Native Son: Springtime!

A sweet lady came up to me the other day and asked how I was enjoying “the leisurely pleasure of spring.” I stared back at her blankly for a moment before just answering, “Fine.” I don’t know what planet she was from, or what she looked like before taking form as a human, but the colors of the azaleas, redbuds, viburnums, and other floral wonders had obviously blinded her to the dirt and sweat covering me from head to toe. I work in a public garden, so for me, “spring” and “leisure” never appear in the same sentence. To me, “Spring-fresh” is something from a TV commercial.

That said, I do love me some springtime. The occasional morning hoodie, the semi-occasional rainfall, and grasshopper-free days are indeed reason to celebrate this little spritz of seasonality before the summer oven gets turned on. People stop by and tell me how great the place is looking and how they appreciate our Herculean horticultural efforts. Life is beautiful.

I love the sudden flood of tours I’m asked to give, and thankfully, most of these are in the morning … before my daily application of grime. But my favorite part of springtime tours is that they force me to take a moment to actually appreciate the beauty, instead of focusing on the beasts. Sometimes I feel like the roadie who never gets to watch the concert.

The Tyler Newcomers Club was a delight!

So … what’s new? Things are coming together in the Sensory Garden. Yes, I am focusing on the classics; sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. Herbs, fuzzy leaves, and fragrant blossoms hold center court here, but I think that sells things a little short, so I’m also working on the other senses, like sense of wonder, sense of curiosity, and sense of humor. Plant labels are ordered and should arrive soon, which will help answer a bunch of questions.

Continued Below

Galvanized steel cattle water troughs make sturdy planters, while stone pathways encourage visitors to slow down.

While the hardscape is coming together, I still have a lot of work to do. Yes, I probably got a little carried away with the 50+ whichway signs, but I am hoping to spark some curiosity in visitors of all ages. Let’s see who is curious enough to find out what “Ongtupqa” is, or what makes the “Cave of Altamira” so special. Maybe someone will wonder why Beebe, Arkansas, rates a sign … or what in the world Wall Drug is all about.

At the other end of the Arboretum, the Japanese Garden has begun to take shape. It’s amazing what a few plants will do when set amidst natural boulders. I even found the perfect fountain for the “iris” in the eye-shaped bed! Things are coming together … never as quickly as I’d like, but let’s opt for the glass half-full this time.

Click image for larger view.

And finally … while looking for photos for this little article, I ran across two that made me laugh out loud.


Just so you know … the Longview Arboretum & Nature Center is OPEN! Hours are 10am-5pm, Wednesday through Saturday; Sunday 12 noon-5pm. Come out and see us! And bring your own brand of Zen! 903-212-2181

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 too small. Just send me an e-mail at and we’ll work something out.

Posted by Steven Chamblee
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