If you love flowers, you will be especially delighted to hear that “Your Summer Fun Starts Here” at the 56th South Carolina Festival of Flowers held the first weekend of June in Greenwood, South Carolina.
At this unique and wonderful event, there are thousands of colorful blooms in hundreds of fully landscaped flower beds and gardens around town. Amidst the bright snapdragons, daffodils, daisies, hydrangeas, mums, and other summer flowers and plants, visitors will discover the real stars of the festival: dozens of beautiful living topiaries.
Greenwood is located in the northwest Piedmont region, less than 1.5 hours from the South Carolina cities of Columbia and Greenville; just over 2 hours from Charlotte, North Carolina; and less than 3 hours from Atlanta.
SC Festival Of Flowers’ Humble Beginnings
Tired of the cold Pennsylvania winters, the George W. Park Seed Company moved south to Greenwood. The first South Carolina Festival of Flowers was held in 1968 in celebration of the seed company’s 100th anniversary.
That first celebration became a yearly event that thousands of visitors look forward to each summer. In 2008, living topiaries were introduced at the festival for the first time. Drawing inspiration from Disney’s famous character topiaries, Greenwood’s master gardeners went to work creating dozens of gorgeous animals, school mascots, and other fun topiaries to be showcased at the yearly flower festival.
The Festival Today
13 topiaries debuted at the 2008 festival. This year’s festival boasts more than 44 live topiary figures! Visitors will find the living sculptures scattered around Uptown Greenwood and other spots.
The city of Greenwood’s horticultural supervisor, Diana Fetters, explained how much time and effort goes into each topiary.
“It is a lot of work,” said Fetters of the year-long effort by city staff members and dozens of volunteers, “but it is a labor of love. Our horticulture team loves what they do. The volunteers are excited to help. The whole community comes together and supports the project and festival.”
“Every year we try to do better than we did the year before”, explained Fetters. “We change the look of many of the topiaries every year and try to add different effects like spraying water, lights, baskets, and many other things. It’s so much fun to watch the changes the topiaries go through after we get them back to the greenhouse.”
Greenwood’s South Carolina Festival of Flowers has been the recipient of many awards over the years. In 2013 and 2018, it was named the event of the year by the South Carolina Festival & Event Association. In 2020, Greenwood won the national America in Bloom Award as well as the Coolest Downtown Award.
“We are proud to receive these awards,” said Kelly McWhorter, executive director of Discover Greenwood, “but we are more proud of our community. The Festival of Flowers showcases not only our town, but who we are.”
The annual South Carolina Festival of Flowers runs the entire month of June, with the main weekend taking place early in the month. This year, the main weekend will run from June 8 to 10. The 3-day festival showcases the best of Greenwood and is filled with tons of fun for the whole family.
The signature topiaries are the star of the show. They are what attract thousands of people to travel from all over the South. Exciting news for this year: Greenwood is the host city for the America in Bloom Symposium at the end of September. For the first time, they will be keeping the topiaries out until the first week of October.
Other festival happenings kick off on Friday morning starting with the popular Juried Arts and Crafts Show held at the Uptown Market. At this exceptional artisan show, you’ll discover unique garden art, jewelry, pottery, and more, as well as food and concessions. It is open to the public with free admission.
This year, the Greenwood Railroad Historical Center will be offering tours all day Friday and Saturday. For a small fee, visitors can experience some of the most exquisite antique train car restorations in the Southeast, from the 1906 Baldwin steam engine to the bright red caboose and everything in between.
Friday night and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the Greenwood Community Theater on Main Street will be performing the classic production of Guys and Dolls. Guys and Dolls runs through June 18.
Also on Saturday morning is the Flower Power 5-kilometer run/walk and a 1-mile fun run/walk. Compete for cash prizes or just for fun and exercise as the course this year is on the 5k Certified Course: Capsugel/LONZA Running Track & Greenwood Rails to Trails. Register early to receive a free T-shirt.
The Saturday morning lineup of events includes the fun-filled family favorite Kidfest ‘23 at Uptown Market and splash pad. This part of the festival features arts, crafts, demonstrations, robotics, fire trucks, Carolina Choo-Choo train rides, food trucks, and concessions. Performances will be featured as well, though they’re still to be added at the time of this publication.
New to the Festival this year are Garden Tours all day Saturday, featuring the area’s unique gardens. Enjoy the horticultural gardens and greenhouse at Piedmont College, the John and Elizabeth Holman Community Garden at Wesley Commons, the Greenwood Extension Rain Garden, and Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Gardens at the Gleamns Site.
Another festival favorite is the Saturday-evening Topiaries, Tastings, and Tunes event in partnership with Greenwood Performing Arts. Adults can enjoy a casual evening of wine tasting and music while strolling among topiary displays and Uptown businesses. A souvenir wine glass is included.
Other Festival Events
The festival is mainly a weekend event in early June, but there are many other events held throughout the month. These include a digital photo contest, aviation expo, Bee Buzzin’ Bike Tour, and men’s golf tournament. Oh, and did I mention that this year the topiaries will stay up for public viewing until October?
While visiting Uptown Greenwood for the Festival of Flowers, be sure to stop in at The Arts Center to see the BLOOM Art Exhibit and The Museum and Railroad Historical Center.
There is so much happening in Greenwood during the South Carolina Festival of Flowers. Be sure to check the festival’s website for details and a list of all events, locations, dates, and times.
Where To Stay And Eat
If you plan to stay awhile, the Inn on the Square is a charming, full-service boutique hotel conveniently located in Uptown. Housed in an early 20th-century building, the inn has a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The dramatic three-story lobby is impeccably furnished — a place where one actually wants to sit and spend time. The Inn on the Square is the official inn of the South Carolina Festival of Flowers.