Harmonizing People & Nature

Lady Bird Johnson created the Wildflower Center in 1982 as a research facility that would “uncover the secrets of wildflowers” and native plants. Since then, the Center′s purpose has expanded to address, in her words, ways to “harmonize the needs of man and the needs of nature.”

As the world′s population grows, so does the pace of urbanization and development. And even though most constructed landscapes and open spaces may look green, our usual ways of designing them actually result in green spaces that consume huge amounts of water and energy, and reduce the natural benefits (like filtering pollutants) that healthy landscapes can provide.

In collaboration with the United States Botanic Garden and the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Wildflower Center launched the Sustainable Sites InitiativeTM (SITESTM) in 2006 with the ambitious goal of shifting conventional landscape design and construction toward an ecologically based approach. Taking a lesson from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building program, we proposed to develop a comparable system of performance standards and recognition for sustainable landscapes.

This had not been attempted before, but The Meadows Foundation understood the potential significance of SITES. The Foundation′s early and substantial investment was the critical event that allowed us to hire staff and engage with dozens of technical experts across the country.

In June of 2014, thanks to The Foundation′s continued support, we published the product of seven years of research and testing: the SITES v2 Rating System + Reference Guide. SITES v2 has already begun to transform landscape design across the nation and around the world.