Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Where flowers bloom ...

... so does hope."
- Lady Bird Johnson

I never spent much time contemplating Lady Bird Johnson. In high school, I vaguely remember that one of my teachers did an impression of Lady Bird, with her careful diction, talking about wildflowers along the highways.

Silly first lady, I remember thinking, worrying about flowers.

Boy, have I changed my tune.

Lady Bird was an environmentalist before "green" was cool. She advocated for the preservation and cultivation of native plants, particularly in her Texas. And why, you might wonder, is this important?

I'll let these words, from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, speak for me:

"Wildflowers do much more than add beauty to the landscape. They help conserve water, reduce mowing costs, provide habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife, protect the soil and save money on fertilizer and pesticides. Also, as Lady Bird Johnson said, native plants 'give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours.' "

Native plants are meant to be a part of the landscape. Lady Bird understood this, which is why, here in Texas, our spring is marked the way it should be -- by the blooming of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush. Each year, in late March and early April, families celebrate the season by taking photos of thier kids sitting in the bluebonnets. This dependence on nature, even for a photo opportunity, is one that I fear many of us have lost.

Should you get the chance, go visit the Wildflower Center in Austin, TX. The beautiful buildings are made of recycled materials and native stone:

And you can hike the trails, forgetting that you're just minutes from suburban Austin:

Thanks, Lady Bird!

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