If you’re interested in some eco-destinations in and around Austin, here are some links to more information! I cover each location in a blog post from one of my previous trips before officially moving to Austin.
As a friendly reminder, some of these locations are free self-guided tours, while others might require fees for tours. If there is a phone number or Facebook page, reach out and ask about scheduling a tour. Calling ahead will help prevent headaches for everyone, and potentially open new doors for opportunity!
The Natural Gardener
After the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, my grandma and I went to check out The Natural Gardener, a very impressive garden center and teaching facility, tucked away on the southwest outskirts of Austin. The offered an educational class a few days before that I came across online, but didn’t manage to attend – but it peaked my interest enough to want to visit the facility itself – and I’m really glad we did!
“The Natural Gardener is one of the most beautiful and unique garden centers in the world. It’s like a candy store for gardeners, but non-gardeners love it, too. It’s a fun, beautiful, educational destination for everyone. Bring the whole family to The Natural Gardener- even the dog! ” — TNG Webpage
Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and The Veloway Park
While in Austin, my grandma recommended we go see the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. My dad had taken my little brother and I years ago, but I can’t remember that visit – so I felt like it was the first time going to the center, especially with all the funding, improvements and expansions within the past several years.
“The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the official state botanic garden and arboretum of Texas. The Center promotes its mission to inspire the conservation of native plants through its internationally recognized sustainable gardens, education and outreach programs, research projects, and consulting work.” — LBJWC Webpage
REI Round Rock – Urban Survival Talk
REI Round Rock was hosting a survival seminar called, Prepare for the Unexpected: Urban Emergency Preparedness, which I was really excited to attend. So I made the drive from Bastrop, TX, to Round Rock for the presentation that evening. When I arrived, I was really impressed to see the design of the REI Round Rock building on the outside, and was in for a big surprise with what I was going to see on the inside!
Sunshine Community Garden Tour
After Zilker Botanical Garden and Pease Park, my grandma and I drove over to the Sunshine Community Garden (SCG), which is located next to the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI). Some of the front-desk workers at ZBG recommended we stop here if we wanted to see one of Austin’s local community gardens, where residents can rent out plots for gardening!
Willow Structures at Pease Park
After Zilker Botanical Garden, my grandma wanted to take me over to Pease Park to check out the willow structures called Yippee Ki Yay, stickwork by Patrick Dougherty, an artistic weaver and sculpture using woody materials like willow and tree limbs.
“Patrick Dougherty, a North Carolina-based artist, is known for creating whirling architectural sculptures from locally-harvested saplings. Dougherty and a team of over 200 Pease Park Conservancy volunteers constructed this site-specific installation using Baccharis neglecta (Roosevelt Weed) and Ligustrum, an invasive species, gathered in and around Austin. Yippee Ki Yay was privately funded by donations made to Pease Park Conservancy and was formally approved through the City of Austin’s Art In Public Places program.
Dougherty says of his inspiration for the sculpture, “We didn’t build a cathedral, instead we borrowed its corners,” referring to the Spanish-Colonial style architecture he encountered during his time in Austin. The sculpture consists of five repeated corner shapes that can be explored through the maze-like passageways they create and the multiple viewpoints from their many entrances and windows. With the title, he also gives a nod to Texas cowboy culture that is much beloved across our state. The installation will remain on view for several years before being dismantled to be used as mulch in the park.” — Pease Park Webpage