Day Trip: Zilker Botanical Garden
The Zilker Botanical Garden is one of the first day trips I went on in Austin, before I even moved here. The Bearded One and I were visiting from Boston in February, trying to decide if we truly wanted to move to Austin. We went to the garden and were stunned that in one of the coldest months of the year up north, so many plants were blooming down south. It’s one of the things that sold us on the area.
The garden is located on 30 acres adjacent to Zilker Park and just across the road from Barton Springs. It features rose, herb, butterfly, Japanese and even prehistoric gardens. At only $2 for adult admission, it’s absolutely worth visiting and provides a small oasis in the middle of the city.
Featuring an array of native and exotic plants, the garden gives visitors a taste of something different as well as a lesson about Texas flora. The native plants section segments plants based on their need for sunlight, and plants are fairly well labeled. I love this because it makes it easier to spot these plants “in the wild” on more secluded day trips. The only native display that I think is lacking is the cacti and succulent display, which is cactus-heavy and fairly small.
The garden is run by the City of Austin Parks Department and the Austin Area Garden Council and is a nonprofit. The Japanese garden, though, was a gift from a private citizen, Isamu Taniguchi, who worked for 18 months to personally bring the garden to reality. The prehistoric garden is another interesting one, recreating the dinosaur habitat that existed in this area millions of years ago.
The garden receives more than 300,000 visitors per year, including many school field trips, which explains the Pioneer Village. The little square features a log cabin, a replica of a blacksmith’s shop featuring old farm equipment on its lawn and a vegetable garden featuring pioneer planting techniques. The old farm equipment is worth a glance.
The Zilker Botanical Garden is on the small side, but is well laid out and, true to the area in which it sits, a beautiful example of the varied plant life in Central Texas.