As Spring begins, gardens across the Lone Star State are starting to come alive with color and activity. Interstates, highways, back roads, and fields reveal colors seen only in spring. The wildflowers all Texans know and love, bluebonnets, give a shout-out to Lady Bird Johnson, former first lady and person responsible for the Highway Beautification Act that was signed in 1965. Alongside the Texas favorites are Indian paintbrushes, daisies, rain lilies, prairie verbena, black-eyed Susans, Mexican hats, firewheels, and more. The season offers beauty across Texas and I’ve been blessed to visit some of the greatest public gardens in the state. I’m sharing a dozen of my favorites.
Grandmother’s Flower Garden at the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange,
The first time I visited the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, I remembered my Grandma and the quilts I’ve been fortunate to have that she made years ago. Had she been around today to visit the museum, I know she would have loved it. From the quilts on the inside to the quilt mural on the outside, the museum certainly embraces its theme. Grandmother’s Flower Garden, located in the lot next door, is even more special because the museum created it and planted flowers and trees that would have been around between 1890 and 1930, the age of the buildings in historic downtown La Grange.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas
No post about flowers in Texas would be complete without a mention of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. As mentioned above, the Highway Beautification Act the former First Lady implemented in the 1960’s was instrumental in the beautification of Texas highways and interstates. The gardens in Austin feature fields of wildflowers, water features, and wonderful pathways you can walk along to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding you.
International Waterlily Collection in San Angelo, Texas
While the International Waterlily Collection in San Angelo is seasonal and just getting started, the lilies you will find in this west Texas community are unlike anything you have ever seen. Deemed the premier collection in the world, this city park is definitely a stop from May through October each year.
Gage Gardens in Marathon, Texas
Anyone who has driven to the Big Bend Region of Texas is familiar with the desert-like conditions and dry climate. Visiting the town of Marathon, population 386, you’ll cross the railroad tracks in town and find a lush and surprising treat. Gage Gardens is a tropical paradise. Ponds, lush greenery, and a walking trail for off-leashing your dog are a few of the amenities offered at this FREE attraction in the largest county in Texas.
Cactus Garden at Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center in Langtry, Texas
If you’ve ever taken Highway 90 from Del Rio to Alpine, you’re likely familiar with the Pecos River High Bridge near Comstock. Drive about 30 miles further west and you’ll come to the tiny community of Langtry, population 12. A location of one of the Texas Department of Transportation’s Travel Information Centers, this spot is a nice place for clean bathrooms, brochures about Texas attractions and town and cities, and the history of Judge Roy Bean. In fact, the center is named the Judge Roy Bean Center for the “Hanging Judge” known for being the self-proclaimed “Law West of the Pecos.”
After exploring the Visitor Center and historic buildings, take a walk through the lovely Cactus Garden. While the thorny plants sometimes get a bad rap, they have a rugged beauty, especially when blooming in the spring and summer months.
Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center in McAllen, Texas
From April 2016 to May 2017, I took a year off from working. My husband and I sold almost everything, loaded up the RV with our dogs and traveled around the southwest. We spent about six weeks in south Texas. It was in January when we visited the area but because the weather is so tropical, we were still able to enjoy lush vegetation and beautiful views. On a side note, the birding in January is stellar in the valley of Texas. Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center in McAllen gave us a look at Mexican culture, beautiful trails, and tropical gardens we’d never experienced before or since.
Buu Mon Buddhist Temple & Lotus Garden in Port Arthur, Texas
In the town of Port Arthur, located along the Gulf Coast of southeast Texas, you’ll find the Buu Mon Buddhist Temple & Lotus Garden. I spent more time seeing the garden than the temple while visiting a friend and getting a tour of the interesting places in the community. You could easily meditate or simply be still, as you enjoy the views of this lovely and surprising garden.
Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in Orange, Texas
One of the most interesting gardens I’ve ever visited has to be Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in Orange. I had no expectations, as I’d never heard of it at the time. Over the more than 250 acres of Texas land are paths showcasing tropical plants, flowers, marshes, birds, alligators, and more, found in this lush environment in the town furthest east of the Texas border from southern Louisiana.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Dallas, Texas
Named one of the south’s best botanical gardens by Southern Living Magazine, the 66-acre Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden take you from the concrete city of a large metroplex to a nature-lover’s dream.
Fort Worth Botanic Gardens in Fort Worth, Texas
I have to admit, I’m a bit partial to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens since I lived and worked in Fort Worth for a number of years and this was my go-to place to enjoy nature. The spring gardens are a highlight for anyone visiting Cowtown, but it’s beautiful year round. Covering 120 acres and minutes from downtown, the gardens are a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Take a breather and stroll the gardens, while letting your cares and worries disappear.
Chandor Gardens in Weatherford, Texas
West of Fort Worth in the town of Weatherford, you’ll find Chandor Gardens. Drive through neighborhoods with some of the most beautiful historic homes on your way to this 3.5 acre estate. The small acreage offers a mix of Chinese-style architecture and English gardens.
The Azalea Trails and Tyler Municipal Rose Garden in Tyler, Texas
In my new role as President of Visit Tyler, I’ve seen firsthand the beauty of the Azalea Trails in the city. When I was a student at Tyler Junior College, I didn’t have a car so I seldom visited the downtown area. Driving the neighborhoods nearby is a pleasure for the eyes. Homeowners in the Azalea District, much of it located along the brick streets of the community, take their yards very seriously, knowing that residents and visitors alike want to enjoy the flowers and trees, which indicate spring is in the air.
I’ve spent a lot of time visiting the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden when I’ve visited Tyler. Covering 14 acres with 35,000 rose bushes, this amazing garden is a special place for the senses. Your eyes and your nose will thank you after a visit here. I’m excited to now work in the city of roses.
Now that you’ve read about some of my favorite gardens in Texas, I hope you’ll take the time to experience them for yourself.
Until next time…from Texas…Safe Travels!