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Mr. Smarty Plants - Mrs. Johnsons favorite flower

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Tuesday - November 27, 2007

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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

 

 

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