Spring is unfolding right before us, but the only problem is that many of us are self-isolating inside our homes in an effort to weather out the COVID-19 storm. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on seeing spring’s spectacular blooms. A number of gardens and public spaces around the world are documenting the blossoming of cherry blossoms, tulips, orchids and other flora in real time and capturing it via videos and photographs. Here are six to see right now.
"The Orchid Show," New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx, New York
Now in its 18th year, "The Orchid Show" has proven to be the at the top of New Yorkers’ spring to-do lists for nearly two decades, and it’s easy to see why. Every spring the New York Botanical Garden transforms its Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a sprawling glass-enclosed greenhouse, into an orchid paradise, and this year’s theme doesn’t disappoint. Called "The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope," the virtual event features floral designs by the artistic director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, who over the years has created arrangements for His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as other notable figures, and includes a tour of the facility with Marc Hachadourian, NYBG’s director of glasshouse collections and senior orchid curator. For this show, Leatham morphed each of the conservatory’s sprawling galleries into a riot of oranges, purples, pinks and reds accompanied by light installations, mirrored sculptures and overhead floral arches. In describing his concept, Leatham says, “Color is the first and most important aspect of my work, always. I want every gallery to be a different color experience, like looking into a kaleidoscope.”
National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C.
With the arrival of spring, the National Mall in the nation’s capital becomes synonymous with cherry blossoms, and this year is no different. Presented by the Trust for the National Mall and the National Cherry Blossom Festival, along with the National Parks Service, Bloom Cam is exactly what’s needed during this solemn time and serves as a way to transport viewers virtually to the city’s lush forest of 3,800 cherry trees that shrouds the Tidal Basin in a canopy of pink-and-white blossoms. The trees have been an iconic part of the landscape since 1912 when Yukio Ozaki, Tokyo’s then-mayor, gifted more than 3,000 cherry blossoms in an act of friendship between Japan and the United States. This year’s virtual festival celebrates that symbolic exchange through a range of online-specific events, including an opening ceremony featuring music by Japanese singer-songwriter Naotaro Moriyama and a tour of the Tidal Basin with a National Park Service ranger.
Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse, Netherlands
Every fall, gardeners plant approximately seven million tulip bulbs at Keukenhof, considered one of the largest flower gardens in the world. Located 25 miles southwest of Amsterdam, the “Garden of Europe” has been drawing crowds to its prolific fields of blooms since it opened to the public in 1950. While seeing the fields this year is a bit different than in years’ past, the gardens are still drawing viewers, albeit virtually, through a series of videos and other online activities, including colorful posts on the Tulip Festival Amsterdam’s Instagram and Facebook pages. Highlights include a tour with the garden’s managing director, who discusses the different types of tulips (parrot tulips, double tulips, etc.), and a walk around the Willem-Alexander Pavilion’s 1,000 flowerbeds with a gardener who has been working there for more than two decades. In addition to tulips, Keukenhof also features daffodils, hyacinths and other flowers.
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, Lancaster, California
Cruising through Lancaster, a city located about 80 miles north of Los Angeles, poppy fields are a common sight come spring. But one location is particularly fruitful when it comes to the orangish-red blooms: Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Encompassing more than 1,700 acres, poppy blooms carpet the property’s undulating hills, and the reserve has captured its peak via live camera. Although the reserve is home to numerous hiking trails, the California Department of Parks and Recreation is asking that the public not visit, but rather enjoy the flower show from home.
Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show, London, United Kingdom
While you can’t actually smell the thousands of flowers featured at the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which typically takes place for five days in May on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea, London, home-bound floral enthusiasts can still savor the sights online. Since this year’s show has been canceled, the Royal Horticultural Society has uploaded an interactive virtual tour of its 2017 show that lets viewers “walk” through the 11-acre site and experience its impressive variety of blooms, including orchids, lilies, begonias, peonies, chrysanthemums and more.
Theodore Payne Foundation’s Native Plant Garden Tour, Los Angeles, California
Normally, the Native Plant Garden Tour is a two-day festival featuring tours of some of the most astounding gardens in the greater Los Angeles area, but this year the Theodore Payne Foundation had to approach the popular event a bit differently. Through videos and photography, the foundation has captured the season in all its glory and uploaded the content for everyone to enjoy. The tour includes virtual visits to 42 gardens, including strolls through the landscapes of private homes in Santa Monica, Del Rey, Long Beach and more. Viewers can also follow along on YouTube to see the event’s “garden tour social,” that includes commentary by horticulture experts like Margaret Oakley of Oakley Gardens and Evan Meyer, executive director of the foundation.