Wildflowers in Texas (believe it or not)

When The Patient Gardener and I announced to our friends in the UK that we were travelling to Austin, Texas to see not only gardens, but wildflowers, we were greeted with reactions that ranged from mystified to downright sceptical.
"Do they have gardens in Texas?" people would ask. "Isn't it just desert?" And as for wildflowers: "Is this a joke? Are you winding me up?" they would say.
I'm not sure whether these responses are due to Western movie imagery, or just general ignorance about America, but to confound the disbelievers, here are some pictures from my first days on the annual Garden Bloggers Fling.

Blanket flowers (Gaillardia aristata)

The jolly chaps in this picture are blanket flowers (Gaillardia aristata), and these are growing in the garden of Laura Wills, one of the Austin Fling hosts. Laura very kindly invited those of us who had flown in early (which always means the Brits!) to brunch at her house, which is an urban farm.

Wildflowers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

The first day of the Fling included a visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, part of the University of Texas at Austin, and the state botanical garden and arboretum. Unfortunately, our visit there coincided with a spectacular thunderstorm, so picture opportunities were somewhat limited. However, these images might give you some idea of what an amazing place this is, and how gorgeous the Texas wildflowers are.

Plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) and coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)

The Savanna Meadow at the Center

Pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa)

I should point out that you don't have to go to the Wildflower Center to see flowers like this - you will see them growing by the roadside, and even down the central reservations.
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