Mrs. Helen Lee, Founder of Lee Daffodil Gardens, Gladewater, Texas.
"Going Where The Daffodils Grow"
by: Bobby McDonald
Many residents of Hopkins County will be traveling to the Gladewater area for the basketball play-offs. While in the Gladewater area for the games, or if you're just looking for a day trip from Hopkins County, the Helen Lee Daffodil Gardens is a wonderful way to welcome spring!
They say it's a "rags to riches" story in the East Texas Oil Boom and the love for nature of one East Texas woman provides a beautiful springtime drive and destination. Mr. T.W. Lee and his wife, Helen, had very little financial means, but managed to become wealthy during the East Texas Oil Boom. They purchased land outside of the small town of Gladewater, where the Lees owned the town's first newspaper and radio station. Mr. Lee passed away in 1954, leaving Helen the property they owned. She loved the land so much that she began purchasing additional land and amassed over 1,000 acres, down a country road, approximately 6 miles, south of Gladewater.
With an entrepreneur's spirit, Mrs. Helen Lee began a land reclamation project, building a 5-acre lake on the property where a red-gravel pit had once stood. She stocked the lakes on the property with bass, perch, and catfish, and encouraged deer and wild turkey into the habitat. However, it was her love for the springtime daffodils that are most impressive. She purchased an entire boxcar load of daffodil bulbs from Holland and hired approximately 40 workers to plant them all over the property.
Mrs. Lee added a one-room pioneer log cabin replica, that was built in 1954 and it overlooks the 3-acre lake, named Lake Josephine, on the property.
Mrs. Helen Lee passed away in 1984 and in her will requested that the beautiful East Texas landscape and daffodil trails be opened to the public. Since that time, thousands have wound their way to the property to enjoy the beauty of Mrs. Lee's gardens. They have come from all 50 states of the U.S. and foreign countries.
The Lee Gardens are open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., daily, through March 16th, 2009.
Directions are to travel south of Gladewater on Hwy-271, to County Road-3104. Turn left on CR-3104 and follow the signs to CR-3103 and take a right. The gardens will be located on the left, at the marked entrance.