Zilker Botanical Garden
The Things You Miss
It wasn’t until after we moved away from Austin that I realized there was a botanic garden in Zilker Park. The entrance to the garden lies near the top of a hill on Barton Springs Drive and is easily missed. The large sign that currently sits at the turn-off is maybe not so easily missed, but I don’t think it was there back in the 80s.
Zilker Botanical Garden
The 26 acre Zilker Botanical Garden opened at its current location in 1964. The garden’s website lists the yearly visitor count as 300,000, however, on another page it’s given as 100,000. Either of those numbers would qualify it as a popular destination.
When we arrive at the garden we find that the entrance fee is only $3, which is great, but you can only pay in cash or check. After a 15 minute search for the nearest ATM, we’re back and ready to go exploring.
Something we did not expect to find is the small area featuring pioneer houses. There’s a small school house built in 1866 that was brought to the garden from its location in Spicewood Springs. The interior offers a view of the school as it would have appeared then. Next to it is the 1840 house of S.M. Swenson, the first Swedish settler in Texas. The house contains authentic furnishings. There’s also a red-painted barn that houses the necessary implements of a blacksmith shop, set next to the herb garden.
Dinosaurs in Austin
A little further along, we come across the Hartman Prehistoric Garden. This garden came about after the discovery in 1992 of 100 preserved Ornithomimus dinosaur foot prints within Zilker Park. 100 million years ago, a small group of these bird-like dinosaurs walked here, on a beach along a large inland sea. Casts were made of the prints and are today a fun feature in the dinosaur garden, where a life-size sculpture of the dinosaur stands at the end of a trail of tracks leading to him. The plants in this area are representative of those believed to have existed during the Cretaceous period.
A Labor of Love
The garden features a number of different areas, one of the larger ones being a terraced rose garden. Next to the rose garden, you’ll find a Japanese Garden. The garden was built over 18 months by the unsalaried, 70 year old, Isamu Taniguchi. Clearly a labor of love performed by an exceptionally dedicated gardener. The Japanese Garden opened to the public in 1969.
The Water Lilies
Between the main building and the parking lot is a raised stone pond. There were water lilies... There were reflections... Tim thought we would never leave.
One More to Go
If you return in a few days, you’ll be able to catch the last part of the Hill Country story. Useless hint: We’ll be heading north of Austin.