En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
5 ratings

Tuesday - November 27, 2007

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Mrs. Johnsons favorite flower
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I recall the the Black-eyed Susan was Lady Bird Johnson's favorite flower, is that true? Did she have other favorites?


That is a really tough question to answer, and the answer probably depends on who you ask. From what those at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center who knew her personally can tell you, she liked them all. In 1972, 35 years before her death on July 11, 2007, she told an interviewer that her favorite flowers were Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum (showy prairie gentian), also known as the bluebell, Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel), or Indian Blanket, and Castilleja foliolosa (Texas Indian paintbrush) . The general consensus around the Wildflower Center is that her favorite was the bluebell (yes, the same one that the "little creamery in Brenham" is named after). If you watched the television presentations on the services held in the Gallery at the Center, you will know that there were bouquets incorporating the bluebell, which fortuitously happened to be in bloom in the Center itself. In the large portrait of Mrs. Johnson behind the desk in the Gallery, she is sitting in a field of Indian Blanket. But we have seen other pictures of her in a field of Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan), which indicates she loved them, too. And not just the native plants with showy flowers, she loved the little grasses and the big live oak trees, the plants others called "weeds" along the highways that bloomed from roots in asphalt and survived determined mowing. Perhaps the flowers were just the most visible symbol of what she cared about most, which was Nature, and the preservation of a natural environment.

When the architects for the present Wildflower Center were having their first planning meetings for the construction of the Center asked Mrs. Johnson what she wanted it to look like, she said "I want it to look as though God put it there." And her beloved flowers, too.

Lupinus texensis

Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum

Gaillardia pulchella

Castilleja foliolosa

Rudbeckia hirta



More Wildflowers Questions

Short wildflowers to interplant with grass in PA
July 05, 2011 - I live in NE PA and would like to grow short wildflowers throughout my yard mixed in with my grass. Is this possible? If so, what would be a good match for my zone? I will be mowing the grass once a w...
view the full question and answer

Time of year for wildflower viewing in Northern Indiana and Michigan
April 22, 2007 - I used to live in the southern US but now live in Northern Indiana and was wondering if wildflower fields will be blooming here and in Michigan by early May (I was hoping to do some rural exploring th...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower mix for East Texas
February 04, 2009 - Hello! My boss is interested in planting a wild flower mix along his county road and the road that leads to his house. They live in between Athens and Palestine and have sandy loam soil .. which flowe...
view the full question and answer

White Bluebonnets
March 15, 2004 - Are white Bluebonnets rare?
view the full question and answer

School wildflower, native plant garden
October 23, 2007 - I am helping my daughter's third grade class plant a very small (about 5 ft. square) wildflower/native plant bed that is in full sun. I'm interested in flowering plants that bloom in the very early...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center