To Please the Eye and Gladden the Heart

“Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart.”

Over the past eight years, I have only been back to Texas at Christmas time and during the dog days of summer. I never realized how beautiful spring is in the state I called home for the first 19 years of my life. But now I’m back and I’m learning how beautiful it really is when it’s not 100 degrees or when everything around me is some shade of brown, taupe or khaki.

Bluebonnets on side of highway courtesy of my sister, Susanna O'Con

Most people would never consider a drive down the interstate a pleasant experience but in some parts of Texas during the spring it can be inspiring with quilts of blue bonnets blanketing the side of the road accented with patches of red, yellow and pink from other wild flowers.

This post isn’t about the wild flowers that spread across the hills but about an adventure to a place that is perfecting the art and skill of gardening if for nothing else other than to please the eye and gladden the heart. Many larger cities have a botanic garden of some sort whether a public park or privately owned garden. Growing up I visited the Fort Worth Botanic Garden many times but never made it to the Dallas equivalent of a botanic garden, the Dallas Arboretum. I’m glad that I’ve now been.

This garden has been named one of the top 10 places to visit in the country during spring and one of the 14 best places in the world to see spring flowers by MSN. This time of year is their annual event called Dallas Blooms. There are acres and acres of beautifully planned and maintained flowers and plants in several different styles of gardens and beds. The pictures describe it better than I can so here are a few.

The arboretum is also home to two historic homes that are now used for special events and tours. We didn’t have time to go on a tour, but I’ll make it back someday.

Many of the arboretum’s visitors are children going on a field trip or with family. There are many programs and activities geared towards children. For instance, a bunch of little buildings make up an area for kids to learn about Texas history, life in pioneer times and how gardening played a role in those settlements. Special events are also held to interest children like the Fairy Tale Castles event taking place right now. This is a fun concept but in my mind poorly executed. Most of the castle structures were made of plywood and painted. They were crude structures compared to the beauty found all around in the arboretum.

There is a cost to get in the gardens, but it is well worth it. Compared to other gardens of a similar kind, the Dallas Arboretum has wonderful policies. Guests can bring in picnics and have professional pictures taken as long as everyone in the party pays admission.

What a great adventure for spring time. Take advantage of it wherever you are. Many of you are just barely getting out of winter or may have a month or so to go, but when it comes, take advantage of the short window that the earth uses to renew itself and wake up from winter. Whether you can visit the world-renowned Keukenhof in the Netherlands, a nationally renowned botanic garden like the Dallas Arboretum or a well-landscaped and maintained space like Temple Square in Salt Lake City, go and have your heart gladdened and your eye pleased. I guarantee it will make your day better even if you have allergies.

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