Botanical tourism is, strictly speaking, traveling for the purpose of seeing plants in their native environment. Though seeing plants is not my reason for traveling to a particular area, observing an entirely new collection of plants has become one of the most exciting things about taking a trip. I want to share my excitement with you and describe my top 3 benefits of botanical tourism.
Botanical Tourism Improves Plant Identification Skills
In the quest to improve my plant identification skills, it has become a practice to purchase a local field guide when traveling. Last week my husband and I visited Banff & Jasper National Parks, located in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta, Canada. For this trip I chose a field guide by Neil L. Jennings called Alpine Beauty. Field guides come in all shapes and sizes. There is no need to purchase an expensive book if a simple pamphlet will serve your purposes.
The high mountains, wooded ridges and fertile valleys of Banff & Jasper National Parks in Alberta, Canada teem with lush areas of wildflowers and trees. The bountiful flora along the more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails provide ample opportunity for those of us who delight in observing nature and studying local plants.
We were lucky enough to visit during the peak wildflower blooming season of mid-July to mid-August. These are some of the plants I observed during my early morning plant walks:
- Moss Campion
- Common Harebell
- Indian Paintbrush
- Red Clover
- Western Anemone (in the feathery seed stage)
- Wild Rose
Botanical Tourism Provides Connections with Others
With research and pre-trip planning, a vacation can include a guided plant walk, a short class, or a simple introduction to a fellow plant lover or herbalist. I am still trying to find the best way to locate these events in advance, as they are often not widely advertised.
While in Jasper, I happened to notice a flyer in a natural foods store announcing a medicinal plant walk scheduled for the day after we were to leave. Later, I was unable to find either the event or the herbalist online.
Botanical Tourism Improves Environmental Stewardship
It was interesting to note the differences in the growing season from my home in zone 10 to the Alberta zones which range from 2-4. The local Jasper, Alberta farmers market is held only during the summer months. As you can see by the lush community garden in the photo, these folks take full advantage of their short growing season. In contrast, I am lucky enough to have access to farmers markets year-round. Until now, I’ve taken this for granted.
Knowing this compels me to be a better steward of my own long growing season. I have a renewed excitement for the upcoming fall planting season!
I hope that you’ve been inspired to become a botanical tourist. I’d love to hear your tips and ideas about botanical tourism. Please share in the comments below.