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Editor/Consulting Writer

It’s been often said that Opelousas appears most well-dressed and picturesque during the beginning of spring.

That’s perhaps true particularly when witnessing a seasonal transformation that occurs within the heart of the historic residential district, as azaleas, camellias and bridal wreath bushes display their different vibrancies with flowering display and canvas-like artistry along the sidewalks.

While the red, pink and white camellias which first appeared in February have disappeared, the azaleas have since dominated and remain obviously colorful as they peek outwardly from the branches in various shades of purple, pink and white.

A quick tour of Court and Market Street residences reveals that azaleas still possess some of their relevant appeal, but quietly even they too will soon cast their petals onto ground, signaling that their admirers will have to wait for another colorful explosion next year.

According to Southern Living Magazine, the appearance of azaleas is only apparent for a short time, perhaps as quickly as several weeks.

The Court and Market Street areas with their abundance of mature oaks, appear well-suited for azalea sustenance as the magazine website pertaining to the subject indicates that the low maintenance southern shrub grows most robustly under trees which provide partial shade.

The annual parade of azaleas on both streets is understandable, since the plant which is not suitable when exposed to excessive sunlight, can produce blooms for several decades.

On South Court, there are still a few azaleas remaining for viewing on the front lawn of the Lewis home, which was built around 1888 and the Watkins home, which is estimated to have been constructed around the same time.

There are pink azaleas in front of the another residence on the same block, while further northward two blocks from the St. Landry Parish Courthouse, the Southern colonial revival home built by Edward B. Dubuisson for his family in 1927, has an extensive number of azalea bushes that spread blooms of purple and red.

Opelousas jeweler Robbie Sebastien points out that many of the Court Street residences extending southward from the courthouse to the entrances at South City Park, can be characterized as Craftsmen bungalows popular for three decades beginning in the first decade of the 19th century.

“You also have a mixture of other style, such as Victorian, Italian, Greek-Revival and then the Dubuisson home, which is mainly Southern Colonial,” Sebastien said during an interview.

Over the last century or so, many of these homes perhaps also had their azalea bushes, which signaled the start of Opelousas springtime.

Outside the city the most currently prolific exhibition of azaleas are at the former KDCG building off La. 182 south of the city.

Approach the azaleas at this site and you are destined to become intertwined with hordes of bumble bees.

Don’t worry. They aren’t concerned with stinging the intruders. Rather the bees are riveted at their tasks, seeking to extract enough pollen and energy before those blooms too become forlorn and fall to the ground.