Even the poinsettias are larger than life in Texas. I discovered that on a recent press trip to Brenham, Texas, hosted by the Washington County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Along with 15 other journalists, I spent several days in the “Birthplace of Texas”, exploring such sites as Ellison’s Greenhouse, where the photo at left was taken. Sharon Asakawa, host of GardenLife radio show, is a petite woman, but these 6-foot-tall plants towered over nearly everyone. (I’ll be a guest on Sharon’s call-in show on Sunday morning, December 12. Check the station list for times in your area.)
In addition to mammoth poinsettias, Ellison’s Greenhouse grows standard-size plants in colors ranging from traditional red to pink, white, burgundy, orange, and bicolor. One of my favorites was Iced Punch (pictured below), a two-toned cherry red and white variety with distinctive markings reminiscent of stained glass.
Washington County also offers many other horticultural wonders. Antique Rose Emporium, gardens at the Round Top Festival Institute, Chappell Hill Lavender Farm, Lavande olive and lavender farm, Windy Winery, and Pleasant Hill Winery were some of the additional stops on the tour.
For those more interested in history or food, the trip included the Washington-on-the-Brazos Historic Site, where Texas declared its independence from Mexico, a tour of the Blue Bell ice cream factory where we were treated to Homemade Vanilla fresh off the line, plus stops at several fun and funky restaurants, such as Royer’s Round Top Cafe with its Carnivore Platter and “Pie for Life” program; R Place, which serves up BBQ and family-style fixin’s, along with homemade cobbler and Blue Bell ice cream; Must Be Heaven Sandwich Shoppe with its unique Sawdust Pie; and the Funky Art Cafe, which is part gourmet restaurant, part art gallery, and part gift shop. The fabulous food didn’t stop at the restaurants, however. My hosts at Texas Ranch Life guest ranch and Lillian Farms Bed & Breakfast also treated us to delectable meals. (Did I mention that I gained 5 pounds on this trip?)
One regret that I had on the trip is that it didn’t happen during spring when the Central Texas hillsides are covered in bluebonnets, the native wildflower lupine. Of course, that’s just an excuse to return to Washington County for another helping of Texas hospitality!