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2014 Top Flower Shows

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Attending one of the world’s top flower shows can turn a casual gardener into an avid hobbyist. Include a visit to one of these 12 events in your 2014 vacation plans.

1. Canada Blooms

Photo © Tom Sandler
Although Canada Blooms only held its first festival in 1997, it quickly rose to prominence as one of the world’s top five flower and garden shows. The mission of the festival is to “enhance and promote the awareness of horticulture by featuring the best designs, products, and services of amateur and professional participants.” Those attending the Toronto 10 day festival can expect to join over 200,000 flower aficionados who are eager to discover how garden designers render the WILD theme of 2014.

2. Chelsea Flower Show

Photo © Oli Scarff/Getty Images
The British seem to have won some kind of garden lottery, as they are blessed with a perfect climate for growing the most finicky flowers, and they host the Chelsea, which celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2013. The prestigious show is closely associated with the Royal family, who attend every year. Expect to see more than 500 exhibitors if you get one of the limited number of tickets available, but don’t look for any garden gnomes, as multicolored statuary is forbidden at the Chelsea.

3. Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Photo © D.K. Peterson
Fanciful topiaries define the exhibits at this annual festival, which includes admission to the Epcot theme park. How many other flower and garden festivals appeal to preschoolers as much as grandparents? Interactive play areas keep the kids busy, lectures and display gardens offer take-home tips for adults, and nightly concerts appeal to everyone.

4. Ellerslie International Flower Show

Photo © Sandra Mu/Getty Images
Escape the late winter doldrums with a trip to Christchurch, New Zealand, where summer is in full swing. The City Council runs the Ellerslie with a mission to shine the spotlight on Christchurch as New Zealand’s garden city, and as such encourages the involvement of local and regional garden clubs and horticultural societies in the show. Expect to see trends like sustainability and youth gardening represented in the exhibits.

5. Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Photo © Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Hailed as the world’s largest flower show, the Hampton has been dazzling visitors since 1990. Of special interest to rose lovers is the annual British Rose Festival held at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. View display gardens ranging from outrageous to accessible, and leave with flowering plant material for your landscape.

6. Harrogate Flower Show

Photo © Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
When you find a favorite flower show, a year can feel like a long wait for the event to recur. You don’t have to wait if you love the Harrogate; they offer a spring and an autumn flower show. The shows are put on by the North of England Horticultural Society, and all profits go to charity. The floral art competition is sublime, and don’t miss the giant vegetable competition for a fun diversion.

7. Miami International Orchid Show

Photo © Donald Bowers/Getty Images
Orchid fanciers know how much coddling can go into the care of a prize orchid, so it’s mind boggling to see so many premium specimens in one place. The three-day event caters to novices and professionals alike, with lectures on topics on diverse topics like “how to grow” or taxonomy and hybridizing issues. Only the strong-willed escape from the show without buying more than one plant.

8. Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

Photo © Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Gardening lectures are a normal part of most flower shows, but the Melbourne show brings out the inner florist in all gardeners with their free floral design workshops. Other not-to-be-missed events include outlandish floral fashion design, live floral student design competitions in the Iron Chef tradition, and an “Avenue of Achievable Gardens” with recipe card handouts to help gardeners recreate professional designs at home.

9. Philadelphia Flower Show

Photo © William Thomas Cain/Getty Images
Many gardeners are familiar with the connection between Monet and his gardens, and now the Philadelphia Flower Show is extending that notion with the 2014 “ARTiculture” theme, which connects famous artists like Picasso and da Vinci to horticulture. This flower show is the largest one held indoors, so no worries about soggy weather spoiling your plans.

10. San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

Photo © May Wong
Northern California is a role model for all things sustainable and green, and the revamped San Francisco Flower & Garden Show is no exception. Recycling, organic practices, and the control of invasive plants are important messages for the 2014 show. Floral advisor Debra Prinzing, author of Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden will oversee a new floral pavilion to elucidate new ways of using cut flowers from the garden.

11. Sandringham Flower Show

Photo © Getty Images
For it’s 133rd year, the Sandringham Flower Show will offer visitors a bit of pomp and circumstance with a generous side dish of flowers. The Royal Patron traditionally attends the show, and a brass band adds to the charged atmosphere. After taking in the show gardens, visitors can explore the Sandringham Gardens, Museum, and Church, as charges are covered in the show admission.

12. Southport Flower Show

Photo © Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Head to 34-acre Victoria Park at summer’s peak for this family-friendly show featuring show gardens, chef demonstrations, book signings, celebrity appearances, and giveaways. The show typically attracts around 75,000 people each year, who come to view trends in floral arranging and garden design. If you have an affinity for flowers and your partner doesn’t, you may sell the show on the merits of the music, dining, and other entertainment ranging from horsemanship to wildlife exhibitions that take place at the festival.
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