For those of us that get creative inspiration from plants – festivals, shows and even parades are always worth a visit. At such events we either get to see a great diversity of plants or just loads and loads of plants, and if we are really lucky, both. Sometimes the setting is indoors in small, cramped spaces and other times it is outside with land blooming as far as the eye can see. This month marks the onset of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, causing events to appear in increasing numbers. You don’t have to fight the masses at Chelsea to see special things, as there are a whole range of opportunities world-wide, in different plant-related contexts, to do so. A favourable travel budget would be good and some time off work, or even better a sabbatical may be needed.
Below we give an overview of plant featuring events which we have grouped together based on their purpose. Our new directory section gives links to pages with lots more links to individual event information, including those referred to below.
Horticultural & Garden Shows
These events are generally where we the public get to see the best of what the horticultural trade has to offer. If you are looking for the latest award winning Dahlia, or ideas for a new water feature, or a mixed floral extravaganza then these events are for you. With the ongoing trend of wilding your garden for the sake of biodiversity these shows are not void of natural elements, but they are primarily about plants transported to a specific location, usually in pots for the purpose of a short-lived event. In the UK the Royal Horticultural Society dominates with others tending to be run by specific plant (ie Rose) or plant area (ie Alpine) societies. Chelsea is touted as the best in the world. Philadelphia the biggest and bestest in America. But there are many others, less crowded and cheaper too from Southport to Pakistan.
Land art in one of the show gardens, Chelsea Flower Show, 2006 Image copyright
Single plant shows or festivals
These events occur where a high density of one particular cultivated plant (or group of plants ie a genus) is growing in an area and at peak times the public is invited to come admire and cherish them. Sometimes planted in urban streets, or farmers fields or else, a specifically developed garden, when viewed en masse, it is a rather spectacular sight. Cherry trees and Tulips are two popular examples, but others include Narcissus, Lavender and Chyrsanthemum to name but a few.
Skagit Tulip Festival Panorama Image copyright
These are not often places to find cut flowers, as it would rather defeat the object, but instead they are designed to draw your attention to surrounding areas of natural beauty at peak flowering time. Wildflower walks and plant ID-ing are common and useful festival events, but in reality all sorts of things tend to go on at these high-spirited times.
Sometimes a flower parade is the whole event, other times the parade happens as part of a larger festival that may or may not necessarily be all about the plants. Sometimes it is for religious purpose, other times it is part of a town’s tradition, often it is just plain bonkers. Usually it involves floats with different creations decorated or covered in flowers, or else, flowers are thrown willy nilly about the place. Take for example the incredible Bloemencorso Zundert floral parade. It’s a plant enthusiasts dream after a bottle of rum.
Bloemencorso Zundert floral parade Image copyright: www.corsozundert.nl/Rex Features
These are either run by fruit producers themselves, or scientific plant institutions, or towns located within high density fruit producing areas. The focus of these events is less to do with how pretty the plants are, as flowers are usually long gone, and more to do with oral sensation. Often you will get to try many different varieties of the chosen fruit fresh off the plant. In the case of apples, this can be very enlightening, as these days supermarkets tend to push us the same homogenous few. So attendance at one of these festivals is a chance to awaken your tastebuds and be reminded of what a good specimen can taste like when free of freezing and long haul flying. Plant Curator wants to see if it can find a fruit festival for each of the world’s top 100 fruits. Watch this space.