Green Thumbs Shine At River Oaks Garden Club Azalea Trail 

By Elizabeth Wilhite
Photography by
Brenda Beust Smith and Marilyn Winters

THE SCENE: The green-thumbed patrons of the River Oaks Garden Club left no leaf unturned at the 80th Annual Azalea Trail Home & Garden Tour. The it-list of River Oaks turned out in sunhats and parasols for a week of cocktail parties, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and tours of four grand Houston homes. Every year the Museum of Fine Arts Houston presents the Bayou Bend Gardens and Rienzi, two fine museums whose gardens are maintained with proceeds from the event. Each detail was carefully tended by Terry Smith, the club’s president and the event chairs, Gayle Hightower and Mimi Prioleau.

THE VIBE: Rain or shine, the gardens of the elite are a sight to see. From pre-war mansions to cutting edge contemporary, the homes of the trail offered a feast of florals and as a showcase of interior design for a sophisticated palette. Outside and in, visitors were treated to overwhelming sprays of orchids, water features, and lush lawns bordered by roses, magnolias, camellias, boxwood hedges, and yes, thousands of azaleas. The icon of the tour, the azalea, bloom fully each spring in Houston and these showy flowers flourish in varying shades of pink, purple, white, red, and yellow. They are a magnificent sight to behold, as well as a point of pride for all who are able to take a moment to indulge in the spectacle.

THE CAUSE: River Oaks Garden Club was founded in 1927 and has made many contributions to the Houston community in the areas of conservation, horticulture and civic beautification. Proceeds from the Azalea Trail support the Bayou Bend Gardens Endowment, the annual Sadie Gwin Blackburn Environmental Seminar, and maintenance of Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics Building and Gardens. The gardens are open to the public.

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