I’m writing for Wildflower on 40th anniversary of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

August 22, 2022

If you’re a member of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, you’ll find the Fall 2022 magazine soon. wild flower in your mailbox. I hope you will take the time to read the two articles I wrote celebrating the Wildflower Center’s 40th anniversary and the cover story on its inspiring storytelling. For that article I had the honor of interviewing Lucy Baynes Johnson, daughter of founder Lady Bird Johnson, and as gracious as she was with her time and interest, I remember Lady Bird when I ran into her at the Wildflower Center long ago, with my little children Lucy her. The famous mother is also a great storyteller, and I’ve shared a few of her anecdotes in the article.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing executive director Lee Clippard for the article, which is called “a place and a promise,” from a quote Lee gave me. I first met Lee many years ago as a fellow garden blogger. His blog The Grackle, although no longer updated, is still online and I’ve learned a lot from it. When he was promoted to director of the Wildflower Center, I was delighted and not at all surprised. Kendra is lucky to have him.

My second essay, “Homeland,” tells the history of the land that the Wildflower Center sits on and draws on its power. It begins with the Center’s official land recognition, which recognizes the indigenous people who originally lived here, and it follows the history of the land up to the present day.

I moved to Austin in 1994, a year before the Wildflower Center moved to its current location, and I’ve been a regular visitor ever since. The Wildflower Center helped shape me as a gardener and a Texan who loves the rugged natural beauty of this state. I’m inspired by the example of Ms. Johnson and those who work at the Wildflower Center today to help protect our native plants and see the treasures in our own backyards—the plants that make Texas look like Texas, the habitats needed by the wildlife that make up the land. can help restore and bring springs back to life and are likely to adapt better to the extremes of climate change than exotic plants that require more coddling.

Much is dividing us right now in Texas and across the United States, but as Lady Bird Johnson knew from her advocacy of native plant conservation, “The nature with which we are ultimately concerned is human nature.” A love for plants and the land we manage together has a way of uniting us. Let’s lean into it and remember we’re all in this together.

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dig deep

It’s juicy time Austin Cactus and Succulent Society’s Fall Show and Sale Sept. 3 and 4 at the Austin Area Garden Center at Zilker Botanical Garden. Includes a plant exhibit, plant and pottery sale, silent auction, and plant raffles. Open from 10 am to 5 pm. Entry to the garden is free with payment.

Learn about garden design from the experts here Garden Spark! I host private talks with inspiring designers, landscape architects, and writers several times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Just click on this link and ask to be added. You can find this year’s speaker lineup here.

All material © 2022 by Pam Penick for Excavation. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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