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Dory’s Garden: Inspiration Awaits Beyond the Lavender Gate…Literally!

By Barbara King

It’s literally a cornucopia for the gardener’s imagination, and it’s right off the Brick Streets of Tyler.

What was originally a hobby for landscape architect, Dory Hersey, has bloomed into a flourishing “backyard oasis,” meant specifically for stop and smell the flowers moments.

Garden artist Dory is celebrating the one year move from the Brick Streets to her current home and garden location and loving every minute of sharing and inspiring others to visit and enjoy the park-like setting. Driving up to the corner of Augusta and Rusk Streets, guests are immediately made welcome by the outside porch entrance to the “Garden Fancy” boutique shop, which is literally in Dory’s front parlor. Here you will find everything garden from colorful clothing and Seattle spiced tea to candles to succulents. It’s a warm, inviting cozy space where you will want to wander and discover scents and images. Dory has also created her own unique cards and calendars featuring her striking floral photos.

Dory’s passion for people and plants as living art is apparent around every corner in the outdoor space. Your entrance to the “secret garden” begins by entering under the lavender gate as Dory’s personal mantra becomes apparent: “Inspiration Awaits Beyond the Lavender Gate.” Following the gate is a colorful Morse code walkway leading to a ½ acre visual plethora of pots, plants, and garden paraphernalia. Signs throughout the garden tell the story, “Smell the Roses,” “Perennial Picks,” and “Under the Sea-dum.”

It’s a peaceful, lush space designed for sitting, walking, and gazing, complete with tables and chairs, where guests are encouraged to “bring their lunch and coffee and stay and enjoy the outdoors,” said Dory. The garden is the perfect tactile experience, as Dory says, “I wants my guests to touch and feel the flowers, pots, and plants and imagine how they would look in their own home.”

Dory’s Gardens was created for the exchange of ideas and inspirations, and Dory is the conduit for your gardening dream to become a reality. Dory’s personality looms large in the garden, and visitors are greeted with warmth as the conversation turns into a one-on-one tour of the garden. Dory inspires networking and sharing, so once a month she hosts a “stalk exchange” on the second Saturday of the month, and the garden transforms into a plant swap meet. Refreshments are served while you roam around to find new flowers, and gardeners are encouraged to bring extra starts and bulbs to trade.


Mother and daughter duo Morgan Chaney and Karen Nelson, who live in the neighborhood, love the “peaceful spirit” of the garden and Dory’s knowledge of “what works and what doesn’t in a garage apartment space,” said Morgan. They have also taken advantage of Dory’s unique workshops, held on the fourth Saturday of the month, recently finishing a colorful terrarium, utilizing different varieties of plants that look great in the apartment, according to Karen. The classes change monthly, usually ranging from $15-$20 with all material supplied, and you walk away with a floral treasure for your home. Private classes are also available with a minimum of four guests.

Bring your own container or buy a pot at the garden, and Dory will help pick out the perfect arrangement of plants suited to your lifestyle. The first Friday of every month, Dory picks featured flowers in their prime, so choice is great for new blooms to add to your beds.

The garden is the perfect destination for a family outing too, with hands-on play areas including a maze for kids and the very kid-friendly pond with the opportunity to feed the goldfish in the fountain. The garden has tons of seating areas to relax, but it’s not too spread out that you can’t keep an eye on the kids.

Dory promotes her love of the community by featuring ceramics, jewelry, birdhouses, and other items by local artisans. The garden is chock full of unique plants, herbs, shrubs, garden décor, outdoor furniture, tools, pots, and vibrant color as far as the eye can see.

Troy and Hillary McFarland, who were touring Tyler on a day trip from Dallas, did a Google search on “flowers” and found Dory. They brought their coffee and took a leisurely stroll around the garden, even though Hillary said, “We kill all of our plants and definitely don’t have green thumbs.” The couple said they were “amazed that this garden existed in an established neighborhood like this; what a great surprise! We were so thrilled that Dory spent the time to visit with us and explain the gardens,” said Hillary. The Dallas couple left happy with succulents and church window art for their home.

You can plan a private party in the garden or a dress-up birthday tea party with crumpets for kids with Dory’s guidance and creativity for a memory that will never be forgotten.

“Guests who visit become my new friends, and most come back and will sit and read, knit, enjoy a hot drink, or sit under the trees to feed birds and squirrels,” Dory said.

Visit Dory’s Gardens, and let your imagination soar! Dory’s Gardens is located at 600 W. Rusk St. (at Augusta). Dory’s Gardens is open Thursday-Saturday, 9am-5pm. For more info call (903)330-4663,, or look for Dory’s Gardens on Facebook.




2018 Updated Festival Guide

stretford tyler tx

2018 Festival Go-Getters Guide

East Texas is a great place for all kinds of festivals – from family fun to wine festivals, rodeos and food specialties. Plan now for these future festivals.

  • July 27th-29th – Great Texas Balloon Race, Longview
  • September TBD – Art of Peace Festival, Tyler
  • September TBD – Big Texas Fest, Lindale
  • September 21st-30th – East Texas State Fair, Tyler
  • October 13th – Lindale 2018 Countryfest & Harvest Hustle 5K, Lindale
  • October TBD – Dogtoberfest Craft Beer Festival and Animal Adoption Event, Tyler
  • October 11th – 14th  – Downtown Tyler Film Festival, Downtown Tyler
  • October 18th-21st – Texas Rose Festival, Tyler
  • October TBD – Hoptoberfest at True Vine Brewing Company, Tyler
  • October TBD – East Texas Rose Comic Con, Tyler
  • October 27th – Fall Feral Hog Festival, Ben Wheeler
  • November-December – Rose City Christmas, Tyler
  • November 3rd – Red, White & Blue Festival, Bullard
  • November TBD – 4th Annual Caring for Kids Benefit Festival, Tyler
  • November 10th – Heritage Syrup Festival, Henderson
  • November 15th-17th – Mistletoe & Magic, Tyler
  • November 15th-17th – Reel East Texas Film Festival, Kilgore
  • December 8th – Blue Santa Pub Crawl, Downtown Tyler

Coming 2019!!

  • January 2019 – B2B Expo, Tyler
  • March 2019  – Texas Coffee Festival
  • March 2019 – Azalea & Spring Flower Festival, Tyler
  • March 2019 – ATV Mud Nationals, Jacksonville
  • March 2019 – Annual Dogwood Trails Celebration, Palestine
  • March 2019 – 37th Annual Tyler Quilt Show, Tyler
  • April 2019 – Praise Fest, Downtown Tyler
  • April 2019- April in Edom, Edom
  • April 2019- East Texas Gusher Days, Gladewater
  • May  – Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival, Downtown Tyler
  • May -19th – Tops in Texas Rodeo, Jacksonville
  • May – Piney Woods Wine Trail Festival, Lindale
  • May – Porch Fest, Kilgore
  • May – Tailwind Regional Balloon Fest, Canton
  • June – Roundup Rodeo, Gladewater
  • June – Texas Blueberry Festival, Nacogdoches
  • June – Tomato Fest, Jacksonville
  • June – Black History Month Music Fest

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The History of the Azalea Trails: Tyler Prepares for Spring Flowers

stanleys bbq tyler tx eguide magazine

azalea trail brochure front

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By Holli Conley

Brisk winter days will soon give way to one of the most beautiful seasons in Tyler: Spring. Spring brings with it an excitement and a lot of events to enjoy. It’s the perfect time of year to get out and be a “tourist” in your own backyard.

An annual favorite is the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail taking place this year March 25th-April 10th. While Tyler is mostly known for its roses, in the spring, the rose takes a back seat to azaleas. The Azalea & Spring Flower Trail features mile after mile of blooming azaleas, dogwoods, and spring flowers. This event has been described as a floral wonderland and a photographer’s paradise.

If you live in Tyler, it’s hard not to miss these springtime blooms as you travel around town, but many don’t know how Tyler became known as “a natural beauty.” It didn’t just happen overnight.

While oil booms gave Tyler an economic head start in the 1930’s, azalea and rose blooms gave the city its beauty. Azaleas were introduced to Tyler in 1929 by Maurice Shamburger, one of the city’s early nurserymen. Pleased with results of a test garden of azaleas, Shamburger shipped the colorful plants to Tyler by the boxcar loads from Georgia.

After completing his garden in 1929, Shamburger discussed the beautification potential of azaleas with Mrs. Sara Butler of the “Tyler Courier Times Telegraph.” Mrs. Butler not only encouraged Shamburger to promote azalea plantings in the city, but she personally supported the effort by planting a number of bushes around her own home on Charnwood Street.

That home site, along with several other gardens on Lindsey Lane, soon became springtime showplaces with their colorful azalea blooms, and Tylerites began buying the plants by the thousands. Some of the thick, towering azaleas at older homes on the Trail date back to the ‘30’s and ‘40’s.

By 1960, the blooming azaleas were attracting much attention, and that year the Chamber of Commerce established a marked route. The first Azalea Trail featured about 60 homes on a five-mile route.

The Trail was an instant success, and within two years it had expanded to include 75 homes and was attracting 15,000 visitors. By 1964, 25,000 people a year were coming to see the azaleas. In 1986, the Trail was expanded to two trails.

With the success of the Azalea Trail escalating and with more tourists coming to town, the Chamber of Commerce decided guests needed to be welcomed in true southern style. In 1964, the first Azalea Belles, wearing full antebellum dresses, were introduced to the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail. The first group of Azalea Belles were made up of two chamber secretaries. These ladies made their own costumes by hand and distributed brochures to guests along the Trail.

Today, the Azalea & Spring Flower Trail consists of two trails winding through ten miles of historic homes and gardens that are bursting with the colors of spring. Last year, more than 100,000 people visited the event.

Over the years, the Azalea Belles have become a much beloved and anticipated part of the event and are always happy to visit with guests, as well as pose for photos along the Trail. Guests are taken aback by the local hospitality and the extra flare these ladies add to the overall experience.

The Azalea Belles are local Smith County freshman and sophomore girls who are interested in being ambassadors of the Trail.

During this time of year Tyler hosts city-wide events, including historic home tours, live entertainment, arts and crafts fairs, a flower market, and more.

“Visit Tyler” (Tyler’s Convention and Visitors Bureau) will once again be hosting the ever so popular Bunny Hunt and Azalea Photo Contest. Visitors and locals alike are encouraged to try their hand while enjoying the walk along the Trail. Prizes will be awarded to the winners.

Grab your camera, your family, and get ready Tyler, for the most spectacular flower event in East Texas – happening just outside your window. Watch the city you live in literally “come alive” this spring! Mark your calendars now and plan to attend the fun events happening all over town.

For more details about the Trail, an updated progress of the blooms, a list of the Azalea Belles, and more go to


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Welcome to Tyler, Texas!

2014 Rose City Christmas Web ad    visit tyler

Click an image to view and download more info on these special events:

rose city christmas tyler texas     TylerCVB Visitors Guide     azalea trail 2015     Rose Festival 2014 Fun Map copy

Charming brick streets. Antique shops and unique specialty stores. Crystal-clear lakes.
Challenging golf courses and scenic campgrounds. Tyler, Texas has something for everyone.

To get more info about Tyler, Texas:

Tyler Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau

315 N. Broadway Tyler, TX 75702
Ph: (800) 235-5712
Fx: (903) 592-1268

To request more info about Tyler CLICK HERE.

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