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Blue Moon Gardens: More Than a Family Nursery

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blue moon gardens tyler edome tx eguide 2Written and Photographed by Barbara King

It’s time to set aside your boots and heavy coats and pick up your gardening tools! Blue Moon Gardens, located five miles east of Edom, is a gardener’s paradise and a super “destination” day trip to get your garden growing.

The Gardens themselves are an oasis of landscaping and beauty, and you can get a first-hand glimpse of display gardens that will get your creative juices flowing. They feature organic gardening practices and only utilize natural products on their crops. They sell organic soil additives, fertilizers and products that are non-toxic to the environment.

The 6-acre tranquil setting is a mecca of all things “garden,” and the first thing you will see is the rustic 1920’s farmhouse, now their unique gift shop, featuring garden décor, candles, soaps, lotions, home scents, prints and the best in gardening books. The beautifully arranged displays will catch your eye as you wander through the shop with garden gadgets like rain gauges, garden kneelers, hats, birdhouses, chimes and pillows.

Co-owners Mary Wilhite and Sharon Lee Smith are the passionate, enthusiastic “plant geeks” that will talk your ear off about their love of gardening. As Mary explains, “we absolutely love this business because we get to share and create beauty and we’ve been lucky to have been doing it for over 20 years.”

blue moon gardens tyler edome tx eguide 3Grab a little red wagon, take your time and wander the gardens and you’ll spy fanciful garden art, outdoor kitchens, fountains, pottery and art to spruce up any outdoor area. It is a wild, yet very well-laid out treasure trove of garden delights. The Gardens are very much a relaxed, homey atmosphere and you will probably run into the two cats, Sweet Pea and Hank, either roaming the grounds or curled up in a cozy bed in the gift shop.

The twelve greenhouses on the property house unusual and different plants, “mostly cottage garden flowers, heirloom plants, herbs, shrubs, perennials, shrubs and roses, and tropicals,” explains Wilhite. With a staff of very knowledgeable and seasoned gardeners, you can get tips on seeding, growing cuttings, potting and watering, soils, and planting times.

With a degree in Horticulture, co-owner Sharon Smith is available to consult on your garden project on a variety of levels. Services range from an on-site visit and consultation through a detail drafted garden design. She loves to assist in the dreaming, planning and drafting of your space.

blue moon gardens tyler edome tx eguide 7Joanne Idell from Tyler has been a loyal visitor to Blue Moon Gardens for over twenty years. “It is the best nursery around, with the best variety,” she said. “I know that the plants are quality, hardy and healthy and not disease-ridden.” Mrs. Idell was in deep conversation with Kendel, “the man in the know” about shrubs and she said, “this is the place to come for ideas about new and different shrubs and plants that you might never have thought to utilize.”

You will find vegetables and herbs galore and a special shed that houses a multitude of pots, and plants that fare well in shade to roses and seeds. Along the walkways, you’ll find everything from vines, yucca plants, junipers, verbena, lavender, larkspur, zinnias and cosmos.

On this rainy Saturday, an enthusiastic Garden Club is meeting in lively discussion about this month’s topic, vegetable gardening. This group meets the second Saturday of the month and discusses a wide range of topics and shares best practices and growing tips. The Club is open to both experienced and new gardeners for an annual fee of $75. The Club members meet in January to plan discussion topics and upcoming meetings including Fragrance in the Garden, Succulents, Best Texas Natives and Plant Combinations for Beds or Containers. The group will also take a Garden tour during the month of May. For more information about the club, call (903)852-3897. Current members come in to meet, mingle and discuss from Athens, Canton, Wills Point and Dallas.

Mark your calendars to celebrate Spring at the Blue Moon Gardens Open House, scheduled for Saturday, April 25th, with special speakers, programs, food and plants, plants, more plants! The day will feature complimentary refreshments, knowledgeable folks sharing their expertise and food available from the Curbside Taco food truck. Starting at 10am, featured out on the lawn, will be representatives from Ridgetop Growers, Monrovia Nursery, East Texas Daylilies, and Bracy’s Nursery from South Louisiana.

blue moon gardens tyler edome tx eguide 1Speakers will include Dr. Brent Pemberton from Texas A&M Extension Service at 10am, Gabrielle Babcock from Monrovia Growers at 11am and Doug McKemie of East Texas Daylilies at 12 noon.

On Saturday, May 30th from 10am-4pm, the Gardens will host the East Texas Daylily Society, showcasing 75 different varieties of the flower, with members of the Society on hand with information and available to answer questions.

Blue Moon Gardens website (www.bluemoongardens.com) contains a plethora of information about all things ‘garden,’ including a spring to-do list, recipes, detailed information on planting, and how to add fragrance to your beds. This is also the place to keep up with the Gardens and subscribe to their e-letter or monthly newsletter. A listing of available workshops can also be found on the website, with minimal fees for a hands-on session for everything from creating a fairy garden, creating patio pots to even dying scarves.

Celebrate Spring and get your garden going by making Blue Moon Gardens your destination. The Gardens are open daily 9am-5pm daily, located at 13062 FM 279, Edom. Take Hwy 64 West, 2 miles past Pounds Field Airport and turn left on FM 279 (heading toward Edom and Ben Wheeler). The Gardens are 5 ½ miles down on the left on FM 279. For further information, call (903)852-3897.


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Family

June Events: Zombie Apocalypse Hike at Tyler State Park

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Tyler State Park Offers Springtime Outdoor Fun

At Tyler State Park, you can boat, fish, swim in the lake, hike, mountain bike, picnic, geo cache, camp, bird watch, and study nature. It is located at 789 Park Road 16, Tyler. All events are free with fee paid for admission into the park. Adults are $6 daily, and children 12 years and under are free. For more info go to tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/tyler or call (903)597-5338. Tyler State Park offers many events this month.

June 2nd, July 7th, August 4th, September 1st, October 6th, November 3rd,  December 1st (9am-12 noon) – Dutch Oven Cooking – Come join the Dutch Oven D.O.G.s for great food and fellowship the first Saturday of the month. Bring the family and join in the fun.  Cooking begins at 9am and food tasting begins at 11:45am.

June 2nd, 16th (2-3pm) – Wildflowers, Pollinators, and Predators – Discover the explosion of color in the Post Oak Savannah as prairie and woodland wildflowers bloom. You will also see colorful pollinators and the equally colorful predators that hunt them. Dress for the weather and be ready for a short walk. Meet at the Blackjack Nature Trail.

June 2nd, 7th (4-5pm) – Zombie Apocalypse Hike – What happens when things go wrong? Can you survive without cell phones, electricity, or transportation? Come and play this light-hearted game of survival and see if you make it through the apocalypse! Dress for the weather and be ready for a 3/4 mile hike. Meet at the Whispering Pines Trailhead.

June 6th (10-11am) – “Lost” in the Forest Hike – Explore the definitions of what it means to be “lost in the forest.” Learn how to keep from getting lost, what to do if you are lost, and how not every kind of “lost” is a bad thing. Wear sturdy shoes, bring water, and be prepared for about a one mile hike through the forest. Meet at the Old Road Trailhead.

June 6th, 14th (2-3pm) – Knotty-time for Kids – Learn some basic knots that every camper needs to know. Knots have “tied” together civilizations throughout history, and they are still important today. Learn knots important for camping and one that can be a lifesaver. Meet at the Silver Canoe Park Store patio.

June 6th, 14th (3-4pm) – Kids’ Wilderness Survival – Learn how to keep from getting lost, what to do if you are lost, and how to make a handy survival pack. Meet at the Silver Canoe Park Store patio.

June 7th (9-10am) – Weather or Not? Learn how to “read” weather and how to prepare for weather either outdoors or at home. Meet at the Amphitheater.

June 7th (10-11am) – Navigation Revelation: Map and Compass – Learn to use a compass and a map for your navigation needs. Bring a compass if you have one. Meet at the Amphitheater.

June 8th (9-10am) – Wilderness Backpack – Learn what to put in a backpack for your wilderness adventure. Learn how to pack for children and pets, too. Meet at the Blackjack Pavilion.

June 8th (10am-12 noon) – Backcountry Hike Series – Learn how to prepare yourself so your trip will be more enjoyable. Dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes, bring water, and be ready for a moderate three mile hike through the forest. Meet at the Blackjack Pavilion.

June 8th (2-3pm) – Historic Games: Play Like Your Grandparents – Play the games kids have played for generations and find out your grandparents really did know how to have fun. Meet at the Amphitheater.

June 9th (10-11:30am) – Wildfood Walk – Learn to identify edible wild plants and how to prepare them. Many edible plants may be seen during this short hike. Learn about plant safety too. Prepare for the weather and be ready for 1/3 mile walk. Meet at the Blackjack Nature Trail.

June 9th (2-3pm) – Micros & Giants – Compare the large and the small on this 3/4 mile hike through the Pineywoods.

June 14th (10am-12 noon) – Lakeshore Nature Hike – Discover the health benefits of being outdoors as we pass through changing ecosystems like hardwood bottomlands and upland pine forests.  This is an easy 2.1 mile hike so bring water, sturdy shoes, and dress for the weather. Meet at the Silver Canoe Park Store.

June 16th (2-3pm) – Dragonflies: An Ode to Odonata – Observe these amazing creatures dart through the sky and learn about their life-cycle and their benefit to you. Dress for the weather and be ready for a short hike.  Meet at the Whispering Pines Interpretive Trailhead.

June 23rd (2-4pm) – The Big Clock: Daytime Sky – Join us for some daytime astronomy activities and day sky viewing. Meet at the Silver Canoe Park Store patio.

June 23rd (8:30-10pm) – Night Sky: The Moon, Planets and Constellations – See the features of the waxing Gibbous Moon, the planets, and constellations of the season. Dress for the weather. Bring a blanket and/or a chair and bug repellent. Park on the entrance road to the Blackjack Camping loop and meet at the multi-use trailhead parking lot.

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Family

TJC offers Summer Activity, Athletic Camps for ages 3 and up

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From animation to athletics, horsemanship to robotics, and scuba to improv comedy, TJC has a summer camp to spark the imagination of any young explorer.

Registration is open for TJC Summer Camps for kids ages 3 and up. Camps begin Monday, June 4, and continue through mid-August.

“We’ve put together a great lineup of activity and athletic summer camps,” said Heath Stoner, director of TJC’s Ornelas Health & Physical Education Center. Stoner also oversees the college’s summer camps.

“TJC camps offer great opportunities for kids to gain skills to succeed in sports and learn about other cultures through art, science and technology,” he said, “but they’re also often a kid’s first opportunity to spend time on a college campus. Ultimately, we hope our campers are inspired to pursue a college career someday.”

The camps are operated at several locations on the TJC campus, including the Center for Earth & Space Science Education at TJC, Wagstaff and Gentry gyms, the Ornelas HPE Center, art department, science labs, swimming pool and gymnasiums.

TJC offers more than 60 activity camps, including: App Attack; Aquatic Camp; Babysitting Basic Training Bootcamp; Broadway Camp; Camp Illusion; Chess Camp; Code Breakers; Cookie, Cupcakes & Games; Comic Book Creation; CSI; Cultural Arts from Around the World; Dance Intensive for Beginners; Digital Storytellers; Disc Golf; English/Western Horsemanship; Explorers of the Kingdoms of East Texas; Exploring our World of Chemistry; Family Astronomy Camp; French Foil Fencing; Frozen Dance Camp; Game Labs; Improv Comedy; Incredible Stuff; Introduction to High Tech Health Careers; Jazz/Hip Hop Dance Camp; Jewelry Camp; LEGO Comics: Design Your Own Adventure; LEGO WeDo: Robotics for Younger Kids; Little Pony Express; Make Your First 3D Video Game; Make Your First Video Game; Minecraft Animators; Minecraft Designers; Minecraft Modders; Open Water Scuba; Pencil, Ink and Charcoal; Petite Picassos Art Camp; Printmaking Workshop; Robotics Camp; Scratch Jr.: Coding & Games for Kids; Space Camp; Slime Kaboom; Star Wars Stop Animation; Surveying & Mapping; Table Tennis; The Finishing Touch; Video Game Animation; Video Game History; Virtual Reality; Watercolor & Acrylic Painting; and Wood Works.

Athletic camps, run entirely by TJC coaching staff and players, include: baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.

For details, or to register online, go to tjcsummercamps.com.

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Around East Texas

Festival of Fruit: 34th Annual Tomato Fest Saturday, June 9th

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34th Annual Tomato Fest Saturday, June 9th

Welcome to Jacksonville – home of the best tasting fruit – tomatoes!

Local farmers are busy getting ready for the upcoming 34th Annual Tomato Fest in Jacksonville, Texas by planting acres of the best tastin’ tomatoes. Join the celebration Saturday, June 9th in downtown Jacksonville for a BIG day of activities that will be happening all day long. Over 200+ vendors and all kinds of festival food, including the famous fried green tomatoes, Farmers Market, $500 Got Talent Contest, Car Show, Motorcycle Show, Tennis Tournament, Soccer Tournament, Softball Tournament, Entertainment, Kidz Zone, and so much more will cover 5 blocks downtown. Tomato events include Salsa Contest, Tomato Eating and Peeling Contest, Tomato Archery, Tomato Shoot, Best Home Grown Tomato Contest, Tomato Packing Contest and tour the Tomato Shed. Saturday evening, Chili’s Street Dance will take place featuring Brian Chance Band and Lady Chazz and the Tramps. 

Activities kick off on Saturday, June 2nd with a 5k run sponsored by All Smiles. Monday, June 4th and Tuesday, June 5th is Family First Clinic’s corporate challenge Dodgeball Tournament. On Wednesday, June 6th, a Gospel Concert sponsored by Whataburger featuring, The Group, will perform at Central Baptist Church. New this year on Thursday, June 8th  is the Farm to Table dinner event that will take place at Castle on the Lake on beautiful Lake Jacksonville and will be catered by Rob Gowin, Sadler’s Kitchen & Catering. A 4 Man Scramble takes place at the Cherokee Ranch Golf Club on Friday, June 8th. The final Tomato Fest week celebration ends at Lake Jacksonville with a Ski Show on Sunday, June 10th.

Taste for yourself the best tomatoes and fun festival packed with lots to do for everyone.  For additional information, contact Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce at (903)586-2217, or go to  JacksonvilleTexas.com/Tomato-Fest or Facebook.com/JacksonvilleChamber.

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