Lady Bird Johnson’s Love of Wildflowers
I received an envelope in the mail from my Cousin. Among its contents was a set of the Lady Bird Johnson stamps created by the Postal Service to commemorate Lady Bird’s Centennial. The stamps memorialize Lady Bird’s beautification programs.
When she was First Lady, Lady Bird was best known for her advocacy for highway beautification. But what I remember is my mother telling me about Lady Bird’s interest in wildflowers. Of course the two things went together as Lady Bird advocated for planting wildflowers and other native plants along our highways.
I found some quotes online that give a sense of how much Lady Bird’s concept of beautification actually encompassed:
“Though the word beautification makes the concept sound merely cosmetic, it involves much more: clean water, clean air, clean roadsides, safe waste disposal and preservation of valued old landmarks as well as great parks and wilderness areas. To me … beautification means our total concern for the physical and human quality we pass on to our children and the future.”
She was advocating for the environment in those early days of the environmental movement. And she saw the human spirit entwined with the beauty of the natural environment:
“Every living person and thing responds to beauty. We all thirst for it. We receive strength and renewal by seeing stirring and satisfying sites.”
Wildflowers were one of Lady Bird’s particular passions. My mother talked about that because wildflowers were one of my mother’s passions too. My mother left behind her beautiful paintings of flowers, wild and domestic. Lady Bird left behind the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center whose mission “is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.”
Years after the Wildflower Center was founded Lady Bird said:
“My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth. I wanted future generations to be able to savor what I had all my life.”
The website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has many resources and pictures. You can access it at http://www.wildflower.org/
Here is one more thought from Lady Bird:
“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.”