Petunias and pansies do well a mile above sea level.

Blooming beautiful Boquete: Flower Capital of Panama

I first visited The Flower Capital of Panama, Boquete, a bustling village in western Panama, in April, 1998. My first impressions left such a mark on me that, years later, my wife and I returned to the area to retire.

As you drive the 38 kilometers from David, north to Boquete, perhaps the first thing you notice is that climate changes from hot, humid tropical, to a more cool and refreshing one. And you cannot miss the millions of multi-colored impatiens that bloom along the roadsides and ditches. And that's before you even reach the Flower Capital of Panama

If you like flowers – wild or the cultivated type – then the time to visit Boquete is during January when the town holds its annual flower festival, or Feria. This floral extravaganza has been held in Boquete since 1984. The festival is held in the Feria grounds on the eastern bank of the Boquete River.

Army of gardeners needed

Cross the river from the village center over an old (and, surprisingly, still standing) cable suspension

Yello bridge over the Rio Caldera leads the way to the fair.

bridge. To your left: a garden of bright yellow chrysanthemums. Expertly and beautifully laid out, the gardens of the feria are a joy to behold.

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 intense high altitude 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.

Please don’t call them parasites

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.

Orchids: the crowning glory for some visitors to the Flower Capital of Panama 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: “Hey, buddy, you want me to look this good and smell great as well?”

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 to elaborately carved wooden doors.

This is the neatest and cleanest country fair I have seen anywhere in Latin America, but should your visit to Boquete come at another time of the year don’t worry: there's always something to see for flower and garden lovers.

Just remember Boquete's other name: The Flower Capital of Panama. It's not entirely seasonal. - David Dell

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