Where have all the flowers gone? Flower Mart at National Cathedral goes online

Tulips bloom in the Bishop’s Garden at the Washington National Cathedral. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)

It’s usually a rite of spring — the annual Flower Mart at the Washington National Cathedral. But, this year, the colorful celebration is being sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic.

Flower Mart, which was set to take place May 1-2, will not take place in its usual form this year, announced the All Hallows Guild, which is the volunteer group that runs the annual event. Instead, the group is offering a virtual take on the annual spring affair.

The decision to cancel the outdoor market was made following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit large gatherings, said Carrie Tydings, a board member for the All Hallows Guild.

“The decision to postpone Flower Mart has been heartbreaking but necessary,” she told WTOP.

A number of spring events around D.C., including events as part of the famed Cherry Blossom Festival, have also been canceled or postponed this year, and Mayor Muriel Bowser has issued an order banning large gatherings in the District in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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In addition to the flowers, the annual National Cathedral event usually features an array of vendors offering wares that range from gardening gear to clothes and jewelry.

This year’s theme was to be “Into the Woods,” celebrating the original woodland area surrounding the cathedral designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.

In place of the in-person event, the group is promoting a “virtual Flower Mart,” where vendors who would otherwise show their wares on the grounds of the National Cathedral are offering special online sales between April 26 and May 10, which is Mother’s Day.

Purchases at certain “super vendors” will also include a 20% donation to the guild. See the full list of vendors on the All Hallows Guild website.

“Unfortunately, this year will look a little bit different, but we think that it will be fun for our patrons to come back and visit with their favorite vendors — virtually, of course,” Tydings said.

Typically, Flower Mart is the largest fundraiser supporting the volunteer-run guild

“We would love for you to take advantage of online shopping,” Tydings said. “We know that there are mothers and sisters and aunts and graduates in your life that you might be looking for a special gift. And, that way, you can do your shopping and do some good, too.”

Throughout the year, the volunteer-led All Hallows Guild takes care of the 59 acres of public gardens, grounds and woodlands surrounding the National Cathedral. And even during the pandemic, those grounds — which Tydings likened to a “little oasis within the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C.” — remain open, she said.

“You can still take advantage of the beauty and quiet of the garden and grounds surrounding the National Cathedral,” Tydings said. “We simply ask that you use social distance and that you tread lightly and respectfully in the grounds and gardens so that everyone can continue to enjoy this special place.”

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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