Round the year, there’s almost always a floral region waiting to bloom in the world. While Maharashtra’s Kaas Plateau rolls out its annual carpet of flowers between June and September, October will see new blossoms in South Africa’s Pretoria and Cape Floral Region, and Uttarakhand’s Valley of Flowers National Park. The next time you’re travelling, it’s worth considering a detour to settle down for some quiet time with these natural wonders. Here are 18 stunning sceneries to add flower power to your trip.
Cherry blossom trees take over Japan each spring. This blooming season, called “sakura”, attracts visitors from the world over. In 2015 photographer Rohan Shrestha followed the blossoms from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Gyoen National Park to Kyoto and sent us this gorgeous photo essay. The flowers bloom at different times across the country – only for a couple of weeks at a time – from the end of January until late May.
Poppies take over the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in the western Mojave Desert in spring. The duration and intensity of the colours and scents of the blooms vary each year. On average the general wildflower season in the reserve runs from mid-February to late May, but the festival takes place in April. There’s music, art and food at the festival. The dates for 2016 are April 16 and 17. Check poppyfestival.com for updates.
Covering around 30 acres, this rose garden in Chandigarh is privy to over 1,600 varieties of roses. Each year, from around late February to early March, the garden hosts cultural performances and competitions in its Rose Festival. Slot in a visit to the gardens to admire the arches covered with blooming roses and the sculpted lawns.
Mughal gardens are famous for their intricate symmetry and lush waterfalls and pools. Srinagar is known for its terraced gardens, Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh, both laid out in fine architectural detail in the 17th century, on the banks of the Dal Lake. While walking through Shalimar Bagh, stop by the Pink Pavilion for its papier mache ceilings, carved columns and stone railings. When in Delhi, stop by the landscaped gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which are open to the public when the flowers bloom in February and March.
Holland’s legendary tulips are on display every spring at the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse. Eight hundred varieties of the flower bloom over 80 acres to form a spectacular sea of bright colours. While these flowers were once native to the Ottoman empire, they were imported into Holland only in the 16th century. Visit the gardens this year from March 24 to May 16. If you’re stopping by Amsterdam, visit Bloemenmarkt, the city’s floating flower market, and drop by the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, open through the year.
Situated at the base of the snow-capped Zabarwan range, near Dal Lake, Srinagar’s tulip garden is the largest in Asia, covering 90 acres. The relatively recent garden used to be an orchard until 2007, when Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kashmir’s chief minister at the time, decided to turn it into its current avatar in an attempt to boost tourism. This year’s blooms, which blossomed in the beginning of April, were much welcomed – especially after the incessant rain and floods in the region.
El-Kelaâ M’Gouna, in the Ouarzazate province of Morocco, is known for its Vallée des Roses. The town’s economy depends on its roses, and rosewater is a vital component of Moroccan culture. During the rose festival, visitors can watch rosewater being made and buy bunches of roses. While late April to June is a good time to visit the area, the rose festival takes place around the middle of May when the roses are harvested.
This Canadian Tulip Festival is said to be the largest of its kind in the world, and comes with much history. When the Netherlands was invaded by the Nazis, Princess Juliana of the Dutch Royal Family went into exile in Ottawa, Canada. During the five years she was there, she gave birth to Princess Margaret. On her return to the Netherlands, Princess Juliana sent several gifts to her host country for their hospitality, she sent them many gifts, one of which was 1,00,000 tulip bulbs. The tradition of planting tulips to honour this relationship continues to date in public spaces across the National Capital Region. This year’s festival will be on from May 12 to 23.
Crested Butte in Colorado, known as the state’s “wildflower capital”, has endless terrain covered with wildflowers in a variety of colours each summer. The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival takes place for a week each July with a range of activities like photography and art classes, garden tours, hikes, birding and butterfly-spotting events. Some of the hikes and tours are available from May to September. Check crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com for the updated schedule. In 2016, the festival will take place from July 11 to 17.
Situated less than 24km from central London, this 25-acre organic farm is flooded with lavender blooms each year. While the farm is now family-run, it’s interesting to note that lavender was grown in the same field in the 18th and 19th century. There’s also a nursery and shop at the farm, where you can select from a range of lavender plants and products. The farm is open to the public from May 30 to mid-September, but the flowers are generally in bloom between the last week of June and the last week of August.
This splendid natural show of over 500 species of blossoms takes place in the West Himalayas in Uttarakhand. The valley was discovered in 1931 by three British mountaineers and is now on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The alpine flowers dot the valley in a range of colours between June and October. It’s definitely worth a visit for the breathtaking landscape.
The rural town of Furano on the island of Hokkaido is known primarily for its lavender fields. While lavender used to be cultivated in the region, the fields are more of a tourist attraction today. At Farm Tomita Lavender East fields, visitors can hop onto a “lavender bus” – which is a carriage pulled by a tractor – for a 20-minute guided tour. Those who have a JPRail pass can access the Furano-Biei Norokko train for a ride through the region’s purple-clad fields at no extra charge. The train runs only during the summer, from late June to early August. Check JPRail.com for updated train schedules.
This plateau in Maharashtra’s Satara district is made up of large quantities of basalt, which makes the soil ideal for the flowers that bloom here. A range of interesting colourful specimens like orchids and insectivorous plants bloom in the plateau between September and early October. The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Nature India organise weekend camps to the area. Also take a look at our guide to the Kaas Plateau.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), this UNESCO World Heritage site “represents less than 0.5 per cent of the area of Africa, but is home to nearly 20 per cent of the continent’s flora”. A large expanse of shrubby vegetation known as fynbos cover this region. Keep an eye out for one of the most famous species of fynbos and the country’s national flower, the king protea. There’s always something to see all year round, but visit during the southern-hemisphere spring in September or October to see a majority of the flowers bloom.
This one’s an annual flower festival at Canberra’s Commonwealth Park. The festival takes place between mid-September and mid-October and features grand displays of bulbs and annuals in addition to horticultural workshops, recreational activities and other events. Over a million flowers bloom during the festival each year.
The city, famous for its jacaranda trees, is commonly referred to as Jacaranda City. While the plant is native to South America, the English planted the gorgeous trees across the southern and eastern parts of the continent (then British Africa). But these trees have invasive root systems that not only require more water than usual but also don’t allow for other growth underground. In 2012, this resulted in a debate about whether or not the iconic jacaranda trees should be removed. The jacaranda tree-lined streets of Pretoria continue to bloom every October, attracting the Japanese who must notice a resemblance to their own sakura and other travellers from across the world.
Spread over 240 acres, this botanical garden in south Bengaluru, was commissioned by Hyder Ali in 1760. The garden is home to over 1,800 species of plants and trees. There’s also a glasshouse, a nursery and a lake that attracts migratory birds. While Bangalore Walks conducts a great Green Heritage Walk at Lalbagh led by naturalist Vijay Thiruvady, the garden also hosts an elaborate flower show on Independence Day and Republic Day.
One of the most prestigious world horticultural expos takes place every 10 years in the Netherlands. In 2012, 1.8m bulbs were planted across 108 acres in Venlo, a city in southeastern Netherlands. The city of Almere, the host of the 2022 expo, will get a new greener urban neighbourhood, complete with a giant plant library that will stay even after the expo, according to the Dutch Horticultural Council (Nederlandse Tuinbouwraad). For updates, visit floriade.almere.nl.
If you’re not already planning a trip to view nature in bloom, take inspiration from this National Geographic video for some real flower power:
is Features Writer on National Geographic Traveller India's web team. She loves beaches, blue skies, and baking, and is most centred while trying a new cake recipe. She tweets as @thefabmonteiro.
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