Perhaps nothing in East Texas signals spring and the promise of warmer days ahead more than the annual blooming of azaleas, dogwoods and wildflowers.
The arrival of these much-anticipated gifts from nature come at a time many of us are sick of the cold of winter and barren landscapes.
Spring flowers begin arriving about mid-March and bloom for about six weeks. East Texas comes alive with color. The reds of Indian paintbrushes and the purples of the bluebonnet transform the areas along roadways into living works of art.
Texas has more than 5,000 species of wildflowers, according to the Texas Department of Transportation's Wildflower Program. TxDOT buys and sows about 30,000 pounds of wildflower seed each year. The peak wildflower blooming season draws tourists from all across the nation to see the color unfold.
The department discourages picture-taking that damages the flowers and the picking of the flowers.
When spring flowers are at their peak, the result is spectacular. It is all a matter of knowing where to look. So with that in mind, here are four events and places that showcase beautiful flowers.
The Azalea & Spring Flower Trail in Tyler
The Azalea and Spring Flower Trail takes place from March 20 to April 5. However, don't feel restricted by the dates. Sometimes the azaleas arrive earlier and remain in bloom much later.
The city's tourism department, Visit Tyler, provides updates on its website visittyler.com/azaleatrail on when the flowers are in bloom.
The trail is actually two separate driving routes, the Lindsey Trail and Dobbs Trail, that are about 10 miles long and meander through the picturesque Azalea District, which is famous for its red brick streets and historic homes.
The best way to access the routes is to begin on the downtown square and head south on Broadway Avenue. Look for the signs. There are many places to park and get a closer look at the flowers in the home gardens. Look for signs that encourage people to enter private back yards to see flowers.
One of the most popular places to take photos is the block bordered by Broadway, Lindsey, Dobbs and College. Some of the yards in this block have been featured in national publications.
Texas Dogwood Trails in Palestine
The Texas Dogwood Trails are held from March 20 to April 5 in Palestine to coincide with the blooming of the dogwood tree.
Although dogwood trees with their distinct white or pink blooms are seen just about everywhere in the Palestine area, the star attraction for viewing is Davey Dogwood Park, a 254-acre public park at 900 N. Link St.
The park has 5 miles of roads, 8 miles of hiking and biking trails and an abundance of dogwood trees. One of the most popular places to get out is a picnic area near the entrance that provides a fantastic view of Manley Mountain, one of the highest points in Anderson County.
Many activities take place in Palestine each weekend of the trails. For a list of activities and a map of Davey Dogwood Park, go to visitpalestine.com.
Wildflower Trails of Texas in Northeast Texas
Wildflowers Trails of Texas draws attention to the abundance of wildflowers that grow along highways in the spring. It specifically covers rural sections of highways 49, 155 and 11 that connect the small northeast Texas towns of Linden, Avinger and Hughes Springs.
The flowers are in bloom throughout most of April.
During the last weekend of the month, all three towns hold special events that are attended by visitors who come to see the flowers. The chambers of commerce for the towns provide more information.
Texas Bluebonnet Trail in Ennis
Ennis has been designated by the State Legislature as the home of the Official Texas Bluebonnet Trail. The Ennis Garden Club has mapped out three separate routes covering 40 miles that take motorists to areas where bluebonnets cover fields.
The West Trail takes visitors to Bluebonnet Park and the Meadow View Nature Area.
During the blooming season in April, Ennis Convention and Visitors Bureau (visitennis.org, 972-878-4748) has the latest information on the best places along the trail to see flowers at any given time. The flowers often peak about the third weekend in April. More information is available at bluebonnettrail.org.
Ennis holds its annual Bluebonnet Trails Festival April 17 to 19.
Did you know
All species of the bluebonnet are considered the state flower. Besides purple bluebonnets, there are also white and pink bluebonnets.
More than 20% of wildflowers are in the sunflower family.
Indian paintbrush comes in colors ranging from orange to yellow to purple.
Goldenrod is often confused with ragweed which causes hayfever. However, the goldenrod is not a wind pollinated plant. It is pollinated by bees.
For wildflower reports and sightings for the entire state of Texas, go to wildflowerhaven.com or the Texas Wildflower Report Facebook page.
For more information about Texas wildflowers, including a list of driving trails across the state, go the website of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, wildflower.org.