Four Spectacular and Delightful Flower Shows Worth the Trip

Four Spectacular and Delightful Flower Shows Worth the Trip

- in Travel
Photo: Homesthetics
Photo: Homesthetics

Poets have waxed and waned over the virtue of a flower or two. The poet William Blake saw thorns in a rose in “The Lily.” Shakespeare illuminated the value of the bud in “Romeo and Juliet,” when Juliet asked Romeo to cast away his name to be her love.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” she said.

Flowers have been an attraction for people from all over the world for centuries, starting in the 17th century with the knot gardens and hedge mazes in Europe.

Today, is no different with thousands of garden and flower shows that blossom in the spring. Despite Memorial Day signaling the beginning of summer, spring isn’t over yet.

If you haven’t started working on your garden (Girls That Roam certainly hasn’t), we’ve selected five garden shows and exhibits worth traveling for to inspire your inner horticulturalist.

The Portland Rose Festival

Everything is coming up roses in Portland with the Rose City’s more than 100-year-old Rose Festival, which started this weekend a Tome McCall Waterfront Park and throughout the city. The event officially ends June 10 following the 130-year-old Portland Spring Rose Show along with the Queen’s Coronation and the Grand Floral Parade June 9.

Festival goers will enjoy rides, games, concerts, boat races, fireworks, and men in uniform with the Portland’s annual Fleet Week. Some of the highlights include the RoZone Concerts, Good in the Hood Festival, Starlight Run and Parade, the Milk Carton Boat and Dragon Boat races.

Visitors to Portland can visit the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park and take a self-guided tour. Established in 1917, the test garden spans 4.5 acres with more than 10,000 roses and has more than 600 varietals. The oldest rose bush in the garden is the Grand Duchess Armstrong which was planted by the Duchess in 1943, according to park officials.

The rose garden’s purpose is to show off the best and newest roses available in flower shops for the beautiful bouquets we all love to give and receive.

Rose lovers might also appreciate two other local rose gardens in the City of Roses, Peninsula Park and Rose Garden and Ladd Circle Park and Rose Garden.

A float in the Portland Rose Festival Parade/Travel Channel
A float in the Portland Rose Festival Parade/Travel Channel

The Peninsula Park and Rose Garden is a French-style parterrer, a formal garden with symmetrical patterned level plant beds separated and connected by paths, and it is one of Portland’s only sunken rose garden. Designed by Emanuel L. Mische in 1912, the rose garden was the premiere garden as the home of the official Portland rose, named Mme. Caroline Testout. The rose was cultivated in the garden then lined Portland’s streets earning the city its name “City of Roses.” During its opening year the garden welcomed 300,000 visitors, according to Portland’s Parks and Recreation Department’s website.

The following year the city purchased the park and floral enthusiasts selected it for an annual rose show. The annual Rose Show was hosted by Peninsula Park and Rose Garden for the first five years before it was moved to Washington Park where the International Rose Test Garden opened in 1917, according to the website.

The park still features some of its original design elements, such as the ornamental fountain, street lamps, brick walkways, and the music pavilion. The music pavilion is an octagonal bandstand overlooking the rose garden and was used for patriotic demonstrations during World War I. Today, the last of its kind in the city, it is a designated Portland Historic Landmark (1973) popular for hosting many weddings and concerts during the summertime.

Ladd Circle Park and Rose Garden was developed by the late mayor and entrepreneur William Sargent Ladd who came to Portland from Vermont during the Gold Rush. He settled in the city in 1901 and became a successful businessman. A visionary, he was inspired by engineer Pierre L’Enfant’s urban plan for Washington, D.C., which was a radical departure from Portland’s then-current grid pattern of the expanding city. Subdividing his 126-acre farm on the east side of Portland, he created a diagonal street system surrounding a central park in 1891. Four diamond-shaped rose gardens imitating the points of a compass resided within the park, according to the website.

In 1909, Ladd’s Addition was created by the Park’s Superintendent Emanuel. There he designed a formal landscape creating a stained glass effect out of camellias, perennials, numerous rose varieties in the four diamonds, and a lawn in the central circle, according to the website. Today, the gardens feature more than 3,000 roses with 60 varieties popular in the early 20th century.

Visitors who want to learn more about the Rose Festival can visit The Rose Festival Museum and check out the Oregon Historical Society’s exhibit, “Madame Caroline Testout: The Rose that Made Portland Famous,” about the woman who gave Portland its enduring name “The Rose City.”

The Rose Festival Museum hosts the Crown of Rosaria, the centerpiece of the Rose Queen’s coronation, which launches the Grand Floral Parade, and other artifacts of the 111-year-old celebration, reported Oregon Live.

Rose lovers who can’t get enough of the fragrant bud can continue celebrating its charms with the Rose Cup Races July 13 – 15 and visit the city’s famous rose gardens.

The Phipps Conservatory Pittsburgh Summer Flower Show “Fountains of Youth”

The Phipps Conservatory Pittsburgh’s 125th Summer Flower Show has a summer of floral fun in store for visitors. The show kicked off earlier this week with the Gardens of Sound and Motion, featuring contemporary garden installations by Pittsburgh and other artists that is interactive art, including musical flowers, and special effects. You might feel like you just entered Wonderland.

That’s just the beginning of this season that lasts throughout the summer. The show offers something for everyone of every age and gardening experience from kids to appreciators to home gardeners to experts.

Other interesting exhibits include the Tropical Forest Cuba, a Butterfly Forest,

The show also features art exhibits, including art, an environmental film festival, and music series. Art exhibits feature shows, such as the Cub’Art, show featuring Cuban artists inspired by nature, and Natives for Your Yard: A Botanical Art Exhibit. The film series will screen films, such as, “Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World,” about a remote part of North America struggling to restore balance following a “century of reckless” extraction of natural resources in the region. The Sunday Music Series features jazz and classical music performed by symphonies on select Sundays.

The flower show also hosts classes on sustainable horticulture landscape and garden design, and more.

Santa Barbara Orchids

If you missed the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show and its accompanying Orchid Trail in March you have another excuse to see orchids July 13 – 15 with the Cal-Orchid’s Summer Hummer and the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate Summer Open House.

Cal-Orchid’s event is an orchid lover’s dream because the promoter hand selects nurseries rarely at other orchid shows to open their nurseries to guests, according to the organization.

Aloha Festivals Floral Parade

This festival celebrates 72 years of the Hawaiian Island’s abundant array of floral life parading down Kalakaua Avenue to Kapiolani Park in Honolulu, Oahu September 29. The Aloha Festivals Floral Parade is the largest Hawaiian cultural celebration in the United States, according to Aloha Festivals. Festival goers will enjoy a vibrant procession of pa’u riders on horseback, floats bedecked in Hawaiian flowers, Hawaiian music, marching bands, and Hula dancers.

Book your next adventure with Girls That Roam Travel. Contact Heather Cassell at Girls That Roam Travel at 415-517-7239 or at

Originally published by Girls That Roam.



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