Fall is a wonderful time to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas. Not only is the weather finally cooling down, but the monarch butterflies are passing through on their annual southward migration to Mexico. From now until mid-November, the Bush Center’s 15-acre native gardens are a prime spot for the butterflies to rest and eat before they continue their journey.
During this time, the center offers free hour long guided Native Texas Park tours each Saturday from 10-11am. Additionally, self-guided tours are free every day of the year from dawn to dusk. You can find a self-guided tour map here.
The park offers 1-mile of trail that winds through native Blackland Prairie, Post Oak savannah, and Cross Timbers forest, as well as an amphitheater, seasonal wildflowers, and a 360 degree panorama view of Dallas’ skyline, SMU’s Georgian campus and the Bush Center.
A window into the past: Native landscaping shows what Texas looked like when it was first settled
The site has over 900 native trees planted, with almost half of those coming from the Bush’s own Prairie Chapel Ranch tree nursery. Species include Pecan, Texas Ash, Shumard Red Oak, Bur Oak, Chinkapin Oak, Blackjack Oak, Post Oak, Live Oak, Black Willow, Eve’s Necklace, and Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum.
There are also around 1,900 shrubs, including a wide range of native species such as Roughleaf Dogwood, Texas Buckeye, American Beautyberry, Coralberry, Prairie Rose, Fragrant Sumac, and Prickly Pear.
In the early spring, the landscape is painted with the iconic Texas Bluebonnets, but there are also over 50 other native wildflower species on site, many of which bloom during the fall. Here is a list provided by the Wildflower Center highlighting some of the most beautiful fall-blooming native flowers.
First presidential center to achieve LEED certification
Designed by architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, the center earned Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification in 2013. Partnering with local Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Valkenburgh created a drought resistant native grass mix for the lawn, reducing the water needs significantly. Rain water is channeled through an intricate collection system providing for 50% of the lawns own irrigation supply. Additionally, the native lawn requires only four mowings per year.
In addition to native landscaping, the Bush Center has made a commitment to resource conservation through architecture as well. The LEED program encourages the use of designs, materials, and systems that reduce the building’s environmental impact and promote human health. To learn more about the site’s eco-friendly features, check out this fact sheet.