Flowers, flower everywhere. And parking for motorcoaches, too. These five fresh flower farms welcome groups to stop and smell the roses, lavender or whatever is blooming in the field. Schedule time in the itinerary for a tour of the grounds. Perhaps stay to join in the fun at a festival in the honor of the area’s floral heritage, maybe a concert or a presentation that may bring out the secret gardener inside us all.
Gardens of the American Rose Center Shreveport, Louisiana
Engage all five senses and experience the world of roses at the American Rose Center, located 15 minutes from downtown Shreveport, Louisiana. On an experiential tour, groups can learn about the care, cultivation and history of the world’s most popular flowers — roses. They can also stroll the gardens and grounds that display many unique rose varieties, including test gardens and the horizon garden, which showcases some of the newest roses.
The gardens are located on a 118-acred wooded tract that is home to the national headquarters of the American Rose Society. It is the largest park in the United States that is dedicated to roses. At the end of the tour, groups will be able to engage their sense of taste with servings of roses prepared in both in tea and jelly.
Willowfield Lavender Farm
Owners and growers Kieran and Elizabeth O’Connor started their organic lavender farm in 2001. The 28-acre Willowfield Lavender Farm is located in Morgan County, near Bloomington, Indiana. The fields and farmhouse are open for tours and the gift shop includes products made from the organic lavender grown on the farm.
Products include dried bouquets, teas, soaps, lotions, sachets and lavender-blended tea. With advance notification, arrangements can be made for an owner presentation and lavender tea service.
With prior arrangement, groups may bring box lunches to enjoy on the property. Willowfield Lavender Farm produces 35 varieties of lavender. The couple tends and hand-harvests more than 2,000 plants. In season, the farm also hosts monthly summer concerts under the stars.
Valley of Flowers
Set in a scenic valley along the Central Coast of California, Lompoc offers off-the-beaten path adventures, inspiring works of art, a rich California heritage, wine tasting, and miles of fields for cut flowers. Lompoc Valley has the most consistently temperate climate on the planet.
For more than 100 years, the valley has produced flowers for seed as well as blooms. Each is celebrated at the Flower Festival in June, which draws gardeners, flower lovers and sightseers to share in the valley’s floral heritage. Sweet peas, larkspur, stock, marigolds, sunflowers and delphinium are but a few of the blooms that blanket the valley floor with color. The flower route is free to follow.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has continued Mrs. Johnson’s mission to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes. The center has 279 acres of gardens, meadows and hiking trails and includes 80 acres of research plots.
The cultivated wildflower meadows and gardens comprise 12 acres with 650 species of native Texas plants. It is one of only three gardens in the country emphasizing native plants. It displays Texas’s largest assortment of wildflowers and native plants in one spot. Guided group tours include a walking tour, as well as information regarding the history and mission of the Wildflower Center. Amenities include the Wildflower Cafe and box lunches for dining in picnic areas. There is a visitor’s gallery and a gift shop that features art, apparel and books.
Windmill Island Gardens
Something is always in bloom at Windmill Island Gardens in Holland, Michigan. The 36-acre park includes dikes, canals and gorgeous gardens. Over 104,000 tulips bloom in the spring and perennials, annuals and natural grasses grace the park the balance of the year.
Towering over the gardens of flowers, ornamentals, and statuaries, the DeZwaan windmill still produces stone-ground flour. Costumed guides lead tours of DeZwaan, the only authentic working Dutch windmill in the United States. At the gardens, find summer Dutch Dancing, Amsterdam street organ demonstrations, a Little Netherlands Miniatures display and a film about Dutch culture. Use free time to visit the gift shop for DeZwaan flour and De Zoete Haan fudge.
Motorcoach groups are asked to contact the gardens for a reservation and will be greeted by a costumed guide upon arrival. A garden tour in addition to the attractions may also be arranged.