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A Letter From Lady Bird

Welcome to our web site. My dear friend Helen Hayes and I founded the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in 1982 to educate people about the environmental necessity, economic value and natural beauty of native plants. Our Center works for more than the lovely blossoms in our open spaces. We are concerned for all of North America's native plants, from the smallest sprout to the tallest tree.

To learn that more than four thousand native plant species are in danger of extinction in this country gives us a wake-up call and brings close to home the Wildflower Center's mission. Will these plants be lost to all but memory, with succeeding generations losing even that fragile connection? Are there sources of food, fiber or medicine that might perish with them? How do we save these species in the face of an ever-expanding human population and its impact on the land?

As daunting as the prospects may seem as we search for ways to protect and make room for nature, we must remember that there are success stories in all of this. Although we may not be able to save every single species, we can each do our part to protect them. Some of the answers lie as close as our own backyards, and as far as the highways that transverse this nation to its outermost reaches.

The landscapes of homes can be complemented by, if not completely replanted in, native species. Is there a park in your neighborhood? Every kind of park - from a vest-pocket-sized park to a city, state or industrial park - is a natural candidate for indigenous species. Median strips and roadsides filled with a bounty of regional native plants - perhaps the biggest "gardens" in the world - increasingly capture the interest and applause of the driving public.

My hope for what lies ahead in the field of landscape design - our own and that of the professionals - is not a revolution against the use of non-natives, but a resolution to educate ourselves about what has worked for Mother Nature through the ebb and flow of time and to put that knowledge to work in the planned landscapes that are everywhere a part of our lives.

I'm optimistic that the world of native plants will not only survive, but will thrive for environmental and economic reasons, and for reasons of the heart. Beauty in nature nourishes us and brings joy to the human spirit, it also is one of the deep needs of people everywhere.

Warm regards,

© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center