By Sydni Ellis
Blame it on my lack of a green thumb, spring allergies or just being too busy (OK, or maybe too lazy), but for some reason, I have never been able to maintain a garden – or even start one. Don’t get me wrong: I love springtime. The sun almost seems friendlier in March, as its gentle rays softly coax the flowers to bloom, grass to grow and the world to wake up. That’s why this month is the perfect time to visit a botanical, water or historical garden! Even if you are a gardening pro, walking among beautiful public gardens will fill you with peace – and your camera with gorgeous photos. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the best gardens in Texas and surrounding areas to visit with family and friends!
Start your garden adventure close to home at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. A lovely blend of pink, yellow, orange, white and purple tulips have taken over the gardens as part of the annual Dallas Blooms festival, taking place until April 7. In addition to the 500,000 blooming tulips on display, you can also see the more than 100 different varieties of spring flowers. This year’s theme, “Life’s A Picnic,” includes weekly picnic-themed film screenings and a stunning topiary arrangement featuring a vase of flowers, giant ant, and slice of pie inside a huge picnic basket, all sitting on top of a 40’ by 40’ picnic blanket.
Weekly events are another highlight of the Dallas Arboretum, including tea parties, wine pairings, basket weaving classes, book signings, children’s activities, live music and floral demonstrations. And if you love amazing food
(who doesn’t?) be sure to stop by the Food and Wine Festival March 21-23 for your chance to try delicious food bites and wine pairings from more than 40 award-winning chefs and restaurants, watch cooking demonstrations, participate in farming workshops and more while surrounded by beautiful flowers. www.dallasarboretum.org
Head north to Oklahoma City to visit the serene Myriad Botanical Gardens, famous for its impressive 13,000-square foot Crystal Bridge Conservatory. Walk inside this transparent cylinder-like structure to see a green wonderland complete with 750 different types of plants, many peaceful waterfalls and a sky bridge that provides one-of-a-kind views of the thousands of tropical and desert plants.
Roam around the outdoor garden areas, fountains and dog park next, then attend one of the many events at Myriad. Bring the kids to celebrate Dr. Seuss Day in the Gardens on March 2, where book characters will be reading stories to the kids; relieve stress at the weekly Yoga Tuesdays in the Garden; sign up for the annual Oklahoma Gardening School to learn about sustainable gardening from local and national experts; and enjoy Go Green St. Patrick’s Day and Painting in the Gardens: The Lucky Hat on March 17, where you can see an Irish Step show, enjoy themed food and activities, and create your own artwork. More events and information can be found at www.oklahomacitybotanicalgardens.com.
You’ll feel like you are walking through a painting at the Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, which features so many picturesque spots that it’s almost impossible to see them all in one day. Walk over stone bridges surrounded by a lush forest on both sides, relax by the cool waterfalls and ponds, and enjoy the 150,000 Dutch tulips in every shade of the rainbow, the vibrant spring annuals and azaleas, and the delightful yellow-and-white daffodils.
Plan your visit around the many March events. Some of these include Group Health Walks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; Botanical Illustration Series that teaches you how to draw tulips on March 9; Mrs. Garvan’s Springtime Tea on March 12, where you will learn about Verna Garvan, enjoy tea and stroll through the gardens; Celebrate Spring Day on March 23, which is full of special color-themed activities for kids, food trucks, a beer garden and more; and Art, Wine and Horses on March 29, featuring wine, cheese and a painting lesson. Additional details can be found at www.garvangardens.org.
Water and sculpture gardens
Not all gardens contain flowers and greenery – sometimes stone, water and sculpture arrangements are just as pretty! Check out the Fort Worth Water Gardens located in the heart of downtown. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life to walk through the park designed by architect Philip Johnson, who also designed the Museum of Modern Art Sculpture Garden in New York City. Through the use of concrete, some vegetation, still water, rushing waterfalls and beautiful fountains, the Water Gardens are a perfect place to relax on a warm spring day. Just make sure to keep an eye on small children, as some wet rocks and steep steps can be slippery! www.fortworth.com/listings/fort-worth-water-gardens/2989/
Looking to find creative inspiration? Visit the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden in Austin, which is dedicated to the late, award-winning sculpture artist Charles Umlauf and owns about 200 pieces of his work. During his life, Umlauf made many unique sculptures, including families, animals, religious and mythological figures and nude figures, using a variety of materials like wood, terra cotta, cast stone, bronze and marble. In addition to seeing the 50 pieces of Umlauf’s artwork on permanent display throughout the garden, visitors can also enjoy temporary exhibits. From March 5 through August 18, “James Surls: With Out, With In” will be on display, including more than 30 wood, steel and bronze sculptures often paying homage to nature. Meet the artist at the public opening on March 5 from 6-8 p.m., and then tour his fascinating sculptures made over the last four decades. Learn more at www.umlaufsculpture.org.
Historical and educational gardens
Learn something on your trip at one of these historical and educational gardens. Beauty and discovery come together at Moody Gardens, located near the water in Galveston. These gardens were created as a place for rehabilitation and therapy for people with physical and emotional disabilities, and it has grown to a wonderful conservation, research and recreational destination for everyone to enjoy. Must-see attractions include the Rainforest Pyramid, containing more than 1,700 species of plants and animals – including the amazing Giant Amazon River Otters – from rainforests in Asia, the Americas and Africa; the Discovery Pyramid, containing traveling science exhibits; and the Aquarium Pyramid, which houses a 1.5 million-gallon aquarium with penguins, sharks, seals, seahorses, tropical fish and more. After an afternoon of learning, unwind at the Ropes Course and Zip Line, where you can climb up to the top and then glide through the air to see stunning views of the gardens. www.moodygardens.com.
Step back in time at Houmas House in Darrow, Louisiana, which is a historical plantation that two French settlers purchased from the Houmas Indians in the 1770s. Start by touring the mansion built in 1840, that was designed with a mixture of French and Spanish architectural influences. Afterward, wander through the gardens to see vivid spring flowers, exotic plants, water features and a pond containing lotus and lily pads, surrounded by colorful Koi plants. For more information, visit www.houmashouse.com.
No matter if you are looking to go on a family vacation, escape for a quiet retreat, perfect your gardening skills, participate in unique experiences or simply take beautiful pictures, visiting one of these gardens is the way to go. Life is too short – this month, make time to stop and smell the tulips!