Setting the Urban Example

I’ve been posting so much on Texas habitats that I realized today how much I miss blogging about my garden — after all, it’s my baby. But soon, soon — for now I have one more Austin locale to share.

A bit of history — for many years, Austin’s airport resided fairly close to downtown; it was the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. It closed in 1999 with the opening of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and the old airport sat untouched for many years. Today it has been replaced with a new community, including shops, homes, and parks, and it is home to the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. Of course, this is a commercial development (Mueller), so I’m not going to chat it up too much, but I’d like to say that I appreciate what I saw in my visit to the demonstration garden last weekend (yes, along with Hornsby Bend and Rockport — I told you it was a busy weekend!).

Basically, the concepts are simple — think green and sustainability. Builders and developers are making use of recycling, solar energy, native plants, high numbers of trees in parking lots, commuter service, bike paths, and more. In partnership with the Wildflower Center, large areas have been preserved as natural habitats, and homeowners are encouraged to plant native plants, educated with beautiful and/or wild examples shown in the community’s demonstration garden, prairies, and ponds.

Enjoy the tour, a bit of a zoom-in/zoom-out look!

Damianita and Prickly Pear…

Gregg’s Dalea…muellerb09-19-09.jpg
Prickly Pear, Lindheimer’s Muhly, Salvia, Lindheimer Senna…

muellere09-19-09.jpgLindheimer Senna…

Flame Acanthus, Lindheimer Senna, Salvia

I fell in love with this mixture of Salvia greggii colors.

Inland Sea Oats in front of American Beautyberry…

Walkway under Desert Willows…

muellerl09-19-09.jpgA view of the three ponds, surrounded by native grasses…

 One of the grassland prairies… 


Among the walkways in the demonstration gardens, native plants are all sorted and identified in lists, and the plant species are far more numerous than I’ve shown in these photos — this is just a sampling. In addition, there are signs that teach about certain aspects of native gardening. What an excellent way to educate residents and visitors about plants they might like to grow!

Given that this area was once an airport and was destined for development of some kind, it is nice to see such strides toward thoughtful, green building and the restoration of native plants in place of the parking lots and runways I remember.

18 thoughts on “Setting the Urban Example

  1. Wow, it’s been many years since I’ve seen the old Mueller site and I’m really impressed. It looks like they did some things right. It’s great that they had the Wildflower Center involved. Thanks for the tour!

  2. Oh, they have the shopping center, too, and plenty of homes. But they also created “flower sculptures” that capture solar energy, and they kept one tree for every four parking spots, to counteract the urban heat-island effect. Of the total acreage, 20 percent is dedicated to nature. So while it’s still mostly businesses and homes, the community was planned with green thinking, and how to build it better. They did more, too, regarding water and recycling (use of airport pavement, for example), but it was a lot to list.

  3. Thank you, Susan. I enjoy yours, too. Please visit anytime! Everytime I see your blog, I’m reminded about how much I long to be back on the bicycle. My back is still recovering from injury, and unfortunately too much cycling aggravates it right now. Gardening seems to be mostly okay, though — go figure!

  4. Jackie, thank you. This little blog of mine has become a labor of love, and I’m so honored that you and others enjoy it. It certainly has helped me get out there and garden, and as an unexpected bonus, it has helped me grow as a person, rediscovering what I love in this world. And the friends I’ve gained are truly the icing on the cake. 🙂

  5. Nice post Meredith. Back in the spring someone talked about the fabulous wildflowers out there. I still haven’t been to visit but this post will definitely prompt me to go out there soon. I might even move over there. It sure would be a lot closer to the Bridge Studio!

  6. I don’t know much about the homes or lots there. The only ones I saw were near the garden and ponds, and the lot sizes were tiny — their front porch was practically on the sidewalk. But those might be the townhomes — I didn’t pay attention. Perhaps one can buy much larger lots.

  7. Meredith, the upper pictures, with those structures, look like they are out of this world. I love them! The plants in masses are so lovely. They bring a person closer to the nature. I think they did a good job designing the old airport’s place. Thank you!

  8. I love your post! I really like the sculpture in this garden too, and it has solar capacity. Smart artist. I wish I could come down and spend the day there it looks perfect.

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