The world's most beautiful spring flowers
If you don't know when and where to see the best blossoms, chances are you won't -- the timing of the prettiest blooms varies by region and can last just a few weeks.
Whether you want to see Arizona's wildflowers or Scotland's heather, you won't want to miss these six great destinations.
Slideshow: See these and other colorful spring blooms
Wildflowers in Southern Arizona
When to go: It really depends on rainfall, but typically March and April. This is when the hills and roadsides across southern Arizona pop with red, gold and blue. The region is best known for bright yellow brittlebush and Mexican gold poppies. You may also see wildflowers ranging from African daises to the bright-orange desert globemallow.
Where to see the best flowers: Picacho Peak State Park (the name means "Big Peak" in Spanish), about 45 miles northwest of Tucson and 60 miles south of Phoenix along Interstate 10. Several hiking trails -- including the easy Children's Cave Trail -- offer closer views.
Greenery of Italy's Tuscany region
When to go: May, when Tuscany's countryside is covered with the lush greens of grape vines, olive groves and cypress trees. Many towns throughout the region host parties and festivals to celebrate the season. Along with the greenery, keep an eye out for crimson-colored poppies as well as plenty of lilacs, rosemary and wisteria.
Wildflowers in Sweden
When to go:May and June, after the snow has melted and when the Swedish countryside is bathing in bluets, poppies and marguerite daises. The country also boasts 45 varietals of orchids. At this time of year, the sun above the country's northern half never really sets, offering more time to appreciate spring's beauty.
Where to see the best flowers:Lapland'sSarek National Park in northern Sweden is a wildflower hotspot accessible to more seasoned hikers. The island of Gotland (accessible by ferry from greater Stockholm) off Sweden's east coast is home to 35 of the country's 45 orchid varieties.
Heather in Scotland
When to go: July to September. While heather is not exclusive to Scotland, it's hard to think of one without the other. Come late summer or early fall, the Scottish Highlands are awash in soft lavender shades. You'll find heather growing throughout forests, across moors, and within bogs.
Where to see the best flowers: Heather is abundant throughout all of Scotland by August. Hotspots include the heather garden of Threave Castle in Dumfries and Galloway; Cairngorms National Park (heather moorland covers more than 41 percent of the park's landscape) in northeast Scotland; and the highroads around South Loch Ness.
Wildflowers of South Africa
When to go:July through October (the country's spring season). South Africa's semi-desert landscape springs to life with hues of purple, yellow and orange, most notably during August and September.
Where to see the best flowers:About a five-hour drive north of Cape Town, Namaqualand is a wildflower paradise. Stop by the region's Goegap Nature Reserve, a great place to picnic among more than 600 indigenous plant species. Overnight accommodations are nearby. One hour west of Cape Town along the coast, you'll find the village of Darling, host to September's annual Darling Wildflower Show for nearly 100 years.
Orchids & rhododendrons in Bhutan
When to go:Late March to May are the best months to admire the country's flowering plants, orchids and rhododendrons. Though generally elusive, the Himalayan blue poppy -- Bhutan's national flower -- may be seen on treks around the country's Gangkhar Puensum region, notably in June and July. Expect to see buttercups, larkspurs, lilies and geraniums at higher elevations. The more temperate regions are covered in orchids, violets, and white, pink and red rhododendrons.
Where to see the best flowers:Mountain passes such as Dochula Pass and Pelela Pass are prime areas to see wildflowers. The Chele La Nature Trek, which offers a panoramic view of the higher Himalayas, is lined with blue poppy, orchids, and rhododendron varietals.
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