Roses of Texas: Tyler’s Version
Tyler, Texas wasn’t on my bucket list. In fact, I’d never heard of it until I was looking for a stop to break up a drive between Mississippi and New Mexico.
That’s not to say that the city is small. The population is just shy of 100,000 but the focus of northeast Texas seems to be the Dallas Fort Worth metro area and its surrounding suburbs. So I had no expectations when it came to Tyler, also known as the City of Roses. Given the moniker, it felt fitting to visit the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden.
The garden is expansive and, despite its downtown adjacent location, surprisingly bucolic. Sure, it contains five hundred varieties of roses – if you’ve ever bought a rose bush, there’s a fifty percent chance it came from Smith County, Texas – but we visited in March, before the height of bloom season. Some of roses were already unfurling their petals in welcome. But many were holding off a little longer. Luckily, tulips, hyacinths and camellias also grow in the garden.
After living in Los Angeles, we were familiar with the concept of guerilla gardening. But the birds and animals in the rose garden were engaged in guerilla ‘habitating.’ The land is supposed to be for the roses, but tell that to the resident birds, butterflies and squirrels.
We wandered through the fourteen acres, listening to birds trying to out-sing each other like competitors on The Voice. Those who’d presumably been booted out of the contest played in the sprinkler system or the fountain.
Butterflies fluttered about the Idea Garden, where there is a waystation to allow them to refuel during migration. Squirrels had laid claim to the Camellia Garden. I’d only seen them burying and uncovering acorns in cartoons. But, as we watched, a squirrel dug up his prize, secured it in his mouth then darted up a tree!
The Municipal Rose Garden’s website explains that ‘it is more than just a popular attraction, as it is both a display garden and a trial garden.’ While that’s true, I’d like to add something: this garden is not just for rosarians (I swear that’s a word), it’s also an impromptu nature sanctuary.
- Tyler’s rose garden is at 420 Rose Park Drive. Admission is free and the garden is open from sunrise to sunset, every day.
- In October, Tyler puts on the Texas Rose Festival, which includes a parade with floats and marching bands, a queen and, of course, roses. Be aware that the flowers for this event are cut after September and, as a result, the gardens will be sparser then.
- If your trip doesn’t line up with the festival, you can get a feel for the event at the Rose Museum.
Lane & Juliet
The writing and photography team behind Southwest Compass, the travel blog for the American Southwest.