Flower Power and an Edible Garden | TravelResearchOnline

Flower Power and an Edible Garden

Two weeks ago, I put together a summary of early spring UK garden festivals and to complete this unique and very useful calendar, I’m focusing on the major Royal Horticultural Shows (RHS) between May and September along with some other bright ideas for your green fingered clients.

If you’re thinking of presenting a UK tour idea to your garden club, now meeting regularly once again after the summer holiday, let’s start an email exchange about a tour that:

  • Travels less so that your clients can see more
  • Stands out from the rest because of the imaginative collection of value-added ideas you’ve come up with
  • Starts in the English countryside so that with jet lag parked, they arrive in London, bright eyed and bushy tailed!

As your star attraction, use the RHS shows in Great Malvern (Cotswolds) and Chelsea (both in May), Chatsworth (June), Hampton Court and Tatton Park (July) and Wisley (September). Then, bearing in mind the points I’ve mentioned, start being creative with the itinerary you build around them which is where my knowledge, experience and connections can help you to piece them all together.

A Celebration of English Gardens and Chelsea

For nearly 35 years the Historic Houses Association (HHA) and Christies, the fine art auctioneers, have sponsored a competition to find their Garden of the Year. The list reads like a who’s who of great British gardens and this tour highlights 10 of them in the south of England. They make a perfect addition to a Chelsea, Hampton Court or Wisley Flower Show programme.

2 Flower Shows and an Edible Garden

With so many gardeners unable to get away during May, this imaginative tour provides the perfect solution. The great treasure houses of Blenheim Palace and Woburn Abbey provide a spectacular backdrop for two well-attended Flower Shows with enough space to make them really enjoyable. An edible flower demonstration, an edible flower “hands on” session followed by a floral lunch will get a very good reaction from your audience.

Tea Rooms and Treasure Houses

This Cotswolds-based little gem came about through an email exchange with a travel agent whose Pied Piper owns an upscale Tea Room. She loved the variety of locations I’ve chosen for leisurely English Afternoon Teas and the fact that it’s close to London, which is where she wants to spend the last 3 days. If you know a Tea Shop owner, talk to them about this idea for a small group of 10-12 of their customers. You can time it to coincide with the Chelsea, Hampton Court or Wisley Flower Shows.

The Emerald Isle, Welsh Castles and RHS Chatsworth

Consider flying into Dublin for 3 nights and a day at Bloom before taking the fast ferry to Holyhead for 12th century North Wales castles and a Great Little Train ride. Then via the walled city of Chester and shopping at Wedgwood, 2 nights in Derbyshire, and a day at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show. Return home from Manchester or offer London extensions.

Rose Tinted Gardens

This is another itinerary that’s packed with former winners of the HHA/Christies Garden of the Year Award. Being based in the Cotswolds for 3 nights further enhances its appeal and the tour concludes with a wonderful, colour-and-scent filled day at the annual Hampton Court Flower Show. Many of your gardening contacts will say ‘yes’ to this fragrant Collection of Excellence.

Castles, China and Chatsworth

Set in the magnificent parklands of Tatton Park, Cheshire, this RHS Floral spectacular features innovative Show Gardens, the National Flower Bed Competition, a stunning Floral Marquee, talks, demonstrations, advice, trade stands and exhibitors – all wrapped up in a vibrant carnival atmosphere. First staged in 1999, and thanks to the increasing number of non-stop flights into Manchester, it’s now much closer than ever before.

The RHS Wisley Flower Show

12 months from now, this RHS Show will be in full swing with spectacular displays from Chelsea and Hampton Court winners and from the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies. It also hosts the National Dahlia Society’s Annual Show. Add a few owner/head gardener-led visits to nearby private gardens and you’ve got a great idea for the back burner.

The National Garden Scheme

Most of my garden tours include properties participating in the National Garden Scheme. From February to October each year, over 3,700 of them across England and Wales participate. Most of them are privately owned. From the quirky to the grand, they open at their peak for colour, fragrance, and profusion, and are perfect for tea and cakes on the lawn. Enjoy the fragrance of roses, lavender and new-mown grass hanging in the air and be part of the chatter of other visitors as they choose between lemon drizzle and coffee-and-walnut cake.


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 or email him at ptickner@customgb.co.uk.

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