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

Infiorata di Genzano, Italy’s Festival of Flowers

June 4, 2015 by  


italy-rome-genzano_infiorataA dazzling carpet of colored flowers transformed into portraits, religious images and abstract designs stretches along the main street in Genzano, Italy, one of Rome’s hill towns, June 13, 14 and 15, 2015.

The Infiorata is held for three days each year in June (the date varies depending on Easter) and encompasses the town’s main boulevard, 17th century Via Belardi, with a long “carpet” of 500,000 flower petals, blooms and seeds meticulously arranged in 15 brightly-colored panels that are connected to each other by frames of green leaves.

Many Italian towns hold an Infiorata, the festival of flowers that traces its beginnings in Italy to the 13th century but the one in Genzano is said to be the country’s largest.

The official year of origin of the Genzano festival is 1778, when it was started to celebrate Corpus Christi (Latin for “body of Christ”). It’s a high holy day in the Roman Catholic church celebrating the Eucharist, perceived by Catholics as the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Genzano is one of the historic towns that make up Castelli Romani, which literally means “Roman castles” but is the name that designates the area in the Alban hills to the southeast of Rome.

The official website is only in Italian, so you may want to check out the Fest300 page as well.

Here’s a video of a previous “carpet”:

(Photo courtesy of Fototeca ENIT)

The Annual Spring Montreux Narcissus Festival in Switzerland

April 28, 2015 by  


switzerland_montreux_fete-des-arcissexEvery spring, fields of wild narcissus bloom and transform the meadows above Montreux and Vevey, Switzerland, into what locals call Neige de Mai, the “May snow.”

Between 1897 and 1957, the white blossoms were celebrated with the yearly Narcissus Festival, which culminated in a procession of floral floats that signified the end of the traditional high season in Montreux.

From May 2 to June 7, 2015, that tradition will be revived when the Fête des Narcisses is held once again in the Montreux Riviera after a 58 year pause.

The highlight will be May 30, when a floral float parade moves through the streets of Montreux, evoking the festival’s golden years.

There will be marked mountain trails through the blooming fields, set against a dramatic backdrop of Lake Geneva and the Alps.

The history of the festival, which began in the Belle Époque, will be honored by exhibitions in Montreux, La Tour-de-Peilz and Vevey. A folkloric market in Vevey will offer traditional wares associated with the festival, and the finale will be a gala evening and the election of the “Narcissus Queen” in Montreux.

(Photo courtesy of La Fête des Narcisses)

Les Rendez-Vous aux Jardins Throughout France in Early June

April 14, 2015 by  


france_rendez-vous-aux-jardinsIf heading to France in June, Les Rendez-Vous aux Jardins takes place June 5, 6 and 7, 2015, all across the country.

More than 2,300 gardens in France will be offering a wide variety of activities, including guided tours, workshops, reading, educational walks, performances, special lighting, late evening openings hours and performances.

This year, for its 13th edition, the theme of Rendez-Vous aux Jardins is “the garden walk” — encouraging visitors to wander.

(Photo of Auffay Parc du château de Bosmelet in Haute Normandie courtesy of Ministry of Culture and Communication of France)

National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC

April 5, 2015 by  


washingtonDC_cherry-blossom_2015-posterThe 103rd National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., takes place March 20 through April 12, 2015.

The plantings of the cherry blossom trees originated as a gift in 1912 from the people of Japan to the United States as gesture of friendship and goodwill. Since then, the number of trees has expanded to approximately 3,750 trees of 16 varieties on National Park Service land.

Where to go to see ‘em? The cherry blossom trees currently grow in three National Park Service locations: around the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park (Hains Point), and on the Washington Monument grounds.

The actual peak bloom time is up to Mother Nature. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is planned to coincide as nearly as possible with the blooming of the trees. Peak Bloom Date is defined as the day on which 70 percent of the blossoms of the Yoshino cherry trees are open. The date when the Yoshino cherry blossoms reach peak bloom varies from year to year, depending on weather conditions.

The mean date of blooming is April 4, but nature is not always cooperative and the National Park Service horticulturists cannot make an accurate prediction much more than 10 days prior. The blooming period starts several days before the Peak Bloom Date and can last as long as 14 days; however, frost or high temperatures combined with wind and/or rain can shorten this period.

The Festival is organized by the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

About the image: The 2015 Official Artist is Jing Jing Tsong, from the Big Island, Hawaii. She is known for her illustration work that combines traditional printmaking and digital techniques to create vibrant compositions of color, pattern and texture. Jing Jing created a one-of-a-kind piece exclusively for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. An annual collector’s item, the artwork will be on the official poster, on sale now, and various merchandise.

The Riverbanks Orchid Festival in South Carolina

January 4, 2015 by  


southcarolina_west-columbia_orchidAre you driving in the American Southeast in early February or can?

If so, swing by Riverbanks Orchid Festival, sponsored by the South Carolina Orchid Society.

It takes place February 6 through 8, 2015, in the Botanical Garden Visitors Center, Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Garden, 1300 Botanical Garden Parkway, West Columbia, South Carolina. Hours each day are 1 to 4:30 p.m.

(Photo courtesy of South Carolina Orchid Society)

Nature Lovers Have a Wealth of Gardens to Explore in the Czech Republic

December 27, 2014 by  


czech-republic_botanicus Nature lovers have a wealth of gardens to explore in the Czech Republic.

The Flower Garden in Kromeriz ranks among the most precious of gardens in the Czech Republic. It was built in the 17th century on 16 hectares with the central Rotunda, roads in high espaliers and a 244-metre long gallery of statues of ancient gods and historical characters.

The Cestny dvur/Honorable Courtyard from the mid-19th century is surrounded by two big greenhouses with a valuable collection of tropical and subtropical flora. This complex flora was listed in the List of the World Heritage Sites UNESCO.

The gardens at Prague Castle and Palace Gardens rank among the most frequently visited ones because they connect Prague Castle and Lesser Town. Many cultural and social events take place in the representative area and you can even have a wedding ceremony there.

The St. Wenceslas Vineyard and Villa Richter have been in the spotlight since 2008 when it was completely reconstructed. According to legend, it is the oldest vineyard in Bohemia where duke Wenceslas, the patron of Bohemia, cultivated “God’s vineyard”.

You can visit another UNESCO site, which can be found several kilometres south of Prague – the Pruhonice park, which is a top landscape work in Europe. The Botic Brook and its tributaries with weirs, overflows and blind arms play a great role here.

The adaptations as well as Podzámecký, Labeška and Borín ponds increase air humidity, which positively influences the growing of coniferous trees and rhododendrons. There are about 1,600 species of Czech and exotic woody plants and the exceptional collection of rhododendrons consists of about 8,000 pieces of 100 species and cultivated varieties. Apart from them, several Czech fairy-tales have made the Pruhonice park popular.

The lovey latmosphere of Lednice castle is supported by a French park and English garden with romantic buildings – a minaret, waterworks, aqueduct and many more. A chateau pond with 15 little islands was built there as well. The first exotic woody plants were brought here in the late 18th century and they served as the base for a unique collection of North-American woody plants.

The park is traversed by a circular route of almost four kilometres. You can even go on boat trips in the park from April to the end of November. The chateau in Lednice belongs to the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape of almost 300 km2.

There are numerous special gardens and parks in the Czech Republic. The Prague Botanic Garden with the Fata Morgana greenhouse, French Garden of the Kratochvíle Chateau, Botanical Garden of Medical Plants in Hradec Králové, Herbal Garden Botanicus in Ostrá by Lysá nad Labem.

(Photo courtesy of Botanicus)

Contributed by Czech Tourism

The Spring Ballarat Begonia Festival Down Under

December 14, 2014 by  


If you’re heading Down Under early next year or CAN, Melbourne should be on your agenda. Consider a swing out to the Ballarat Begonia Festival.

Winner of the 2014 Best Regional Event in Victoria and the national title of Australia’s Favourite Event, the Ballarat Begonia Festival is a must visit in March.

In 2015, experience an adventure in the gardens with the Begonia Display, Begonia Parade, Live Entertainment, Central Highlands Water ‘Grow Your Own Food’ program, Be Smart Choose Tap water café and schools scarecrow display. Other popular attractions returning to the festival are The Tea House, Mitchell Harris Wine Garden, APEX Art Show, NEW kids’ activities and much more.

It takes place March 7, 8 and 9, 2015, at Lake Wendouree and Ballarat Botanical Gardens, Wendouree Pde, Wendouree, Victoria, Australia. Hours each day are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

(Photo courtesy of ballarat Begonia Festival)

Tulip Cruise in the Netherlands and Belgium

December 2, 2014 by  


netherlands_keukenhofIt’s not too early to begin planning for spring travel. If tulips and other spring flowers are on your mind, consider this: Emerald Waterways has a new tour just for you.

Highlights of the Netherlands & the Beauty of Belgium cruise begins and ends in Amsterdam, circling canals through Holland and northern Belgium. The eight-day, seven-night tour begins April 6, 2015.

The tour begins with a canal cruise and walking tour along Amsterdam’s historic, cobbled streets. Also included? An excursion to Keukenhof Gardens, regarded as the most beautiful spring garden in the world and Europe’s largest (think: more than seven million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths filling close to 80 acres with color and fragrance).

In Antwerp, Belgium’s second largest city, a walking tour reveals a modern and organized city that retains an intriguing medieval heart. Bruges, once home to the world’s first stock exchange in the 13th century, looks like something out of a fairy-tale. In the Netherlands, there’ll be stops at Arnhem, Edam (a town known all over the world for its cheese) and the fishing village of Volendam.

(Photo courtesy of Emerald Waterways)

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