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Longtime Arboretum Volunteer Ila Post

When North Dallas’ Ila Post began volunteering as a docent in the DeGolyer House in 1981, the scene was much different than it is now. “The grounds had been neglected and were in need of everything,” she said. “We couldn’t see White Rock Lake from our grounds in those early years. There was bamboo everywhere. The Arboretum didn’t start from the ground up–it started ‘below the ground’ because they had to dig up all that original bamboo. When they cleared undergrowth and trimmed the trees behind the DeGolyer House, I was amazed.”


“It has been wonderful to see it all evolve,” she added.


Year after year, the Arboretum keeps getting more beautiful in Post’s eyes. And after nearly 35 years as a volunteer, she is continually in awe of the natural beauty it offers visitors and volunteers alike. “The transformation the Arboretum has made since those early years is remarkable,” she said. “Now it’s an internationally recognized space, and that makes us all feel so proud.”


And the evolution of Dallas Blooms has been especially spectacular to watch, said Post, who has been a volunteer ever since the festival began 30 years ago. “One of my favorite memories of Dallas Blooms was the peacock where the tail was displayed in colorful plants.” And this year, in honor of the festival’s 30th anniversary, the peacock topiary complete with its colorful tail will reappear after a 10-year hiatus.


Additionally, Post commented on the creative minds behind all of the exhibits which seem to get more imaginative each year. “I love how the grounds and all of the gardens have evolved,” she said. “And the new ideas implemented–little houses, various themes–they are truly spectacular and have made the gardens something special.”


So what’s her favorite exhibit? “I especially enjoyed the months that the Chihuly Glass was displayed on the grounds,” she said.” Those were such exciting times. We had many, many more people visit and everyone was delighted with the display.  Even when it was raining, extremely hot or stormy, they came in droves.”


Post also added that she has enjoyed seeing all of the brides come through over the years of Dallas Blooms. “Red Maple Rill has been a special place for so many people,” she said. “I like to walk on the grounds and see the faces and hear the comments made by guests as they go through the beautiful gardens. One time I was able to visit with the granddaughter of the DeGolyer’s, who had come for a visit from Canada. I’ve also been able to visit with the niece of the man that designed the ceiling in the DeGolyer House.”


The DeGolyer Estate holds a special place in Post’s heart. “In the old days, there wasn’t money for things like there is today, so we [the docent] did a lot of the upkeep ourselves,” Post said. “For instance, it was one man’s job to keep the spider webs off of the DeGolyer House, and we all [the docents] polished the silver.”


These activities are one reason why the Arboretum’s volunteers are such a close-knit group. “One of my favorite benefits of volunteering here has been the friends I have made over the years,” Post said. “The docents have a strong organization and a real feeling of working together. The Arboretum is a great place to volunteer.”


“I would love to see Dallas Blooms and the Arboretum as a whole keep evolving, though I love what they do with it every year,” she said. “It has meant a lot to me to be a part of it every year.”


About Dallas Blooms:

2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the Dallas Arboretum’s major floral festival Dallas Blooms with the theme “Birds in Paradise.” Dallas Blooms begins on February 22, 2014, and runs through April 20, 2014. The garden explodes with color as more than 500,000 spring-blossoming bulbs burst, and two beloved 13-foot tall peacock topiaries return to spread their colorful petal tails in the Jonsson Color Garden. As part of Dallas Blooms, the Dallas Arboretum also launches its Bird House Exhibit, four life-size playhouses designed by local architects to complement this year’s theme, Birds in Paradise. These architectural interpretations of bird houses are located in the Lakeside Exhibit Area. Children can learn all about birds as they play in the bird houses. Bank of America is the presenting sponsor of Dallas Blooms, with Park Place Dealerships, Celebrity Cruises, Kimberly-Clark, C.C. Young and Tom Thumb as supporting sponsors.


About the Dallas Arboretum:

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is located on the southeastern shore of White Rock Lake at 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, Texas 75218.  The Dallas Arboretum is also the home of the internationally acclaimed Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. The Arboretum is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. General admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for children 3-12 and free for Arboretum members and children two and under.  There is an additional cost of $3 per person for entrance into the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. On-site parking is $10.  The Dallas Morning News is the principal partner of the Dallas Arboretum.  The Arboretum is supported, in part, by funds from the Dallas Park and Recreation Department.  WFAA is an official media sponsor for the Dallas Arboretum.   More information can be found at

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