by Linda Kaye
San Antonio, Texas
June 29, 2002
The Wildflower Center is a non-profit organization supported by admission fees, donations, grants, membership dues, product sales and facility rentals. Less than one percent of its annual budget comes from local, state or federal funding sources.
All of the stone materials used in the buildings and cistern are native to the Hill Country and each architectural style reflects the region’s early settlers-Spanish, German, 20th century ranchers and blended together with native American flavor.
Highlights of the Center include a visitor’s gallery, observation tower, nature trails, courtyards, terraces, arbors and display gardens.
The Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; closed on major holidays. No pets, other than service dogs, are allowed. The Center is completely smoke-free. Visitors are asked to stay on the trails and not to pick the wildflowers. Picnicking is permitted. As you come in the front gate, you will receive a full color chart to help you identify each and every wildflower along with a map to guide you on the walking trails. Allow 1 ½ hours to see the gardens and buildings, another two hours if you want to take all the trails.
Unfortunately, our visit was during the heat of summer- there were only a few flowers in bloom. The vast savanna meadows surrounding the Center were bare, except for the wild grasses, and without the spectacular color of the wildflowers that are blooming in the Spring. However, the visit was still worthwhile and interesting. The very best time to visit is April and May when most of the 30 most popular species, including the Texas Bluebonnet, Indian Blanket, Black-eyed Susan, Indian Paintbrush, Mexican Hat, Primrose, Bluebells and daisies of all kinds are in bloom. In addition to the wildflowers, there are many native trees, such as oak, pecan, and elm as well as many native grasses.
We visited the Wild Ideas Store filled with great Texas souvenirs and, best of all, it was air-conditioned. There is also the Wildflower Café offering light lunches, cool drinks and delectable desserts.
Time spent here is time well spent.
From journal Austin--Deep in the Heart of Texas