“Wildflowers Across America” by Lady Bird Johnson and Carlton B. Lees
In 1982 at the age of seventy, The First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, wife of the former President Lyndon B. Johnson, founded the National Wildflower Research Center in Austin, Texas. The book, “Wildflowers Across America” was a collaborative effort between Lady Bird and Carlton B. Lees, a prominent horticulturist, senior vice president of the New York Botanical Gardens, and past president of the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania Horticultural Societies.
Madam President was known for her ardent efforts to beautify America’s highways. She began her campaign in our nation’s capital, planting bulbs and flowers throughout L’Enfant’s circles and avenues. Her determination, supported by her husband, Lyndon, culminated in the first legislation ever to be conceived and enacted by a First Lady. Mr. Lees and First Lady Johnson compiled a lovely book that catalogs and illustrates the different wildflowers for the different climates and regions in America. In the forward to the book, Lady Bird quotes from her husband,
“We have always prided ourselves on being not only America the strong and America the free, but America the beautiful. Today that beauty is in danger. The water we drink, the food we eat, the very air we breathe are threatened with pollution. Our parks are overcrowded and our seashores overburdened. Green fields and dense forests are disappearing. A few years ago we were concerned about the Ugly American. Today we must act to prevent an Ugly America. For once the battle is lost, once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. And once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature, his spirit will wither, and his sustenance be wasted.”