It doesn't take Van Goghian imagination to appreciate the beauty of a sunflower. Although they're hardly ever destinations in themselves, the fields of soothing lavender, rows of mind-stirring tulips and meadows sprinkled with wild daisies are ready to put on a brilliant show for your color-thirsty eyes. Just turn on your romantic radar, get off the beaten path and go search for the flower power. Here's a handful of ideas to get you started:
The sight of the endless ribbons of lavender itself attracts thousands of visitors to Provence every year. The fragrant fields stretch across the hills and valleys, with nodding heads of golden sunflowers and swathes of fiercely red poppies sometimes breaking into the purple infinity.
But then the charm of Provence is not its flowers alone. Little historic towns, picturesque villages, old distilleries and ancient sites are as much a part of the landscape in this part of France as the incredible flora. Just set off on route through the Upper Vaucluse, Ventoux or Luberon and enjoy an almost spiritual journey full of invigorating scents, colors, history and culinary delights.
Somewhere between Ferrassières and Revest-du-Bion. By AJanssen
Sunflower and lavender fusion. By ESEA Photo
Poppies near St Pau de Tricastin, Daufinat. By Seamasdubh
Bounce Holland off of people and the second association you get is tulips (right after Amsterdam and its Red Light District). It's just impossible to travel through the country in springtime without beholding what could quite possibly be one of the most impressive floral performances in the world, with tulips and daffodils in the leading roles.
As the world's leading cultivator and exporter of tulips, the Netherlands does its best to keep up the reputation with perfectly manicured fields, incredible variety of colors and fabulous flower parades held throughout the country between April and September. The most impressive collections of flowers are to be seen just outside Alkmaar (North Holland), famous for its cheese market and brimming with history, as well as in Keukenhof (near Lisse in South Holland), also known as the world's largest flower garden.
Tulip fields just outside Alkmaar. By Allard One
Happy spring colors north of Alkmaar. By Daniel
Postcard from Holland. By Evert Doorn
Between March and May every year, Japan dons her coat of light pink and for a brief moment, the cherry blossom invades even the gloomiest parts of urban concrete jungles. Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto or Nagasaki – they're all transformed into exquisite floral displays of delicate beauty, and the normally fabulous Japanese countryside becomes even more appealing. Travel to Japan in cherry season to discover the delight of "Hanami", the age-old practice of picnicking under a blooming sakura, take a walk through clouds of blossoms, and learn about the flowers' fascinating symbolism of love, spring, good fortune … and dying.
Chidorigafuchi, Tokyo. By Kanegen
Mt. Fuji. By skyseeker
A bridge in Tokyo. By mrhayata
The landscape of Denmark is mainly agricultural, with lush forests, vast pastures and multicolored meadows hugging a beautiful coastline of white sandy beaches and marshes. The abundant wildflowers paint the landscape with a full palette of colors, producing a vibrant background for castles, Viking stories and invigorating bike tours across the countryside. The spring sees the explosion of hues and varieties as the extensive meadows cover with red clovers (national floral emblem), poppies, forget-me-nots and marguerite daisies. Several species of wild orchids adorn the area called Gentofte Municipality north of Copenhagen.
Danish poppies. By Ingrid0804
White and blue. By Ingrid0804
Pink Tulip Field. By mogh_ip
Namaqualand, Northern Cape, South Africa
The ability to see a heaven in a wild flower is a grand sign of innocence. So said William Blake, a romantic English poet and painter. Here, in Namaqualand, it's far easier than he would have thought. During the early spring, in the narrow window between July and September, this totally arid region of the North Cape Province, South Africa, miraculously turns into a blooming desert of wildflowers, with trillions of white and orange daisies springing up from previously barren land. Once there, head to the Skilpad Wild Flower Reserve to see what is undoubtedly one of the most striking floral phenomena in the world.
Namaqualand Driveway. By Martin_Heigan
Wild flowers in Kamieskroon. By Martin_Heigan
Fields of red in Namaqualand National Park. By javvi
British Columbia, Canada
Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, Canada, is otherwise known as “The City of Gardens”, and it truly deserves its nickname. With mild climate and plentiful sunshine, gardening must be a lifetime passion, and indeed, there are numerous spectacular floral displays here that cater for the color-loving botanists, including the amazing Butchart Gardens, Hatley Park National Historic Site and Abkhazi Garden.
With its flowery reputation, Victoria sets the benchmark real high, but the rest of the province does measure up. Tiger lilies, wild roses, dandelions and lupins brighten your walks along the countryside with a flamboyant palette of color and invigorate your senses with a rich bouquet of scents.
Garibaldi Provincial Park. By Just Peachy!
Tulips in Agassiz. By m.stoker
Butchart Garden, Victoria. By Visualist Images
South Island, New Zealand
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy has done a great job in showing the world just how unbelievable New Zealand really is. But what you probably remember best is dramatic open spaces, craggy peaks and gloomy voids rather than alpine flora and fertile valleys.
In fact, New Zealand is a natural garden, with the finest displays of flowers to be found on the South Island. Here, the multicolored summer meadows carpet your hikes in the high mountains and blooming lupins turn the shores of Lake Tekapo into a purple theater under the open sky.
New Zealand classic. By Cuba Gallery
Lake Tekapo flowers. By malinky
Lake Tekapo and wild flowering lupins. By Heaven's Gate (John)
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.