Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Large Interactive Garden Featuring Native Plants Opens May 4
AUSTIN, TX (April 9, 2014) – Children and families will bloom outside this spring as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center unveils its new Luci and Ian Family Garden at a public grand opening on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

The 4.5-acre Family Garden is the only native plant garden developed for families in Central Texas. It is designed to encourage hands-on, creative outdoor play, with sustainable features including giant birds’ nests, a creek, caves, and a maze.

Named after lead donors Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, and her husband Ian Turpin, the $5 million Family Garden will double the maintained garden acreage at the 279-acre Wildflower Center that is part of The University of Texas at Austin.

“The Wildflower Center is on the cutting edge of sustainability,” says Luci Baines Johnson. “Our hope is that the Family Garden will be a place where families go to play and discover the wonder and importance of nature.”

The Luci and Ian Family Garden aims to connect children and families to the natural world by providing more than a dozen interactive and educational features made of natural materials such as Nature’s Spiral, a mosaic–inlaid limestone wall that illustrates the spiral shapes found in nature. Other features include a maze made of native shrubs, giant tree stumps for kids to climb on, giant bird nests made from native grape vines, a grotto with caves and a waterfall, a lawn designed with native turf, a creek with dinosaur footprints and water activities, and much more.

“There is nothing like this garden in Texas on many levels,” says Susan Rieff, executive director of the Wildflower Center. “The Luci and Ian Family Garden will offer children a safe environment for exploring the natural world that we hope will instill a sense of wonder and excitement.”

Designed by landscape architect and artist W. Gary Smith and architecture firm TBG Partners, the Family Garden is a model for eco-friendly landscaping as a pilot project of the national Sustainable Sites InitiativeTM(SITES) program. The Wildflower Center developed SITES in partnership with the U.S. Botanic Garden and the American Society of Landscape Architects. It is the most comprehensive national system for rating the design, construction and maintenance of sustainable landscapes.

The Luci and Ian Family Garden was made possible by more than 200 generous donors, including Lynda Johnson Robb, also daughter of President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, whose family funded the Robb Family Pavilion. Taken together, these donors contributed over $5 million to fund the project.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is located at 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, Texas 78739. To learn more about the Family Garden, built by SpawGlass, visit,

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Monday, April 14, 2014

FAQ: Water run-off is causing an erosion issue.

I have a location that is a steep hill, that runs down towards a lake.  Water run-off is causing an erosion issue.  I am planning on purchasing 100 Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nana' - Dwarf Mondo Grass - Bare Root,  to start. I'm curious as to your opinion on this application of this grass.  Second, I want to know how quickly these would need to be planted once they arrive.

Dwarf mondo grass is a slow-growing ground cover, so it won't stabilize the soil on the hill all by itself. You could install an erosion control blanket/mat and plant through it. Still, that doesn't change the fact that dwarf mondo grows slowly.

If you decide to install a blanket/mat, to help stabilize the soil until your ground cover plant matures, it should be made of organic material (like straw). I recently saw some for sale at our local farm supply store.

Faster growing ground covers include Campsis radicans (aka Trumpet Vine, a very aggressive native plant that will climb anything in its path), Euonymus fortunei (aka Wintercreeper), Gelsemium sempervirens (aka Carolina Jessamine, another native ground cover that will climb if given the opportunity), Hypericum calycinum (aka St. John's Wort), Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific' and Junipers horizontalis 'Wiltonii', Liriope spicata (aka Creeping Lily Turf), Pachysandra terminalis (aka Japanese Spurge), Trachelospermum asiaticum (aka Asiatic Jasmine), Vinca major (aka Big-Leaf Periwinkle) and Vinca minor (aka Periwinkle).

Bare root plants should be planted ASAP. If you can't get to them all at once, set the plants upright in the shipping box, keep them moist, avoid exposure to sun and wind.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

How far apart should junipers be planted?

How far apart should junipers be planted?

If you are referring to the junipers sold in 3-1/2 inch pots at, understand they can all grow 4' to 6' across. However, planting distance is as much an issue of coverage speed and budget as ultimate spread. The J. conferta 'Blue Pacific' and J. horizontalis 'Wiltonii' can be planted as much as 3' apart, but because of their age and size, you might prefer to plant them as close as 18" apart so you'll see faster coverage.

I recommend the J. procumbens 'Nana' be planted about 18" apart because it is slower growing. But if you have the time and patience, the variety can be planted farther apart.

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