafless vines. Photo by Marsha Miller. Pride of Barbados flower by the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Photo by Marsha Miller.
A Yellow Crowned Night Heron in Waller Creek: tall, blue-grey, with white stripe on its head and a long bill.
A Yellow Crowned Night Heron in Waller Creek. Photo by Marsha Miller.
A squirrel with bushy tail in the patch of bright green jasmine near the Barbara Jordan statue.
A squirrel in the jasmine patch near the Barbara Jordan statue Photo by Noah Israel.