Following the flowers: snaps from Bogota, Colombia

Over the weekend I joined United Airlines and members of their cargo team on a trip to Bogota, Colombia for a story about how flowers get from there to here for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and special occcasions (such as my upcoming birthday).

I’ll be putting together a story for my At the Airport column on USA TODAY, but on my layover here in Houston I wanted to share some pics from the farm tour of Jaroma Roses, about an hour outside Bogota, which ships about 30 million stems each year.



Airports mark Mother’s Day with flowers, pods & more


Nursing moms flying to or from JFK International Airport on JetBlue get a welcome new amenity on Wednesday with the unveiling of a Mamava lactation suite in T5.

The nursing “pods” are already in use at Vermont’s Burlington International Airport and Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport and there’s a growing list of airports that are doing their part to be truly “breastfeeding friendly.”

JetBlue’s nursing station is being installed at JFK T5 just in time for Mother’s Day and right now is scheduled to stay there for just six months, but the airline is hoping to make it permanent.

Mother’s Day is being celebrated at other airports as well.

Jacksonville Airport

Continuing a tradition, volunteer ambassadors at Florida’s Jacksonville International Airport will be handing out 1,000 carnations to passengers on Sunday, May 10.

And through May 10, passengers traveling through LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B and Philadelphia International Airport can take advantage of a sparkly Free Gift with Purchase offer.

Spend $100 in one or more shops and (while supplies last…) you can redeem the receipts for a multi-strand crystal and pearl bracelet. There’s also a Twitter contest to give away five of those bracelets (valued at $45) at each airport.

Details on both offers here and here.


And if you happen to be passing through Frankfurt International Airport on Mother’s Day, look for Elvis.

In addition to performances by a champion Elvis impersonator, there will be a rockabilly band, an acoustic trio singing Elvis songs and a exhibit of photos and souvenirs related to Elvis’s stint as a soldier.

There will also be a vintage car show in front of Terminal 1, contests and – for anyone who shows ups wearing an Elvis costume or a 1950s outfit, free entry to the airports’ observation deck, known as the Visitors’ Terrace.


Free flowers at Heathrow Airport

Heathrow flowers two

London’s Heathrow Airport & the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have put together some lovely traditional English gardens to welcome passengers and will be handing out free seed packets to travelers so they can start their own gardens.

The terminal approach areas outside Terminals 3, 4 and 5 have been transformed into a living art installation by Tony Smith, winner of three Royal Horticultural Society best in show awards and gold at RHS Chelsea, RHS Hampton Court, RHS Tatton Park and Gardeners’ World Live Flower Shows.

Heathrow flower one

The special gardens will be blooming through May 25 and are in honor of England’s National Gardening Week (April 15 – 21) and the Chelsea Flower Show (May 21 – 25).

Inside the airport, over 170 volunteers wearing Wellington boots and gardening aprons will be welcoming arriving passengers, dispensing gardening advice and handing out 20,000 packets of seeds.

Airport restaurants will also have special flower-themed menu items, such as native lobster with elderflower foam, pea shoots and violets from Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food and spring salads with edible flowers from “rhubarb”.

Worried about leaving your plants alone when you travel? Experts at the Royal Horticultural Society say most houseplants will tolerate being alone and untended to for a few days, but if you’ll be away for more than a week:

*Move houseplants and outdoor containers to a sheltered, shady site outdoors to stop them drying out as quickly.

*Re-pot pot-bound plants. If they’re too crammed in, they will dry out quickly. Choose containers with integral reservoirs and incorporate water absorbent gel into the compost.

*Give plants a good soak before leaving them, but don’t leave them standing in water as this can lead to them suffering from over watering.

*Ask neighbors or friends if they can check whether the pots need watering while you’re away. If you can, give them a quick tour before leaving to explain what is likely to need attention and what isn’t.

*Consider installing an automatic watering system (available at garden centers and DIY shops) for patio pots and greenhouses.

Flowers for moms at Jacksonville International Airport

Mother’s Day is Sunday May 8th and volunteers at Jacksonville International Airport will once again be on duty handing out about 1000 red, white and pink carnations to moms passing through the terminal.

This flower thing has become a tradition at JAX airport.  Back in 2009, volunteers handed out carnations on Valentine’s Day and again on Mother’s Day and the response was so positive that they decided to keep going.

(From the George Eastman House collection, via Flickr Commons)

Jacksonville International Airport offers travelers some other nice perks year-round. There’s an art gallery that hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions and permanent art that includes the work of Gregor Tuck, who cataloged the wide variety of gendered pictograms and glazed them onto the tiles surrounding the restroom entryways on Concourse C.

And if your mother was here, you’d know what she’d say… “Go before you get on the plane…”