Things are blooming across Texas 12, and it’s not just because our favorite familiar places are re-opening once again. The nonprofit Texas Blossoms, which began in Fort Worth as “Eastside Blossoms”, has been beautifying our city with blossoming trees since 2014.
While Texas Blossoms was founded 6 years ago, its story has deep roots in Fort Worth history: in the 1970s, the legendary local industrialist Charles Tandy told the then-city commissioner that he wanted to honor his sick wife by planting thousands of cherry blossoms by the Trinity River. The Tandys passed away shortly after, but years later, Jerry Barton, a commercial real estate broker (and someone I’m lucky to call a dear friend) heard the story.
Jerry decided the idea should not be lost, and as a board member of East Fort Worth Inc., which focuses on revitalizing Fort Worth’s east side, knew that it would probably turn out to be a good one. Tree planting projects often improve not only a neighborhood’s natural climate by conserving energy and improving air quality, but by beautifying the area, can improve the local economic and business climate as well. Jerry established the nonprofit Eastside Blossoms in 2014, and the Tandys’ idea endures—with some tweaks: the blossoming trees planted are better adapted than cherry trees to the Texas heat, and include the Mexican Plum, Texas Redbud, and Crepe Myrtles. In 2017 Eastside Blossoms changed its name to Texas Blossoms to reflect bigger plans to plant trees beyond Fort Worth and across our state. While almost all the trees planted by Texas Blossoms (1,424 to date!) are in Fort Worth, the cities of Dallas, Arlington, and Houston plan to or have expressed interest in starting their own local tree-planting chapters under Texas Blossoms.
Our District’s dedication to community service drives Texas Blossoms’ success, as volunteers—including from local Boy Scout troops, community groups, and high schools—plant most of the trees, while private companies like Honda, BBVA, and BNSF assist with volunteer efforts, resources, and funding. One public-private partnership between Texas Blossoms and the City of Fort Worth turned the East Regional Library into a natural canvas for local artists, who designed sculptures for the library grounds inspired by the newly-planted blossoming trees. Other Texas Blossoms projects have beautified our city with murals, making commutes on major thoroughfares like Randol Mill Road a bit more colorful.
Due to the coronavirus, Texas Blossoms’ planned “planting days” with volunteers are on hold until next year, as is the Texas Blossoms Annual Gala, which recognizes a member of our community with what it has graciously named the “Kay Granger Award for Community Service”. Until then, I hope that many of us can continue to find inspiration in nature, especially as many public spaces like East Regional Library are starting to safely and slowly re-open. The thousands of trees in our community planted by Texas Blossoms not only benefit our District environmentally and economically, but are beautiful to look at, and could provide the perfect antidote after weeks of us all staying at home and far apart.
Member of Congress