Sperry is a featured garden columnist in newspapers across Texas, according to information received from the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau.
He owns and, since 1987, has published Neil Sperry's GARDENS Magazine and an annual Texas Gardening Calendar.
Sperry was inducted into Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2003.
The Azalea Trail features 10 miles of azaleas, dogwoods, spring flowers and the ambassadors of the trail, the Azalea Belles. The Belles, local high school freshmen and sophomores, will greet guests and pose for pictures dressed in antebellum-style costumes.
The trail festivities, slated to last until April 7, include a Flower Market sale at the Goodman-LeGrand museum on North Broadway Avenue on Friday and Saturday, and an arts and crafts fair at Bergfeld Park, along with the Tyler Azalea 10K and 2-Mile Fun Run on March 23.
Azaleas were introduced to Tyler in 1929 by Maurice Shamburger, one of the city's early nurserymen, according to a press release from the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Pleased with results of a test garden of azaleas, Shamburger shipped the colorful plants to Tyler by boxcar from Georgia. By 1960, the blooming azaleas were attracting much attention, and that year the Chamber of Commerce established a marked trail. The first trail featured 60 homes on a five-mile route, according to the release.
The trail was an instant success. Within two years, it had expanded to 75 homes and attracted 15,000 annual visitors. By 1964, 25,000 people a year were coming to see the azaleas. In 1986, it expanded by two miles and then expanded again in 2009. The trail now stretches 10 miles and attracts more than 100,000 visitors to Tyler every year. Many of the yards along the trail still feature the original plants that arrived by boxcar in the 1940s and 1950s.
For a complete list of activities during a specific weekend, go to www. visittyler.com. Complimentary visitor packets are available by calling 800-235-5712 or at www.visittyler.com.
Visitors may obtain trail information at The Chamber of Commerce, 315 N. Broadway Ave., 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday from Friday until April 7.