Orchids, Tulips, Roses and An Edible Garden | TravelResearchOnline

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Orchids, Tulips, Roses and An Edible Garden

I know you’re extremely busy but as I want you to generate some profitable new UK-bound business, please spare me 5-10 minutes by listing the names of people you know who are Master Gardeners –  members of orchid, rose, herb and other specialist garden societies: friends of botanical gardens and arboreta; landscape gardeners; TV, radio, newspaper and magazine gardening personalities; clients who are members of your local garden Club. These contacts are potential pied pipers and some of the ideas in this week’s edition will start conversations that can top and tail visits to the Chelsea Flower Show.

As many of your green-fingered clients will be busy with their own gardens/gardening events in May, think seriously about a Cornwall garden tour in March/April. It’s worth considering because the warming effect of the Gulf Stream ensures that spring comes early in this part of the world, making March/April the best time to visit when everything is fresh and lush. Airfares might also be better…

Having made the list, read on for more hooks to hang a customised UK garden tour and let’s exchange emails about the value added, customised tour you can offer them.

Kew Gardens Orchid Festival

Between 8th February – 8th March, forget the winter blues and become immersed in a celebration of vibrant colours and magnificent plant life inside the tropical paradise of Kew Gardens’ conservatories. To find an Orchid Society near you check out www.aos.org and click on Affiliated Societies. Look carefully as there may be one near where you live. You may even spot the name of someone you know…

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Cornwall Gardens Tour in March

March is when the stately homes of Cornwall fling open their garden gates to show off fantastic displays of camellias and magnolias that bloom in pastel white and pink, and vibrant red, purple and yellow. In April, swathes of Cornwall’s woodlands get carpeted with millions of bluebells; along with these breathtaking vivid blue flowers, giant rhododendrons burst into flower – heralding the start of spring. Time it to coincide with the Cornwall Garden Society’s Spring Flower Show (4th-5th April). With a dash of Poldark and a hint of Doc Martin, this will appeal to clients too busy to travel in May.

Scotland’s Rhododendron Festival

The wonderfully diverse world of the rhododendron will be celebrated with the Scottish Rhododendron Festival, returning for its sixth year in 2020. Flowering across the country from 1st April to 31st May, this festival features more than 90 events displaying swathes of colour in gardens, estates and woodlands nationwide. Some of the most stunning displays can be seen in Argyll and Bute, where there are 20 gardens of varying size, style and maturity, dating from the 13th to the 20th century. Add a whiskey distillery, or two, and you’re onto a winner!

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Tip Toe through the Tulips

With many gardeners busy in their own gardens in May, a late April tour brings together leisurely visits to the extensive and breathtakingly beautiful tulip displays at 11th century Arundel Castle, the award-winning gardens at privately owned Pashley Manor and at Chenies Manor. Your garden loving clients won’t have been offered this tantalizing combination before.

The RHS Malvern Spring Festival

If you’re looking for a truly outstanding castles, stately homes and gardens tour with some great recommendations for country pub lunches, here’s my suggestion. Based in the Cotswolds and in Shakespeare’s England, this “travel less, see more” itinerary with visits to many outstanding privately-owned gardens, can be timed to coincide with the RHS Malvern Show (7th-10th May), a glorious spring extravaganza celebrating food, gardening and the countryside.

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Two Flower Shows and an Edible Garden

Returning for its seventh glorious year, the Blenheim Palace Flower Show takes place between 26th-28th June. By a very happy coincidence, the nearby Woburn Abbey Garden Show runs between 27th-28th June. The ancestral home of the Dukes of Bedford, it is also where in the 1840s Duchess Anna Maria, the wife of the 7th Duke, popularised the English social custom of taking afternoon tea. It just has to be “the place” to enjoy a cuppa and some cakes! Returning to London, I can also add an edible flower demonstration and an edible flower “hands on” session followed by a floral lunch.

The Emerald Isle, Welsh Castles and RHS Chatsworth

Consider flying to Dublin for 3 days of spectacular gardens before taking the fast ferry to Holyhead, North Wales for visits to 12th century castles, a Great Little Train ride and some spectacular gardens in one of the most beautiful regions of the British Isles. Then, add a walking tour to the walled city of Chester led by a Roman Centurion in full military uniform, some sophisticated shopping in the World of Wedgwood and visit the Derbyshire Peak District for a memorable day at the Royal Horticultural Society Chatsworth Flower Show (10th-14th June), a magnificent sensory extravaganza for gardening fans. You can then fly home from Manchester or take the train to London for a few days and fly home from there.

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The RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

With a bit of help from me, you can offer your clients a tour that brings together up to 10 winners of the prestigious Historic Houses Association/Christies Garden of the Year Award. Based largely in the Cotswolds, the rose-filled itinerary concludes with a wonderful, colour and scent-filled day at the annual Hampton Court Flower Show (6th-12th July). Many of your gardening contacts will say yes to this.

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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