Flower shows are one of the biggest delights of spring and summer and are a perfect excuse to catch some extra rays as well as to get those dust-collecting gardening tools out from the garage. The floral extravaganzas here will inspire everyone from the prize-winning rose grower to the novice seed planter.
It’s no wonder that the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show can boast that it is the largest in the world. Held annually by the Royal Horticultural Society, the show sprawls across more than 34 acres of the Hampton Court Palace grounds, in East Molesey, Surrey, England. This year’s spectacle runs July 2-8, during which time about 140,000 garden enthusiasts will take in the displays of 85 specialty nurseries and see an eye-popping 250,000 flowers. Visitors may meander through a meadow filled with delicate Verbena bonariensis, in stunning shades of purple, and admire designer show gardens including a community garden, a lifestyle garden, a kitchen garden and a landscape garden.
Another highlight is a theatrical, interactive exhibit that allows guests to explore the evolution of plants. The indoor-and-outdoor “Evolve: Through the Roots of Time” will take visitors on a nature journey starting 500 million years ago and continuing through the present.
For those who want to create their own floral fantasy at home, hundreds of vendors will sell flowers, gardening supplies and decorative items.
The show is open to the public, but Tuesday and Wednesday are reserved for members of the Royal Horticultural Society. You can view the schedule and buy tickets online.
When it comes to other flower shows, everything’s coming up roses in Portland, Ore., from May 25 to June 10, when the city hosts its annual festival devoted to the beloved blooms.
The Spring Rose Show will feature more than 4,000 roses, including hybrid teas, grandifloras, climbers and floribundas. As is tradition, one variety has been selected and will be sold as the festival’s featured rose: Dress Blues is a fruity floribunda with lavender and magenta hues.
Along with three parades — the largest being the 4.2-mile Grand Floral Parade, with 29 floral-only floats and 13 marching bands — the festival has numerous other activities, such as the Milk Carton Boat Race, during which kids and adults hit the water in homemade vessels that are powered by recycled milk cartons and jugs.
The rose show and parades are free, but tickets are required for indoor and outdoor seating at the Grand Floral Parade.
San Diego, Calif.
You’ll find the largest tented flower show in the country in one of its sunniest states. A staple of San Diego’s Coronado beach community since 1922, the Coronado Flower Show wows spectators with an abundant array of flowers and plants, including many varieties of roses (hybrid teas, grandifloras, climbers, shrub roses); sweet, citrusy plumeria; orchids; cacti and other succulents; and bonsai. The design section showcases theme-based floral displays, table arrangements and picture boxes.
Kids love touring the edible zoo, filled with animals created from fruits and vegetables. There are educational opportunities, too, with areas devoted to water conservation and recycling efforts, wildflowers and advice on painting florals. Get garden-designing ideas by viewing a competition featuring home and business gardens from the community. Under the sales tent, you’ll find not just plants but also garden tools, ornamental tchotchkes and lawn furniture. Roses from the competition will be sold after the show closes.
The show takes place April 21 and 22 in Spreckels Park in Coronado. Tickets are $5 for visitors 13 and older.
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If it’s a Disney production, you know it’ll be enormous and over the top. The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (with some 30 million flowers) is no exception. There are topiary gardens featuring Disney’s most endearing characters, including Donald, Mickey, and Snow White and her miniature buddies; there’s an Imagination Play Garden, for kids big and small to goof around in; there are 15 outdoor kitchens, one of which is devoted to honey-infused gourmet creations, like Roasted Cauliflower with Buckwheat Honey Carrot Purée, and Local Wildflower Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake with Orange Blossom.
Other highlights of the Feb. 28–May 28 festival are the Gardens of the World tour — where a horticultural expert takes guests around magnificent exhibits of flowers, topiaries and plants from places around the globe and shares tips on how to transform a home garden into a landscaping masterpiece — and the Royal Tea Garden tour, which includes a tea tasting and scones in a dining room fit for the aristocracy across the pond.
To attend the festival, you must pay the Epcot entrance fee (prices start at $102 per day); some activities require additional fees.