Full flowering: Celebration of spring blossoms kicks off March 21

Published on Saturday, 8 March 2014 00:00 - Written by Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

This year’s Azalea & Spring Flower Trail features an array of activities, including a planting demonstration, a murder mystery and the Rose City Artisans and Flower Market.

The event, scheduled for March 21 through April 6, is still about two weeks away, but organizers are already preparing, said Shari Rickman, general manager and vice president at the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We always gear up pretty early, but it seems like the excitement has become sooner than normal,” she said. “We’re going to have a good … trail.”

Susan Travis, assistant vice president of tourism/servicing for the convention and visitors bureau, said if the bushes were protected when an ice storm occurred earlier this month, they should be fine.

“I feel like they’ll be OK as far as blooming on time, or blooming by the time we have our opening ceremony (on March 21),” she said.

However, she said, she doesn’t expect the flowers to peak until after opening weekend.

“It’s just hard to say,” Ms. Travis said. “I don’t think they’ll be that late. I’m just hoping and praying for the best.”

As part of the event, horticulturalist Buddy Lee, plant breeder and “Father of the Encore Azalea,” as well as Keith Hansen, Smith County horticulturist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, will do a free azalea planting demonstration at 1:30 p.m. March 21 at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden.

Something else that is different, she said, is the Rose City Artisans and Flower Market, a “more upscale open-air market” with live entertainment, and artisans selling things such as handmade items, plants, bulbs, garden décor, home baked foods and locally grown products. The Rose City Artisans and Flower Market is slated for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 21 and 22 at the Goodman-LeGrand House and Museum.

Another new thing is a McClendon House Murder Mystery event, which is scheduled for 7 to10 p.m. on April 5, Ms. Travis said.

She said a group of Azalea Belles will be on hand to mingle with visitors.

“Along with all the wonderful great events that have been going on for years and years, there are a lot of great things to see and do. We’re very excited about it,” Ms. Travis said.

This year also marks the 55th anniversary of the Azalea and Spring Flower Trail, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Azalea Belles.

Ms. Travis said the Azalea Belles began with Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce secretaries, who made costumes, dressed up, gave out information and greeted visitors.

This year, she said, she hopes to put together an Azalea Belles reunion.

For more information about the Azalea and Spring Flower Trail, go to www.VisitTyler.com or call