The one thing that should bring me out of the period of silence on this blog is my discovery today that Lady Bird Johnson passed away 2 weeks ago. I wondered if I would get the chance to meet her some day (on earth at least); she was and is an inspiration to the dream garden I see when I close my eyes. In this garden, there are beautiful flowers, elegant and regal but with a delicate and wild balance that arrange themselves in sometimes indiscernible patterns.
My first visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center came at a time when I was starting to get interested in wildflowers. I was new to Texas, and new to the idea of gardening but I had always been interested in wildness in nature. Like Lady Bird, as a child I spent time just sitting in fields and being with the tall grasses and “surprise flowers” (as I saw it–surprise). I was amazed to discover this entire world in Texas of wildflower research, this protectiveness and pride which has also become the nations’ pride. Texas wildflowers are famous the world over.
On my visit I was warned that it had been a bad year for wildflowers with the recent drought but I was stunned to stand in front of fields that collected themselves in colorful drifts… I had to try the wildflower experiment for myself. The thing that I admire about how she carried her vision is that it wasn’t idealistic in the way that so much of the current environmental message is, with its red-flag warnings and cynical doomsday guilt. She seemed to have radiated a love for her surroundings, carrying her lifework with hope and elegance–and teaching by example in her own beauty how gorgeous the wild things are. And that message is far more powerful, to me at least, and has certainly borne fruit in the massive organization and research she helped to start.
Lady Bird Johnson, thank you for being a true wildflower. There are many seeds of life that will come from you.