By Susan McKee

If it’s winter, orchids are the go-to flower for botanical exhibits. These colorful tropical blooms remind us that warmer weather soon will return. In the meantime, shows of all sizes dot the calendar in January and February.

Two of the largest orchid shows are held on the coasts. San Francisco Orchid Society’s “Pacific Orchid Exposition” will be February 22, 23 and 24, 2019, in the Hall of Flowers at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California.  On the other side of America, the 17th annual Orchid Show in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory of the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx spotlights the orchids of Singapore February 23 through April 28, 2019. 

The massive Philadelphia Flower Show teases spring in the Pennsylvania Convention Center March 2 through 10, 2019. The Chicago Flower and Garden Show  takes place on Navy Pier March 20 through 24, 2019.

Tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs – almost seven million of them — are the stars at Keukenhof, the annual extravaganza of flower power held since 1949 in Lisse, just outside Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  This year’s show is open from March 21 through May 19, 2019. In addition to the acres of flowers, there are all sorts of special events. Holland Heritage Weekend, March 29-31, 2019, for example, recreates 19th century Holland through folkloric dances, music, and costumes.

Not far away, in Belgium “Floralia” celebrates artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, considered the most important artist of the Spanish Netherlands in the sixteenth century. Floralia is open from April 6 through May 5, 2019. The spring flower exhibition in the 35-acre park and extensive greenhouses of the castle of Grand Bigard outside Brussels, Belgium, focuses on flowering bulbs – especially tulips – but also hyacinths and daffodils.

There are many places to visit in North America during tulip season as well. Two of the largest take place in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, and in Holland, Michigan.  The Canadian Tulip Festival,  May 10 to 20, 2019, includes a million tulips blooming in public areas, including 250,000 blooms in Commissioners Park near Dows Lake. It’s the 90th year for Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan, set for May 4 through 12, 2019. The City of Holland plants over 200,000 tulips in city parks and in the downtown area.

Not long after the tulips open up, lilacs burst into bloom. There are lilac festivals across the northern United States, but two of the largest are in Rochester, New York,  and on Mackinac Island, Michigan.  Celebrate the scent of spring in Rochester May 10 through 19, 2019, and a bit later on Mackinac Island. The Lilac Fest there – the largest summer event on the island — takes place June 7 through 16, 2019.

Probably the best-known flower show takes place across the pond. Arranged by the Royal Horticultural Society, the Chelsea Flower Show is set for May 21 through 25, 2019, on the grounds of London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea. The “quintessentially British show” features “cutting-edge garden design, fabulous shopping, and plants from every corner of the globe”.

When fall rolls around, flower shows focus on mums, such as the chrysanthemum show in Longwood Gardens,  Kennett Square Pennsylvania, October 24 through November 24, 2019, and the chrysanthemum exhibition in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Tokyo, Japan, open November 1 through 15, 2019.

December means poinsettias and model trains, of course. One of the best exhibits is in the Conservatory of the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C. Thousands of blooms recreate iconic landscapes in America providing scenery for the trains November 27, 2019, through January 1, 2020.

For more ideas on garden tourism, check out Susan McKee’s Road Trips for Gardeners.