About Ellen Park

Ellen Park

Ellen Park has been gardening ever since she discovered playing in the dirt was more fun than digging in the sandbox. In her blog, Road Trips for Gardeners, she covers the world looking for plant-centric events, flower shows, great gardens and places to see the best things growing.

Latest Posts by Ellen Park

The Cultural Arts of Japan Exhibit in Santa Ana California’s Bower Museum

September 4, 2014 by  


california_santa-ana_bonsai“The Bonsai Tradition: Cultural Arts of Japan” will be on exhibit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. September 23 through 28, 2014, at the Bowers Museum, John M. Lee Court, 2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, California.

It features bonsai trees shaped by members Kofu Bonsai Kai and special presentations. Dr. Thomas Elias speaks on “Viewing Stones of North America” at 1:30 p.m. September 27, and Dr. Kendall Brown discusses “Japanese Art Deco” at 2 p.m. September 28.

(Photo courtesy of Bowers Museum)

Glass Artist Dale Chihuly Has Sculpture Exhibition in Denver

July 12, 2014 by  


chihuly-dale_turquoise reedsBefore he’s done, glass artist Dale Chihuly will have had installations in every major botanical garden from coast to coast.

Now it’s Colorado’s turn. The Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, Denver, Colorado, has opened an exhibition of Chihuly’s sculptures on its 24-acre campus. The display opened earlier this month and continues through November 30, 2014.

Chihuly is credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of the glass medium from the realm of craft to fine art.

Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin. He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program and taught for more than a decade.

In 1968, after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, he went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice. There he observed the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today. In 1971, Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. With this international glass center, Chihuly has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art.

His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including twelve honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Chihuly’s lifelong fascination for glasshouses has grown into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings. His Garden Cycle began in 2001 at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. Chihuly exhibited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London, in 2005. Other major exhibition venues include the de Young Museum in San Francisco, in 2008; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2011; and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, in 2013. Chihuly Garden and Glass, a long-term exhibition, opened at Seattle Center in 2012.

Here’s a video about the installation in Denver:

(Photo and video courtesy of Denver Botanic Garden)

The Big, The Small & Not So Ugly Contest at the Minnesota Garlic Festival

July 5, 2014 by  


minnesota_garlic-festivalThe Big, The Small and The Not-So-Ugly Contest at the Minnesota Garlic Festival is for…garlic (not its growers). The growing, however, has to be done in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, South Dakota or Iowa.

There will be prizes for “best in show” and “smallest heads” overall, and prizes for the “biggest heads” in each of 10 garlic categories: Artichoke, Asiatic, Creole, Glazed Purple Stripe, Marbled Purple Stripe, Porcelain, Purple Stripe, Rocambole, Silverskin and Turban.

The judging — and the rest of the fest — takes place August 9, 2014, at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Minnesota, on August 9, 2014. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It’s all sponsored by the Sustainable Farming Association.

The Annual Flying Colors Butterfly Festival in Roswell Georgia

June 10, 2014 by  


The 15th annual Flying Colors Butterfly Festival was held on June 7 and 8, 2014, in the Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Road Roswell, Georgia.  Attendees were able to take in “fluttering flowers” in a walk-through exhibit filled with hundreds of free-flying butterflies.

  • Butterfly Crafts and Face Painting – Crafts for adults and kids, who can also get their faces painted with beautiful butterflies and creepy caterpillars!
  • Butterfly Sidewalk Art – Butterflies provide the perfect inspiration for our on-going art project. Create a “butterfly path” from the Ben Brady Lakeside Pavilion all the way to the “fairy village!”
  • Fairy House Construction – Fairies are among us. Visitors were able to build a fairy house or gnome home during the Butterfly Festival. Fairy houses and gnome homes are made from nature objects for real and imaginary creatures.
  • Butterfly and Caterpillar Costume Parade – People were able to join in on a butterfly parade at the end of festival each day with grand marshal Ms. Chrysalis!
  • Kathy Walton of Steel Arts– Recycled steel whimsical yard art and sculptures!
  • Mary’s Garden Cottages– Butterfly puddlers, fairy and woodland cottages, toad houses, small planters & more!
  • The Eclectic Oddyssey + HAS Design– Eclectic environmentally friendly arts and crafts. Butterfly and insect jewelry, candles, coasters, tutus and so much more! Items are recycled, reused, all natural and/or humanely obtained.
  • Sweet Brown Sludge – Hair and skin care products that are hand made from all natural ingredients like aloe vera, brown sugar, marshmallow root and slippery elm extracts.
  • Handcrafted in Georgia – Walking sticks, butterfly wind chimes, dream catchers and handcrafted jewelry.
  • Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area – Visitors could learn about the various butterflies found along the Chattahoochee River, how they are related, and about their life cycle! Take a Butterfly Checklist with you and start keeping a life list of the different species in the river’s corridor.
  • Webbington’s LLC – All Natural, low sugar, jams, jellies and preserves using raw honey and sugar for sweetness.


Photo credit: Jonathon Phillips.

Some of the Top Botanic Gardens in Scotland

June 5, 2014 by  


You might think that the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh is its only location in Scotland. Nope. It’s just first among four, all in the southern part of Scotland.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, Scotland, is open daily (except December 25 and January 1). It was founded in 1670 as a physic garden (herb garden with medicinal plants) on a mall patch of ground at Holyrood Park no bigger than a tennis court. After intermediate stops, it moved to Inverleith in 1820 and is about a mile from the city center. There are more than 70 acres to explore.

The physic garden’s modern incarnation, the herbarium, is the subject of a tour at 2 p.m. March 14, 2014. Visitors will learn about the diversity and significance of the Garden’s collection of almost 3 million plant specimens. It’s part of the Herbarium Building’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2014.

By the way, if you’re headed to Scotland right now — it’s not true that nothing blooms in winter. The Edinburgh gardens have winter-flowering trees and shrubs such as Mahonia and the evergreen Christmas box, a bank of winter-flowering viburnums and a lawn surrounded by Chinese and Japanese witch hazels, which flower from about December to March.

Of course, the gardens come into their own in spring — first with snowdrop trees (Halesia carolina) and rhododendrons, and then with lilacs, primula and Himalayan poppies (Meconopsis).

*The Benmore Botanic Garden, Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland, is set within the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and the Argyll Forest Park, about seven miles north of Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsula. A mountainside garden, it’s open daily from March 1 through October 31. (photo above)

Signature feature is its Victorian Fernery. The one at Benmore was built at the height of the Victorian craze for ferneries. Another highlight is the avenue of Sierra redwoods, a tree native to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.

*Dawyck Botanic Garden, Stobo, Near Peebles, Scottish Borders, is about 28 miles south of Edinburgh. An arboretum, it is open daily from February 1 through November 30.

The Swiss Bridge is the Garden’s defining landmark. On one side of the bridge is the Kalopanax, a tree member of the ivy family. Opposite is what’s believed to be one of the original Douglas firs at Dawyck. Upstream are the falls of Scrape Burn which is flanked by a cascade of snowdrops in spring.

*Logan Botanic Garden, Port Logan, Stranraer, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, is found at the southwestern tip of Scotland: 14 miles south of Stranraer in the Rhins of Galloway. (Note: Logan Botanic Garden is NOT the same place as Logan House Gardens.)

Warmed by the Gulf Stream, southern hemisphere plants flourish in the country’s most exotic garden. It’s open daily from March 15 through October 31 — plus Sundays in February. A walled garden, it includes cabbage palms, Chusan palms and tree ferns. The atmosphere on a sunny day is said to be quite tropical.

Photo credit: Garden Visit.com.

The Annual Mint Festival in North Judson Indiana

May 3, 2014 by  


mintA tour of a commercial mint farm and a “cooking with mint” contest are two of the many herb-centric activities at the Mint Festival in North Judson, Indiana.

It’s set for June 13 through 15, 2014, centered at Lane Street and North Judson Park.

The theme for the 37th annual event is “Mint Is Supreme in 2014!”

There’s no admission charge.

(Photo by Daniel Battiston)

Flower Tourism is Thriving in China

April 25, 2014 by  



“People love flowers as they represent beauty,” said Xiong Yuanbin of central China’s Wuhan University. “The love for beauty is almost a human instinct.”

Besides the more mundane options of visiting historical or cultural sites, making a trip to see flowers has become quite the rage among the Chinese public in recent years, but turning flower tourism into a world-class item in China is still some way off.

Every Spring tourists congregate at flourishing destinations such as Kunming in the southwest and Wuyuan in the east, to view magnificent spectacles of rape flowers, cherry and peach blossom, and tulips. The improved high-speed railway network makes such trips fast and convenient.

This is a trend local governments are delighted to encourage, as it contributes more to a city than just the obvious economic benefits.

Famed for its cherry trees, for many Wuhan University has become a must-see every March. The campus was crowded with 50,000 visitors a day during the flowering season last year. This year, authorities capped the daily limit at 40,000.

In 2013, Wuhan attracted 170 million domestic and foreign visitors and many came for the city’s “five flowers”: cherry blossom, azalea, lotus, peony and plum blossom. Always keen to maximize the allure of the flowers, the city came up with idea of making the most of arguably China’s best known athlete, tennis player Li Na, by placing a life-size wax statue of her in some popular parks.

Ingenuity aside, flower tourism remains somewhat under-exploited. In contrast, vibrant flower tourism industries such as cherry blossom in Japan, lavender in France and tulips in the Netherlands, nurture brands with an emphasis on eco-protection, an aspect, according to Long, almost entirely overlooked in China. Pictures of domestic beauty spots strewn with garbage after the scourge of visitors often make the post-holiday headlines.

Thanks to this disparity between domestic and international environment, Chinese tourists making overseas flower trips have been on the rise.

Many wedding photography agencies said bookings are full for this year’s shooting at Japan’s April cherry blossom and France’s July lavender.

“China’s flower tourism has tremendous potential but it has to look beyond immediate gains and give due attention to the environment. We have to learn to invest our various flowers with distinctive cultural elements,” said Li.

In China, the peony has a rich history and cultural tradition behind it, but not enough is done to make this known to foreign visitors. Consequently, the iconic bloom is unable to serve as a ready source of income, like tulip for the Netherlands, he added.

Prince Edward Island’s Points East Tulip Festival

April 8, 2014 by  


canada_pei_upick-tulipsThere’s nothing quite like a tulip festival where you can pick the flowers.

That’s the promise of the Points East Coastal Drive’s You-Pick Tulip Fields from May 9 through 31, 2014.

Head to Balderston’s Farm Market, 10897 Trans Canada Highway, Stratford, Prince Edward Island, Canada, for one of Atlantic Canada’s largest fields of Vanco Farms tulips.

(Photo courtesy of The Points East Tulip Festival)

Next Page »