Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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?

Share

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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - January 11, 2006

From: Takoma Park, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Information on Mrs. Johnsons efforts in highway beautification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Perhaps you can help. I am trying to unearth a little history of Lady Bird and her involvement in the beautification of our highways, especially as it relates to using native plants. This is for a proposal I am writing to support development of native plant materials for use along Maryland roadsides. I am rather surprised that there is nothing specific about this topic on the web. There are several references to the Highway Beautification Act, but only as it pertains to billboards. I recall reading a quote once where she had said something to the effect of she wanted a road in Texas to look like it was in Texas, and a road in some other place to look like it was in some other place - sorry my memory fails me. I would love to have that quote. Ms. Johnson really motivates people, and I think this information could help us here in Maryland. Can you provide us any information? Thanks.

ANSWER:

I found a passage in Mrs. Johnson's book "Wildflowers Across America" that sounds a little like what you are looking for. It is from the Foreword, p. 11:

"...my life has taken me to many areas of the United States. I think of walking down a quiet land in Martha's Vineyard, bordered by tangles of pink wild roses, with a cloud of daisylike white blossoms frosting the meadows, or strolling a forest path beside a crystal stream in the Callaway Gardens of Georgia and being stopped still by a heady blaze of wild orange-red azaleas against the forest's emerald green. In New Mexico in September, I saw golden aspen climbing the hillsides and wild purple asters dotting the roadsides. I have always been a natural tourist; Lyndon used to say I kept "one foot in the middle of the big road." Wherever I go in America, I like it when the land speaks its own language in its own regional accent."

One of the chapters in the book, "The Beautification Movement and Highway Legislation", gives a brief history in Mrs. Johnson's own words. The full citation for the book is: Lady Bird Johnson and Carlton B. Lees. 1993. Wildflowers Across America. New York: Artabras. It is probably available at your local library, and it is definitely available for sale in Wild Ideas, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center store.
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Ground cover for a bank in PA
April 28, 2012 - I live in Landisburg, PA, (zone 6). I need to find some ground cover for a primarily full sun bank that is roughly 10-12' down over the embankment and up to 100' long. This area wraps around our po...
view the full question and answer

Getting milkweed seeds into seed mixes from Milwaukee WI
February 07, 2014 - My husband and I are concerned about the Monarch butterfly migration and have started an effort to get milkweed planted along some bike trails here in Wisconsin. This made me think of Ladybird Johnso...
view the full question and answer

Re-landscaping in Stephenville, TX.
November 17, 2012 - I prefer native plants. We are re-landsacaping, so I need grass, ground cover, vines and flowers to plant in our back yard. We have many trees and the whole yard is shady. A small area might be con...
view the full question and answer

Blooms as far as the eye can see
March 06, 2008 - Why are some wildflowers capable of putting on spectacular sweeps of blooms "for as far as the eye can see" such as Indian paintbrush at Vail Pass in Colorado, or bluebonnets in the Texas hill count...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Virginia crownbeard
January 29, 2005 - I recently moved to the Hill Country and notice some "weeds" that seemed to into explode into ice formations when the temperature first fell below freezing. Can you tell me the name of this plant an...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.