Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center promotes local plants amidst drought

Andrew Messamore

With local ecosystems facing difficulty surviving the ongoing drought, many are interested in increasing the use of native, drought-resistant Texan plants.

The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center marked Texas Native Plant Week with an open tour of its garden on Thursday, led by director of horticulture Andrea DeLong-Amaya. The center, which former first lady Ladybird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes founded in 1986, has been affiliated with UT since 2006. The center hopes the tour will educate visitors on the value of using native Texas plants, said Barbara Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

“People will become more empowered in using gardening plants when they’re familiar with new species,” DeLong-Amaya said. “Many people are turning to native plants because they’re quite happy using less water.”

Guiding a small group through the tour, located just outside of Austin, DeLong-Amaya walked between the flowers, shrubs and trees, giving each one a detailed description and answering questions about identifying and using various plants.

“The talk and garden walk will help people understand why native plants are useful in helping the environment since they are not only beautiful, but functional,” Rodriguez said.

This is the first tour on native Texas plants the Center has offered since Texas Native Plant Week was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry in June 2009. Its creation was expedited through lobbying by the Native Plant Society of Texas with the support of Texas Rep. Donna Howard, said DeLong-Amaya.

The growth of Native Plant Week, along with the drought, has brought many botanists to the Center for new information, said Sarah Haggerty, an Austin resident who comes to the Center regularly.

“There’s always something to learn here at the Wildflower Center,” Haggerty said. “Every time I come here I learn something new.”

With this summer’s drought, many Texans have developed an interest in using native plants because they are better adapted to Texas’ climate.

“With the drought you want to do anything you can that will save you water,” Haggerty said.  

Printed on Friday, October 21, 2011 as: Wildflower Center promotes local plants amidst drought