Flowers are a community passion – and a great marketing tool.
If you’re looking for Joan Pyron in February or March, check her backyard. Any day it’s not raining, you’re likely to find her out there digging in the dirt to help not just her garden, but Tyler’s international image.
Pyron and her husband, Guy, like so many Tyler residents, are passionate about flowers – in their case, azaleas in particular – and spend hundreds of hours planning, planting, weeding, feeding and pruning to help make the city beautiful and attractive to tourists. Each year, the efforts of volunteers and professionals pay off handsomely in the city’s annual Rose Season and Azalea and Spring Flower Trail, which bring more than 179,000 people to town and together have an economic impact of more than $4 million. But that’s only the beginning.
Flowers Launch the Conversation
“Flowers are kind of our foot in the door to discuss all the other things Tyler has to offer. It starts the conversation and puts an image in people’s heads that it’s a beautiful place to visit,” says Holli Conley, assistant vice president of marketing for the Tyler Convention & Visitors Bureau. “But there’s so much more. We want to get visitors to Tyler so they can see everything we have to offer. Once you get here, you’re going to want to come back.”
For Pyron, flowers are a labor of love, guided, she says, by a divine master gardener.
“If God wants you to do something, he causes you to love it,” says Pyron, who tends some 800 azalea plants and a careful collection of camellias, lilies, chrysanthemums, daisies and roses in her garden, long a highlight of the Azalea Trail. “He put me here for this, and I love doing it, and I love being part of something that helps the community so much.”
The Azalea and Spring Flower Trail celebrates its 57th birthday from March 25 to April 10, 2016, routing visitors along a blooming 10-mile trail. The trail also inspires dozens of events, from equine dressage shows to parties, art exhibits and concerts.
“I think flowers are one of our big things in Tyler,” Pyron says. “Anyone who moves to Tyler loves flowers. They’re important economically, too. They bring in a lot of people from all over the world. It’s amazing.”
Azaleas are booming in popularity, but the flower that gives Tyler its nickname as Rose Capital of the World, is still perhaps its best-known symbol. In October the city is in gorgeous bloom with hundreds of thousands of roses everywhere on city streets and gardens, the season highlighted by the three-day Texas Rose Festival. And there is always something to see in the city’s 14-acre municipal rose garden – the largest collection of roses in the world, and a treasured icon in Tyler.
The garden contains more than 30,000 rose plants, reflecting 550 varieties, from hybrid teas and heirloom roses to knockout and cloud roses popular with gardeners today.
“We take pride in what we do,” says Jose Parga, superintendent of the garden and the city’s rose-planted medians. “Roses are very, very important to the people of Tyler, and we do the very best we can to keep the garden up to people’s expectations.”