As the longest-tenured docent of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Kay Sansone has seen it all. From the wedding of President Clinton’s brother, Roger, to the wedding of her own granddaughter, Sansone said, “It’s always the place I want to be!”
Sansone was a member of the very first class of docents in 1978-79, five years before Dallas Blooms came to be. “The first Dallas Blooms wasn’t as big of a deal then as it is now,” she said, “but it was still an absolutely incredible site to see.”
On a Dallas Blooms poster Sansone found from 1985, the festival is described as, “140,000 bulbs including the largest collection of tulips and other annuals west of Holland.” Admission was only $2. “We [the docents] were responsible for handing out these posters to area businesses to bring in visitors for Dallas Blooms,” she said.
Now with nearly half a million bulbs on display each spring and crowds pouring in day after day, Dallas Blooms has grown into one of the Metroplex’s most spectacular yearly events. “It’s amazing to see workers planting five zillion bulbs in one place,” she said. “Where else in Dallas can you visit an historic home with such an incredible garden available to the public for tours? Still, so many people don’t know about it.”
As a resident of East Dallas, visiting the Arboretum comes as second nature to Sansone. Every Thursday for the past 35 years, Sansone has shown up ready to volunteer. “Training at the Arboretum was so good and so involved,” she said. “I love the people and meeting the public. You get to talk to people from everywhere—all around the world. It’s very special to me; and of course, I’m always happy to be around so much beauty. “
“You can be in a lousy mood and you go out there, and you feel so much better,” she added.
Over the years, Sansone recalls some distinctively “Dallas” moments taking place at the Arboretum. For instance, part of the original Dallas television show was filmed on site and several of the actors and actresses, such as Linda Gray, signed the docent book kept out front. Sansone also remembers the time Stanley Marcus came out to dedicate a garden. “It’s such a unique place,” she said. “Why wouldn’t you want to be out there? It’s so beautiful!”
As Dallas Blooms turns 30, Sansone, as well as the Arboretum, don’t show any signs of slowing down. “I would love to see more exhibits—they make it so special,” she said. “I hope the Arboretum keeps progressing and remains the special experience that it has been for so many years. It’s where I want to be.”
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 and runs through April 6, 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 www.dallasarboretum.org.