Friday, April 20, 2012


Every place in the world has lovely flowers native to that area. Okay, not Antarctica, but most places on the globe. In Texas, residents look forward to our lovely lupines called bluebonnets. Not only are they the state flower, when they show up, spring is here.

Years ago, there were not the numbers of bluebonnets seen today. Don’t go all political on me because this is a non-partisan blog! Lady Bird Johnson is largely responsible for beautifying Texas, and it has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans. She made it her mission to improve the landscape, and she did. She crusaded for wildflowers along the roadsides. Through her efforts (nagging) at former Governor John Connally, packets of wildflower seed were given to Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and anyone who wrote to Austin, but I don’t remember what office. Sorry.

Lady Bird Johnson and her wildflowers
Next, she insisted that wildflowers were good at erosion prevention along the roadside and suggested (strongly) that mowers skip the wildflowers until after they had dispersed their seeds. She even requested that mowers scatter flower seeds the last time they mowed in the fall. As a result, Texas highways are much prettier now. Even though, as far as I know, the packets of seed are no longer free for the asking, she started people thinking and caring...and planting

If you see wildflowers along the Interstates, thank Lady Bird Johnson. She legislated (what else can you call it) to get wildflowers sewn along all the Interstate highways in the contiguous United States and enlisted Texas Senator Loyd Bentsen’s help. The wildflowers don’t need to be mown, yet prevent soil erosion. This saves taxpayer dollars while providing a beautiful view. I know that funding cuts the past few decades have eliminated many of the seed sowing programs, but you simply have to give Lady Bird a lot of credit for her foresight and determination.

Pasture between Weatherford and Mineral Well, TX.
I aimed carefully to exclude the dead coyote
carcass hanging on the fence nearby.
Several cities, such as Richardson, in the North Central Texas area, have their own wildflower program on their roadways. I love driving along and seeing batchelor buttons, carnations, and other flowers beside the roadway. Isn't that a great idea?

My family and I visited Lady Bird's wildflower test area near Austin. It was lovely. When docents explained the process, growing wildflowers seemed so easy. For me, not so much. I have tried many methods to plant bluebonnets and paintbrush and have given up - almost. On our acreage, we have a few native paintbrush, winecups, Indian blanket, and many other varieties, but NO BLUEBONNETS! It’s as if the bluebonnets mock me. I hear them sending me raspberries from afar. However, less than half a mile away bluebonnets abound.

Will I give up? No. I am determined to grow those lovely flowers! Did you know they smell very sweet, similar to orange blossoms? If you know a good way to cultivate bluebonnets in places where you can't water, please tell me.

What is your favorite wildflower?


Linda Morris said...

Interesting post. I'd heard before that Lady Bird had a lot to do with planting wildflowers in Texas but I didn't know how she'd gone about it. My current WIP is a historic western set on the Chisholm trail, so these photos were interesting. In Indiana, we have a lot of purple coneflower (echinacea), which I love.

katsrus said...
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katsrus said...

I love daisies and violets. Those bluebonnets look so pretty. I love seeing flowers along the roads. Most of our main highways are all plain here. See the flowers more on the sideroads. That is so interesting, I never knew Lady Bird Johnson did that.
Sue B