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Oleander Festival

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Oleanders have beautified Galveston since island merchant Joseph Osterman brought them from Jamaica in 1841. These blossoms grace a restored home at 1622 Ball Street.
The 16th Annual Oleander Festival, sponsored by the International Oleander Society (IOS), takes place in Galveston Apr. 30-May 1, 2005, at Moody Gardens Visitor’s Center. Hours: Sat-Sun 10-5. Admission: Free. Wheelchair accessible. (Note that two festival events occur before the weekend events; see below.) For information on the festival, membership, or other IOS events, write to Box 3431, Galveston 77552; 409/766-1461; www.oleander.org. Galveston’s area code is 409.

Galveston lies 50 miles southeast of Houston via I-45. To reach Moody Gardens, take Exit 1A to 61st St., turn right on 61st, and drive 1.5 miles to Stewart Rd. Turn right on Stewart, and continue driving until Stewart merges at a “Y” intersection with Jones Dr. Keep right, and drive 1.5 miles on Jones. At Hope Blvd., turn right, and follow the divided pkwy. a half-mile into the Moody Gardens parking lots.

Moody Gardens, at One Hope Blvd., opens at 10 a.m. every day of the year (closing time varies seasonally). It offers educational and entertaining environmental attractions, including the 10-story, glass Rainforest Pyramid and the 12-story, blue glass Aquarium Pyramid. Some 20,000 plants and trees—including oleanders—decorate the extensive grounds, gardens, and pathways (wheelchair accessible). Call 800/582-4673; www.moodygardens.org.

The IOS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to education about and propagation of oleanders. Members receive a newsletter, the Nerium News. An IOS booklet, Oleanders—Guide to Culture and Selected Varieties on Galveston Island, contains oleander history, growing tips, cultivar de-scriptions, and 43 color photographs ($10 at the IOS festival booth, or write to the IOS; an order form for this and other books can be found online on the IOS Web site; see above).

Kicking off the Oleander Festival is an IOS fund-raising Dinner and Silent Auction (Apr. 28, 6-9 p.m.) in the Moody Gardens Convention Center’s Floral Ballroom (cocktails and bidding, 6-7 p.m.; dinner and professional comedy entertainment, 7-9 p.m.). Purchase tickets ($35; $30 IOS members) by calling 744-7860.

The Oleander Month Proclamation Ceremony takes place Apr. 29 at 4 p.m. at the East End Historic District’s Darragh Park, 15th and Church streets. Following the reading of a proclamation designating May as “Oleander Month” in Galveston, folks can attend a reception at the adjacent “Cottage” with entertainment by the Mainland Preparatory Academy Choir. Admission: Free.

Other Activities

Galveston Island Tours offers 2-hour, guided Island Oleander Tours (Apr. 30-May 1) that explore the oleander’s legacy on the island while visiting oleander-filled neighborhoods by van. A stop at historic Ashton Villa (ca. 1859) is a highlight. Hours: Sat-Sun 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Admission: $28, $26 age 62 and older and AAA members, $12 age 18 and younger and students. Reservations required. Call 765-8687 or 888/425-8687; www.galvestonislandtours.com.

Note: Poison-control experts warn that oleander leaves and stems are poisonous and that limbs should not be used to skewer meat for roasting. Children in particular should be cautioned.

Read 6070 times Last modified on Friday, 13 July 2012 13:06

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