8 Must-see Flower Fes­ti­vals

Fill your 2018 cal­en­dar with events that fea­ture The sweet scent of spring.

Birds & Blooms - - Contents - BY SH­ERYL DEVORE

Visit these cel­e­bra­tions for a blast of flo­ral in­spi­ra­tion.

IF THE SNOWSTORMS OF win­ter are mak­ing you dream of the pink cherry blos­soms, col­or­ful tulips and fra­grant lilacs of spring, it’s time to plan ahead for when the frost fi­nally melts. Jump right into the new year with flo­ral cel­e­bra­tions that be­gin in late win­ter and run through early sum­mer. Mother Na­ture de­cides when blos­soms reach their peak, so no mat­ter which fes­ti­val is call­ing your name, plan to stay sev­eral days for the best chance at see­ing the most blooms. Let the count­down to spring be­gin!

Camel­lia Walks at Mid­dle­ton Place

Charleston, South Carolina MID-FE­BRU­ARY TO MARCH See camel­lias that are cen­turies old bloom­ing in win­ter at Mid­dle­ton Place, a Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Land­mark and the old­est land­scaped gar­den in the United States. In 1786, French botanist An­dre Michaux brought the first camel­lias in the U.S. to Mid­dle­ton Place. To­day, thou­sands of in­di­vid­ual plants rep­re­sent­ing more than 1,000 cul­ti­vars grace the grounds from mid-fe­bru­ary to late March. Walk along the paths to view the blooms at your own pace, or reg­is­ter for a guided tour or work­shop. mid­dle­ton­place.org

In­ter­na­tional Cherry Blos­som Fes­ti­val

Ma­con, Ge­or­gia MARCH 16-25

The Yoshino cherry trees in Ma­con, Ge­or­gia, have hum­ble be­gin­nings. A lo­cal busi­ness­man dis­cov­ered one grow­ing in his back­yard in 1949 and shared cut­tings with his neigh­bors. Now Ma­con has 300,000 of them! Res­i­dents cel­e­brate blos­som time with a fes­ti­val that in­cludes free con­certs, a pa­rade and a bed race, in which peo­ple wear­ing blos­soms in their hair tra­verse the streets on mat­tresses. cher­ry­blos­som.com

Na­tional Cherry Blos­som Fes­ti­val

Wash­ing­ton, D.C. MARCH 20-APRIL 15

In 1912, the Ja­panese peo­ple gave the U.S. more than 3,000 cherry trees. The Na­tional Cherry Blos­som Fes­ti­val fol­lowed in 1935, and it now spans four week­ends and at­tracts more than 1.5 mil­lion vis­i­tors a year. To­day more than 3,700 trees of 16 dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties grow along the Po­tomac River and near na­tional mon­u­ments. See them on foot or hit the wa­ter to view the lovely pink blos­soms via wa­ter taxi, cruise boat or pad­dle­boat. Shutterbugs can even take cam­era sa­faris with pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers. Other high­lights of the fes­ti­val in­clude a cherry blos­som pa­rade and a Ja­panese street fes­ti­val. na­tion­alcher­ry­blos­som fes­ti­val.org

Lighted Dog­wood Trail

Pa­d­u­cah, Ken­tucky APRIL

In early spring, dog­woods brighten the Ken­tucky land­scape with their four-petaled flow­ers. Walk, drive or bike past his­toric Pa­d­u­cah homes along a 12-mile trail lined with dog­wood and other flow­er­ing trees, such as red­bud and weep­ing cherry. At night, parts of the trail are il­lu­mi­nated. The Li­brary of Congress

lists the trail in its Lo­cal Lega­cies project, which rec­og­nizes unique lo­cal tra­di­tions. Events in­clude an art and pho­tog­ra­phy ex­hibit, and $1 trol­ley rides along the trail. pa­d­u­c­ahky.gov /dog­wood-trail

Tulip Time Fes­ti­val

MAY 5-13

Nowhere in North Amer­i­can can you see more tulips in one place than in Hol­land, Michi­gan, where nearly 5 mil­lion Dutch fa­vorites burst forth in a riot of May color. Stroll the 6 miles of Tulip Lanes or take a trol­ley tour. Watch pa­rades fea­tur­ing Dutch dancers dressed in tra­di­tional cos­tumes and see wooden shoes be­ing made by hand. There’s even a fire­works show. The In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val and Events As­so­ci­a­tion lists Tulip Time as one of the top 20 events in the world. Don’t miss it! tulip­time.com

Rochester Li­lac Fes­ti­val

Rochester, New York MAY 12-21

Cel­e­brate lilacs at this 10day fes­ti­val in High­land Park, where 1,200 plants make up the na­tion’s largest col­lec­tion of these aro­matic blooms. One of the 500 va­ri­eties you’ll see is the white Fred­er­ick Law Olm­sted li­lac, named af­ter the land­scape ar­chi­tect who de­vel­oped the park. The fes­ti­val in­cludes a pa­rade, juried arts and crafts show, live mu­sic, and ven­dors sell­ing li­lac soaps and per­fumes. rochesterevents.com /li­lac-fes­ti­val

Mackinac Is­land Li­lac Fes­ti­val

Mackinac Is­land, Michi­gan JUNE 8-17

The cli­mate here helps lilacs grow larger and live longer than in other places in the U.S. In fact, some of the lilacs bloom­ing to­day were planted dur­ing the Vic­to­rian era. No cars are al­lowed on the is­land, but you can walk or take a horse-drawn car­riage tour of flow­er­ing lilacs through streets of his­toric homes. At­tend li­lac-grow­ing sem­i­nars and lis­ten to folk mu­sic amidst the sweet scent. mack­i­nacis­land.org

Pe­ony Fes­ti­val

Oshawa, On­tario JUNE 9-10

Im­merse your­self in pe­onies at the Oshawa Val­ley Botan­i­cal Gar­dens in June, when 300 va­ri­eties burst into bloom. The an­nual two­day fes­ti­val is timed to co­in­cide with peak bloom time. Me­an­der through an ex­hibit show­ing artist in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the clas­sic plant, and sit in on a pe­ony-judg­ing con­test while Cana­dian Pe­ony So­ci­ety mem­bers cri­tique the blooms. oshawa.ca

Sh­eryl Devore, an avid gar­dener and birder, vis­its Bo­erner Botan­i­cal Gar­dens in Wis­con­sin each June with her sis­ter.

TULIP TIME FES­TI­VAL, HOL­LAND, MICHI­GAN

LI­LAC FES­TI­VAL, MACKINAC IS­LAND, MICHI­GAN

NA­TIONAL CHERRY BLOS­SOM FES­TI­VAL, WASH­ING­TON, D.C.

PE­ONY FES­TI­VAL, OSHAWA, ON­TARIO

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