A streetcar ride down St. Charles Avenue this week reveals a spectacular display of color bursting from the abundance of azalea bushes blooming along the upper end of the streetcar line. The trend continues all across the city…azaleas, citrus trees releasing a spectacular aroma, jasmine, birds of paradise. So much of God’s art exploding across the canvass of New Orleans.

What a wonderful world! What a wonderful time to engage in the gardens of the Crescent City. What a wonderful opportunity to get out and about, with friends AND family.   All the “garden” outings/activities that follow are kid friendly.  Guarantee our toddler is in tow — let me rephrase, our toddler is leading the parade.

I mention this as a shout out to the young entrepreneurs currently in town for Entrepreneur Week.  It has been mentioned among said group that New Orleans is a draw for singles but not so much for families.  My testimony says differently, there is so much to do with children of all ages that mirrors the same attraction New Orleans has for adults: food, music, culture.

So, with a focus on “Art in Bloom”, let’s get rolling.

Start your weekend Thursday evening at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens in City Park.  Needless to say there is art in bloom at this hotbed of horticulture.  In bloom right now are, of course, azaleas!  Along with a number of fragrant vining plants such as jasmine, wisteria, honeysuckle as well as amaryllis, petunias, shrimp plants. Go see for yourself at the Botanical Gardens’ Thursday at Twilight concert series.

This week’s entertainment is as colorful as the garden.  The New Leviathan Oriental Fox-Trot Orchestra.  Sip a cocktail (mint juleps available), stroll the gardens (take note of the marvelous WPA Enrique Alvarez sculptures throughout the garden), and dance a tango – or foxtrot!

Friday morning should find you right back in City Park at the New Orleans Museum of Art.  “Art in Bloom” is the actual title of an annual event in the museum’s atrium presenting complex floral arrangements inspired by works of art in NOMAhttp://lineup.nojazzfest.com/band/new-leviathan-oriental-foxtrot-orchestra’s galleries.  There is a patron / preview party Wednesday night plus lectures and a luncheon on Thursday.

We plan to have a ladies (and toddler) day out at the Art In Bloom event on Friday.  We’ll begin our outing ambling about the Big Lake right next door to the museum. There should be plenty of blooms and birds to make a delightful experience for all ages.

Afterwards we’ll head inside to celebrate Steel Magnolias (this year’s Art in Bloom theme).  Perhaps we’ll include a visit to the second floor Faberge room.  A different sort of art in bloom.  To me, Faberge’s masterful creations have a sort of art in bloom feeling.

Then it’s down Esplanade Avenue checking out the neighborhood gardens as we make our way to Cafe Degas.  A lovely little oasis nestled amidst lush green foliage. This cozy French bistro is so cozy, there is no room for storage.  Hence, they buy everything fresh daily.  YUM!

To continue your garden experience.  Follow the self-guided “Secret Garden Tour” on Saturday morning.  Purchase maps at Milton-Latter Library on St. Charles Avenue at Soniat Street.  With this weather, it will be worth the trip.

Sunday, celebrate what is likely to be blooming art: Hat Day at the Races.  The Fair Grounds Race Course is hosting the Audrey Hebpurn Children at Risk Center fundraiser, complete with a hat contest.  I feel certain their will be some art in bloom atop many of these chapeaus. Perhaps they’ll start a “Move your bloomin arse” contest – ala the Tennessee Williams Festival “Stella’ competition,  – which is also happening this Sunday.

Next week, you can get in a wonderful kid-centric outing at Longue Vue House & Gardens weekly Kinder Gardening program.  Every Tuesday morning, toddlers are invited to explore Longue Vue’s Discovery Garden.  Bring a change of clothes for the toddler because they’ll be digging for worms, watering plants, planting plants, smelling plants, touching plants, etc etc etc.  Your invited to enjoy the main gardens following the gardening group.  Pack a picnic lunch to extend your stay.

As always, you are encouraged to get out and about in New Orleans, and be certain to stop and smell the jasmine.

Much love,

Out and About is a weekly blog by Leslie Compton of Every Thing Lovely, a special event and creative consulting team, and is sponsored by Key to NOLA Properties, a full service real estate brokerage firm specializing in furnished rental properties in New Orleans. Key to NOLA Properties and Every Thing Lovely have joined forces to provide a full array of services for travelers’ (and locals’) personal and professional needs while in the Crescent City.