Native Son: Top Ten Reasons to Visit the Longview Arboretum

(I can’t believe I’m writing the first seven words of this article…)
Since the mid-August cool down began, things are looking up at the Longview Arboretum & Nature Center. Sooooo, if you’re feeling like doing a bit of car sailing (taking a little road trip) to see the place, set your GPS on this Pineywoods treasure.

1. Caladium Madness!
We planted thousands of funny-looking bulbs (that-are-actually-tubers-but-nobody-cares-so-we’ll-just-keep-calling-them-bulbs) a few months ago, and they have erupted into giant pillows of gorgeous color!

I can already hear someone asking, “What varieties?” To misquote Shakespeare, “What’s in a name? A caladium by any other name would look as beautiful…so just come to the Longview Arboretum and find out.”

Some caladiums have waxy cuticles that collect rainwater in little spheres.

Caladiums are sexy!

2. The Allure of the Labyrinth…
Come smooth your groove, mellow your Jell-O, or ponder the yonder wonders in the Labyrinth. From talkative teens to people who can actually remember playing a 78 r.p.m. record, everyone finds what they’re looking for here. I even saw a little kid walking it backwards the other day…just to drive his mom crazy. (It worked!)

True to form, I weeded the Labyrinth after I took the photo.

Continued Below

3. Hydrangea Hypnosis!
“Hydrangeas have particularly pretty panicles that bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses.” J.K .Rowling

Okay, she really didn’t say it like that, but she might have if she were at the Longview Arboretum & Nature Center and saw our collection of eight varieties of hydrangea. Well done, Harry.

There’s something magicalof a fresh hydrangea blossom.

4. The Big Blue Chair Beckons
Pile the whole family on the Big Blue Chair for a great photo! Everyone looks beautiful on it, beside it, or hovering in the air above it!

Parker County Master Gardeners came out for a visit!

5. The SS Botanic Will Float Your Boat
From its humble beginnings last winter, this jolly Jon boat has grown up into a nice photo op. Just don’t try to set sail with her…I pulled the plug for drainage.

Originally donated for an education room bookshelf, when we stood the SS Botanic up on end, she was too tall for the room!

6. Celebrity Sightings!
Recently, Greg Grant emerged from the depths of the hallowed halls of the Smith County AgriLife office to pay a visit to the Longview Arboretum. After a tour of the formal plantings, we ended up on the periphery of the gardens, studying the indigenous plants…what most people would consider weeds.

Greg Grant was complimentary of both.

Greg Grant and I discussing insect-induced fasciation on Solidago (goldenrod)…perhaps not the most riveting topic in horticulture.

7. Gazebos Rising!
Three new gazebos and some additional lighting are currently under construction at the Arboretum, as part of Phase Two development. All the fuss and dust will soon leave us with beautiful additions to the gardens.

An Oriental-style gazebo will soon grace the grounds of the Arboretum.

8. The New to You Blue Room
The Blue Room is full of aquatic adventures and fishy fun for young and old alike. Collections of seashells and fish replicas cover the walls in this unique Exploratorium.

Click image for larger view.

Come discover the Jon boat bookshelf, magical mollusks, and strange creatures of the deep in the Blue Room.

9. The Little Pergola
I got a wild hair earlier this week and put together this small pergola in the woods to frame an upcoming Lutyens bench.

The freshly-painted Aggie Maroon pergola blends well into its woodland home.

10. The Southern Living Garden Takes Root
The Southern Living Garden is nearly complete! It has been a true adventure; full of twists & turns, joyous celebrations, and face-palming disappointments. Planting a garden during the Texas summer is a challenge. Formal dedication is this Fall.

Early morning beauty in the Southern Living Garden.

Click image for larger view.

11. The Rectangle of Mystery
You’re just gonna have to come out and see me if you want to know about this. Believe it or not, you will be amazed…

Jesper Moreau (on the right) and I on the site of a future wonder.
(And I have no idea why we both have our hands in our pockets.)


Just so you know…the Longview Arboretum & Nature Center is OPEN! Summer hours are 10am-5pm, Wednesday through Saturday; Sunday Noon-5pm. Come out and see us! Check out the progress on the Southern Living Garden and other areas of the Arboretum. Please observe social distancing at this time. And bring your own brand of Zen! 903-281-2181

I need a road trip! Let me know if you’d like me to come and speak to your group sometime. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and you know I like to go just about anywhere. No city too big; no town to small. Just send me an e-mail at and we’ll work something out.

Posted by Steven Chamblee
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