If you can't make it to Washington, D.C. to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival during the first few weeks of spring, then be sure to get your fill of beautiful petals and plants at Flower Mart, an annual outdoor festival held on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral.
Plant-lovers can rejoice because there will be dozens of vendors on-site selling large selections of shade, partial shade and full sun perennials, flowering and non-flowering annuals and herbs. For the first time, the mart will have 10 different miniature conifers and evergreens for containers, small landscapes, miniature theme and trough gardens.
The festival takes place in early May, with the proceeds benefiting the grounds and gardens surrounding the cathedral.
Thousands are expected to flock to the Washington National Cathedral's annual Flower Mart — Photo courtesy of Flower Mart
Be sure to check out the International Floral Exhibit inside the cathedral's nave. See beautiful, creative floral displays dreamed up by the district's many embassies. Note that each display showcases the country's native flowers, culture and histories.
Some past displays include the Netherlands, recreating a framed floral still-life painting, a carnation cathedral made by Ukraine and a flower-filled mountainside brought by Switzerland.
For those who are just looking for a fun event at a beautiful location, the Flower Mart has a number of fun activities to take part in. Hear live music and watch dancers perform choreographed routines on two stages, or peruse food vendors with such offerings as lobster rolls, funnel cakes, barbecue and pizza.
Kids will enjoy riding on an antique carousel, watching a puppet show or taking part in games and other rides.
A butterfly chooses a beautiful group of flowers to perch on — Photo courtesy of Flower Mart
Wear walking shoes because you will not want to miss out on tower climb tours. Burn off some major calories as you climb up the 333 steps to the bell-ringing chamber in the central tower of the cathedral. Hear a bell ringing demonstration, and learn about the architecture behind one of the district's most beautiful buildings.
The tour costs $10, but it's well worth it for the view alone. The tower is only open to the public once or twice a year, so don't miss out on an opportunity to get a great view of the nation's capital.
Dating back to 1939, the mart has been attended by eight First Ladies, with Edith Wilson (Woodrow Wilson's wife) even manning a cash register for a time, selling fruits and vegetables to patrons. Every year, a different embassy is honored, and this year's festival showcases the countries of Asia.
This year's event – which is hosted by the All Hallows Guild – will be held rain or shine on Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2, 2015. So no matter what the weather forecast says, head over to the Washington National Cathedral for a festive floral event.