Who doesn’t love flowers? With their sensory feast of color, scent, and touch, an armful of peonies or a clutch of pansies instantly improves our mood and puts a smile on our faces. Why not go for a little “blossom therapy” and explore a local show? Lucky for us, the Southeast has a veritable bouquet of first- in-class flower shows and exhibits held throughout the year. Here are seven we think are worth a look (and a sniff).
Nashville, Tennessee, Janunary/February
The Antiques & Garden Show of Nashville is one of the largest and longest-running events of this kind in the country. Combining an exquisite collection of antiques with some of the best exhibits in horticulture, garden spaces, interior design, decorative arts, and a roster of A-list experts to boot, this is a must-see event. The show benefits Cheekwood Estate & Gardens and charities supported by the Economic Club of Nashville (ECON). Tickets range from $25 to $200 and can be purchased here. (For more about what to see in Nashville go here.)
Walt Disney World – Orlando, Florida, March – May
Each year, Epcot transforms into a fantasy land of stunning plant topiaries, colorful flower displays, and inspiring home design presentations. The Disney horticulturalists are some of the best in the business and a visit here will show you why. Even the kids will get in the mood when they see Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” Mickey, Simba, and all their other Disney favorites reimagined in topiary magic. Ticket information can be found here. Want to learn about some of Disney World’s best kept secrets? Go here.
Providence Hospital, Mobile, Alabama, March
One of the region’s largest flower shows and benefitting Mobile’s Providence Hospital, the Festival of Flowers celebrates its 27th year with over eight acres of landscaped gardens (both under open sky and tents), seminars, and demonstrations on regional gardening and entertaining. Experience this year’s theme of “Zen Gardens” with a stroll through a bamboo forest, traditional Torii gates, and an authentic tea garden. Tickets range from $12 to $26 and can be purchased here.
Washington, Arkansas, March
A longstanding tradition in historic Washington, Arkansas, the Jonquil (Daffodil) Festival heralds the coming spring and spirit of renewal. Though less formal than other flower shows, the festival features thousands of Jonquil blooms — many reportedly planted by settlers over 200 years ago — and also includes craft vendors, music, and historic tours. Admission is free.
Thomasville, Georgia, April
In its 99th year, the Thomasville Rose Show & Festival is actually a handful of flower shows wrapped into one celebratory weekend. Start with the Rose Show proper where you can lose yourself among hundreds of rose varieties and top-flight specimens. Later, there is the Standard Flower Show, which is anything but standard. Meander through plant displays highlighting those native to southwest Georgia including bottlebrush, red buckeye, and red maple. In addition to the flower shows, highlights from the festival include an elegant plantation ball, live music, parades, food, and more. Admission is free although a modest donation ($5) is appreciated.
Asheville, North Carolina, Year-round, outdoor gardens May through November
While Biltmore does not currently host an annual flower show, the historic estate gardens are exceptional in their scope and quality, and comparable to the best flower shows around. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the gardens nearly breathe with color and splendor.
Indeed, there is something regal to the display, regardless of time of year: poppies and snapdragons in the spring; roses, rhododendrons, and perennials throughout the summer; chrysanthemums in early fall — the list goes on and on. With six separate gardens, adjacent grounds, and a conservatory housing exotic orchids and tropical displays in the off-season, there is a full day or more of blooms to take in. Admission to the house and gardens is a relatively steep $69, but by all accounts, well worth it. For ticket information go here. (For more on Biltmore and surrounding area, go here.
Greenwood, South Carolina, June
Now in its 53rd year, the South Carolina Festival of Flowers draws gardening aficionados from around the country — and for good reason. Aside from the extraordinary gardens and vegetation on display, the festival features a larger than live “living topiary” exhibit that includes elegantly sculptured animals, butterflies, and vehicles. Named “Event of the Year” by the South Carolina Festival and Events Association in 2019 and one of Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events for 10 years running, this one is a must see. Many of the events are free, but see the website for additional information.