The free tours at the Native Texas Park at the Bush library start Feb. 29 at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Photos by Scooter Smith.
Feb. 28, 2020
Spring is early in North Texas, but the folks at the Native Texas Park in Dallas are ready.
The wildflowers and fresh green native grasses at the 15-acre Texas prairie recreation are already popping up. The redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) are blooming purple filigree. And puffs of small, intensely yellow blooms adorn the stiff, stark branches of elbow bushes (Forestiera pubescens). The aroma of white Mexican plums (Prunus mexicana) intoxicates.
Lead docent Lois Diggs shares her enthusiasm for prairie landscapes with GSDFW reporter Amy Martin.
The native Texas greenspace is open to the public year-round but if you want a guided tour of this botanical gem, the free fourth Saturday docent-led tours kick off Feb. 29 at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. The park, located on the Bush Presidential Library grounds, is near Mockingbird and U.S. 75 at 2943 SMU Blvd. in Dallas. Tours begin at the fountain in front of the building. Parking nearby is $5.
A few early wildflowers should be making appearances, including the fancy yellow fringed puccoon (Lithospermum incisum) and star-shaped purple winecups (Callirhoe involucrata), both low growing and shy. Soaring about them may be long stems of red columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis) amid lacy tri-leafed foliage and the shockingly red teeny blooms of scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea).
The 15-acre park recreates Blackland Prairie, Post Oak Savannah, and Cross Timbers Forest regions.
Tour participants will stroll a one-mile paved trail punctuated by benches that meander through Blackland Prairie and a heavily treed riparian corridor reminiscent of Cross Timbers. Impressive bridges of black locust arc over a pond and wetlands prairie. A small curved ridge affords a grand view of the park and library building.
The park includes an underground rainwater collection tank used for irrigation.
During the walk, take note of the park’s exceptional hydrological engineering by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Design elements of limestone slow the rainwater flow, allowing the black clay to absorb more, and route excess to pooling places for future use.
Get a little education before you go by perusing the downloadable Native Texas Park Plant & Flower Guide and the Spring Guide at the Native Texas Park website Also check out the Instagram page Mockingbirds & Bluebonnets by docent Marilou Simon.
Opened in 2013 along with the library, Native Texas Park evokes the land of Prairie Chapel Ranch, where the Bushes restored the prairie that provided solace during stressful times.
Says lead docent Lois Diggs, “To stand a moment and listen to the birds in the trees, to see the grasses move and all the color, even with the cars on the expressway nearby the beauty here is so full.“
The Bush Library sells a book on the making of the Native Prairie Park. Photo by Julie Thibodeaux.
Native Texas Park Tours
About: Tour the 15-acre restored restored prairie park, featuring a one-mile network of trails at the Bush library. Eco regions represented include Blackland Prairie, Post Oak Savannah, and Cross Timbers Forest.
Where: George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, 2943 SMU Boulevard, Dallas
When: Fourth Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Dates are Feb. 29, March 28, April 25, May 30 and June 27. Tours begin at the fountain in front of the Library.
Cost: Free. Parking is $5.
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