“Beautification is far more than a matter of cosmetics. For me, it describes the whole effort to bring the natural world and the man-made world into harmony; to bring order, usefulness-delight-to our whole environment, and that of course only begins with trees and flowers and landscaping.”
—Lady Bird Johnson, 1968
My mother-in-law celebrates her birthday in April. Mom, now in her nineties, is an artist. She paints, has a knack for decorating, refurbishing furniture and is naturally drawn to color, the way a horse is drawn to grass. For fifty-some years she worked at a sweet little florist in downtown, Fort Wayne, Indiana, called, Cottage Flowers. Mom loves flowers and spent her days working as a designer, putting together floral arrangements for all types of family occasions.
Flowers, color, and the ability to make beautiful bouquets, provided her with the perfect outlet where her creativity could flow on a day-to-day basis. It was only natural that she developed a fondness for our lovely state flower, the bluebonnet. We have Lady Bird Johnson to thank for the preservation of our bluebonnets! Our former First Lady saw, not just the beauty, but the value in the variety of the wildflowers that grow so abundantly throughout our nation. In 1982, Mrs. Johnson and the lovely actress, Helen Hayes, founded the National Wildflower Research Center, located in our state capital, Austin, Texas. Mrs. Johnson believed, that beauty found in nature, had a positive effect on a person’s mental state of mind. She once said, “A little beauty, something that is lovely, I think, can help create harmony which will lesson tensions.” This belief became her legacy.
We Texan’s reap the benefits of her efforts every spring beginning in April, when the bluebonnets and other wildflowers blossom along our highways in carpets of vivid color. Most dominantly, my favorite color, blue! So, each April, in honor of my mother-in-law’s birthday and her love for bluebonnets, my husband and I flew her and Dad to our home in Colleyville, where we celebrated her birthday by making the sixty-mile trek to the historical town of Ennis. Ennis is known as the home of the “Official Texas Bluebonnet Trails.”
Except for the price of gas, a trip to Ennis can be budgeted as low as you want, making it a perfect place for families to spend time together. The bluebonnets provide exquisite scenery, pretty much throughout the month of April. If you’re looking for an enjoyable day submerged in the countryside, gazing upon lush pastures packed with bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes, along with other wildflowers, Ennis is the place to go. There are quaint shops, including antique malls. In addition to the Bluebonnet Trails, adventures may be found in the Nature Parks where you can hike and enjoy a picnic lunch.
April isn’t the only exciting month, Ennis had other seasonal festivals and family-oriented activities worth checking out too. If you want to stay a little longer, there are historic bed and breakfasts available. Top off you day by taking in a nighttime movie the way I did as a kid, at the old Drive-in Movie theater! When we go to Ennis, my family always begins our visit at the Wildflower Café, located in the historic downtown area. The homemade-style food is delicious; the ambiance a vintage, Tea Room adjacent to the store, Interior Ideas. The layout of the restaurant and store give you the feel that they’re one and the same, although the store is run independently. I love walking through Interior Ideas. They offer a nice mix of the old and new. You’ll find everything from stately antiques to room fresheners and soaps. There are plenty of trinket options for those who want to pick-up a small memento to remember their trip. For me, the loveliest options come from the Art Studio, which features paintings from bluebonnet artist, LaJuan Schlegel. Her paintings decorate the walls, each one lavish in realistic color.
For more information:
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: www.wildflower.org/
The Wildflower Café: www.wildflowercafeennis.com/
Ennis, Texas: www.visitennis.org/