As sure as bluebonnets are blue, every spring azaleas deck parks and gardens in the eastern third of Texas with shades of pink. (And red, white, purple, even the occasional yellow and orange.) These evergreen shrubs love the mild weather and acidic soil of East Texas, and each year the city of Tyler hosts a festival to show off its public and private azalea displays.
The 2013 Azalea and Spring Flower Trail opens today, March 15, and extends through April 7. Outdoor flowers being capricious creatures, I drove to Tyler last Tuesday to check on the blooms. Along most of the mapped eight-mile trail, azaleas were just starting to open, and a few days of this warm weather should have brought them out.
I took the picture illustrating this post at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden -- not on the official trail but worth a side trip both for early-blooming azaleas and a gorgeous display of camellias. (Rose bloom is expected to start about April 1, although some antique roses are already flowering.) For Rose Garden information, see www.tylerrosemuseum.com/.
Besides azaleas, Tyler bursts with activities during the annual festival -- home and garden tours, historical tours, and arts and crafts fairs. Blooms on East Texas’ many dogwood trees are also expanding, and nearby Tyler State Park offers a Dogwood Days driving and walking tour to enjoy them.
Of course you’ll take pictures, and there’s a photography contest, with a chance to win cash for your favorites and see them featured on the festival’s Facebook and Flickr sites.
Tyler is located about ninety minutes east of Dallas, a few miles off I-20. The trail begins at the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau, 315 N. Broadway, open daily during the festival except on Easter, March 31.
There are actually two routes, the Dobbs Trail and Lindsey Trail, partially overlapping and well marked. For a brochure of activities and trail map, or to download a free azalea blossom screensaver, see www.tylerazaleatrail.com/.
For information about other attractions in and around Tyler during your visit, see
(Next Friday -- a selection of spring festivals around North Central Texas.)