A few weeks back we spent a weekend morning at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The Wildflower Center is a must-visit if you are ever in Austin, especially in the Spring when all of the wildflowers are blooming. And this year has been an unbelievable show of wildflowers with the Bluebonnets being the showiest.
Here’s the thing, while a highway filled with Bluebonnets will make most Texans weep because of its beauty, there are other wildflowers that had an equal share in beautiful displays. At the end of my street there was a field completely covered in Texas Prairie Parsley. Before the Bluebonnets bloomed these yellow flowers were everywhere. When the Bluebonnets started coming out, there were fields of blue and yellow flowers everywhere.
Now, back to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. While we were there I started noticing a few things and it made me realize that my entire backyard landscape is somewhat inspired by this place. I knew I wanted a native-ish landscape. One that wasn’t too dependent on large amounts of water but also I wanted the yard to be filled with blooming plants and flora that was more native to the region.
Here’s an example. The picture on the left is from the Wildflower Center. It is a beautiful stream with plants all around. The one on the right is from my backyard. Can you see some of the similarities. Both have a curve, both have native plants around them. There is a path out of natural materials.
I know my yard doesn’t compare to the beauty of the Wildflower Center, but I wanted to show you how you can take an idea like the native water feature and turn it into something that fits your yard. Eventually my dry creek bed will have more plants growing around the inside and outside edge. That’s how landscapes evolve.
There is this area at the Wildflower Center where they have all of these different beds filled with native plants. There is a bed with desert plants, a bed with flowering plants, different varieties of grasses, etc. I love to walk through here to get a few ideas for plant choices. I get some of my best inspiration for plantings when I see what is paired. This is where I first thought of using galvanized horse troughs for my (soon to be created) veggie garden.
There is this little secret garden area that reminds me of a cottage garden. It’s filled with native plants, pots, and a seating area. When we designed the area where the fire pit is, I had this in mind. I wanted something that could be versatile. Fire pit in the winter, seating in the summer.
I’m still working on this area. I don’t really like the fire pit we purchased and would like to get another one. My plants will one day mature and I want to put some vines on the fence. I want to run this past our neighbor, just in case she’s allergic to bees or certain plants. And, I will get some pots and seating to put around the area. In the meantime, we enjoy sitting on the stone wall.
All this to say, landscape design doesn’t have to be difficult. Stick to the basics like beds filled with plants that are easy to grow and thrive in your environment. Develop ideas from things you see in nature. Groves of trees, fields of flowers, and grasses. Find botanical gardens or a garden center in your area that specializes in plants that do well. Some of my best inspiration has come from taking time to visit these places.