Lady Bird's Flowers
(Austin, Texas) It is a sweet spring in Texas for beasts and birds and bees.
Unidentified Child: Click. Click.
Smith: Even the shutterbugs have come out of hibernatio. And they are in ecstasy.
Unidentified Man #1: Oh, yeah. You should see this. It's beautiful!
Smith: The reason, the wildflowers. More than just another roadside attraction, this year the wildflowers have Texans giddy with pride.
Man #1: Bluebonnets everywhere. You're going to love it.
Unidentified Woman #1: It's incredible. You thank God that he gave all of this beauty for us to see and enjoy.
Smith: People can't stay out of them...
Unidentified Woman #2: I like them all.
Smith: ...can't get enough of them.
Unidentified Woman #3: It's like being a kid again.
Smith: From the Panhandle to the piney woods, nature's display of color is the stuff to tell your grandkids about.
Unidentified Woman #4: Touch the wildflower, baby. Touch the wildflower. Oh. Just feel how it feels so good.
Smith: To be in Texas in the springtime, to drink up all this beauty, is to know joy. But it's impossible to look at the bluebonnets and the paintbrush and the primrose and not want to thank Lady Bird Johnson.
Oh, it must make you proud to walk through here.
Ms. Lady Bird Johnson (Former First Lady): Mm-hmm. I am.
Smith: The former first lady helped build the National Wildflower Research Center in Austin, a place that takes seriously her decades-old crusade to keep America beautiful.
Ms. Johnson: This is the best year I've ever seen. What I'm really waiting for is the day that is mine. I'll get up in the morning, have a breakfast, pack a picnic lunch, and head out.
Smith: She remembers coming home from Washington years ago to find the spring flowers she'd grown up with gone.
Ms. Johnson: Whole lot of them were gone. Between the plow and the cow and the concrete, we were losing so much habitat.
Smith: So blossom by blossom...
Can you do the Latin name of the bluebonnet?
Ms. Johnson: Well, it's lupinous Texansus.
Smith: ...she began building support for this state's wildflower heritage.
Ms. Johnson: Well, if I lived in North Carolina or Maine or Oregon, I would be just as interested in what grows there. But I'm glad I was born here because I just love the colors of my state.
Smith: Now the state of Texas spreads thousands of pounds of wildflower seed each year, an investment that pays off beautifully.
Do you have a favorite springtime flower?
Ms. Johnson: No, I just like the whole roll of the seasons, the pattern of them as we go along. I guss maybe I would have to think mighty well of the Indian blanket, the gallardia, because it is so determined, such a survivor. And I like survivors.
Glad you-all are all here.
Smith: At 84, she too is a survivor.
People see you and they sigh. They're so happy to see you.
And like her beloved wildflowers, more beautiful this year than ever. Harry Smith, CBS News, Austin, Texas.
First aired on the CBS Evening News
April 18, 1997