Gladewater, Texas

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How all of this beauty came about exemplifies the classic rags to riches story.  Mr. T. W. Lee and his wife Helen had very little to their names when they were married.  However, with an entrepreneur's spirit and determination, he found his way into the oil business during the East Texas oil boom.  The couple became wealthy and purchased land outside of Gladewater. They planned on using it for its gravel content in order to pave the roads, airport runway, and rodeo parking lot in Gladewater. Mr. Lee also established the town's first newspaper and radio station. Mr. Lee died in 1954 leaving his wife as his only namesake.  

Mrs. Lee loved the land that her husband purchased so much that she bought  adjoining land until the ranch  amassed over 1,000 acres. She took this raw land and transformed it into a budding paradise; converting the gravel pits into a 5-acre lake and a 3-acre pond. Both of these were stocked with bass, perch, and catfish, while surrounded by abundant wildlife of all kinds, some of which were deer, wild turkey, all types of birds, snakes, and bobcats.  Mrs. Lee purchased an entire boxcar load of daffodil bulbs from Holland and they were all planted with approximately 40 workers, including Mrs. Carolyn Owens Johnson's grandparents, Mamie and Nathaniel Scott, whom worked for Mrs. Lee from 1952-1984.  Mrs. Johnson is the current manager of Mrs. Lee's Daffodil Gardens.

To add to the setting, Mrs. Lee had a one room pioneer log cabin replica constructed in 1954. It rests overlooking the 3-acre pond named Lake Josephine, after her mother. This is where she enjoyed spending quiet time with her flowers and nature.  Mrs. Lee survived her husband by thirty years and died in July of 1984. At her request the garden was opened to the public in the spring, following her death.  Since the garden officially opened, there have been thousands of visitors from all over the state, country and even the world to vistit the garden.  Such countries represented have been Bolivia, Brazil, England, France, Ireland, New Zealand, and Scotland, to name a few.  Approximately 2,500-6,000 visitors are expected on an annual basis within the 2-month period that the gardens are open to the public.

Helen Lee

Helen Lee

Antique Car at the Gardens

Managed By:

The Helen Lee Foundation 

21600 CR 3103

Gladewater, TX 75647