Flowers, Travel, and Memories

Flowers can enhance your travel memories in many ways. There you are, visiting the Spanish Colonial city of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and the blooming jacaranda trees surrounding the buildings and through the plazas are so striking, they take your breath away. Or you are in Tokyo in April and come across the Kameido Tenjin Shrine covered with 100 wisteria plants on 15 trellises that were planted 320 years ago. At either location, the perfumed air and the lavender-colored light from so many purple flowers will create a scene you'll never forget.

In fact, flowers can greatly impact what we remember from our travels. Visually, their individual beauty can provide delightful mental triggers to refresh our memories of a trip: it could be a single blossom on a Saguaro cactus in Arizona or a pink Jersey lily in the Channel Isles or the impact of a mass of color, such as heather on the moors in Scotland, a lavender field before harvest, or a field of pink opium poppies in Tasmania.

In some locations, unique geological areas are accented or highlighted by wildflowers. Places with dramatic scenery, such as Iceland, South Africa, Australia, and the moors of Britain, have thick carpets of seasonal flowers that not only frame the landscape but seem to soften its edges.

Other places serve as a backdrop to area flowers. The presence of flowers adds visual significance to the site: the anemones blooming amid the ruins in the Karpaz Peninsula in Cypress; frankincense trees located in a rocky Wadi outside Salalah, Oman; Darwin's cotton trees on Isabella Island in the Galapagos; and dogwood trees blooming among the giant sequoias in California's Sierra Mountains.

Our nose offers another effective travel memory trigger. The aroma that fills the air – a plaza of blooming orange trees in southern Spain, the "pizza" spotted hills of Crete, a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, or Turkey's commercial fields of roses grown for their oil – provides a powerful reminder of the entire trip when we're exposed to that fragrance again.

A perfect example of all of these memory stimulants is the Burren on Ireland's mid-western coast. Definitely dramatic, the Burren offers a unique combination of environment and flora. Picture this: The Gulf Stream determines the weather on the great limestone plateau which allows both Mediterranean and arctic wildflowers to grow together in one natural landscape. Plants common to the southern regions reach their northern limbs and plants common to the northern regions reach their southern limits. And alpine plants are growing here at sea-level. It's like one-stop shopping for flower lovers!

© 2007 Kate Savory