I’m writing for Wildflower on 40th anniversary of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
August 22, 2022
If you’re a member of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, you’ll soon find the Fall 2022 magazine Wildflower in your mailbox. I hope you’ll take the time to read two articles I wrote, including the cover story celebrating the Wildflower Center’s 40th anniversary and telling its inspiring story. For that article I had the honor of interviewing founder Lady Bird Johnson’s daughter Luci Baines Johnson, and she was every bit as gracious with her time and interest as I remember Lady Bird was when I ran into her at the Wildflower Center long ago, with my young children in tow. Luci is also a terrific storyteller about her famous mother, and I shared a few of her anecdotes in the article.
I also had the pleasure of interviewing executive director Lee Clippard for the article, which is called “A Place and a Promise” from a quote that Lee gave me. I first met Lee as a fellow garden blogger many years ago. His blog The Grackle, while no longer updated, is still online, and I’ve learned a lot from it. When he rose to directorship of the Wildflower Center, I was delighted and not at all surprised. The Center is lucky to have him.
My second article, “Homeland,” tells the history of the land that the Wildflower Center sits on and draws its power from. It begins with the Center’s official land acknowledgement, which recognizes the Indigenous peoples who originally lived here, and it follows the history of the land up to the present day.
I moved to Austin in 1994, the year before the Wildflower Center moved to its current location, and I’ve been a regular visitor ever since. The Wildflower Center helped shape me as a gardener and as a Texan who loves this state’s rugged natural beauty. I’m inspired by the example of Mrs. Johnson and those working at the Wildflower Center today to protect our native plants and help us see the treasures we have in our own backyards — plants that make Texas look like Texas, that create the habitats needed by wild creatures, that can help restore land and bring springs back to life, and that are likely to adapt better to the extremes of climate change than exotic plants that require more coddling.
There’s a lot dividing us right now, in Texas and across the U.S. But as Lady Bird Johnson knew from her advocacy for the preservation of native plants, “The nature we are concerned with ultimately is human nature.” A love of plants and the land we steward together has a way of uniting us. Let’s lean into that and remember we’re all in this together.
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It’s succulent time at Austin Cactus & Succulent Society’s Fall Show & Sale on September 3rd and 4th at Austin Area Garden Center in Zilker Botanical Garden. Includes a plant show, plant and pottery sales, silent auction, and plant raffles. Open 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free with paid admission to the garden.
Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. You can find this year’s speaker lineup here.