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Magnificent red oaks, cedar elms, and other trees native to Texas—some more than a century old—will be the stars of the Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum opening at UT’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on Saturday.
The largest native plant arboretum in Texas, the 16-acre addition to the Wildflower Center also includes an expansive native meadow, shade for picnic areas, and developing tree collections, one of which will feature all 54 oak species native to Texas.
“I think that guests will get a really great sense of how special Texas trees can be,” says Damon Waitt, senior director of the Wildflower Center. “I think they’ll find it’s a place they can relax a little bit.”
The grand opening will begin with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the arboretum entryway, the Trailhead Garden, and a one-fifth mile walk through the Xeric Collection and the Hall of Texas Heroes exhibit to the Native Meadow area.
Children’s author Margaret Hall Spencer will read her poem, “My City Tree Cares for Me,” at 2 p.m. in the Cathedral, a grove of live oaks equipped with swings and benches, followed by a talk by photographer Ralph Yznaga at 3 p.m. in the Arboretum Pavilion. Yznaga, author of Living Witness: Historic Trees of Texas, will discuss historic Texas trees, as well as sign his book in the Center’s store from noon-3 p.m.
The arboretum resulted from a $1.4 million gift, announced in August 2010, from an anonymous fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation at the request of philanthropist Mollie Steves Zachry.
“We are incredibly grateful to Mollie for her generosity in creating this treasure,” says Susan Rieff, executive director of the Wildflower Center. “The arboretum will be a peaceful place to relish the outdoors among majestic trees that help define the state’s iconic landscapes. It also provides new opportunities for education and research.”
Photos by Bruce Leander, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center