Nothing marks the start of summer like the Festival of Flowers in Greenwood SC. The award-winning event, now in its 55th year, guarantees “a blooming good time” for the whole family. For the entire month of June, Greenwood is abuzz with garden tours, art and car shows, live music, cultural events, and sporting competitions. This year, the Festival of Flowers will be honoring its 15th Anniversary Topiary Celebration.
The first Festival of Flowers was held in 1968 in conjunction with the George W. Park Seed Company’s 100th anniversary. Over the past 55 years, the event has blossomed into a beloved community affair.
While the Festival of Flowers hosts many diverse events throughout the Emerald City, it’s best known for its signature topiary displays.
In 2007, Festival of Flowers Executive Director Kay Self and Piedmont Tech’s Horticulture Coordinator Marion Bledsoe, along with Kathryn Smith, were invited to Walt Disney World by the park’s horticultural staff. After watching Disney’s staff create incredible topiaries, they decided it was just what they needed to revitalize the event.
The following year, the Festival of Flowers officially debuted their first set of 13 topiaries. Today, you can find 49 living topiaries placed strategically throughout Uptown Greenwood. From elephants, to mermaids, lions, giraffes, dinosaurs, and even a Jeep Wrangler—the creativity is endless.
“Greenwood is the only municipality in the US that has topiaries,” topiary designer James McInville explains. “The others are done by botanical gardens, or private businesses.”
According to Mclnville, the topiaries though large in stature, are actually hollow on the inside making them easy to transport to their various locations throughout the city. McInville’s work will be on full display this year, including a photo op station where visitors are encouraged to frame their face between palm fibers.
Since its inception, the Festival of Flowers has accrued countless accolades. For the past 10 years, the South Carolina Festival of Flowers has been included in the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events for the month of June. It’s also been named the Bundy Award Winner at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel, and much more.
To learn more about the Festival of Flowers visit scfestivalofflowers.org or @scfestivalofflowers. You can find a map of the topiary display here. You can also find James McInville’s book “Red Clay & the South a Package Deal” on Amazon.