Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
Letter from the Director - Winter 2011
Photo by Marsha Miller.
Wildflowers and Wilderness
ON DECEMBER 22, 2011, WE BEGIN THE CENTENNIAL celebration of the life of our co-founder, Lady Bird Johnson.
Devoted wife of the 36th President, CEO of a broadcasting empire, visionary, loving mother, canny investor and environmentalist, Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson was a remarkable woman. We hope the events and the exhibits planned for her centennial will acquaint a younger generation with Mrs. Johnson and inspire the rest of us to do good works, particularly for the environment – which could so benefit from good works now.
The fun starts with the opening of the complete Texas White House at the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall, and plans are for it to conclude with the presentation of the Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award in spring 2013.
At the Wildflower Center, we'll begin celebrating on March 12, 2012, with the opening of Logan Stollenwerck's outdoor exhibit of giant metal flower sculptures, "A Bouquet for Mrs. J." In April, we will open the Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum, 16 acres dedicated to the majesty and diversity of Texas trees.
On April 27, the Wildflower Center Gala will be dedicated to Luci Baines Johnson, Lynda Johnson Robb and the Johnson family, who carry out Mrs. J's legacy. Then on July 29, we will celebrate Lady Bird Johnson Tribute Day at the Wildflower Center and unveil the centennial traveling exhibit now in the works. This exhibit will be on display at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., and at other botanic gardens, museums and parks later in 2012.
This is only a preview. The institutions that commemorate the President and Mrs. Johnson's memory are cooperating to create an exciting centennial year. Look for events at the LBJ National Historic Park, the LBJ Library and Museum, and the LBJ School of Public Affairs, as well as the Wildflower Center. For example, the LBJ Library plans to open a new permanent exhibit as part of the centennial, and the LBJ School of Public Affairs will host a conference of U.S. schools of public affairs. We hope there will be celebrations around the nation. Most people now remember Mrs. Johnson for bluebonnets along the roadsides, for daffodils planted in Washington, D.C., and – we hope – for founding the Wildflower Center with her friend, Helen Hayes, as co-founder.
Even now, there are those who call these efforts trivial and cosmetic. But looking back, the Johnson administration appears as a high-water mark for game-changing environmental legislation, and Mrs. Johnson was widely recognized as the catalyst that made that happen. The July Tribute Day we celebrate at the Center commemorates July 26, 1968, when President Johnson presented his wife with 50 pens he used to sign significant environmental bills.
Among the achievements of the Johnson administration was the establishment of more than 34 national parks, monuments, national seashores and historic sites, a direct result of Mrs. Johnson's "Discover America" travels to unique national areas and her ongoing fight to save them from destruction.
Now, as we face a rapidly warming climate with severe droughts in the Southwest and hurricane-driven floods in the Northeast, as cities enact watering restrictions to preserve shrinking water supplies, as chemicals from lawn fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides pollute our streams, as exotic invasive plants innocently planted in backyards escape to choke public parks and clog waterways – even Mrs. Johnson's idyllic Caddo Lake – we realize that Lady Bird Johnson was ahead of her time. Natural beauty, native plants and our regional ecosystems are worth fighting for.
During this record-breaking drought year in Central Texas, there is strong new interest in native plants, as our Texas-bred species thrive despite the heat and water shortages. Likewise, many of you have ordered Habiturf™, our well-tested seed mix of Texas native grasses well adapted to our climate extremes. Landscape professionals are increasingly tuned in to the Sustainable Sites Initiative™, our partnership with the American Society of Landscape Architects and the U.S. Botanic Garden to develop and test a rating system for "green" landscapes.
Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior during the Johnson Administration, said, "Lady Bird Johnson did more than plant flowers in public places. She served the country superbly by planting environmental values in the minds of the nation's leaders and citizens."
At the Wildflower Center, we work every day to carry out Mrs. Johnson's legacy, planting environmental values and educating people about ways they can make the world better. Mrs. Johnson bequeathed us wilderness and wildflowers. Never have they been more important.