Monday, March 7, 2011

Totally Texas -- a fairy tale without ogres

I’m beginning this blog about everything Texas in a place that feels out of this world – the Dallas Arboretum’s spring festival, Dallas Blooms.  Recognized by as one of the greatest places in the world to see spring flowers, Dallas Blooms runs through April 10 this year.  The current theme is “It’s a Fairy Tale World,” with seven playhouse-like castles based on classic stories such as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Rapunzel.  But for gardeners in Texas and the Southwest, the Arboretum, in the spring and all year long, is a place to experience beauty designed to deal with our alkaline black clay soils and weather that can change from icy wind chills to subtropical breezes within the same month.

The loveliness opens outside the Arboretum’s gates with a laser-brilliant display of tulips and other spring bulbs.  (Yes, we like color in Texas.)  Once inside, I usually turn right, toward the Paseo de Flores, the main walkway through the gardens.  I’ll detour to check the displays of native and drought-adapted plants and, at this time of year, some of the fairy tale displays.  One of these is the thatched-roof cottage from years past, now transformed into Jack’s house – as in Jack and the Beanstalk.

I’ll visit the toad fountain, where bronze statues of the amphibians spout streams of water.  Beyond the Arboretum’s trial gardens is the circular fountain donated by the late actress Greer Garson in honor of her husband, Dallas oilman Buddy Fogelson.  When my daughter visits with her twins, the only way to lure the boys away from the fountains is to urge them to roll down the well-grassed hill behind the gazebo on the White Rock Lake side of the Arboretum.  They’re never the only kids taking advantage of the soft turf.  Grass stains fade.  Memories last a lifetime.

Which brings us to another joy for the young in age or spirit – the “Texas Town” exhibit near the Arboretum’s entrance.  We’d get there first if we turned left instead of right at the entrance plaza.  The small buildings – think playhouses, not miniatures – include houses, a church and schoolhouse.  Nearby are replicas of early Texas dwellings, including a tepee, covered wagon and sod house.  Still tiny by today’s standards but big enough to let imaginations soar.

The Arboretum is located at
8525 Garland Road
in Dallas.  For more information, see  Let us know where your favorite places are.

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