Riddle me this. If April Showers bring May Flowers, what happens in June? And the answer is…Topiaries. Amazing larger than life topiaries all a part of the annual SC Festival of Flowers.
The festival is held throughout the month of June in Greenwood SC. This year marks the 55th year of the Festival of Flowers. It’s also the 15th Anniversary of the breathtaking display of topiaries. If you look back at previous Greenwood SC posts and pictures on these pages, you’ll see that each year these topiaries change slightly. This year they are all gussied up for the celebration of their 15th season.
The big official opening weekend of the SC Festival of Flowers is June 10-12, 2022. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous, so hop in the car and make it a Saturday or Sunday day trip. Or, treat yourself to an overnight Greenwood SC getaway. Stay at two of my favorite places, The Inn on the Square, in the heart of uptown Greenwood; or make reservations at Sharon Manor, a quaint BnB in nearby Abbeville SC.
Overnight stay or not, don’t miss this fun flower-ful festival. The weekend of June 10-13 includes craft shows, garden tours, and musical and theatrical events. But don’t despair if you can’t make this first weekend. The fun and events continue all month long and into July. Events later in June include a Bee Buzzin Bike Tour on June 18 and a Men’s amatuer golf tourney on June 25 & 26. You can see the entire month’s event schedule here.
Enjoy the Self Guided Topiary Tour
Then, print up the map of all the topiaries here. The topiaries are up now through the middle of July when South Carolina’s Festival of Discovery – a competition BBQ extravaganza, takes place. While there is much to do and see in the area, each of these festivals, all on their own, are reason enough to Visit Greenwood SC.
Both of these summer events warrant a drive down to Greenwood to see and take in it all. While you are there, go antiquing, shop with local merchants and eat all sorts of delicious food. Speaking of which, stay tuned for a round up of Greenwood area BBQ joints, coming to these pages sometime before the first week in July 2022. I’ll link the article here as soon as it posts.
It starts with one sprig, and then thousands more
But first, let’s get back to the flowers. I’ve written about this annual event for several years running. Each year the skill and craftsmanship of Greenwood’s talented team of horticulturalist never ceases to amaze me.
This dedicated crew grows plants in three greenhouses for the City of Greenwood. And, they maintain 7 different pollinator gardens, which goes to making Greenwood a member of Bee City, USA.
I had the very cool opportunity to go to see them in action last October. The topiaries are in “storage” in the city’s greenhouses from August-May each year. During their hiatus, the giant wire frames are reworked and replanted with a fresh new look for the upcoming season. It was amazing to see them up close and personal.
How does your Garden Grow?
While I was there I learned that for the City of Greenwood’s Public Works and Horticultural Departments, succulents are the key to the success of these amazing topiaries. They grow fast and adapt well to Greenwood’s summertime weather.
Tens of thousands of tiny plant plugs get their start in the city’s greenhouses. Then slowly and very deliberately, they make their way onto the topiary frames.
Color and texture of each tiny plant is taken into consideration as the vision and character of each individual topiary comes to life. The “fur” or “hair” of many of the topiary animals is made with palm fiber. While the “skin” of others is done in succulents and ground covering greenery. The mass and scale of this year-round project is amazing. The results are spectacular.
The color spectrum in these living statues ranges from shades of green and gray to subtle pink, purple and red tones. With quick spreading ground cover greenery, such as variegated fig, providing all shades of green. Then, the gardens and plantings around each of the topiaries in flower beds up and down Uptown Greenwood’s Main Street are packed with color. Get ready to be greeted with a bright and beautiful mix of petunias, echinacea or cone flowers and the like, to providing splashes of color around each of the topiaries. You won’t know what to take a photo of first.
Just Follow the Map
This festival is a walking tour of photo opportunities if I ever saw one. But keep in mind that Festival officials do request that visitors not climb in and among the flowers ISO the perfect pose. To that end they have created two individual topiary structures perfect for group and individual photos. One, a long time favorite is the “Smile, Photo Op” stop is a mural of flowers with the centers cut out, so visitors can stick their heads through the hole and become one with the plants.
The other, new this year is the “Gateway to Greenwood” topiary, located at the corner of Seaboard Avenue and Main Street. It’s a wonderful place for a group or family photo. Like all the other topiaries it is a living display and will continue to grow, change shape and develop more color from now till the festival’s end.
One of my favorite topiaries is the mermaid, displayed on Main Street in a water feature with lily pads and gentle fountains. If she could speak, I imagine it would be with the soft melodic voice of a smart Disney Princess. This year, in honor of the 15th Anniversary celebration she is wearing quite the feathered hat and her hair has gone from dark to “blond”.
You can get a better feel for the size of these topiaries when you see me right beside her. Of course, you can’t get quite so close now that they are all on actual display; but It was fun to be able to pose sitting along beside her, side by side in the greenhouse in October and then see her again in all of her splendor this spring.
Get Your Green Thumb Going
For me, the visit to see these gorgeous plantings is always inspiring and leaves me with an urge to go work in the garden. Last October I left with a little tiny container of a green ground cover called Sedum. Its a plant they use on lots of the Greenwood Topiaries including the large lifesize Jeep.
With no Jeep at home that needed recovering, I opted to spruce up the small stone step at the bottom of our back deck stairs. As directed by Diane and Jimmy , I used a steak knife to cut the plant into six smaller pieces and tucked each of them into part of the dirt between the stones. Now some 8 months later, my tiny sprigs of “Greenwood Jeep Sedum” are growing and spreading right along. Every once in a while I give them a little hair cut and spread the trimmings which almost automatically begin to root and grown.
Might not be too much longer before I can plant a Jeep all my own.
Want to learn more?
I can’t wait for you to go and see it all. If you, like me, leave inspired, you’ll want to learn more. You’ll be glad to know that Greenwood horticulturist and master gardener, Jimmy McInville has a book about planting and growing gardens. It’s called, “Red Clay and the South” and it is available on Amazon. You won’t learn all the particulars of creating massive topiaries. But, you will learn how to make your Southern Garden something special.
Need a bit of motivation before you begin to dig into the dirt? Visit Greenwood SC this month and get inspired. #TellThemHeidiSentYou