It doesn’t take Van Goghian imaginationto appreciate the beauty of a sunflower. Although they’re hardly everdestinations in themselves, the fields of soothing lavender, rows ofmind-stirring tulips and meadows sprinkled with wild daisies areready to put on a brilliant show for your color-thirsty eyes. Justturn on your romantic radar, get off the beaten path and go searchfor the flower power. Here’s a handful of ideas to get you started:
The sight of the endlessribbons of lavender itself attracts thousands of visitors to Provenceevery year. The fragrant fields stretch across the hills andvalleys, with nodding heads of golden sunflowers and swathes offiercely red poppies sometimes breaking into the purple infinity.
Butthen the charm of Provence is not its flowers alone. Little historictowns, picturesque villages, old distilleries and ancient sites areas much a part of the landscape in this part of France as the incredible flora. Just set offon route through the Upper Vaucluse, Ventoux or Luberon and enjoy analmost spiritual journey full of invigorating scents, colors, historyand culinary delights.
BounceHolland off of people and the second association you get is tulips(right after Amsterdam and its Red Light District). It’s justimpossible to travel throughthe country in springtime without beholding what could quite possibly be one of themost impressive floral performances in the world, with tulips anddaffodils in the leading roles.
As the world’s leadingcultivator and exporter oftulips, the Netherlands does its best to keep up the reputation withperfectly manicured fields, incredible variety of colors and fabulousflower parades held throughout the country between April andSeptember. The most impressive collections of flowers are to be seenjust outside Alkmaar (North Holland), famous for its cheese marketand brimming with history, as well as in Keukenhof (near Lisse in South Holland), also known as the world’s largest flower garden.
Between March and May every year, Japan dons hercoat of light pink and for a brief moment, the cherry blossom invadeseven the gloomiest parts of urban concrete jungles. Tokyo, Osaka,Kyoto or Nagasaki – they’re all transformed into exquisite floraldisplays of delicate beauty, and the normally fabulous Japanesecountryside becomes even more appealing. Travel to Japan in cherryseason to discover the delight of “Hanami”, the age-oldpractice of picnicking under a blooming sakura, takea walk through clouds of blossoms, andlearn about the flowers’fascinating symbolism of love, spring, good fortune … and dying.
Thelandscape of Denmark is mainly agricultural, with lush forests, vastpastures and multicolored meadows hugging a beautiful coastline ofwhite sandy beaches and marshes. Theabundant wildflowers paint the landscape with a full palette ofcolors, producing a vibrant background for castles, Viking storiesand invigorating bike tours across the countryside. The spring seesthe explosion of hues and varieties as the extensive meadows coverwith red clovers (national floral emblem), poppies, forget-me-notsand marguerite daisies. Severalspecies of wild orchids adorn the area called Gentofte Municipalitynorth of Copenhagen.
Namaqualand, Northern Cape, South Africa
Theability to see a heaven in a wild flower is a grand sign ofinnocence. So said William Blake, a romantic English poet andpainter. Here, in Namaqualand, it’s far easier than he would havethought. During the early spring, in the narrow window between Julyand September, this totally arid region of the North Cape Province, South Africa,miraculously turns into a blooming desert of wildflowers, withtrillions of white and orange daisies springing up from previouslybarren land. Once there, head to the Skilpad WildFlower Reserve to see what is undoubtedly one of the most strikingfloral phenomena in the world.
British Columbia, Canada
Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, Canada, is otherwise known as “The City of Gardens”, and ittruly deserves its nickname. With mild climate and plentifulsunshine, gardening must be a lifetime passion, and indeed, there arenumerous spectacular floral displays here that cater for thecolor-loving botanists, including the amazing Butchart Gardens,HatleyPark National Historic Site and AbkhaziGarden.
With its flowery reputation, Victoriasets the benchmark real high, but the rest of the province doesmeasure up. Tiger lilies, wild roses, dandelions and lupins brightenyour walks along the countryside with a flamboyant palette of colorand invigorate your senses with a rich bouquet of scents.
South Island, New Zealand
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy hasdone a great job in showing the world just how unbelievable NewZealand really is. But what you probably remember best is dramaticopen spaces, craggy peaks and gloomy voids rather than alpine floraand fertile valleys.
In fact, New Zealand is a naturalgarden, with the finest displays of flowers to be found on the SouthIsland. Here, the multicolored summer meadows carpet your hikes inthe high mountains and blooming lupins turn the shores of Lake Tekapointo a purple theater under the open sky.
Drop us a hint if you know of other flowery destinations … be it a daisy-clad alpine valley, a field of tulips or your personal patch of roses in the backyard.