Monday, March 21, 2016

Houston's Azalea Trail

When the azaleas start blooming, you know Spring is right around the corner. Flourishing in the Texas climate, Azaleas make their debut in a dazzling array of pinks, reds, purples, and whites around March of each year. Starting in 1935, The River Oaks Garden Club has hosted a yearly event to tour local gardens. Now in its 81st year, the Azalea Trail has become a favorite way for many Houstonians to welcome in the Spring. This year the trail included 7 stops all within River Oaks:

1. The Forum  2503 Westheimer
2. St John the Divine  2450 River Oaks
3. Home and Garden  3238 Huntingdon Place
4. Home and Garden  3456 Inwood Drive
5. Bayou Bend  5201 Memorial Drive
6. Rienzi  1406 Kirby Drive
7. Home and Garden  3452 Del Monte

My first stop on the tour was Bayou Bend.  I have never seen Bayou Bend look so beautiful or so loved by visitors. Along with the Azaleas, Tulips and Camellias were both in bloom.

A trolley was available to shuttle guests between locations. 

My next stop was the private residence on Inwood Drive. Built in the 1920's, the Sewall House was inspired by El Greco's house in Toledo, Spain and still contains original tiles, fountains, fireplaces and beams in the main house. The home does an incredible job of combining interior and exterior features bringing in elements of the outdoors into the living space.

My third stop was a private Residence on Del Monte. The residence was built in the late 1920's by Houston architect John Staub who was inspired by 18th century homes in Salem, Massachusetts.

It was very generous for the private residences to open their homes and gardens to visitors during the Azalea Trail. Tips for next year: 1. Make sure to schedule enough time to see all of the stops. I had just one day and felt rushed.  2.  Houston heat = Bring a water bottle, a hat, and sunscreen with you 3. There are no bathrooms, so plan accordingly 4. Parking is limited so try to be dropped off or take an uber.

While the private homes are of course off limits, you can still enjoy the Gardens at the Forum, St John the Divine, Bayou Bend, and Rienzi.

Forum open to the public on Monday 9:30-3:30PM and by appointment Wednesday and Thursday.
Bayou Bend open Tuesday - Saturday, 10AM- 5PM, Sunday 1-5PM
Rienzi open  Wednesday - Saturday, 10AM- 5PM, Sunday, 1-5PM

Enjoy the Spring Blooms!
The Bayou Botanist

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Events in Houston: Azaleas, a Regatta, and the French!

A lot of fun events are happening this coming weekend March 11-13, 2016 in Houston's Green Spaces:

1. The Azalea Trail at the Bayou Bend
Friday, Saturday, Sunday
March 11–13, 2016

11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Bayou Bend participates in the annual Azalea Trail, presented in March by River Oaks Garden Club. Azalea Trail showcases the colorful azaleas at Bayou Bend, Rienzi, private homes, and the garden club's Forum of Civics.

At Bayou Bend, guests enjoy the splendor of spring among the woodland gardens and glimpse the collection of American decorative arts in the main hall of the house. For more details, contact River Oaks Garden Club. Tickets are also available at Bayou Bend beginning in February. Azalea Trail admission is the only way to view Bayou Bend during this weekend. Proceeds support local organizations including Bayou Bend and Rienzi.

(Information from the Bayou Bend Website; Read more here)
Tickets are $25 for all 6 locations (map); $10 for a single location

2. The Buffalo Bayou Regatta
March 12, 2016

7:30 a.m.–2 p.m.

Join us for Texas’ largest canoe and kayak race – the 44th Annual Buffalo Bayou Partnership Regatta! Paddlers, ages 12 and up, are encouraged to participate in the 15-mile American Canoe Association sanctioned race along the scenic Buffalo Bayou. Whether you are entering competitively or paddling for pleasure, you won’t want to miss out on this longstanding Houston tradition!
Those not wanting to paddle can cheer on racers along the race route or catch the outdoor fun at the finish line festivities at Sesquicentennial Park (500 block of Preston Street).

(Information from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership Website; Read more here)
Those signing up the day of for the race: the cost is $60 per person; $25 for student or military ID

3. The French Culture Festival at the Discovery Green
March 11, 2016

6p.m.– 10 p.m.

A free kick-off concert of the 2016 French Cultures Festival will showcase a bouncing mix of rock, pop and blues-hiphop sounds with three bands: The Blind Suns (Angers, France), Wild Moccasins (Houston, Texas), and Scarecrow (Toulouse, France). The event will take place on Friday, March 11 at Discovery Green located at 1500 McKinney, Houston, Texas 77010 from 6 to 10 p.m. It is open to the public and family-friendly.

(Information found on; You can learn more about the concert and bands can be found here.)

4. The Bluebonnets are coming!!  While this is not an event. . .Who doesn't love fields of wildflowers? is a great website to locate areas across the state of Texas where Bluebonnets have been seen in bloom. 

I hope to see you all outdoors enjoying the good weather (fingers crossed)! 
The Bayou Botanist 

Going Tropical: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Miami is a tropical wonderland. Beach lovers and foodies alike flock down south to "Little Cuba" for good reason. My first stop is always Wynwood Arts District , followed closely by the Perez Art Museum, and a long bike ride along the Southbeach boardwalk. But if you want to leave the beach and hustle behind to explore a few Gardens, I would suggest Villa Viscaya or  The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. This trip I drove a short 20 minutes outside of Miami to Coral Gables to visit The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for the first time. The 83 acre garden includes over 23,000 plants and one of the largest collections of palms and cycads in the world. Fun Fact: The Garden opened in 1938 and is named after the famous botanist Dr. David Fairchild (1869-1954) who traveled the world bringing back hundreds of plants including the flowering cherry trees in Washington DC. The Garden is open everyday (except of December 25) from 7:30am- 4:30pm.

You know you're in Florida when the majority of trees are Palms. 

The Clinton Family Conservatory featuring the Wings of the Tropics Exhibit; the Glasshouse Cafe gives a clear view into the garden. . . but I would suggest you eat before coming to the Garden. . . food options are limited and not very good. 
Two Butterflies in the Wings of the Tropics Exhibit 

In the Tropical Plant Conservatory; Colorful Chihuly sculptures always look incredible installed in Gardens. 

In the Rare Plant House  
Every nameplate in the Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion had it's own little lizard; the lizards loved the heat from the metal

Walking down Moos Sunken Garden

Moos Sunken Garden

Spiderwebs are stunning in afternoon light. . . just pay attention not to walk straight through them. 

Viewpoint from the Bailey Palm Glade

Pandanus Lake

I hope you're able to explore your green spaces wherever you may be!
The Bayou Botanist 

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