Azalea Trail

The 84thAzalea Trail will herald the beginning of spring! Its course is set for March 1, 2 and 3, 2019. The Trail kicks off with the annual ribbon cutting at the Lazy Lane entrance of Bayou Bend on Friday, March 1st at 10:30 a.m. Last year, longtime friend of the River Oaks Garden Club, Harris County Judge Honorable Robert A.  Eckels performed the ribbon cutting duties. This traditional ceremony will honor past presidents of the River Oaks Garden Club. A ticket to the Trail gives admission to 6 locations within the River Oaks neighborhood, including 4 private homes and gardens, Bayou Bend and Rienzi. 2018’s  ticket also included admission to the prestigious annual Texas State Floral Association Designer of the Year Competition at the Kilroy Visitor and Education Center at Bayou Bend (Memorial Drive entrance) on Saturday afternoon, March 3 from 1:00 – 4:00. Laura Dowling, guest author and former White House florist was featured.  A 7th free location, also in River Oaks, is the River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics where free advice from “Ask the Experts” can be enjoyed each day. A free bus provides easy access to all 6 locations of homes, gardens and house museums.  Homes and Gardens

A special thank you to our underwriters for helping to make this event possible.

Advanced ticket sales at the businesses listed –

Open 11 am – 5 pm daily.

Single site admission – $10

Texas Designer of the Year Competition is included in the seven admissions ticket.

Azalea Trail Ticket Sales Locations

RANDALLS – all locations

A Bientot
2501 River Oaks Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77019

The Arbor Gate

15635 FM 2920 Road
Tomball, Texas 77337

Avalon Stationery and Gifts
2604 Westheimer Road
Houston,  Texas. 77098
Bayou Bend:
Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center at Bayou Bend
6003 Memorial Drive
Houston, Texas 77007

The Cottage at Bayou Bend

6003 Memorial Drive
Houston, Texas 77007

Bering’s

6102 Westheimer
Houston, Texas 77057

Bering’s

3900 Bissonnet
Houston, Texas 77005

Buchanan’s Native Plants

611 E. 11th Street
Houston, Texas 77008

Briargrove Pharmacy and Gifts

6435 San Felipe St
Houston, Texas 77057

Cornelius Nursery

2233 South Voss Road
Houston, Texas 77063

The Empty Vase

2511 River Oaks Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77019

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

4501 Woodway Drive
Houston, Texas 77024

Indulge Decor

2903 Saint Street
Houston, Texas 77019

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
5601 Main Street
Houston, Texas 77005

Rice Epicurean Market

2020 Fountainview
Houston, Texas 77057

Thompson & Hanson

3600 West Alabama
Houston, Texas 77027

River Oaks Plant House

5930 Westheimer Rd
Houston, Texas 77057

Wabash Antiques & Feed

4537 N. Shepherd Drive,
Houston, Texas  77018

 

The History of the Azalea Trail

River Oaks Garden Club (ROGC) was organized in 1927 by 27 residents of the emerging River Oaks area. It was not until late April 1935 that they held the first “Garden Pilgrimage,” as it was known then. That first year, there were 12 gardens on the tour, five of which were on Lazy Lane. Proceeds from the tour were used to beautify the grounds of River Oaks School, known today as River Oaks Elementary.
In 1936, the Pilgrimage became known as the Azalea Trail, as three gardens were opened in March to display azaleas in addition to the April Pilgrimage. People were unfamiliar with the beautiful azaleas because they were not native to the area, so ROGC used the Azalea Trail to educate the public on azaleas and horticulture.

The 1940s brought challenges to the Azalea Trail, as the war years led to severe shortages of plant material. ROGC members began to cultivate bedding and landscaping plants from seeds and cuttings and introduced the “Victory Garden” concept into landscape design at their own homes. The Victory Gardens incorporated vegetables into the borders of flower gardens and fruit trees into the broader landscapes – a practical shift from the isolated vegetable gardens and fruit orchards of the past. The ROGC Victory Gardens proved to be greatly appreciated by Azalea Trail attendees, setting the stage for a new interest in marketing fresh produce at the Greens Market held on the ROGC’s Forum building grounds.

Azalea Trail attendance continued to grow, attracting an impressive 10,000 visitors in 1945. Visitors that year included several thousand service men and women, who enjoyed the Trail as honored guests. Among them was a contingency of military officers, visiting Houston to lay the cornerstone for a new, 39- building Naval Hospital (this later became the Veteran’s Hospital). The officers accompanied military patients from McCloskey Hospital in Temple, Texas and were entertained by ROGC members for the entire weekend. Garden Club members hosted a series of social events, and, although ROGC had fewer than 50 members, ten gardens and three homes were featured on the Azalea Trail that year. These efforts were more important during the war years than any previous time. The Shreveport Times related the sentiment of those who attended the Trail, noting that, “The beauty of a garden is yours to keep, in your heart. We all need beauty now more than ever before. Our hearts are troubled and our minds are worried, but peace and beauty can be found in a garden filled with lovely colors and beautiful flowers.”

In 1948, the ROGC’s historic Forum building first opened as an information center during the Azalea Trail. Flower arrangements by members were also on exhibit, and member Frances Hannay published a pamphlet for the public called “Period Flower Arrangements”.

In 1957, night gardens were featured on the Azalea Trail for the first time.

In 1961, Miss Ima Hogg granted permanent supervision of Bayou Bend Gardens to ROGC. To this day, Bayou Bend Gardens remain an important jewel in the Azalea Trail crown.

In 1982, The Mayor of Houston issued a proclamation, designating Azalea Trail Days and commending ROGC’s contribution to the historical preservation, conservation, and beautification of the city.

In 2006, the City of Houston was designated an “Azalea City.” What started as a means for ROGC members to educate the people of Houston has evolved into the heralding symbol
for Spring in the City of Houston.

Today’s Azalea Trail offers Houstonians an enjoyable weekend that educates the public about architecture, flower arranging and horticultural possibilities in our region. Trail proceeds are given back to the community for projects in horticultural education, conservation and civic beautification.