Garden Photo of the Day

Flowers of a Texas Nature Center

From derelict apartments to wildflowers

My name is Linda Kennedy. I grew up in Grand Ledge, Michigan. I was not very interested in gardening when I was young but was surrounded by it. Both my parents and grandparents had flower and vegetable gardens. I did love the beautiful flowers, their shapes and colors, but we kids, as part of our weekly chores, had to pull weeds from the vegetable gardens, which is probably why I didn’t really like gardening so much back then. I moved to Dallas in the early ’80s and started my own flower gardens. I realized quickly that plants that did well in Michigan didn’t necessarily fare well here in Texas, so I often relied on botanical gardens, nature preserves, local gardening groups, and neighbor’s gardens to understand what would work well in my area. My main objective now is to grow native plants that not only look beautiful but are beneficial to the ecosystem.

These pictures were all taken at Twelve Hills Nature Center. Once a twenty-acre tract with apartments that, over time, had become derelict and dangerous, the neighborhood rallied to have them torn down. After many years of negotiations between the community and city, five acres of land was secured as a green space with the idea that it would be an environmental teaching area for local area school children (there are two elementary schools within walking distance) and adults alike. Their goal was to renaturalize the land as it was before the apartments were built in the ’50s.

Now, thanks to so many volunteers and private donors, Twelve Hills is a place for children and adults to learn about native grasses, wildflowers, and wildlife.

Twelve Hills is about a mile from my house, so I visit it often. I not only use it to learn what plants survive and are beneficial to our area but also to relax and enjoy the beauty it offers. It’s a little slice of heaven right here in the city.

Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ (Zones 7–10 or as an annual)

Penstemon digitalisPenstemon digitalis (Zones 3–8)

BorageBorage (Borago officinalis, annual) is both beautiful and edible.

evening primroseShowy evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa, Zones 4–9). This native plant is beautiful and very easy to grow, but it can spread aggressively, so it is not a good choice for small gardens.

Callirhoe involucataWine cups (Callirhoe involucata, Zones 4–9)

meadow of wildflowersA beautiful informal meadow of wildflowers.

Purple coneflowerPurple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 3–9)

wine cups in bloomMore wine cups in bloom.

red yuccaThe flowers of the red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora, Zones 5–9)


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View Comments


  1. PattyLouise 05/27/2020

    Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing!

    1. LDKennedy 06/08/2020

      Thank you!

  2. wittyone 05/27/2020

    This looks like a wonderful place to spend some time out in the natural world. You're so lucky to have it nearby and accessible. I bet you have been using it regularly during this time of "distancing". The winecups are really beautiful such a deep saturated color. I've just planted one of those red yuccas (Red Texas Yucca) and hope to see some flowers later this year.

    1. LDKennedy 06/08/2020

      I am lucky to have the place near by! When the natural light shines on winecups, they light up as seen! :)

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/27/2020

    What a wonderful thing to have been done with a derelict place! Sure wish this was done in many more places.

    1. LDKennedy 06/08/2020

      I agree! :)

  4. Chris_N 05/27/2020

    Very well done photography. I love winecups and your photos just reinforce that love. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful nature area in the midst of the city.

    1. LDKennedy 06/08/2020

      Thank you! :)

  5. user-5117752 05/27/2020

    What a truly marvelous story!!! It's so heartening to be reminded of the truly wonderful people in this world like the people who fought to return the land to nature! And, I love your photographs! How about more of the gardens in general?

    1. LDKennedy 06/08/2020

      Thank you!

  6. User avater
    simplesue 05/27/2020

    It's a rare story when the land buried beneath a big building ever sees the light of day and the life of plants once again.
    Wish it happened more often.
    Your photography of the flowers growing there are beautiful!

    1. LDKennedy 06/08/2020

      Thank you. I wish more vacant land would be used like this. :)

  7. btucker9675 05/27/2020

    Glorious and such a great example of "rags to riches!"

    1. LDKennedy 06/08/2020


  8. perennialgrdnr_z4b 05/28/2020

    I love your technique of capturing the essence of the subject in each of your photos, such beautiful pictures and beautiful plants. What camera do you use for your photos, or is it digital processing that creates the wonderful backgrounds to your subjects? It is also a great story about the rebirth of the Twelve Hills Nature Center and the enrichment such a place adds for everyone to learn from and enjoy. Thanks for sharing.

    1. LDKennedy 06/08/2020

      Thank you! It is a great story and I'm so grateful to be part of this neighborhood. I shoot with a Nikon D7500, but it's not the camera so much. Has more to do with the lens. In these photos I used a F/1.75, 50mm prime lens. No digital processing. The blurred background has everything to do with depth of field.

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