Potted DaffodilsSpring is almost here! Each year as the days slowly lengthen and the sun begins to warm the earth, I venture forth looking for the seasonal blooms. As a professional floral designer, I turn to Mother Nature for visual inspiration. I have my favorite spots I visit every year, and places that I vow to visit someday. If you love flowers as much as I do, you’ll want to search out the flowers in your own area. Then, dash to the florist and grab some blooms to bring home and brighten your home. To get started, here are a few of my favorites. These spots are so popular, many include festivals focused on the fabulous bloom. (Hint: Visit early in the morning for the lightest crowds.)

The daffodil is one of the earliest blooms to be celebrated. In the Pacific Northwest, they begin showing their colors in late February. Each year the third weekend in March brings thousands of visitors to the Daffodil Drive Festival in Junction City, Ore. to view mile after county mile of daffodils. Soon, their sunny yellow faces will bloom with a reminder that really and truly, spring will return. To be honest, I can’t wait for the daffodils to arrive in March.  By January, my house was filled with purchased daffodils to give spring a little jump-start. 

Cherry Blossom BasketCome the end of March, I will be among the 1.5 million visitors in our nation’s capital enjoying the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The fragrance of the delicate blooms permeates the entire city. Next time you send flowers, ask your florist to create an arrangement with cherry blossoms so your loved one can enjoy their beautiful fragrance from the comfort of home.

Our Canadian friends have their own celebration with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. I visited the cherry trees in Stanley Park on my birthday one year. At the end of the blooming season, the trees had carpeted the walkways in a blanket of pink. It was a truly magical experience to walk through the park on a carpet of pink cherry blossom petals.

May, will find me visiting the Hilda Klager Lilac Festival in the Pacific Northwest. The peak of the bloom almost always coincides with Mother’s Day so it makes a wonderful family event.Lilac Basket

The prettiest and most expansive lilac gardens I’ve ever visited is Centennial Gardens on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls. And, we can’t forget the lilacs on historic Mackinac Island. The center of the Great Lakes fur trade in the 18th century, the island is home to some of the oldest lilac bushes to be found in America.  And then, (Can you tell I love lilacs?) the entire town of Fort Benton, Mont., becomes a lilac paradise in late May.  There is no formal garden — the entire town is fragrant with the blooms. One of my favorite memories is an early morning run along the Missouri River enveloped in the unending fragrance of blooming lilacs. Paradise!

In California, the Flower Fields in Carlsbad are a dazzling scene; acres upon acres of blooming ranunculus.  Viewed from the freeway, they appear as bright stripes of color on the rolling hills. But, you absolutely must stop and enjoy the flowers up close. As the year continues, so do the blooms.

The iris is celebrated at the Schreiner’s Iris Garden in Salem, Ore.  Dahlias reign supreme at Swan Island Dahlias in Canby, Ore.  And, we can’t forget the fabulous sunflower.  Let’s meet this summer in Georgia for the Sunflower Farm Festival.

What is your favorite flower festival?