For many, the Chelsea Flower Show is THE garden show to include in any springtime UK garden tour and I’m not going to disagree. However, there are some independent clients who just can’t get away in May because of commitments to their own garden club, and I’ve picked out several alternative events that may well catch their eye.
For those who can travel in May, look also at the garden festivals in France, Ireland, and Scotland and see how they can be combined to create something completely new.
It’s all about Orchids
If this is a niche you’d like to develop, look at this list of North American Orchid Societies and then talk to one of them about a UK tour to the hugely popular Kew Gardens Orchid Festival, which takes place from February 4th to March 5th, 2017. This year’s focus is on the vibrant colors, culture, and magnificent plant life of India. Another opportunity comes up between March 29th-30th with the RHS London Orchid Show as part of the huge RHS London Spring Plant Extravaganza.
Tiptoe Through the Tulips
With many of your clients busy with their own gardening events in May, suggest a tailor-made tour which blends together privately owned castle and gardens with the April tulip festivals at Pashley Manor, Arundel Castle, and Forde Abbey.
Garden-loving customers will be fully aware of the annual Chelsea Flower Show, but if you look at the following list, you can very easily create France/England, England/Ireland and England/Scotland itineraries which include:
- 19th – 21st May Les Journées des Plantes at the Domaine de Chantilly near Paris
- 23rd – 27th May The Chelsea Flower Show in London
- 1st – 4th June Bloom in Dublin, Ireland’s premier gardening festival
- 2nd – 4th June Gardening Scotland, their national gardening and outdoor living show
- 2nd – 4th June The Hatfield House Flower & Food Show
If you want some suggestions on how some of these combinations might work for a couple of clients or a small group of 6-8 or more, email me at email@example.com
Two Flower Shows and an Edible Garden
Further into June, a couple of garden festivals at two of our most spectacular stately homes have caught my eye. They both take place over the long weekend of June 23rd – 25th and from a base in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, your clients will be able to rub shoulders with hundreds of British garden lovers at the Blenheim Palace Flower Show and the Woburn Abbey Garden Show. This itinerary should also include a visit to the National Herb Society’s growing beds at Sulgrave Manor, George Washington’s ancestral home, and Kathy Brown’s Edible Garden at Stevington near Bedford.
Major New Garden Show for 2017
Fire up the imaginations of your garden contacts by inviting them to be among the first visitors to the inaugural Royal Horticultural Society Chatsworth Flower Show. It runs between June 7th – 11th and as many of them will have seen details in their gardening magazines, be the first to offer them a customized tour to this big new horticultural event.
Chatsworth, home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, is located towards the north of England, making Manchester the natural gateway. It’s easily accessible thanks to non-stop flights from Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. By June 2017, Virgin will have direct flights from San Francisco and Boston, and you should check Icelandair’s schedules via Reykjavik and the Aer Lingus routes via Dublin.
Paull Tickner, creator of Special Interest Britain, is an expert in developing customized niche travel programs for the United Kingdom and Ireland. Check out his website at www.customgb.co.uk and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org