Lady Bird Johnson died this afternoon. Her flowers are still blazing outside our house though the July sun may make them go to seed soon.
She was a wildflower partisan, as all Texans know. I made so bold as to steal the drying seed head of one of her perfect, rare, Venetian red gaillardias, at the old Johnson ranch, put it in my pocket, and scrunch the seeds into my garden about five years ago.
The next year genetics took over and I had a lot of gaillardia plants in the same area of the garden but they were mostly of the more common, less beautiful red-and-yellow variety. The following year, more. This year, thanks to the tremendous amount of rain, gaillardia are blooming as far out as a couple of hundred feet from the house. There's still a display of pure Venetian reds right outside the sleeping porch, mixed with mealy-blue sage and some lilac skeleton flowers. The cattle and deer leave them alone.
All wildflowers native to the seven very distinct eco-regions of Texas are now popular, thanks to Lady Bird. "I want Vermont to look like Vermont, and Texas to look like Texas," she said. We may have more authentic, water-saving native gardens in this state than any other. Lady Bird won't be forgotten anytime soon.