Friday, September 10, 2010

Gardens, traveling, and challenges

Heading off to attend the Garden Writers Association annual conference in Dallas, I took a pre-conference detour to Austin, Texas, where I grew up. 

Austin is a great city, but not the place that I remember.  

My mom's house (our family home) was in Northwest Austin, but my dad (and his wife) and my sister (and her husband) now live well outside of anything that I'd call 'in Austin' today, outside the Highway 360 loop.

Lobelia cardinalis along Hill Country Stream
I mention this in talks; where I rambled as a young teenager, poking around in natural landscapes, is now completely developed.  From where our family home was, once open space, is filled with houses to where my sister lives, a considerable distance away.

But, I was encouraged by the sense of place that many residential and commercial landscapes had. 

Central Texas sees the convergence of the Edwards Plateau,  black land prairie and other ecosystems.  It makes a great mix, both for vegetation and wildlife.

And a visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was an encouraging reminder of the power of native plants.  I've been a member for many years, but the last time I'd visited their site was about five years ago, on tour with a Botanical Society of America conference, as best as I remember.

 an inspiring wildlife pond
It looks great now, and I was totally impressed.  I loved all of the landscapes around their historically appropriate buildings. And the plantings, mature now, are wonderful.

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