Flower Travel – A Bloom Time Guide

Want to attend the violet festival in France? Or see the blue poppies in Bhutan? Or view the carpet of wildflowers in Namaqualand, South Africa?

Yes? Then you need to know when these flowers bloom in those locations. Researching bloom times for your next trip is the pivotal point of including flowers in your itinerary. It’s the “when” of destination research and it is more than just which hemisphere and what season. The bloom times of flowering plants are affected by many things, including the climatic determinates of the previous season (late spring, excess rainfall, drought, etc.), however, they also have an established pattern for blooming in their location. Find that pattern and you will be seeing flowers wherever you travel.

Many parts of the world offer spectacular displays of floral beauty as commercially-grown crops or as wildflowers. For the do-it-yourself destination researcher, basing your itinerary on what’s blooming when means choosing locations that are known for their flowers–either their abundance or their uniqueness–and planning your trip around this blooming event.

Use Flower Crops as an Attraction on Your Trip

There is the beauty of fields of commercially-grown flowers that can stop even a floral ignoramus in their tracks. Lavender is a good example: lavender is grown all over the world, so if you miss the blooming fields in June in Croatia, France, the Channel Isles, England, and Washington State, you can still catch them in Japan in July, Tasmania in December, or New Zealand in January!

Flowers are a world-wide commodity. There are the tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths grown in Holland (April), Michigan (May), and Tasmania (October) for the cut-flower/bulb market. The florists’ roses bloom most of the year in Colombia and Ecuador. And the rose fields in Turkey and Bulgaria are the sources of the world’s supply of rose petals and rose oil–can you imagine the scented air surrounding those fields?

Perhaps not your primary destination, the following places would still be worth a stop if you are in the neighborhood, so to speak: the commercial fields of narcissus on the Isles of Scilly; saffron crocus in Spain and Iran; coffee plantations in India, Costa Rica, and many other countries; and pink, opium poppies in Tasmania. All provide a delicate, sweet fragrance to the air. And although not a commodity, the cherry blossoms in Japan are certainly a commercial success for the tourism industry.

Add Wildflowers into Your Itinerary

Time your travels to view Mother Nature’s spectacular displays of ephemeral beauty: wildflowers. Everyone raves about the wildflowers they saw on their trip, but if you haven’t done your research, you might hear the phrase, “You just missed the flowers!”

Almost every place on the planet has wildflowers; many have become the source of our garden plants and field crops. A meadow, hillside, or other open space filled with a variety of wildflowers is a great memory of your trip; different colors, shapes and heights add another dimension to the natural landscape.

Wildflowers are not limited to summer in the temperate zones. Alpine flowers are also wildflowers that grow closer to the ground at the higher elevations around the world and can include what we call rock garden plants. Flowering plants such as the sea pinks of Portugal, rock samphire on the Isle of Wight, and the varieties of thyme growing throughout the Mediterranean bring color and interest to their native, harsh environments.

Marshes are another open space that provides a bounty of wildflowers. The marshes of Estonia and Jersey in the Channel Isles support orchids, lilies, and primulas. Bogs in Iceland hold beautiful cotton grass while those in Norway feature a variety of orchids. And pastel-colored water lilies sprout year ’round in the lakes and ponds of Vietnam.

Coastal clifftops and dunes also provide a habitat for some of our favorite flowers. The sea lavender of the Azores, foxgloves of the Channel Isles, portulaca from the Galapagos, and the forget-me-nots of Alaska are just a few examples of these now-common garden plants.

Use Unique Flowers as a Focal Point of Your Trip

Timing your travels to include the floral display at your destination can increase your enjoyment of your trip. You might be visiting San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and admiring the Spanish Colonial architecture, but it’s the blooming jacaranda trees surrounding the buildings and throughout the plazas that take your breath away. Or you are in Tokyo in April and come across the Kameido Tenjin Shrine covered with 100 wisteria plants on 15 trellises that were planted 320 years ago. At either location, the perfumed air and the lavender-colored light from so many purple flowers will create a scene (and a scent) that you’ll never forget.

In certain latitudes, some flowers bloom almost year ’round (bougainvillea, jasmine, orchids), so you can be assured of a good floral display whatever time you choose. In addition, these places almost always have some unusual flower that you can plan your trip around. Here’s an example: The ylang ylang plantations on Nosy Be, Madagascar, bloom most of the year, so enjoying their intense aroma and beautiful flowers would already be on your itinerary when you travel to the island to see the black orchid, which only blooms from December to January.

Here are three examples of planning your itinerary around viewing flowers that are known for their uniqueness:
1) If you want to see the silversword in bloom in Maui’s Haleakala Crater–the only place on the planet where it grows–you will have to be there between August and December.
2) You are on safari in Kenya in January, when the white tissue flowers cover the Masai Mara, and you have made sure you include Tanzania in your trip planning in order to see the original African violets in bloom (only between September and March).
3) If you go to Kunming, China, in the spring you will see the Plum Flower Festival, which is also during the Chinese New Year. While you are there, be sure to see the 500 to 800-year-old camellia tree at the Golden Temple in bloom–in February.

Use Flower Festivals as a Marker for Your Planning

Festival times are one of the best ways to determine the flora of an area. If there’s a festival for a flower, then its bloom time is fairly predictable. So a good marker in planning your itinerary is finding out the month a flower festival is held in your chosen destination.

But, here’s the problem: there’s a flower festival somewhere around the world every month! The violet festivals in both France and Japan and the lilac festivals in New York and Michigan compete with the Mimosa Festival in France, the Crabapple Festival in Nanjing, the Rhododendron Festival in Australia, and the Iris Festival in Japan.

The solution? More travel, of course. You’ll just have to research your travel destinations more thoroughly to see the world in bloom.

Kodaikanal Travel Guide – Check Out The Gift Of The Forest

Kodaikanal is one of the beautiful hill stations in Tamil Nadu marked by enchanting waterfalls, beautiful lakes and many more attractions. It is also rich in flora and fauna. The place is located at an altitude of 7200 feet above mean sea level. This has been one of the favorite honeymoon destinations of the young couples for ages. Any nature lover is sure to be taken away by the charms it has in store.

Kodaikanal literally means the gift of the forest. It has dense vegetations with various types of trees and shrubs growing in abundance. The visitors of Kodaikanal would love to purchase the pure eucalyptus oil, homemade chocolates, fresh vegetables and fruits like plums, pears and carrots. The kurinji flower that blossoms once in twelve years is one of the attractions of this place.

If you want to reach Kodaikanal by air, then the nearest airports are located in Trichirapalli, Madurai and Coimbatore. If you want to reach by train then you have to stop at Kodai Road at a distance of 100 kilometers from Kodaikanal. However there are frequent buses to the town from Dindigul and Palani and from many other places of Tamil Nadu.

There are many places of interest in Kodaikanal namely Berijam Lake, Coakers Walk, Bryant Park, Kodai Lake, Kurinjiandavar Temple, Green Valley View, Pillar Rocks, Silent Valley View, Devil’s Kitchen, Guna Caves and Pine Forest. The pine forests and the exotic vegetation of Kodaikanal are real feast for the eyes.

You can enjoy boating at the Kodai Lake and these are available at per hour basis. Trekking and cycling around are other activities that you can enjoy here. Horse riding is available at the entrance to the boat club and you can rent a horse if you want to enjoy the ride. The kids would love to explore the Fun Park near the Fairy Falls.

Though there are many good hotels in Kodaikanal, staying in cottage or bungalow would give you a unique adventure. If you prefer Kodaikanal hotels near the lake it will be easier for you to have nice walk in the evening time. There are some best budget hotels near the Coakers Walk. If your choice is a splurge then, Carlton Hotel will give you a comfortable stay with a great view of the lake.

There are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian restaurants in Kodaikanal. The noodles and soup varieties served at the Royal Tibet and the mouth watering and authentic Tibetan and Chinese foods at Tibetan Brothers and pastry, cakes and tea at the Pastry Corner will melt into your mouth. A good Kodaikanal travel guide will help you to pick out the right Kodaikanal hotels and Kodaikanal restaurants during your stay. You can enjoy the ecological lifestyle, tour around the Potters Shed to have a look at and buy the crockery and artifacts and relish the herbal teas and mouth watering chocolates of this exotic location.

Hangzhou Travel – Solitary Hill

Of all the travel spots commonly listed in Hangzhou, the Solitary Hill is the only one actually on the lake itself. Unlike the other travel spots, you do not need to buy a ticket to see Solitary Hill, there are no opening times and you can include it in your walk around West Lake.

The Facts

The hill stands alone on the lake surrounded by water so it was called Solitary Hill. It is also a place of solitude for ancient poets and scholars.

The peak of the hill is 38 meters above sea level and easily scaled making Solitary Hill more of an island with a bump than a real hill. It is the only natural island in West Lake.

Points of Interest

There is (to me) no one particular point of interest there that stands out as a must see. There are a number of points that are worth visiting as you make your way round the island.

Ancient Palaces – This part of Hangzhou was the home of three ancient imperial palaces. Emperor Lizhong of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) had their palaces on Solitary Hill. You can see the foundations of these palaces as you walk around the island and some of the older foundations have been enclosed in protective display cases.

Tomb of Qiu Jin – Qiu Jin was a famous female revolutionary at the end of the Qing Dynasty. Qiu Jin was a member of a revolutionary society dedicated to the overthrow of the corrupt Manchu government. She was caught and beheaded in 1907, only 5 years before the formation of the Republic of China in 1912.

Lin Bu’s Tomb – Lin Bu is one of the well known poets of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1227) who chose to live at Solitary Hill in isolation. Ironically he was a poet of the reclusive school/field of poetry.

Crane Pavilion – Also called the Tending Crane Pavilion. Lin Heqing, a famous poet from the Song Dynasty lived in seclusion at Solitary Hill where he tended plum trees and a crane. The Crane Pavilion was built in his memory.

Getting There

Solitary Hill is located at the northern end of West Lake and can be accessed from the eastern side by Bai Cause Way and from the western side by a bridge near the Temple of General Yue Fei and near the beginning of the Su Causeway.

You can ride onto the island and access most parts by bike and there are bike stations at the causeway entrance. You can also catch the K7, 81 and 850 public buses and the Y9 tourist bus.