Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Out in the sun

On Sunday afternoon, Ryan and I went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. They were having a special event in honor of an anniversary: LBJ presented his wife with 50 pens that he used to sign the (50) environmental bills she had pushed for enactment. She was a busy little lady! The center was having a free admission day, so we went to check it out.

My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth. - Lady Bird Johnson

This was a hanging quote in the arches near the entrance. There were others too, but I liked this one the best. I think I would have gotten along very well with the former First Lady. She is the reason people get to enjoy those pretty bluebonnets and other wildflowers along the Texas (and national) highways.... her Highway Beautification Act. I don't think I am the only one who would rather see pretty trees and wildflowers rather than billboards and junkyards when I'm taking a long trip. She was also behind the anti-littering laws, preservation of historical landmarks and much more. I am thankful for all of her hard work in preserving the environment and the beautiful sights and places in our country for me and future generations to enjoy.

All of the plants in the LBJWFC are native to Texas, and boy was I surprised. Even through our unbearably hot and dry summer thus far, it was incredibly. . . green.

courtyard with a shady grape covered walkway.
The shade was a wonderful place to take a break from the sun.

so nice and shady! I loved how rustic everything looked...
with the wood beams like tree trunks

A little spring bubbling along...

leading to this little pond with water cress and those pretty green stalk/reeds It's not bamboo, maybe a sub-species? It's really pretty and such a vibrant green.

It was so interesting to see this water just coming out of the ground, then disappear underground again, with moist patches of dirt here and there. Like a dry creek bed, but not completely dry. huh.

They also feature art and gifts donated to the center.

Biggest origami birds I have ever seen. They went up to my hip!

wire-cage birds

I think they were herons since the little stream runs along behind them. They were sitting at the edge of this large area that was teaming with butterflies. There were these huge chartreuse ones that I wanted to get pictures of, but they were too quick and elusive. . . they never landed anywhere!

scorpion lawn-art anyone?

I bet we all know who loved this. . . yes, Ryan. Other things we loved. . .

two different shrubs with red flowers

Ryan really liked these. When he was little and used to garden with his mom, she let him have his own section of the garden which he made a "fire-garden". Only red and orange flowers allowed. He is so cute, I can just imagine this blond-haired, rambunctious little boy running around planting his garden. He wants to have another fire-garden one day, and he thought these a definite addition. He'd have this too *** So I had my story wrong, she never let him have a fire garden. It was something he always begged her for. awwwww. ***

What is a fire-garden without firecrackerbush?
Do those flowers not look just like fireworks?

He also liked this big spiky-looking plant, and said something about a reptile habitat
(I obviously didn't pay much attention to that last part!!)

Ever wondered what a crab-apple looked like?

They are so small! Like diameter about the size of a fifty-cent piece. I just saw these and smiled, thinking about our old horses Dandy and Duffy. I loved feeding them tart little apples and watching their lips curl. But they loved it and always wanted more! I miss those guys.

sand-oats. I just wanted to take a stalk put it in my mouth (you know, like the cartoons)

There were all kinds of grains. We had stopped inside the cafe to get a drink and saw a bouquet of flowers with these incorporated. I loved the country charm!

Purple cone flower - a.k.a. Echinacea

Ok, this was the last type of tree I expected to see in the middle of Texas in the summer. Doesn't this belong in the mountains or something? The branches look so soft, and I think the pattern on the fruit is pretty cool.

Bald cypress


I love butterflies.

I am pretty sure this is a monarch. It paused long enough for a pic.

And then it floated off to some pretty flowers out in the sun and did some posing.
I am pretty sure it was showing off.


Since we're talking about butterflies.

A swallowtail on the way out to the car

prickly pears

Oh man, seeing these took me back to eighth grade. Our history class went on this field trip to Catalina, and we were supposed to be re-living what it was like in California during the Civil War. We "sailed" over on an old boat (of course it had a motor) but we learned how to rig the sails, tie knots, answered to a first-mate, etc. Once we made it over to the island, we had to set up camp, some classmates had to dig a latrine, others (which I was fortunately a part of) had to make this huge pot of stew and we had to peel a hundred or so carrots and potatoes. We also kept watch during shifts on the beach at night (to lookout for pirates, and invading soldiers) and went on walks to find fresh water, identifying safe foods to eat, etc. Enter prickly pears. On said walks, our first captain (the guide) pointed out some prickly pears and went on and on about how good they were. So Lindsay Topp and I decided to pick one to check it out. Ummm, mistake. These have cactus barbs on them too! Except they are like micro-tiny. Of course, tweezers were not part of known technology back then, so we got to enjoy the rest of the trip with prickly pear barbs in our hands and fingers. Anyhow, looking back, it's pretty funny and I totally thought of that field trip when I saw them.

There are all kinds of legumous - not sure if that is a real word - plants and trees here. Suprisingly, some of them are very pleasantly fragrant. I don't know . . . to me, legumes = beans and beans = fragrant (but not pretty fragrant). On campus this spring, there is this one tree near the building that has bright yellow flowers and it smells WONDERFUL. Ryan and I have been trying to find out what it is..... ta da!

Retama - another legume
It is such a pretty tree, with dainty willowy greens and those heavenly flowers.

Sensitive briar
I really like this ground cover. So lush and rich! And this one was just cute and reminded me of a fairy tale.

Silver pony-foot

lone oak

If it wasn't the middle of summer and 105 degrees out, I am sure we would have gone exploring on the trails and in the fields (rattlesnakes - ahh!). Though I know snakes wouldn't have stopped Ryan, it really was unbelievably hot and we were foolishly unprepared (no hats or sunscreen, flip-flops, etc.) We both thought this oak looked so stoic and regal. It's huge, it was probably about 1000 feet away.

deep pool

This pool was donated by Shell Oil and is at the entrance of the center. Ryan kept saying how he was glad he did not have $200 on him, because he would gladly pay that to get to take a dip in it. A $200 dip? crazy. But that's how hot it was.

As we were leaving, there is a big fountain/ pond directly across from the archway holding the quotes. We had paused at it to look at the turtles and saw the hugest dragonflies I had ever seen. Like, as big as my hand at least! Of course they were too fast to take pictures of ,and the big ones didn't land much. But we also saw a snake by the pond too! We almost missed him, but I saw him sneaking down over some rocks to go swimming in the water. It looked a lot like Ryan's own Mister Slithers.

We had so much fun there, and I would go again in a heartbeat. I totally wouldn't hesitate to pay the admission fee ($7), it's so worth it. Plus there are all the trails that we didn't get to go see. I can't wait to go during the spring, when just about everything should be blooming!

I learned a some things too:
Water conservation. They had all these rooves and structures rigged up to collect rainwater runoff in silos, and later use this water for the plants. So smart! Obviously not applicable now in my apt. but maybe someday.
Future gardening. Wherever we move, I am going to take inspiration for gardening from that city's botanical gardens. I had no idea Texas had so many beautiful native plants, and since they are native, they should have no trouble growing!
It's always so wonderful to spend time outdoors. I love getting to see all the little treasures and creations out there. . . just waiting to be enjoyed by us. Seeing some things. . . you just have to wonder at God's humor, and how much fun He must have had during Creation. You can't beat that imagination.

On the way home, we stopped and got sno-cones.

I don't really remember having these much growing up. Ryan and his family went all the time when he was a kid. Maybe it's a Midwest thing. I don't really know how I have not had one before this summer either. There is this great stand near campus and they have more downtown, but they make the best sno-cones in Austin. How can you mess up a sno-cone? Trust me, you can. But these guys at Sno-Beach got it right. And it shows, when the whole parking lot is packed with cars and there is a line with 20 people waiting in the sun to get one. No joke. I got cherry and root beer with cream. It's like a cherry root-beer (Ryan's dad's favorite) but part 50-50 bar and part root beer float. It's good. Ryan got Silver Fox with cream (his mom's favorite). What's Silver Fox? I don't know. If you had to imagine what a cloud tastes like, that's it. really light. with a hint of vanilla. They have about a hundred flavors, but one of them is Tiger Blood, which I have not braved to try. Ryan used to get it as a little boy (of course). I just enjoy getting these glimpes into his childhood, whether its through a sno-cone or little-red flowers. He's amazing.

Well, I had a fun weekend. How about you?

1 comment:

Chanelle said...

cool! that garden looks amazing and sno-cones? um...yum