Bird watching at the Dallas Arboretum

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

The Arboretum is one of the premier spots in Dallas to experience nature. Our beloved Arboretum isn’t just home to breathtaking gardens full of lush plants and vibrant flowers, it’s home to a variety of bird species, making it an ideal spot for bird watching. The next time you visit, don’t forget to look up. Here’s a rundown of what you might see:

During the summer months, spy red-winged black birds, grackles, red-bellied woodpeckers, northern mockingbirds, ruby-throated and black-chinned hummingbirds, starlings and northern cardinals. Because of our proximity to water, you might also distinguish the sights and sounds of gulls, American coots, cormorants, great blue and little blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets and cattle egrets.

The summer is a special time for us, as it’s the only time the white ibis, white-faced ibis, roseate spoonbills and wood stork birds visit the Arboretum. If you live nearby, watch for these majestic creatures at sunrise and sunset, though you could potentially spot them any time of day.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

There are a few key traits to note to be able to identify a bird. Size, bill shape, body markings, behavior/habitat and geographic range are all important in distinguishing the birds that are part of the North Texas ecosystem. Bring a pair of binoculars along to help you determine what you’re seeing.

You may also want to bring a field guide with you on your Arboretum bird-watching expedition. For beginners, one guide is no better than any other; it’s just a matter of preference. We do recommend using a field guide specific to our region. It helps narrow the possibilities and makes identifying the birds easier.

We wish you luck in your bird-watching endeavors and invite you to identify your favorites in the Arboretum gardens this summer and all year long. Click here for more information on visiting the Dallas Arboretum.

Northern Mockingbird

What’s in bloom in the Trial Garden right now?

Everyone has heard the phrase “practice makes perfect,” but this saying isn’t often associated with developing a green thumb. At the Arboretum, however, we subscribe to this sentiment wholeheartedly in our Trial Garden.

Started 12 years ago, the Trial Garden is our onsite means of “trial and error.” The garden provides us the information we need to determine what we plant in our main garden displays and what can thrive in our North Texas climate. We also work with local breeding companies, who offer us between 3,000 to 5,000 plants annually in hopes we can provide guidance to home gardeners on their plant selections.

When we’re considering which plant trials to pursue, we start with research, always being sensitive to the volatile Dallas weather conditions that can make gardening a tricky endeavor. We look at industry trends and the Arboretum’s aesthetic and horticultural needs to help us decide what to test in the Trial Garden. For example, we have been “trialing” lots of vegetables leading up to the opening of the “Tasteful Place” exhibit (coming soon!).

But we’re not just amateur trial gardeners here. We have a stamp of approval from All-America Selections, which is an independent, nonprofit organization known for testing new trial varieties and then awarding only the very best garden performers as AAS Winners. We are one of those honorees! As an AAS Winner, we help offer local gardeners reliable ideas for garden varietals through our rigorous trial process.

Now, let’s talk about our favorite recent displays that had roots (literally!) in the Trial Garden. This spring, we saw much success in the Nicotiana “Perfume” series. Zinnias performed well in the garden, as did several cultivars of Begonia. This summer, we have a beautiful strain in Evolvulus “Blue My Mind,” but our favorites keep changing since there are so many unique cultivars coming to bloom.

We are still working with the Vinca strain because we have had lots of heavy rains and mild temperatures this summer. That particular plant is prone to a fungal disease caused by consistently wet soil, but we’re hopeful it can still survive.

Arboretum gardeners are always looking ahead when planting in the Trial Garden, so we have begun considering our fall trials already. Between weeks 45 and 47, we will start planting for fall. In the meantime, we will continue watching our summer strains to see if any of our favorites might add to the overall design in the main garden.

The Trial Garden is always open to the public, and we invite you to make a day of it, checking out our summer strains. For more information on the Trial Garden, click here or contact Jenny Wegley, director of Trials & Greenhouse, at 214-515-6581 or

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