Following last month’s suggestions for early season February-May garden tours, here are some more but this time for the June-September period. Putting them together, I’ve been struck by an important thought.
Because your clients are travelling between 3,000-6,000 miles for their customised tour, every itinerary should be spiced up with owner/head gardener visits. These special touches add a few extra dollars to the overall tour cost but their impact on the quality of the experience is huge and worth every penny.
This month’s collection illustrates how you can mix and match outstanding garden shows in Dublin, North Wales and Edinburgh and at Chatsworth, Hampton Court, Blenheim Palace and Woburn Abbey. I’ve added some colourful cathedral flower festivals in Chichester, Ely and Winchester.
Don’t forget that with a bit of careful manoeuvring, each of these bright ideas can be converted into a pre or post cruise extension.
Bloom, Castles and Chatsworth
Your garden loving clients won’t have seen this tour before. It starts in Dublin with Bloom 2018, Ireland’s premier garden festival before a fast ferry to Holyhead for 3 days at the North Wales Festival of Gardens. With visits to 12th century castles, Roman Chester and Wedgwood it finishes with a day at the RHS Flower Show at treasure-filled Chatsworth. Fly into Dublin and out of Manchester or offer them a 2-hour train ride for a 2-3 night London extension.
The Power of Flowers
This unique tour idea begins with a fabulous floral display at Ely Cathedral (probably my favourite) before rubbing shoulders with other garden lovers at the Blenheim Place and Woburn Abbey Flower Shows. With some privately-owned Cotswolds gardens, a tasty visit to the National Herb Centre it finishes with a visit to an edible garden. This is another combination that your anglophile clients will not have seen before.
A Spectacular Floral Cascade
For clients who can’t fit in a springtime UK visit next year, persuade them to take an early September tour that combines the festival at Wisley, the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship garden, some privately owned gardens, Jane Austen and the magnificent flower arrangements and installations cascading through the great Norman cathedral in Winchester. There’s a visit to Hampton Court Palace before reaching London.
The Hampton Court Flower Show
Billed as the world’s largest flower show, a day at the Hampton Court Flower Show (3rd-8th July 2018) provides a spectacular finish to any UK tour. Precede or follow it with a tour filled with some of the finest castles, stately homes and gardens (both large and small) in the south east of England. I can recommend some great pubs for lunch!
The National Garden Scheme
Most of my garden tours will include properties participating in the National Garden Scheme. From February to October, over 3,700 of them across England and Wales take part and most of them are privately owned. From the quirky to the grand, they only open when at their peak for colour, fragrance, profusion and are perfect for tea and cakes on the lawn. North of the border, check out Gardens Open Scotland.