Top destinations for flower lovers

With our theme of flower month this month I thought I’d share some of my favorite destinations to experience the most incredible gardens and blooms as well as some of my favorite flower and garden experts. I realize that we probably can’t travel quite yet so bookmark these babies for your someday trip.

Traveling after flowers

I’ve been extremely blessed to see some beautiful places throughout the world. I like to say that I don’t like to travel, I just like beautiful places–traveling is my vehicle for getting there. I love beautiful places so much that I’ve prioritized it over other things like an amazing wardrobe, furniture, and other fun delights and securities. I took my first trip to Europe when was 12 on tour with the Orange County Junior Orchestra after joining because I heard they were going to France and England (oh yeah, and I guess I liked the music too ;)). I had always been fascinated by the books I read as a girl that were set in beautiful places like the brooding moors in Sherlock Holmes and the floral nooks of The Secret Garden. After a few more trips to Europe, living on the East Coast, and then finally marrying a Dane and living in Denmark, I feel like I am only a bit more conversant in beautiful sites to see. I know there is so much more out there.

Santa Fe

Cloisters in NYC

Beautiful places, particularly gardens and old estates, make my heart burst. I didn’t realize how much a part of me they were until I noticed that other people couldn’t go on a run without stopping at every corner to look at the flowers. (That, and I hate running so I’ll stop whenever I can). I also started to notice that I love flowers. Like, I REALLY love flowers. I love floral fabrics, silk flowers, paper flowers, flower rugs, flower pillows, real flowers. I’m sure you’re not surprised by now 😉

With that flowery talk out of the way, I’d love to get a list going of the top places to go for flower lovers. I’ve asked a couple of people who I know have a similar affinity to flowers to share some of their favorites too, florist Sarah Winward and garden expert and BYU Museum of Art director, Mark Magleby. Additionally, I’d love to hear what YOU have to say. I haven’t found a comprehensive list anywhere, so I’m thinking this could be a help to all of us and help us create a bucket list.

ALSO! I have an idea for a documentary on this theme, so if anyone out there is a filmmaker I’d love to talk to you about it! Ha! No, really.

My favorite destinations for floral lovers

  1. Monet’s Gardens at Giverny in France. As cliche as it is, Monet is my man. I first went there when I was 13 with my orchestra. We got to perform right in the gardens! I will never forget it. I’ve been privileged to go back to Paris a few more times and always put this on my itinerary (one time I missed the train and accidentally Ubered there from Paris. It was not cheap).
  2. Tage Andersen’s residence and gardens at Gunillaberg in Sweden. You know I’ve now written about it like 5 times. Tage Andersen is pretty much a modern Monet. He looks like him and dresses like him. He bought a palace in Sweden and has turned it into his living masterpiece. They are gardens (including a patch where he’s planted 4000 bulbs) with animals and buildings topped off with his fantastical sculptures that he designs and makes himself. I’d LOVE to see a documentary about him and hoping someone makes one!
  3. Carl and Karin Larsson‘s Sundborn home and garden in Sweden. I got to go when I was first studying in Copenhagen. I’ve been a long time Carl and Karin Larsson fan and it was everything I dreamt about and more. Carl was a painter and illustrator and Karin did textiles and they filled their home with the most incredible details. You weren’t allowed to take pictures inside their home so look it up!
  4. Karen Blixen‘s home and museum in Denmark (I went a few years ago and just realized I haven’t written about it yet!). Her home is set against the ocean. It’s so serene there. Paul studied near the property.
  5. The lavender fields of Provence (My mom and I visited in 2012 and missed it by like two weeks and I was so heartbroken!)
  6. Stourhead in England. I nearly died of beauty there. It’s mostly just gardens. This is also where the new Pride and Prejudice was filmed.
  7. Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC. I think this might be the loveliest place in the world. I lived a few streets from it and had a season pass when I was going to grad school in Georgetown. That, and the cemetery next door, are pinch-yourself-I’m-dreaming worthy in spring and fall. Here’s a little post. It was created by Beatrix Farrand as commissioned by Mildred Bliss. I’ve become OBSESSED with Beatrix Farrand Read more about it here. I’ll be sharing more about her in an upcoming post!
  8. Hillwood Estate in Washington DC. The gardens are delightful and the interiors are crazy ornate.

    Portland during rhododendron season
  9. Domaine du Chaumont was a chateau and gardens that we stumbled on when we visited France a few years ago. They are the site of an International Garden Festival. When I was there in 2017, they had designated “rooms” in a large garden for different designers. It was during October so it had this magical fall quality. This is a MUST!!!!! You can read about my post here.
  10. Adleman Peony Farms and Schreiner Irises. In 2015 Paul and I visited Portland during rhododendron season. It was amazing! We took a day trip down to Salem. I had done some research and found a pocket of flower farms there. I had no idea what I as in for. If you want to be truly blown away with the variety and colors of peonies and irises, it’s a must!!! And now I see some of my favorite florists who go there regularly.
  11. Utah’s poppy fields. Utah has its own beautiful poppy fields that are off the beaten path (you can find them here). The history of how they came to be is nebulous (I’ve heard so many variations!) and I haven’t taken the time to research it properly. Photographers are pretty protective of its location because they don’t want competition, but it’s really remarkable. And a bit sad because it gets so trampled!

Last year we had a trip planned to Japan during this time and I was hoping to see flowers in another part of the world but we’ll have to do that some other time. I’d love to hear all your recs!

I asked some of my favorite flower lovers for their suggestions and here’s what they said.

Sarah Winward 

Sarah makes the loveliest arrangements. She’s got an impeccable eye so I trust her judgment!
  1. Around the end of June, purple lupin are blooming all over Iceland, they practically cover every hillside. They are up to four feet tall and the dark purple color looks amazing against the green mossy landscape.
  2. Israel has red anemone that cover lots of hillsides in the spring. I think this is so memorable for me because a red anemone isn’t the type of flower that I am used to seeing grow in the wild.
  3. Jasmine vine in New Zealand completely covers jungle areas. The smell is intoxicating and I wanted to clip entire walls of it to bring home.
  4. Locally in Utah, I love the Mt. Aire trail up Millcreek canyon. In the late summer there are wildflowers and butterflies all over the trailside.

Mark Magleby, Director of the BYU Museum of Art

Mark was my thesis instructor during my undergrad at BYU. I went on study abroad with him and his family to England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Italy, The Netherlands about a decade ago. He specializes in 18th century art and architecture and his scholarship focused on the gardens of Stourhead as well as the creation of a database of English garden history. You can see why I would turn to him!
  1. The greatest of all the English flower gardens may be Sissinghurst Castle garden with is color coordinated garden rooms.
  2. Another would be the kitchen gardens at Rousham, which are riotous with flowers in the spring and summer. The most famous parts of the garden are designed by William Kent.
  3. I also think that the herbaceous boarders are excellent at both Hampton Court and Kew Palace.
Now, what about you? I’d love to hear your recommendations and add them to my list!

2 COMMENTS

  1. The Netherlands didn’t make any of the lists. How interesting. This is one I have in my bucket list. Have any of you been there to see the tulips??

  2. The Skagit Valley tulip festival (The tulip and daffodil fields in Mt. Vernon, WA)
    The Tuileries in Paris. Also the gardens at Versailles.
    Longwood Gardens in PA.
    Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada
    The Rhododendron Trail at Callaway Gardens, GA

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