Spring and Summer is wildflower season in Texas. Wildflowers are found on our busiest highways and the loneliest back roads. Texans love their wildflowers so much that we have wildflower trails and even Bluebonnet specific touring trails. We even spend money for official road signs that mark wildflowers trails. Nearly every store with a gardening section will have special Texas wildflower seed packets for sale.
Bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas, are especially popular with both Texans and visitors. In April, before the grass gets too tall and drowns the color of the flowers, there are seas of Bluebonnets waving their heads in the breeze.
During peak Bluebonnet season, you can find cars lined up on the shoulders of even the busiest of highways, with people taking family photos surrounded by a Bluebonnet ocean. These days you even see family pet portraits with Bluebonnet backgrounds.
Growing up in Texas, I learned early that the reason we had such beautiful flowers growing on the sides of our roads was because of a special woman. Lady Bird Johnson did a lot of work to make sure that wildflower seeds were planted every year.
Back then I didn’t know exactly what Lady Bird did to make sure we had pretty flowers, just that she was the reason for the pretty flowers. But I knew she was special because she had been a First Lady and she was from Texas. Not only was she from Texas, but Lady Bird grew up where I lived. To a kid, that’s a pretty cool thing.
I got to meet Lady Bird Johnson when I was about 6 or 7, while on a school field trip. It was a dedication for a historical marker in Jefferson, Texas. I don’t remember what her speech was about or even what the historical marker was commemorating, but meeting her was something I’ve never forgotten. It was very exciting that such a celebrity would meet with “normal” folks while TV cameras were rolling.
Today, I know more about Lady Bird Johnson’s legacy to make the world a beautiful place. Every year when the wildflowers bloom, I can’t help but think of a woman who I met briefly more than 30 years ago. As a kid, I was wowed by the chance to meet Lady Bird. As an adult, I am grateful that she made wildflowers and nature such a priority.
To some people wildflowers are “weeds”. But even weeds can be beautiful if given a chance to bloom. Because of one woman’s desire to preserve nature for the future, Texas highways and by-ways burst forth in a stunning color palette of God’s creation each Spring and Summer.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a wonderful place to visit. At the center you can learn about wildflowers and nature conservation, view spectacular flowers, and even buy unique gifts. But you don’t have to go all the way to Austin to enjoy what they have to offer. Thanks to the internet, you can even learn how to make your own wildflower seed balls and carry on the tradition of nature conservation that Lady Bird Johnson was passionate about.