I’ve been customising UK tours for over 38 years, and cannot recall an occasion when I’ve not included at least one or two stately homes and their gardens in the bespoke itinerary. You won’t be in the least bit surprised when you take a closer look at the world-class examples I’ve showcased. For me, the excitement comes from the challenge of putting your wish list into an imaginative, sensibly priced itinerary which your clients will thoroughly enjoy.
Take a look, catch the vision of what’s on offer and then let’s talk.
Internationally Renowned Landscape Garden Reopens Inspirational Gardens For Green Fingered Travellers
After being closed since 2010, Leonardslee, one of England’s largest and most spectacular woodland gardens is reopening in the spring. Set in a tranquil valley, a series of seven lakes give a magnificent reflection of the fabulous, colourful display of Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias and Magnolias that surround them. Keeping the grass mowed, there are eco-friendly wallabies whose ancestors have been here since 1889. In addition, the Dolls House Exhibition provides a magical world in miniature.
The ‘Kaleidoscope of Life’ Flower Festival
From 21-24 June 2018 the magnificent medieval Cathedral in Ely will host its much-anticipated Flower Festival, which is expected to be one of the largest and most spectacular events in the East of England. Over 50,000 blooms will adorn the Cathedral in breath taking displays depicting the story of ‘Life.’ The Festival has been created by Roger Woolnough, whose designs have won medals at both the Hampton Court and Chelsea Flower Shows. Talk to the team that decorate your church every Sunday; they’ll love this idea.
Celebrating Their 125th Anniversary
Botanical heritage and stunning landscapes at the award winning Borde Hill Garden provide the foundations for a perfect visit for horticultural enthusiasts and those who love beautiful countryside. The outdoor garden rooms include the delightful Azalea Ring and Rhododendron Gardens, the Rose Gardens and scenic Italian Garden, best seen, understood and enjoyed with a Head Gardener led tour. Throughout the season, you may catch one of the many events celebrating the Stephenson Clarke family being at Borde Hill for over a century.
The Rothschilds at Waddesdon Manor
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild created his garden at Waddesdon Manor for the amusement of his guests, who used to spend an entire morning on their tour of the landscaped grounds, lined with beautiful blooms, tall trees and elegant sculptures and fountains. You can follow in their footsteps and discover one of the most important Victorian gardens with its fully restored Parterre and working Aviary. They surround a magnificent house in the style of a 19th century French chateau filled with treasures that will take your breath away.
There are few corners of England where you will find close together no fewer than 5 former winners of the prestigious Historic Houses Association/Christies Garden of the Year Award.
They include the Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Garden, the Rothschild’s rhododendron collection at Exbury and the former Cistercian monastery at Forde Abbey. As you may have many green-fingered clients cruising in or out of Southampton, this concentration of horticultural excellence should have their name written all over it.
Two Flower Shows, some Herbs and an Edible Garden
If your garden loving clients can’t make it to this year’s Chelsea Flower Show in late May, talk to them about a unique, late June tour which brings together the annual Blenheim Palace Flower Show and the Woburn Abbey Garden Show. Being a customised itinerary, you can then add a tasty visit to the National Herb Society’s growing beds at Sulgrave Manor, George Washington’s ancestral home and a slice of rose petal cake at Kathy Brown’s Edible Garden near Bedford.
Great Gardens to Visit
And finally, this popular annual publication provides high quality images, editorial and group visit information on many of the UK’s finest gardens. Originally launched in 2003, it is now considered the essential guide for anyone wishing to organise group visits to UK gardens. The website www.gardenstovisit.net not only details the gardens but provides up-to-date information on special garden events and activities.
Paull Tickner, owner of U.K.-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at www.customgb.co.uk and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.