The World’s Finest Spring Flowers

From Sweden's bluets to Washington's cherry blossoms

By / March 2013

As I sit tapping at these keys, I’m nursing a sore throat with a cup of Chamomile and dreaming of spring, yet again. Rather than pinning DIY Christmas gifts and indoor activities for toddlers on Pinterest, I’m repinning posts about compost and urban gardens. Spring is upon us, almost, and my eyes are aching to behold the beauty it brings. Here’s to hoping that this list, which details some of the world’s prettiest springtime places, will put a spring in your step.


1. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The Kew Gardens, a 300-acre swath of land about 10 miles east of central London, are a feast for the senses. Kew plants more than five million flower bulbs each year, and when they burst through the ground, the display is nothing short of magnificent. There are carpets of purple crocus, fields of yellow daffodils, patches of delicate snowdrops and more. Even the trees blossom this time of year. And if you have a favorite flower, you can download a free app that lets you know what’s in bloom each day, so you can time your visit accordingly.


2. The Cherry Blossoms of Washington, D.C.

A little over a century ago, the mayor of Tokyo gifted Washington, D.C. with 3,000 cherry trees, which were planted along the city’s marble Tidal Basin. The trees, which usually blossom in late March through early April, are an annual symbol of friendship between the two countries. Nowadays, the pale pink tree blossoms attract flocks of visitors each year—and they have become the impetus for a national festival. The delicate flowers, which perch on twisting tree branches, are set against a relief of marble monuments and the placid Potomac River, creating a stunning visual display.


3. Northern Sweden’s Wildflowers

When northern Sweden’s mountainous Sarek National Park thaws out from winter, the wildflowers emerge. In springtime, the park’s stark mountainsides and rolling valleys become a visual feast with bluets, poppies, and daisies. But this stunning display is not for casual outdoorsmen (or women); experienced hikers will even find the rugged, alpine landscape difficult. Yet the brilliant colors, the fresh air, and the rushing Rapaätno River provide a truly invigorating experience.


4. The Tulips of Lisse, Holland

Less than an hour’s drive southwest of Amsterdam is the town of Lisse. Back in the 15th century, a countess dug a small plot. It has since germinated into Keukenhof, one of the world’s most beautiful spring gardens. Picture this—a 70-acre forest, dappled with trees, ponds, green fields, and around seven million tulips. Accompanying the red, yellow and pink tulips are fragrant hyacinths, hydrangeas, freesias, and more. The bright colors, mingling with the sweet scents and the warm sunshine, is intoxicating — even more so than the legalized stimulants in its neighboring city.


5. The Highlands’ Heather

The Scottish Highlands are always magnificent. But when the snow melts away, the gray skies turn bright blue, and green grass and purple heather carpet the jagged landscape, the Highlands are near divine. To best view this gorgeous place, you should head to Cairngorms National Park. Crumbling castles, glittering lochs, babbling brooks, and lavender-colored heather will delight your senses as you hike the picturesque park.


Emily Halonen Bratcher is a contributing writer at U.S. News and World Report.