With hints of the long awaited Spring in the air and with the Chelsea Flower Show just around the corner across the pond, here’s an update on some new ideas for UK garden tours. Some of them like the Capability Brown 300th anniversary in 2016 will be of great interest to your gardening contacts while others will appeal to customers cruising or flying in/out of Southampton, Dover or Harwich this year.
Capability Brown Celebrations
Not many travel planners know this yet, but in 2016 the UK will be celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the master gardener who changed the face of eighteenth century England by designing country estates and mansions, moving hills, making flowing lakes and serpentine rivers and creating a magical world of green. This celebration offers rich pickings for creative travel planners who are keen to offer their gardening contacts something they will not have considered or been offered before. The a la carte garden menu comprises the likes of Blenheim Palace, Bowood, Longleat, Compton Verney, Burghley, Chatsworth and Holkham Hall and many more smaller fry in some lovely corners of England.
Stunning Garden Cruise Extensions
It’s good to see that more and more stately homes and gardens are working together to make life easier for us travel planners. For garden loving cruise clients sailing in/out of Southampton they’ll be thrilled to know that Exbury, Abbotsbury, Forde Abbey, Athelhampton and Heale House, all winners of the fiercely contested Christies/Historic Houses Association Garden of the Year award have come together to form a special “Winners Row” tour.
For Dover arrivals/departures the gardens at High Beeches, Borde Hill, Nymans and Wakehurst Place aka “Kew in the Country” have hooked up with the vineyards at Ridgeway, Kingscote and Bolney. Adding sparkle to this package are the four country house hotel partners of the Gravetye Manor, the Alexander House Hotel, South Lodge Hotel and Ockenden Manor. This combination has really fired my imagination.
Say It With Flowers
Imagine the fragrant spectacle of a cathedral filled with dozens of individual floral works of art. Winchester has the longest nave of any European Gothic cathedral and from June 14-28 the Cascades Festival of Flowers will fill it with a stunning display of contemporary and traditional floral design. Later in the summer from September 20-21, over 500 flower arrangers will create a feast for the senses with the smell and sight of many thousands of blooms in arrangements inspired by the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.
The National Garden Scheme
Every year, nearly 3,800 gardens across England and Wales welcome over half a million visitors and raise much needed funds for charity. Most of them are privately owned and their variety is breathtaking: from village openings to roof gardens; tiny cottages to rolling acres; allotments to barges; this is a treasure trove of gardens that will inform and inspire. Most of them also serve delicious home-made teas making them an irresistible addition to any customized UK garden tour.
The dates for the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show are May 24-28. The information has only recently been released and it gives you a very good head start if you’re planning a customized, “travel less see more” tour for your garden contacts.
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