Spring has sprung and people are anxious to get outside, breath in nature’s newly released pollen and start sneezing their heads off … right? Well, maybe not. But don’t let those springtime allergies hold you back. Garden shows and flower festivals are budding in cities throughout the world, so grab your Claritin and clear your calendar, because here are nine of the best places in the world to get out and smell the flowers.
Keukenhof Gardens near Amsterdam, Netherlands
When people think of Amsterdam, they think of brightly colored tulips, stunning gardens and endless floral beauty, right? Well ok, some people might think of other things, too but there is no question that visiting Keukenhof Gardens is on the top of the list for any springtime visit to this Dutch capital.
Keukenhof is celebrating its 60th birthday in 2009 and in recognition of that fact, and in commemoration of the settlement of New Amsterdam–aka Manhattan–the gardens will highlight the US-Netherlands relationship. Through May 21, visitors can follow an American-themed route, see American-style gardens and gasp at the 25,000-bulb mosaic of the Statue of Liberty.
Cherry Blossom Festival in Vancouver, Canada
Each spring, Vancouver is soaked with the scent of sweet cherry blossoms at its annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Honoring the city’s 36,000 cherry trees, this four-week festival encourages Vancouver citizens and guests to don their prettiest pink attire and head out to enjoy the concerts, participate in new Haiku installations, register for a painting class, take a walking tour of the blossoms and by all means, buy souvenirs.
One of the most popular events is the Biking the Blossoms tour that combines cherry blossom viewing with a meet and greet of local cherry farmers.
Chelsea Flower Show in London, England
Need a few tips from the pros? Then head to the Chelsea Flower Show, where for five days each May, the Royal Hospital in Chelsea is transformed into what they claim to be the world’s most famous flower and horticultural event.
World-famous landscapers showcase the latest gardening trends at the Show Gardens and Urban Gardens, while up-and-coming designers are featured in the Courtyard Gardens inspiration center. Gardeners wanting to surpass the Joneses can visit the Grand Pavilion for the latest wave of new plant creations dreamed up by plant breeders from across the world.
Balboa Park Flower Gardens in San Diego, California
Located just three miles northeast of downtown San Diego, Balboa Park features plants from around the world. Its 12 gardens are spread across 1,200 acres, most of which are free to the public and open daily.
The Botanical Building features 2,100 plants including orchids, cycads and palms, a Lily Pond and a museum.
The Alcazar Garden has 7,000 annuals surrounded by waterfalls and benches and the Rose Garden has 2,500 daisies. Ahem. Just making sure you were paying attention. Roses. It has roses.
Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle, Washington
Just up the road oh … 1,300 miles or so, Seattle’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show features six acres of colorful gardens, free gardening seminars and more than 350 exhibits and displays.
The Flora Fantasia display highlights local nurseries and was inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show in London, while the Container Garden Exhibition offers inspiration for visitors’ decks, patios and porches. Funky Junk and Children’s Gardens offer an outlet for high school students and Puget Sound youth to showcase their horticulture talents.
The International Flower and Garden Show in Melbourne, Australia
Consistently ranking in the top five flower shows in the world, The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show features the best gardening, landscaping and floral talent in Australia.
The Royal Exhibition Building and surrounding gardens are transformed for this five-day event that features 300 exhibitors, vendors selling plants and accessories and professional landscape artists dishing out free gardening advice. One of the more popular events for pint-sized gardeners is the Sesame Street Children’s Garden, with Elmo, face painting, interactive entertainment and gardening tips for kids.
The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival in Orlando, Florida
Nobody loves pretty spring flowers more than Minnie Mouse and no one hosts a flower and garden show quite like her honey, Mickey. The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival covers Epcot’s Future World and World Showcase with a colorful blanket of flowers, gardens and Disney-themed topiaries.
The Cinderellabration garden celebrates Cinderella’s grand coronation, kids can create their own magic at the Pirates Adventure Zone and guests can get up close and personal with hundreds of butterflies at Minnie’s Magnificent Butterfly Garden. Weekends offer public gardening demonstrations and the “Flower Power” concert series with flashback tunes from the 60s and 70s.
The Peony Festival in Luoyang, China
It is only fitting that Luoyang, the one-time imperial capital of 13 Chinese dynasties produces China’s royal flower-the peony. The Luoyang peony represents elegance and poise and is China’s most well-known flower, claiming the prestigious title of “King of the Flower Kingdom.”
Each year, Luoyang’s Wangcheng Park is bathed in 99 acres of peonies, where local exhibitors showcase cultural relics and hold culture fairs, dance competitions and parties. The Peony Admiring Area is the most visited section of the park, where its three gardens boast thousands of blooming peonies.
International Garden Festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire in France
The International Garden Festival of Chaumont-sur-Loire is held every year from May to October at the Conservatoire International des Parcs et Jardins et du Paysage in France’s Loire Valley.
Promising visitors a glance of the “gardens of tomorrow,” this year’s festival strives to offer a colorful contrast from dull city life by infusing shades of secret color codes that conceal thousands of hidden meanings. Oooh, the mystery! The festival attracts over 150,000 visitors and offers a new design theme each year.
Read about author Cherrye Moore, and check out her other BootsnAll articles.