Elizabeth Stone, Marilyn Gregg, Julia DeWalch cutting the ribbon on the River Oaks Garden Club's 85th Azalea Trail (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Minnie Baird's Flower Mobile is one of the many charming aspects of the 85th annual Azalea Trail. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Gardens at the Forum of Civics building, home to River Oaks Garden Club (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Seven destinations beckon on the 85th annual Azalea Trail. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Home interiors are decorated by floral arrangements created by River Oaks Garden Club members. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Bountiful bouquets add floral splendor to Azalea Trail homes. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Caterer and cookbook author Elizabeth Stone co-chairs the Azalea Trail where her cookbook is featured in one of the homes. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Azalea Trail chairs Elizabeth Stone and Julia DeWalch with honoree Marilyn Gregg at the Flower Mobile, the truck courtesy of Minnie Baird. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Even the tires of the Flower Mobile are bedecked in flowers. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
River Oaks Garden Club members created floral arrangements for each of the houses on the tour. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
PaperCity's Shelby Hodge takes ride in the Azalea Trail's Flower Mobile. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
It’s not only the gardens in River Oaks and Courtlandt Place that are in full flower in time for this weekend’s hallowed Azalea Trail but also are the interiors of the grand homes for which River Oaks Garden Club members created lavish floral arrangements.
Our early tour, which included a delightful round in the floral-decked Flower Mobile, began at The Forum where Azalea Trail chairs Elizabeth Stone and Julia DeWalch and honoree Marilyn Gregg cut the ribbon that marked the launch of the 85th annual tour of Houston’s grandest homes and most charming gardens, including Bayou Bend and Rienzi, both Museum of Fine Arts, Houston house museums.
New this year is the pop-up market at the Forum of Civics building, home to the garden club which sponsors the charitable fundraiser. As many as 20 merchants have set up petite tents in the parking lot. Participants include Bee2Bee Honey, Dr. Delicacy, Grateful Bread, Silver Stone Events and Food Shop and St. Hubertus Wild Game Dog Food.
After a year of planning efforts, Stone and DeWalch have the pleasure of touring the seven properties in the flower-decked, open air hunting truck. The rustic four-wheeler, transformed into a floral confection for the weekend, belongs to garden club member Minnie Baird, who dresses the vehicle in hundreds of glorious artificial flowers.
There is nothing artificial in the flowers that fill the gardens. And, yes, while some of the azaleas might have reached their peak already, there are plenty of blossoms to make the trek worth the effort, not to mention the glorious interiors of the homes that are on the trail.
Garden club member teams, numbering eight to 10, have responsibility for providing arrangements for each of the rooms in the houses on the tour. We’ve never seen such grand arrangements outside of the best of the best florists. As Elizabeth Stone explained, truckloads of flowers from wholesalers are delivered to each of the homes where the amateur (seriously?) designers create floral wonders coordinated with the house decor.
The garden club expects to raise $350,000 during this year’s Azalea Trail with proceeds dedicated to a number of Houston nonprofits.
Seven destinations are included in the $30 ticket. If you have interest in only one of the spectacular addresses, admission is $10. More details are available here.