Tyler is a pleasant, growing city of 100,000+ in east Texas, about an hour and a half east of Dallas.

From Wikipedia: “Tyler is home to the largest rose garden in the United States, a 14-acre public garden complex that boasts over 38,000 rose bushes of at least 500 different varieties. The Tyler Rose Garden is also home to the annual Texas Rose Festival, attracting tourists by the thousands each year in mid-October.” 

Of course, we timed our visit here in March, well before the roses have even budded. Luckily for me, spring brings one of the area’s largest horticultural events — the Azalea Spring and Flower Trail.

The Azalea Spring and Flower Trail is a ten-mile-long route that can be walked, biked, or driven. It encompasses some of the most beautiful historical architecture in the city along winding tree-lined streets. Three homeowners — well, only one this year — allow visitors to get beyond the sidewalks and roam their back yards. There are at least two dozen events surrounding this 3-week celebration of spring, including art shows, home tours, social events and more.

This little introvert skipped the paid events and drove/walked along about 3 miles of the trail on a cloudy Saturday morning. As a photographic subject, the gardens did not disappoint!

Pyron Gardens

This is the only home that seemed to allow visitors this year (despite the claims on the brochure). I spent at least half an hour wandering and snapping photos, inhaling the wet earthy smells. This home has been featured in Southern Living magazine.

Looking at the rear of the Pyron House. These extensive gardens are open to the public on three weekends a year. Lucky me!
There’s a stream that flows through the backyards of the houses on this block. They’ve created a beautiful arched bridge leading to the back half of the gardens. 
Although it was early, I did find some azaleas in bloom! 
Delightful stone-and-timber potting shed in the side garden, full of orchids! 
Two of the orchids in the potting shed.
There’s a statue, a bench, or a whimsy around every turn. The owners have done a masterful job of combining hardscape and plant matter. 
Any ideas what this flowering tree is?  Dogwood flowering at this time, but I don’t think this is a dogwood…
View of the rear gardens. There are multiple patio spaces throughout the garden, and probably half a mile of winding stone paths. 


A delightful arbor at the very rear of the garden, looking back toward the house. 



Tyler’s Historical Homes

I’ve visited the historic areas of several larger cities, and Tyler’s is exceptional — and one of the largest!

According to the Tyler Homes Group, a local realtor, “The Azalea Residential Historic District Nomination was approved and designated in June of 2003 as a National Historic District. Tyler’s largest residential concentration of early to mid 20th century homes which showcase diverse structures including Queen Anne, Craftsman, Classical Revival, Ranch, and International style. This district conveys not only the architectural heritage but represents the tremendous growth that Tyler experienced as a result of the discovery of the East Texas Oil Field.”

Click through to the realtor if you’re curious to see more homes and current asking prices. Hint: average price is just under $400k, with the highest a cool $1M! 

In addition to private homes, there are several turn-of-the-century mansions which have been preserved or restored as museums. Six miles outside of town, there’s even a plantation which can be toured and is used for a variety of public and private events.

After visiting the Pyron house, I walked several blocks in the area, just delighting in the architecture. Not all homes bore historical plaques, but many did. Most of the homes in the area seemed to be built in the late 1920s and early 1930s and reflect the Federal and Georgian styles.


I’m sure this home is fantastic, but I don’t have a photo as they obviously value their privacy. This home took up half a city block. The impenetrable shrubbery was about 10 feet high all ’round and I didn’t bring my pogo stick. 
Truly, not many azaleas were blooming yet. 
Several of the homes had massive tulip displays like this one. Love these colors. 
A very stately home with a HUGE forecourt behind the hedge. 
One of the more modest homes in the area had two simple lovely urns with pansies to welcome guests. 
A small portion of the yard of one of the houses that was to have been on the tour this year. Sadly they had signs posted that they were not participating. 
Same house/yard as the previous photo – not formally on tour, but easily viewed from the public sidewalk that ran along the side of the house. Overall, a very lovely house and garden. 
This little guy let me get within about 8 feet before he scurried up the tree. 
It seemed like every home had at least one huge shade tree. Truly a vast and beautiful neighborhood. 
The official medallions of historical significance. 
The home belonging to the marker(s) in the previous photo. The third most prevalent style was probably oversized English Tudor.
More beautiful tulips, starting to fade. 



A touch of whimsy at one large mansion. I’m sure by July that ivy will be going gangbusters. 
There IS a house behind those humungous magnolias! 
I love moss. Some of those huge trees I mentioned are bounded by sidewalks and have heaved them up in places. 


One surprising element of the area was how startling some of the houses were in terms of size. Here’s a great example: Cute little bungalow, right?



Wrong! Seen from a different angle, this home is three times as deep as it is wide. I don’t believe they were additions, either, as the brickwork and style match perfectly. AND there’s a separate carriage house with additional living quarters over top. Many of the houses in the neighborhood have carriage houses.

I passed many homes situated like this one, with the shorter end toward the street. The lots aren’t necessarily narrow, so I’m wondering if the tax structure when they were built assessed more taxes based on the frontage. Anyone know?

Thanks for coming along on my photo tour! If you love gardens, Tyler is a gorgeous place to visit in spring and summer. Not pictured here are the many wisteria, Bradford pears, and other flowering trees that you can see along the country roads.

We’re moving on from Texas tomorrow, headed northeast to Little Rock, Arkansas, en route to the 2018 East Coast Heavy Duty Truck Rally in Tennessee.