While not as famous as other Austin attractions like the Texas State Capitol, Barton Springs Pool and Hippie Hollow, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is an Austin treasure waiting for residents and tourists alike to explore. On Saturday mornings, the parking lot for this southwest Austin landmark is full, and adjacent streets are lined with vehicles. So word about this place is getting around.

This 279-acre preserve is home to some of Texas’s most important ecological work. Through ecological design, study and conservation, staff and volunteers to the Wildflower Center contribute to the body of knowledge surrounding Texas’s native plants and wildlife. And they’re ready and willing to share this knowledge with you in a setting as picturesque as any in Texas — and as authentic as anywhere in Texas.

“Surprisingly, a lot of visitors don’t know that we are a 100 percent native Texas botanic garden,” Wildflower Center director of communications Lee Clippard told Austin.com. “Our guests can find more than 800 species of native Texas plants growing here, representing ecoregions from across the state, from the Chihuahuan Desert out west to the Coastal Plains along the Gulf of Mexico. We are a veritable tour through Texas landscapes.”

And there is so much more to the Wildflower Center. Here are just 10 of the many reasons for you to visit the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

10.) They’re self-sustaining … with your help

No place like this can run without funding, but thanks for generous benefactors and revenue from their reasonable admission fees, the Wildflower Center keeps its gates open to the public and proceeds with its ecological work.

The Theme Gardens at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are among the 12 acres of cultivated gardens and meadows on site, in addition to hiking trails. Photo by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

“The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center depends completely on donations, memberships and revenue from admissions to achieve its mission of inspiring the conservation of native plants. We don’t receive any operating funds from The University of Texas at Austin (our parent organization),” Clippard said. “The revenue from garden admissions is used to grow plants and maintain our gardens, to fund our plant conservation programs, to run our facilities, to provide educational programs for children, and to keep our online native plant guide one of the most comprehensive native plants guides in the country.”

So when you spend a dollar at the Wildflower Center, you know exactly what you’re supporting.

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