Houston Community News >> Houston Bayou Bend in Bloom

2/20/2008 Houston —Spring is the glory season for Bayou Bend Collections and Gardens, the 14-acre estate near River Oaks that is the American decorative arts center of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

To celebrate Bayou Bend in Bloom, the house museum is hosting a series of special events throughout March, the prime time to drop in unannounced on select days for tours of the mansion with its stunning collection of early Americana and to take a walk around the grounds. Thousands of azaleas in brilliant shades of pink and white burst from the bushes lining the formal gardens. Adding to the spectacular show of color are camellias, daffodils, paper whites, begonias, hydrangeas, pansies, and tulips. Red buds, saucer magnolias, and dogwood also are flowering. The special events in March begin with Twilight Tours, followed by Azalea Trail, Spring Open House, and Family Day.

Getting to the estate at 1 Westcott Street, just a few blocks east of Memorial Park, is part of the magical experience. Guests enter the parking lot on Westcott at Memorial, and from there take a wooden footbridge over the bayou to the Clio Garden, the first of the formal gardens at Bayou Bend. The enchantment continues as guests cross into the expansive Diana Lawn, framed on one side by the dramatic Diana Garden and on the other by the north façade of the magnificent 1920s mansion. Other formal gardens and woodland paths surround the house, all of which are detailed in a 21-stop audio tour included with all tickets.

Inside the former home of renowned collector and philanthropist Miss Ima Hogg (1882-1975) is a remarkable collection of decorative arts and painting displayed in more than 20 room settings. One of the nation’s premier museums of Americana, Bayou Bend tells the story of America’s taste, style, and customs from the earliest of colonial times, through the heroism of the Revolutionary War, and into the prosperity and adventure of the new nation in the 19th century. The collection includes more than 5,000 examples of furniture, paintings, works on paper, silver, ceramics, glass, and textiles representing the finest artistry in early America.

The March events are:

• Twilight Tours, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, March 6, 13, 20, and 27
These tours offer guests a chance to see the gardens in the early evening light, enjoy a stroll through the house with an optional audio tour, and relax with a glass of wine and light hors d’oeuvres afterward. Reservations are not required. Admission is $8 to $10.

• Azalea Trail, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday, March 7 through 9 Bayou Bend is a highlight of this annual tour of Houston gardens presented by the River Oaks Garden Club. For ticket information, call 713-523-2483 or visit www.riveroaksgardenclub.org.

• Spring Open House, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, March 11 through 14, and 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday, March 15
Reservations are not required during these special days which offer self-guided or audio tours of the garden and a chance to explore both floors of the house. Docents will be stationed in each room to discuss the room settings. Admission is $8 to $10 for both house and gardens; $3 for gardens only.

• Free Family Day, 1 to 5 p.m. (last entry 4 p.m.), Sunday, March 16
Nature Inside and Out is the theme of this free event offering art-making activities, musical entertainment, and other performances. The first-floor rooms of the house are open to all ages for tours led by volunteers from the Houston Junior Woman’s Club.

General Information: Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is located at 1 Westcott Street. Parking is free. For more information, call 713-639-7750.