Lady Bird Johnson

Today, December 22, is the centenary of the birth of environmental advocate, businesswoman, and former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson (Claudia Alta Taylor).

Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis).  Public domain hoto by Dr. Thomas G. Barnes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis)

While her husband was president, she created a First Lady’s Committee for a More Beautiful Capital and then expanded its efforts with successful support for the Highway Beautification Act of 1965.

In 1982, Johnson and actress Helen Hayes created an organization to protect the native plants and natural landscapes of North America.  It became the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.

Some of her words:

“Though the word ‘beautification’ makes the concept sound merely cosmetic, it involves much more: clean water, clean air, clean roadsides, safe waste disposal and preservation of valued old landmarks as well as great parks and wilderness areas. To me…beautification means our total concern for the physical and human quality we pass on to our children and the future.”

“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.”

You can listen to an interview about Lady Bird Johnson, An Oral History on “The Diane Rehm Show” at the link on the sidebar under “Today’s Quote.”  Adrian Higgins of The Washington Post wrote a tribute to her in October, here.

Public domain photo above by Dr. Thomas G. Barnes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Friday miscellany

The porch of Burnside Plantation in 1938, by photographer Frances Benjamin Johnson for the Carnegie Survey of the South.


The Washington Post has an interesting, and rather sad, article (and colorful slide show), here, about the once-great floating gardens of Xochimilco in Mexico City. Although it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, “the ancient plots and their life-giving canals are weedy and abandoned, overrun by cattle, invaded by exotic fish, sucked dry by urban sprawl — and a dozen agencies of government have failed to save one of the wonders of the world.”

Anne Raver in The New York Times writes about Nancy Goodwin’s celebrated Montrose Gardens in winter, here. The slide show includes a photo of her lath house, which has been on my list of favorite garden structures since I saw it in Garden Design in the 1990s.

In urban landmark news, the first Starbucks on the East Coast, at Wisconsin and Idaho Avenues, N.W., in Washington, D.C., has closed. The building it occupied will soon be demolished. However, The Huffington Post reports, here, that the new, mixed-use development will still have a Starbucks (whew!). In the meantime, if you visit the nearby National Cathedral’s Bishop’s Garden, you can get coffee (and fudge) in the gift shop.

(Also, a slideshow in the header of the National Cathedral’s website, here, has some revealing photos of the earthquake damage of last summer.)

This link from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the University of Texas at Austin displays a map of the U.S. Click on a state and you get a list of native plants suitable for that region. Also, here’s an interesting perspective on the honey bee as a pollinator of American native plants, at Garden Rant.

Finally, if you need a reminder to always be alert to possibilities for design, click here.