The plants are yelling, "It's Spring!" Now is the time to experience the beautiful colors along the Azalea Trail here in Lafayette.
Back in the 1930s, the area along Pinhook, across from where the Oil Center now sits, was still considered "out in the country". Visitors coming in on what was then Highway 90, enjoyed a delightful gem right as they got into town. Les Jardins de Mouton or Mouton Gardens if you prefer, was considered one of the most beautiful gardens in the south.
The statue of Le Mouton has seen better days since Captain Bob Mouton placed it here decades ago. The gardens were a place for rest and reflection. Kind of an outdoor cathedral. During the spring, the blazing colors of the azaleas put Lafayette on the map. Today, the Azalea Trail continues to delight visitors.
Denise Lanclos represents both the Preservation Alliance of Lafayette and the Historic Azalea Trail says, "The Azalea Trail grew to 25 miles long over the years. It traverses through historical and cultural districts throughout the city. You can see beautiful historic homes, churches, schools and museums."
And over the next couple of weeks will be the peak of the blooms. You can see spectacular colors, including the official Lafayette City Flower. Lanclos continues, "The Lavender Fuchsia Southern Indica became so prevalent here in the south that the mayor declared it as our official flower. So in Les Jardins de Mouton, Mouton Gardens, it's a showcase of our official city flower"
But the trail covers so much more of Lafayette. Lanclos says, "We have beautiful garden districts like Greenbriar, Bendel Gardens, and Whittington Park." If you don't have time to do the full 25 miles (MAP), where is the best show? Lanclos answers, "The best show is along St. Mary Boulevard, Mouton Gardens, the University District and Bendel Gardens."
When asked about the drought conditions happening now and if that will affect blooming, Lanclos says, "The Azaleas could use some water, but we think, we anticipate the peak blooms will be during the second week in March and they should last until the end of the month."
But how did Lafayette become the epicenter of spring? Lanclos says, "I think back in the early days this was a way people enjoyed the spring after a cold winter. They were able to get out and travel and they would caravan to Lafayette by the thousands. So outdoor, beautiful landscape attractions were a great way to get out and travel. And I think they still are."
For more information visit the Lafayette Convention and Visitor's Commission information center on the Evangeline Thruway. If you'd like to get involved, you can visit the Preservation Alliance of Lafayette where you'll find the Lafayette Historic Register with all of the historic properties. New members are always welcome there as well as the Historic Azalea Trail and the Lafayette Garden Club.