Sunday, March 07, 2010

Lasker? I Hardly Know Her

For any new subscriptions that fall between our quarterly issue mailings, I have been sending out the first issues first class. That costs $1.56 each or two .78 cent stamps. Everytime I go to the local post office, they say they are out of 78s, but I push, they check, and miraculously some are found "in the back." The 78-cente stamp features a woman named Mary Woodard Lasker. The postal clerks and I always look at her and shrug. No one has heard of her, which I found said especially as March is Women's History Month, so I decided to investigate. Turns our, Mrs. Lasker actually has some bonafide garden and Washington, DC horticultural connections!

According to Wikipedia, she lived from November 30, 1900 – February 21, 1994 and was a "highly influential American health activist. She worked to raise funds for medical research, and founded the Lasker Foundation. Mary Lasker is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1989. Born in Watertown, Wisconsin, Lasker attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison and graduated from Radcliffe College. She was married to Lord and Thomas advertising executive Albert Lasker (his third marriage). The Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service was renamed in her honour in 2000."

Now here is the important part:
"Lady Bird Johnson wrote about Lasker numerous times in her book A White House Diary, calling her house "charming ... like a setting for jewels" and thanking her for gifts of daffodil bulbs for parkways along the Potomac River and for thousands of azalea bushes, flowering dogwood, and other plants to put along Pennsylvania Avenue."
Bonus! According to, "As a tribute to Lasker’s work, a pink tulip was named for her during the 1980s."  (If anyone knows a source for these bulbs, please enlighten me. I think they are Tulipa Triumph variety, but can find no source that carries it.)

For shame on me not knowing that local garden history already! Marie Woodard Lasker, I shall think of you each time I send out a new subscription order and every time I visit your plantings in our city.

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