There’s something remarkably peaceful about a well cared for garden. Austin has its share of nature lovers, which is reflected in the beauty of its public parks and gardens. If they inspire you, consider finding out if there’s one in your neighborhood, or start one yourself.
The garden center of Zilker Botanical Gardens started with $50 raised during a Violet Crown Garden Club fundraiser selling firewood. Now sprawling over 30 acres (12 hectares), it’s a great place to take the family. Wander from the blacksmith’s shop to the coy pond, past the bamboo to the rose garden. Then check out the prehistoric garden, complete with dinosaur statues. Go past a waterfall before finding the butterflies on their migration through Austin. The best part about this garden: they allow dogs.
Bronze sculptures by Charles Umlauf are surrounded by a serene xeriscape garden, waterfall, ponds and streams. His works span a lifetime; the earliest in the collection is from 1939, and his styles and subject matters vary and grow until 1985. The garden is spread across four acres (just under two hectares) with many spots to sit and ponder. It also includes a museum where you can see an exhibition or watch a video about the artist’s life. And in case you’re wondering, it’s totally fine if you (gently) touch the outdoor sculptures.
Near the entrance to the Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve is an early 20th-century cottage with peafowl and beautifully maintained gardens. Short stone walls reign in the blooming chaos, and lily ponds are located in the heart of the two acres (0.8 hectares) of park. There’s a sundial with roses surrounding it, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see the snow white peacock out and about. The preserve is an additional 21 acres (eight hectares) of trees and trails.
The grounds of Laguna Gloria are a popular spot for weddings, with contemporary artworks over 14 acres (six hectares) of tamed Texas greenery. The converted estate of Clara Driscoll houses exhibitions, and admission is included with the grounds fee. It is located on the Lake Austin waterfront, just down the road from the Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve.
If you think bluebonnets look amazing, then thank Lady Bird Johnson. Her appreciation of natural and native beauty is the focus at this center, with gorgeous displays of Texas greenery on over 15 acres (six hectares) of gardens. They host events and exhibitions as the LBWC, and you can see ‘total resource conservation’ in action. Beyond the gardens are nearly 300 acres (121 hectares) of grounds, including walking trails and meadows.
If you find yourself in the East End district and want a green spot to eat your food truck plate, Kenny Dorham’s Backyard has a perfectly little and splendid garden with a couple of tables. The garden is at one end of the site, with food trucks and a stage on the rest. DiverseArts host events in the name of the East Austin legendary jazz trumpeter, for which children are free and family discounts are offered.
The Asian American Resource Center has two small gardens to enjoy. One is the intergenerational garden, where members of all ages work together on projects, including many Asian plants. The other is a small rock garden, complete with raked rocks. There are items on display in the front lobby from many Asian countries, including musical instruments, art, dolls, and textiles. They host events for the community, including meditation, a food and heritage festival.
North Austin Community Garden benefits from the City of Austin’s Art in Public Places program. It features work by Thoughtbarn artists Lucy Begg and Robert Gay that anchors the plots with color. There are plots available if you’re in the area.
Over 80 gardeners grow fruit, vegetables, flowers and other plants on the two acres (0.8 hectares) of the Festival Beach Community Garden. It includes many little nooks for getting to know your neighbors, including benches, tables and a bbq pit. Located near the corner of Clermont and Waller Street.