Flower festival in blooming beautiful Boquete

Flower festival in Boquete is something visitors should definitely include on a trip to western Panama. From the 11th to the 21st. of January each year the trip would be doubly impressive because that is when this neat little town holds its annual Flower, coffee and handicraft festival. This floral extravaganza has been held in Boquete since 1984. The fair is held in the Feria grounds on the eastern bank of the Boquete River.

As you drive the 38 kilometers from David, north to Boquete, perhaps the first thing you notice is that the climate changes from hot, humid and tropical, to something more cool and refreshing. Even before you reach the flower capital of Panama, you cannot miss the millions of multi-colored impatiens that bloom along the roadside and ditches.

Flower garden

The fair is located on the eastern bank of the Boquete river. To reach it you cross an old, cable stayed suspension bridge. The bridge is a wonder of engineering, that’s because despite its dilapidated condition, it is still standing and traffic, amazingly still passes over it. To your left you see a garden of bright yellow chrysanthemums. Expertly and beautifully laid out. Although the fair has numerous hot dog and beer stands, the organizers have, thankfully, not allowed them to give the place a “tacky” feel. The army of gardeners does a masterful job of keeping the 30,000-plus blooms bright and well watered despite the drying winds and tropical sun. Obviously, at this altitude and climate, the organizers have had to pick not only the most attractive but also the most durable of plants. Petunias and pansies I would not normally think of as being tough highland flowers but here, in the Flower Capital of Panama, they seem to prosper with abundance.

Flower in garden

In the center of the display is arguably the jewel in the Feria’s crown – the display of the local orchid society. These blooms are truly as exotic and exquisite as the orchid name implies. I met up with one of the resident gardeners by the name of Efrem Gonzales who has spent the last 30 years cultivating these wonderful multi-coloured blooms.

Orchids-the Rolls Royce of the flower world.

Efrem’s enthusiasm for these most delicate of plants is obvious, he springs from one plant to another and as he does so, he expertly rattles off their Latin name. His enthusiasm is only surpassed by his obvious extensive and detailed knowledge. Now, if only I could get him to help with that bedraggled wilderness that passes for my garden in Volcan.

Please don’t call them parasites.

Orchids are Epiphytes, which means they need a host plant or tree on which to develop (orchid growers will be mortally offended if you should ever mistakenly refer to them as parasites).

Sadly, for all their wonderful beauty, orchids are not known for their perfume. I suppose the orchid’s answer might be: “you want me to look this good and smell great as well?”

More than flowers.

Besides showing off what the Flower Capital of Panama can do in terms of flowers, the Feria boasts 200 stalls with a variety of local artisans displaying everything from local native costumes, coffee, to elaborately carved wooden doors.

Flower garden

Don’t miss the vegetable display. Flowers are wonderful but it is the vegetables that Chiriqui is really famous for- let’s face it, this province is the garden of Panama. The restaurants of the big city would be a woeful and tasteless place without the daily supply shipped from this agricultural Shangri-la.

Boquete: beautiful anytime of year.

Should you visit Boquete at another time of the year, don’t worry; there will always be something fabulously floral to enjoy. Just remember Boquete’s other name: “The Flower Capital of Panama.” a name it justifiably earns throughout the year.

-David Dell