Azaleas Say Welcome
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to put the country back to work, WPA employees took on all kinds of projects. In Tyler, they built some of the beautiful redbrick streets and oversaw the construction of a big drainage project. Spanned by stone bridges, it runs through the backyards of homes in a community that was once surrounded by cotton fields.
All three sets of neighbors―Guy and Joan Pyron, Don and Bonny Edmonds, and Gordon and Margaret Davis―moved to Tyler from other parts of Texas. And because their homes were in the heart of the town’s historic Azalea District, they all created gardens that were unique to their personalities yet had a common thread: amazing azaleas.
Joan has a spiritual take on it: “I think this is God’s garden, and he lets me tend it. That’s why we share it.” No wonder so many visitors tell them that their garden “must be what Heaven is like.”
It took Don five years to get rid of the English ivy that had taken over the trees and old flowerbeds. He also cut down big privet hedges blocking the view from the street. The Edmondses even spent a week in England, including the Cotswolds, soaking up inspiration.
The visitors drop in year-round, including one busload of Japanese tourists who had stopped to admire the garden from the street when Bonny and Don invited them in. “Part of the group was a choir, and they gathered together and sang to us a cappella,” says Don. “It was beautiful.”
The result looks like the Augusta National Golf Club, with masses of colorful azaleas all mixed together along a perfect lawn. “I’m a fanatic about the grass,” Margaret admits. Gordon adds, “We just go for the color, and we don’t worry if we get too many in one spot.”
Take a lesson from these three Texas families. The next time you spot the neighbors admiring your azaleas, daffodils, or roses―invite them into the garden. Friendships, too, can bloom in the springtime.
More Information: This year is the 50th anniversary of the Tyler Azalea Trail. To find all the information you need, visit www.tylerazaleatrail.com. The trail, open March 20-April 5, is primarily a driving experience through quiet neighborhoods with brick streets, but you can also walk parts of it.