[LBJ Library photo #C9479-17 by Robert Knudsen]

Lady Bird’s Blooming Legacy

Apr 22, 2013

by Gwen Gibson
[published in Austin Woman Magazine, April 2013]

In 1965, Lady Bird Johnson decided the nation’s capital needed a facelift. So, in a bold and unprecedented move, the new first lady formed the Committee for a More Beautiful Capital and filled it with wealthy private donors and political VIPs. Through this stellar committee, she saw to it that thousands of dogwood trees, daffodils and azaleas were planted in straggly parks and neighborhoods throughout Washington, D.C. Highly popular, this program grew in to the nationwide beautification effort Johnson championed for the next 42 years of her life, earning her the reputation as our environmental first lady.

Today, thanks to her work, once-blighted areas throughout many cities and highways come to life in the spring with native plants and brightly colored wildflowers. But the centerpiece of her legacy is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 10 miles southwest of downtown Austin. In this 279-acre center, some 650 species of plants and trees native to Central Texas are displayed and nurtured, and that’s just part of the picture. The center offers hiking trails, woodlands and gardens, as well as exhibits, lectures, conferences and family-friendly programs throughout the year. In addition, it operates a nationally known center of information on the sustainable use and conservation of native plants, wildflowers and landscapes. read more