“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – Lord Buddha
We would probably have to read Buddhist scriptures to know exactly what the deity meant with the quote, but one thing is for sure, the sight of flowers has the power to bring an instant smile to our face. You gift somebody even a single flower, and their mood changes at once. Imagine what seeing millions of flowers would do to you. It would not only lift your spirit, but also fill you with love and respect for nature. Flowers make even the bleakest of places colourful, vibrant and great to look at. And, the scent they radiate stimulates our senses like nothing else. Imagining standing in a vast field of flowers has made me want to go to such a place; hence, I have come up with a bucket list of such destinations around the world.
Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand – On UNESCO’s List
The Valley of Flowers needs no introduction; after all it is the most famous site for flower viewing in the country. It is a valley, situated at an elevation of roughly 12000 feet above sea level in Uttarakhand. In 1993, the total number of alpine plant species in the valley was found to be 520. After being covered by snow for almost half the year, the valley springs to life in June, when flowers of all shapes, sizes and colours begin to blossom. The slopes transform from a white magnificence to a sea of colours. In the next three months, flowers of various species bloom and fall, changing the landscape’s look continuously. The fact that it is a UNESCO World Heritage site should tell you of its significance.
Ueno Park, Tokyo – The City’s Garland
Located in the eponymous district of Tokyo, the approximately 133-acre Ueno Park has over 8000 trees! About 800 of them are those of cherry blossoms that bloom every year in March and April, giving the park a bright pink shade. During the festival, known as Hanami in Japanese, thousands of residents and tourists flock to the park. The norm is to have a picnic below the trees, brimming with flowers, at night or in the morning. After darkness falls, people hang paper lanterns all around to be able to see the bloom. Who would have thought that in a concrete jungle like Tokyo, you would see such a natural phenomenon?!
Keukenhof Gardens, Netherlands – The World’s Tulip Capital
Keukenhof is one of the largest plantations of flowers anywhere on earth, with official reports stating that over 7 million buds are planted here every year! All these flowers of the spring bloom between March and May, so that’s the time when you should visit it. Tulips that are the park’s main highlight spring to their full glory in April. Another highlight of the park is that it is not just 80 acres of land, completely covered with colourful flowers. The venue comprises a number of gardens like the English-style park, which has tulips planted in the shape of a winding path; and the nature garden, where you will see numerous ponds. Tall trees and lush lawns contrast the blue, red, yellow and white flowers, resulting in an even greater aesthetic appeal.
Provence, France – A Fragrant Paradise
Between June and August, the grassland-like plains of Provence take on a purplish-pink or pinkish-purple shade (depends on how you see it) as lavender flowers bloom in all their glory. The best sites to see the magic and breathe in its soothing scent are the plateaus of Sault and Valensole. You cannot just see and smell the flowers, but also tour local distilleries. If you want to visit a distillery, then I suggest you visit Provence before mid-July as harvesting starts then and the farm owners remain incredibly busy during it.
Halle Forest, Belgium – Where the Land Wears Blue
The 1360-acre Halle Forest of Belgium is yet another enchanting place to go if you love flowers. In March and April, the entire forest floor is carpeted with a dark blue colour, thanks to the millions of blossoming bluebells. At dawn or dusk, the fleeting sunlight, coming through the narrow spaces among beech trees, illuminates the blue realm softly, making for a truly spell-binding sight. An interesting thing is that dark blue is not the bluebells’ actual colour, but a result of the sunlight not being able to reach the flower bed properly because of the leafy beeches. What makes the scene a bit mysterious is the fog, present on some days. Official maps are available with clearly marked paths for you to walk on.
Munnar, Kerala – A Once-in-a-twelve-year Opportunity
Most travel to Munnar for its cool weather and lush tea plantations, and often on their honeymoon. But, it is also a great place for those, who love flowers, a quality of it, which is relatively lesser known. From August to October, the neelakurinji flower blossoms on the hills by the millions. The most common colour of the flower is blue; hence, the name neela, but it can also range from pink to slightly purple. It creates a rich visual contrast, as the meadows, where the flowers bloom, are bright green. This spectacle is more celebrated than some other flower blooms as it happens once in 12 years! The last blossoming happened in 2006, so if you want to see the phenomenon, you will have to plan a trip in 2018.
Antelope Valley, USA – An Unlikely Place for a Flower Bloom
The Antelope Valley in the US state of California is home to Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, where uncountable orange poppy flowers come to life between February and May. Your eyes would open wide at the fact that the bloom happens in a desert! Yes, the Mojave Desert…Even I was fascinated as I had never associated such an arid place with flowers. And, consider the fact that the desert is also home to the Death Valley, the driest place in the USA (if you watch WWE, then you would be familiar with the place as The Undertaker is supposed to belong from there). It is not just poppies that grow here, but other flowers like lupines, owls’ clovers, cream cups, goldfields and coreopsis as well. Orange, yellow and violet shades on the green grass make for a really photogenic scene.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, USA – Perhaps the Most Colourful Desert Ever
If you found the Antelope Valley of the Mojave Desert intriguing, then prepare to have your mind blown because Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in the Colorado Desert is an even better place. Flowers of whichever colour you want to see, you will probably see here as there are just so many species. Just time your trip between December and March to be mesmerised by this natural phenomenon. Species like agave, silver puffs, spiny senna, Borrego bedstraw and Parish’s poppy give the desert a bright yellow hue, whereas ironwood, wolf’s cholla, Ocotillo, Claret Cup Cactus and Woolly Indian paintbrush paint it in a crimson red colour.
Similarly, a violet shade is imparted to the site by hairy ceanothus, indigo bush, Parish’s desert-thorn and Sand Verbena. Flowers like Arizona wrightwort, desert nemacladus, star gilia and desert chicory give the place white elegance, whereas fringed spineflower, Engelmann’s hedgehog cactus, pink fairy duster and Bigelow’s monkeyflower make the landscape vibrantly pink. There are many more species of many more colours that grow in the desert.
Umbria, Italy – The Grand Flowering
Located at the foot of the Apennine Mountains, the region of Umbria is known for the annual Fiorita di Castelluccio di Norcia, meaning the flowering of Castelluccio di Norcia. A small village in the province of Perugia, Castelluccio di Norcia buzzes with tourists in May, June and July, who come here to view the annual blossoming of various species of flowers. Lentil flowers bathe the grassy meadows in a bright yellow shade, much like a mustard field. The purple hue of gentianellas, gentian, eugenia, and violets, bright red shades of poppies and rose hips, yellowish white colour of narcissuses, snowdrops and asphodels, bright green tinge of clovers, and sharp pinkness of oxalis and peonies make for a wonderful scene that would really make you smile. Daffodils and buttercups illuminate the place in yellow, adding further to this already rich sea of colours.
Yumthang Valley, Sikkim – India’s Rhododendron Capital
The Yumthang Valley, located at an altitude of about 11800 feet in the Eastern Himalayas, is another great place for flower lovers. It remains snow-bound between December and March, but the spring season brings an altogether different charm. As the snow melts, various wild flowers bloom, painting the valley with different shades. The most significant flower of the valley is rhododendron, which can be scarlet, pale violet, bright pink, clear white and even maroon. The valley is also home to Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, where 24 species of the flower are found. Did you know that rhododendrons purify your blood and that you can just eat them as they are?
Apart from rhododendrons, primulas are other flowers of the valley that have various colours like maroon, dark purple, blue, yellow, orange and white. The colourfulness of the valley is further enhanced by violet irises, yellow primroses and cinquefoils, pink louseworts, and white and yellow avens. There are loads of more flowers that grow here between February and June.
So, this is my bucket list of the best places around the world to see flower blossoms, and I will try to visit at least the places in India. I’ll make sure I take lots of photos because just talking about them wouldn’t do them justice.