Driving down the highways, from Interstates to County Roads, in Texas in the Spring has always been pure enjoyment to me. I must admit that I like the county roads better than the interstate but no matter what road I am on the amazing Bluebonnets, Indian Paint Brush, Purple Cone Flower, Buttercups and Phlox, among others, make my heart sing. The Phrog and Munkey Ranch and Retreat was home to some of these beauties in the last few weeks and it made me stop and think about Lady Bird Johnson who was instrumental in beautifying our nations highways and in the propagation of our land's natural beauty.
Lady Bird grew up in the bayous of Caddo Lake and loved being close to the land. That love of nature never left her throughout her life and is evident in the many things she championed to preserve the beauty around us. After becoming our nation's First Lady she campaigned for the Beautification Act of 1965, also known as "Lady Bird's Bill". The bill call for the limiting of outdoor advertising along interstate highways and required certain junkyards be removed or hidden by fencing and encouraged "scenic enhancement" of roadsides. This bill is the reason that you see "No Mow" signs in the Spring months as you drive our nation's roadways. Another bill enacted in 1987, also championed by Lady Bird, requires that a small portion of the money in the Surface Transportation budget be used for landscaping projects and to plant native flowers, plants and trees along our highway system.
Upon her return to Texas, Lady Bird refocused her attention on Texas and became an advocate for the 10 mile hike and bike trail that winds around the Austin Texas Town Lake portion of the Colorado River which is planted with native plants and trees. The Austin City Council voted unanimously to rename Town Lake Lady Bird Lake in July of 2007, shortly after Lady Bird's death.
Lady Bird is also responsible for the development of the National Wildflower Research Center which opened in 1982. This center has become a leading center for agricultural research and is instrumental in teaching children about the importance of conservation and sustainability. https://www.wildflower.org
So here's to Lady Bird and her tireless efforts to make our world beautiful. If you get the chance at some point in your life, get in your car, drive down the highway in Spring, admire the beauty of our wildflowers and maybe throw some wildflower seeds out the window.
National Wildflower Center: https://www.wildflower.org
Gould, Lewis L. - Lady Bird Johnson and the Environmental Movement
Wild Seed Farms - https://www.wildseedfarms.com/