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.
First Lady Of The American Landscape - Fall 2002
"As I think back about my life," wrote Lady Bird Johnson in 1980, "the things that surface are those which have given me pleasure and moments of quiet delight."
Today, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a place where Mrs. Johnson continues to find such moments. During one of her visits this summer, early-July rain clouds mounted across a late-afternoon sky. The purple petals of tall Texas bluebells (Eustoma grandiflora) swayed with yellow plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) in a cooling breeze. Nearby, the sound of water could be heard trickling across the limestone rock of the Erma Lowe Hill Country Stream exhibit. One might say it was a perfect setting for finding "pleasure and...quiet delight."
The Early Years
From her earliest days, Lady Bird Johnson celebrated the ways in which natural beauty can infuse human life with meaning, joy, and health. Born Claudia Alta Taylor on December 22, 1912, in the small town of Karnack, Texas, she grew up close to the Louisiana border.
The Taylor family home was a distinctive two-story structure and Karnack landmark known locally as the Brick House. Claudia's father, Thomas Jefferson Taylor, was a merchant and cotton farmer, successful in both business and land acquisition. Her mother, Minnie Patillo Taylor, was a native of Alabama and an avid reader who espoused healthful living, enjoyed travel, and had an interest in conservation issues and politics. Claudia acquired the name "Lady Bird" as an infant from a household cook who said she was "as pretty as a ladybird," referring to the popular spotted orange-red beetle so welcomed by gardeners as a natural ally of plants.
The seminal event in Mrs. Johnson's young life was the death of her mother in 1918, when Lady Bird was nearly 6. A year later, Effie Patillo, Minnie Taylor's unmarried sister, came to live with the Taylor family. As Mrs. Johnson's mother had done, Patillo continued to instill in Lady Bird a love for nature and reading. Lady Bird spent many childhood hours alone, outside in nature, finding companionship and solace in the woods and wildflower meadows surrounding her home.