Before the storm: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


If ever you’re in Austin, you simply must visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. This homage to Texas wildflowers was our first stop on Garden Bloggers’ Fling this year. I also visited the center in 2014 and 2008, the year of the first Fling. Since this was our 10th anniversary of the Garden Bloggers Fling, it only seemed right to write about one of my favorite places again.

A blue agave stands in the center of a bed in the courtyard at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
A blue agave stands in the center of a bed in the courtyard at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

A large gust front was bearing down on Austin as I quickly worked through the garden. I kept one hand on my camera and the other on a weather app with radar on my iPhone. In spring, people in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas rely on weather radar to make outdoor plans, and even then, we are sometimes taken by surprise.

Most of my photos were taken in a hurry as I practically jogged back to the welcome center before the storm bore down on the bloggers. Some bloggers were caught deep in the nine-acre garden while others were closer to the front.

Note: click on the images in the galleries to see them larger and to see the full captions.

However, when we boarded the buses, all of us got very wet as heavy rain pelted us sideways. I think some parts of Austin got four inches of rain in about an hour. Thank goodness Fling organizers, Laura Wills, Pam Penick, and Diana Kirby, had the foresight to order disposable rain ponchos for all of us. The wind prevented umbrellas from being much help as we dashed from place to place, and weatherproof jackets were too close to the body. Rain ponchos were the perfect Fling accessory on our first day. My Rifle Paper Co. floral Keds were soaked, but the rest of me remained dry-ish.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is both a botanic garden and an educational center. I believe it is also a wedding venue. Isn’t every beautiful location a wedding venue these days? Anyway, I digress. My quick tour took me through the Luci and Ian Family Garden, grassy meadows, wildflower meadows and back to the visitor’s center. I made a quick video for an Instagram Story, and sadly, that was it.

Nassella tenuissima, Mexican feather grass, makes a soft statement along a decomposed granite walkway. I love this grass in my garden too, but in some states, it's invasive. Not in Oklahoma though.
Nassella tenuissima, Mexican feather grass, makes a soft statement along a decomposed granite walkway. I love this grass in my garden too, but in some states, it’s invasive. Not in Oklahoma though.

I could’ve stayed for hours, but rain was beginning to fall, and my phone told me to duck for cover.

Still, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a wonderful place to visit rain or shine. Get yourself there one day.




  1. Kris P says:

    It was clever of you to keep weather updates literally at hand. As downpours are much more unusual in Southern California, the thought of doing that never even occurred to me. I didn’t even retreat until I was soaked. I still need to wade through my photos (pun intended) to see what’s suitable to share.

  2. The heavy rainfall at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower was just a reminder to me about how necessary are the rainfalls, how much more unpredictable they seem to be, and how we all have to treasure and make best use of the rainfalls that we get – in every state. It was a wonderful visit even in the rain. And the Gift Shop was a treat too!

  3. Yes, it was awesome. I’m going to have to go back, because the rain prevented a thorough exploration of the property. You’re fortunate to live a little closer: How many hours to Austin from your place?

  4. Laura says:

    The Lady Bird Johnson website is also a very important resource for folks interested in native plants. I can see I’m going to have to make a trip to Austin the near future!

  5. Pam/Digging says:

    We were sad that our Flingers didn’t have long in this garden before the deluge. But all that rain sure did make the rest of the gardens on our tour pop on the following days!

  6. Sweet T says:

    These are such beautiful pictures!

  7. Fantastic observations and photos! So glad you were able to see some of the gardens again before the rain came. I mean, rain kind of feels like an understatement… Garden bloggers are nature troopers!

  8. You got some great shots before the rain! Such a wonderful destination garden. So fun to share it with friends!!!

  9. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Dee, the Wildflower Center does indeed do weddings. We’re going to one there on the 20th and I do hope the weather will be more temperate!

    1. Best of luck for good weather during the wedding, but the Great Hall is a great “rain plan” and witness a storm over the meadow through the big windows or from the terrace is really memorable as well! We do LOTS of weddings, naturally 🙂

  10. Carol Michel says:

    I didn’t see much, as I stayed close under cover but I know it is a wonderful place, having also visited in 2008. Definitely worth going back to over and over again! And those ponchos were lifesavers!

  11. Layanee says:

    Seeing the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Garden in the pelting rain was actually a highlight of the trip for me. Who will forget the saturated soaking, the lifeblood of any garden, we endured along with the plants? I will someday go back to wander in this beautiful garden when it is hot and dry and then the rain memory will flow back to me. It is also special to see a garden with those who take a Texas gully washer in stride and a small price to pay for being together sharing plant love.

    1. Thanks for saying so! We actually think there is such a special (and rare) beauty in a rainy/wet Texas native garden!

  12. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I can’t wait to see that place. I haven’t ever seen a poor picture from there. So much to see. It being native makes it even better.

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