Buzzes and blooms: What to expect at 2019 National Cathedral Flower Mart

The Washington National Cathedral in D.C. buzzes with activity on Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, with its annual Flower Mart — this year focusing on the power of the pollinator.

The event, now in its 80th year, is from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday.

Money raised supports the gardens and grounds of the Washington National Cathedral.

Dancers and singers entertain visitors at the Washington National Cathedral's Flower Mart. (Courtesy All Hallows Guild)
Dancers and singers entertain visitors at the Washington National Cathedral’s Flower Mart. (Courtesy All Hallows Guild) (Courtesy All Hallows Guild)
The Children's Area at the Flower Mart has rides and attractions for children. (Courtesy All Hallows Guild)
The children’s area at the Flower Mart has rides and attractions for children. (Courtesy All Hallows Guild) (Courtesy All Hallows Guild)
The antique carousel from the 1890s is unique to the Washington National Cathedral's Flower Mart. (Courtesy All Hallows Guild)
The antique carousel from the 1890s is unique to the Washington National Cathedral’s Flower Mart. (Courtesy All Hallows Guild) (Courtesy All Hallows Guild)
 The Bishop's Garden at the Washington National Cathedral blooms in spring time. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
The Bishop’s Garden at the Washington National Cathedral blooms in spring time. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino) (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
Tulips bloom in the Bishop's Garden at the Washington National Cathedral. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
Tulips bloom in the Bishop’s Garden at the Washington National Cathedral. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino) (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
The Bishop's Garden blooms in the Washington National Cathedral. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
The Bishop’s Garden blooms at the Washington National Cathedral. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino) (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
The Bishop's Garden at the Washington National Cathedral shows its spring blooms. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
The Bishop’s Garden at the Washington National Cathedral shows its spring blooms. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
Washington National Cathedral visitors enjoy a spring afternoon in the Bishop's Garden. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
Washington National Cathedral visitors enjoy a spring afternoon in the Bishop’s Garden. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
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Dancers and singers entertain visitors at the Washington National Cathedral's Flower Mart. (Courtesy All Hallows Guild)
The Children's Area at the Flower Mart has rides and attractions for children. (Courtesy All Hallows Guild)
The antique carousel from the 1890s is unique to the Washington National Cathedral's Flower Mart. (Courtesy All Hallows Guild)
 The Bishop's Garden at the Washington National Cathedral blooms in spring time. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
Tulips bloom in the Bishop's Garden at the Washington National Cathedral. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
The Bishop's Garden blooms in the Washington National Cathedral. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
The Bishop's Garden at the Washington National Cathedral shows its spring blooms. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)
Washington National Cathedral visitors enjoy a spring afternoon in the Bishop's Garden. (WTOP/Abigail Constantino)

Those busy bees

This year, the event will highlight natural pollination, which involves animals and insects, such as bees, butterflies, bats, beetles and birds. The cathedral has created a pollinator garden on its grounds.

Carrie Tydings, a member of the All Hallows Guild which organizes Flower Mart, said pollinators have a great impact on the foods people eat. As part of the effort to encourage the bees, the group has not only planted a pollinator garden, but also installed tubes in trees at the Bishop’s Garden on the cathedral grounds where bees can nest and hopefully lay eggs.

While the National Cathedral is working to attract these pollinators, you can do the same in your own garden. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers some tips on how to attract pollinators to your own home.

Things to do

Flower Mart visitors can buy plants for gardening all season. They can also find herbs, bonsai, orchids, floral arrangements and cut blooms, as well as an array of gardening tools and implements.

Visitors can get some inspiration on how to arrange your flower harvest at the Flower Mart’s international floral display. Different embassies and cultural offices in the D.C. area share their floral designs that highlight the flowers of their countries, incorporating their flags and other symbols.

Through the floral designs and arrangements, these counties communicate about “what they value, what they export, their topography,” Tydings said. The free exhibit runs on both days inside the cathedral.

“One of our most loyal has always been the Thai embassy,” Tydings said. “They do the most beautiful and elaborate fruit carvings that look like flowers.”

The Flower Mart weekend is the only time each year that people can do the Tower Climb — a guided tour that includes a climb of more than 300 steps to visit the cathedral’s tower more than 200 feet up. The tour includes both sets of bells in the Central Tower and parts of the cathedral not normally open to visitors, Tydings said.

The climb runs on Saturday, May 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The online pre-sale price is $20, and limited tickets will be available at the Flower Mart for $25.

And if being surrounded by spring’s bounty with a Gothic cathedral in the backdrop is not enough, be transported in time by the sound of fairground music from the 1930s courtesy of an antique carousel. The carousel itself dates from the 1890s, but the organ music ringing in the air comes from a 1937 Wurlitzer caliola.

Here’s a sample of its sound.

The carousel is one of the oldest carousels in the United States, and it’s only operated once a year during Flower Mart.

Other activities for children include games, carnival rides and a puppet show. Tickets may be purchased at a ticket booth in the children’s area. Also, dancers and singers will be at the Flower Mart throughout the day to entertain visitors.

Things to eat

Enjoy a civilized luncheon in the St. Paul Room and Folger Court in the South Tower. Taste of the Tower seatings can be reserved on Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4 at 11:30 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. at $40 per person.

“You can have a full English tea” with incredible views of the city, Tydings said.

Or, just grab-and-go with some barbecue, smoothies and a variety of fair foods, including some delicious home-baked goods.

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