Spring has never looked more dazzling to me than it does on this sunny afternoon in Dallas.
Strolling through the Jonsson Color Garden at the Dallas Arboretum--surrounded by thousands of spring bulbs, azaleas, and other flowering plants--I find I'm not the only one here with spring fever. I can hear it in the laughter of a small boy chasing a butterfly. I see it in the smiles of young couples sharing picnic lunches, taking time away from work on a day too perfect to spend indoors.
Mounds of azaleas wrap emerald sweeps of lawn with ribbons of showy colors. Legions of tulips, as bright as Easter eggs, shout for attention. The sweet smell of wisteria perfumes the air.
"I'm not one for fancy words," says Naud Burnett, the Dallas landscape architect who designed the color garden and nurtured it to maturity. "But when you see something beautiful in the garden, your spirits are lifted."
Think of Dallas, and images of sculptured skyscrapers and freeways reaching for the horizons might be the first thoughts to cross your mind. Big D is all that, but it's also a place with a homegrown spring that's truly breathtaking. All across the city, there are good places to step outside and enjoy the season. Here are some of the best.
Flowering at the Arboretum
Dallas Blooms, a five-week-long celebration at the Dallas Arboretum, March 15 through April 20, is the centerpiece of spring. The event at the 66-acre arboretum on White Rock Lake, about 6 miles northeast of downtown, is especially stunning this year. The arboretum staff planted an additional 40,000 tulips to highlight a Dutch theme, "Windmills of Color."
You could spend the better part of a day at the arboretum, touring the specialty gardens and walking the flower-lined fitness trail, which is known as "the prettiest mile in Dallas." You'll see parents pushing infants in baby carriages and kids splashing in jets of water at Toad Corners Fountain. You can browse for books, planters, and other gifts in the arboretum's garden shop--one of the best in the city. Then have tea, scones, and cakes in the parlor of a historic home on the grounds, or bring your own picnic.
About 150,000 visitors attend Dallas Blooms each year. Dress is casual, although a dozen or more women arrive every day in lacy veils and wedding gowns. Each one poses for photographs, usually watched from afar by gaggles of small girls.
"I don't think a day goes by when there isn't a bride here," says Dave Forehand, a former Walt Disney World horticulturist who is vice president of the gardens.