May 11, 2015

A Week for Wildflowers!

It’s National Wildflower Week!  Just reading those words brings a sense of beauty, doesn’t it?  Wildflowers!  So much of my own childhood was about me being outside – riding my bike, roller skating, hiking, walking, camping, journaling whilst sitting in in the nook of my favorite tree.  In my rural environment wildflowers were prolific. 

Some of my favorite memories with my dad were the two of us walking in the woods together. Our jaunts were usually about finding morel mushrooms, but I also remember the beautiful woodland wildflowers as we made our way through the forest.  Aster, bee balm, jack-in-the-pulpits, baneberry (which we called “doll’s eyes”), bellflowers, columbines, Dutchman’s breeches, bleeding hearts, violets … and on and on.  My dad was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge when it came to trees, flowers and other plants.  We would stop frequently for him to tell me the names of the lovely bloom or stalk on our path. So when I see wildflowers today there is a deep connection to my childhood and to my papa.

Growing up I learned about former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson and her efforts to preserve and reintroduce native plants to both urban and rural areas.  In the early 1980’s she and actress Helen Hayes founded the National Wildflower Research Center near Austin, Texas. In 1998 it was given a new name – The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, honoring the woman who worked so tirelessly to promote and sustain its mission.

So, with a nod to our former First Lady, let’s celebrate this wildflower week in some way.  Get outside and learn the names of some native species, or better yet – plant some in your own yard.  To quote Lady Bird Johnson, “where there are flowers, there is hope.”  Here’s to all things wild and hopeful! 
Kathleen Ahern
Youth Services Librarian

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