Chelsea Flower Show & Gardens Tour 2020

Chelsea Flower Show & Gardens Tour May 2020

May 19th – May 27th, 2020

”…when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life, for there is in London all that life can afford.” Dr. Samuel Johnson 1709-1784!

I haven’t been going to Chelsea all that long, only since 1996. There are many who have gone for more years than I but there is one thing I will say – you must if you are a gardener or lover of plants go at least once! It used to be called the Great Spring Flower Show, first held at the RHS garden in Kensington. Then the garden closed. It moved to Temple Gardens and in 1912 the show was cancelled to make way for the Royal Horticultural exhibition and it was Sir Harry Veitch who got the grounds at the Royal Hospital to take the show in 1913 for this one time – well it was such a success held on these grounds – the rest is now history! Chelsea has stood the test of time and designers and still continues to bring the very best from around the world to our eyes. There are always the show gardens to visit each year…all made within weeks to look like they have been there for years…the excitement of who won what is always there. The huge tent filled to the brim with the most incredible displays you will ever see. Some have shown at Chelsea since it began! I do love the one large tent now – bright, airy and so much easier to walk around. There is always something new to see at Chelsea…you may not agree with it all but it does make you open your mind to the possibility…

Then there are all the smaller gardens, the exhibits, the floral displays, and all the shops that sell everything from sculpture to greenhouses to garden gloves…it is truly amazing.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is still viewed as the most important event in the horticultural calendar and is as popular as ever. The new trends constantly appearing at the show illustrate the changing face of garden design and mark this country’s ever changing horticultural history. A new professional floristry competition was launched at the show in association with the British Florist Association and there was a new category FRESH, replacing the old category Urban Gardens.

This year’s choice of gardens that you will visit are some of my very favorite ones…you are sure to enjoy strolling through them, enjoying their beauty and peacefulness….now come along and discover them….and delight in the fact that we are in just one hotel for the entire tour!

Please click on each day to bring up the itinerary for that day

Tuesday May 19, 2020 Day of Arrival into London, England

After arrival into London please make your way to your hotel. Check in 3 pm and if you arrive earlier they will hold your luggage. Once in your room, unpack that bag and put it away…you won’t need to see it again for 8 nights.

The Copthorne Tara Hotel London Kensington is a contemporary hotel in prestigious Kensington, located just behind High Street Kensington Metro station. Renowned for its warm hospitality, the hotel offers well-appointed and comfortable guest rooms with an enviable central location in Kensington. The hotel is a short stroll away from Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens including the Princess Diana Memorial Gardens, and also very close to the Science Museum and Natural History Museum. High Street Kensington’s ‘first class’ shops are only a stone throw away from the hotel. At the metro station you will find all kinds of places to eat as well as Marks & Spencer and Boots drugs.

Your standard room includes with one bed for Double and Single or twin beds for those sharing. WiFi is complimentary and so are coffee and tea making facilities. There is also a mini fridge, safe, hairdryer and trouser press.

https://www.millenniumhotels.com/en/london/copthorne-tara-hotel-london-kensington/#home

We will meet later on this evening in the hotel restaurant for our Welcome Dinner which will be three courses including a glass of wine.

Wednesday May 20, Our Guided Visit at RHS Wisley – Packed with Horticultural Inspiration

After breakfast we will leave by coach for our visit to this delightfully plant packed garden. Our guide will highlight the most important aspects as this is a huge property…in a one hour tour, then you are free to wander the gardens on your own.  There is so much to see here including the new Welcome Building.  You can see it here… https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley/garden-highlights/welcome-building  I cannot imagine what is waiting for us there!

Wisley was founded by Victorian businessman and RHS member George Ferguson Wilson, who purchased a 60-acre site in 1878. He established the “Oakwood Experimental Garden” on part of the site, where he attempted to “make difficult plants grow successfully”. Wilson died in 1902 and Oakwood was purchased by Sir Thomas Hanbury, the creator of the celebrated garden La Mortola on the Italian Riviera. He gave both sites to the RHS the following year. Wisley is now a large and diverse garden covering 240 acres. In addition to numerous formal and informal decorative gardens, several glasshouses and an extensive arboretum, it includes small scale “model gardens” which are intended to show visitors what they can achieve in their own gardens, and a trials field where new cultivars are assessed.

We should be there at the perfect time for the Rhododendrons and Azaleas and you will have time after the guide leaves us to enjoy the garden on your own and have lunch on your own at their fabulous café with views to the gardens. Be sure to check out the new exotic garden…I love it. The garden will showcase a diverse range of plants, from palms and bananas to vibrant flowers such as dahlias, cannas and gazanias. Providing an alluring contrast from the nearby Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden and Cottage Garden, the oasis will feature more than 100 species originating from tropical areas as far as Brazil and South Africa in an array of bold shapes and textures.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley

https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley/map interactive map

Return back to hotel with your evening at leisure.

Breakfast included with lunch and dinner on your own.

Thursday May 21, Our Day at Chelsea Flower Show Including A Show Guide!

We will arrive at the gates just prior to them opening and once in you will be able to pick up your show guide and start enjoying this most prestigious flower show. I will share some of my tips on enjoying this show on our way back from RHS Wisley so you can arrive prepared.

After you have finished seeing all you want to see – it is open until 8 pm for those diehards – then you can make your own way back to the hotel. This way you are free to enjoy the show for as long as you like.

I would suggest that either tonight or tomorrow night would be the nights to book shows or theatre as the tour days are not advised. We just do not know about traffic and I would hate for you to miss an event that you had planned to go to.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/

Chelsea flower show 2019: this year’s top garden trends

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/may/22/chelsea-flower-show-2019-top-garden-trends

Return back to hotel with your evening at leisure.

Breakfast included with lunch and dinner on your own.

Friday May 22, Our Day of Leisure

In my tour notes to you, sent out about a month before the tour begins, I include lots of ideas on what to do with your day of leisure.

Breakfast included with lunch and dinner on your own.

Saturday May 23, Visits to Scotney Castle and Bateman’s

Scotney Castle is an English country house with formal gardens south-east of Lamberhurst in the valley of the River Bewl in Kent, England. It belongs to the National Trust. The gardens are a celebrated example of the Picturesque style. The central feature is the ruins of a 14th century medieval, moated manor house, Scotney Old Castle, which is on an island on a small lake. The lake is surrounded by sloping, wooded gardens with fine collections of rhododendrons, azaleas and kalmia for spring colour. When I was there last the old castle had the most glorious white wisteria cascading over the walls. It is picture perfect and the castle is open now so that you can go inside to see what it looks like, looking out. You can also see the secret chamber which used to harbour a Jesuit priest at the time that being a Catholic was illegal. He sought escape here from 1591 – 1598.  On the way down to the old castle take the time to smell and admire all the Rhododendrons and Azaleas. There is a café and shop here.

A short history http://www.britainexpress.com/counties/kent/castles/scotney.htm

Website https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/scotney-castle

Bateman’s Garden, East Sussex ‘For the Glory of the Garden, that it may not pass away!’ Rudyard Kipling.

‘A seventeenth century Grade 1 Listed house with a twentieth century garden made by Rudyard Kipling, who lived here 1902-36. One might expect the design to recall his love of India. But it is an ‘Old English’ Arts and Crafts garden of the type one dreams of when sipping gin and tonic by the Irrawaddy River, to fend off malaria. The garden has a tunnel made of pear trees, yew hedges, stone paths, a rose garden, pond, wild garden and herb garden.’ It was his sanctuary…in the spring sunshine the garden and estate at Bateman’s are bursting with life and colour. Take time to explore the beautiful countryside that was the inspiration for Kipling… After Kipling’s death in 1936 Bateman’s passed to his wife Carrie. Following her death in 1939 the house and 330 acres of land were given to the National Trust as a memorial to her husband. There are guides in the house who delight in telling stories – and so many of them! So many mementos of their life and time here, just an amazing place to visit. There is a café and shop here.

Spring in the garden… https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/batemans/features/spring-in-the-garden-at-batemans

Website https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/batemans/features/the-glory-of-the-garden-at-batemans

Return back to hotel with your evening at leisure.

Breakfast included with lunch and dinner on your own.

Sunday May 24, Visits to Great Dixter House & Gardens and Sissinghurst Castle & Gardens

Great Dixter is a house in Northiam, East Sussex, England. It was built in 1910–12 by architect Edwin Lutyens, who combined an existing mid-15th century house on the site with a similar structure brought from Benenden, Kent, together with his own additions. It is a Grade I listed building. (In simple terms, if a building is Grade 1 listed it is deemed to be of exceptional interest and may also have been judged to be of significant national importance. Grade 1 listing is usually reserved for much older and historically-important buildings) The garden, widely known for its continuous tradition of sophisticated plantsmanship, is Grade I listed in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Great Dixter was the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd – it was the focus of his energy and enthusiasm and fuelled over 40 years of books and articles. Now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, Great Dixter is an historic house, a garden, a center of education, and a place of pilgrimage for horticulturists from across the world. As you enter the grounds you are struck at the sight of the house, so perfect in every quirky way and the planting is perfectly suited to the timbered façade. As you walk through the various gardens you are in fact walking around the house as well.  Perfectly placed plants surrounding home, barns and oast houses. There is a café and shop here.

Interactive map of gardens https://www.greatdixter.co.uk/plan-your-visit/map/

Website https://www.greatdixter.co.uk/garden/garden-tour/

Every gardener I think has heard of Vita Sackville-West and now you are in for another exceptional garden as we visit the home of Vita and her husband Harold Nicolson. They lived at Sissinghurst until 1962, the year she passed away and then in 1967 Harold gave Sissinghurst to the National Trust. She was a prolific writer, poet and most of all gardener. Their history as a couple is really quite amazing and many books have been written on it. The tower is where she wrote novels, plays, poetry and gardening books and is still left as though she was just out for a moment checking something in the garden. They had the most extraordinary life and relationships and both wrote many books…it is worth digging deeper. There is a café and shop here.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/9346537/Vita-Sackville-West-her-gardening-legacy.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/11166590/the-many-sides-of-vita-sackville-west.html

https://www.greatbritishgardens.co.uk/garden-designers/31-vita-sackville-west-1892-1962.html

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle-garden

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1992-08-16-bk-6473-story.html

Return back to hotel with your evening at leisure.

Breakfast included with lunch and dinner on your own.

Monday May 25, Visit to RBG Kew

After a hearty breakfast, we are off to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Kew Gardens is a world heritage site and a place of global significance. Kew contains the most diverse collection of living plants of any botanic garden in the world. The collection contains plants from tropical, temperate, arid and alpine climates, and are grown out in the Gardens and in controlled conditions within glasshouses and nurseries. A must visit is the Palm House…and the Marianne North Gallery for the most remarkable collection of botanical paintings you will ever see…833 paintings from her travels around the world. There are cafes and shops here. To help get you around, we are including the Kew Explorer train ticket which is hop on hop off throughout the garden. I will give you plenty of time here because there is just so much to see here and places to rest and enjoy lunch…

Map of garden – takes a while to download

https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/visit-kew-gardens/map

Map of the Kew Explorer Train route

https://www.kew.org/sites/default/files/Kew%20Explorer%20Route-and-Stops-February-2018.jpg

https://www.kew.org/

Return back to hotel with your evening at leisure.

Breakfast included with lunch and dinner on your own.

Tuesday May 26, West Green House Gardens and Farewell Afternoon Tea

Now you have seen some extraordinary gardens on this tour and it only seems fitting that the last garden we visit should be West Green House Gardens…it is also extraordinary!! In a beautiful corner of North Hampshire, visit a garden of contrast and inspiration, created by acclaimed garden designer Marylyn Abbott. It is a garden with a special and distinctive sense of place created over two decades by Marylyn Abbott a renowned Australian garden designer whose twin passions for English Gardens and International Opera have created a unique environment. West Green House Gardens combines neo-classical style with contemporary design. A grand water staircase provides a focal point to the Nymphaeum Fountain designed by architect Quinlan Terry. The magnificent Walled Garden, faithfully restored to its original lines, is entered through an arbor of wisteria. An alley of apple trees divides an elaborate potager with its berry-filled fruit cages, annual flowers and colourful vegetables from its signature perennial borders exuberantly planted in subtle hues of mauve, plum and blue. There is a lot more to discover here. There is a lovely gift shop here as well.

To finish off our tour we will also enjoy a wonderful Afternoon Tea in the original Orangery, built in the 1770’s. This is a delightful and enchanting setting, filled to the rafters with plants and garden accessories. The perfect spot to chat and say Farewell….I cannot say enough about this garden, it is truly the perfect ending to an incredible variety of gardens that we have been privileged to visit.. To sit here among the flowers and enjoy Afternoon Tea is just well…magical.

Map of the Garden http://westgreenhouse.co.uk/garden/

Website http://westgreenhouse.co.uk/

Return back to hotel with your evening at leisure.

Wednesday May 27, Our Day of Departure with Breakfast included

Highlights

  • 8 Nights Accommodation
  • 8 Full English Breakfasts
  • Welcome 3 Course Dinner
  • Farewell Afternoon Tea
  • Visits to RHS Wisley (guided), Scotney Castle, Bateman’s, Great Dixter House & Gardens,
  • Sissinghurst Castle Garden, RBG Kew and West Green House and Garden
  • Coach and Driver
  • Tips and Gratuities
  • Incredible Memories…

Not Included:

Flights, insurance, meals and drinks not noted, items of a personal nature and extra hotel charges such as luggage porterage and daily maid servicing.

Dates May 19th – May 27th, 2020

Land package 2350 GBP per person for Twin sharing or Double

For those wanting their own room please add 654 GBP to above price

We can arrange 1 or 2 pre or post tour nights as well – I only have 5 rooms available for either, please let me know if you want pre or post tour nights:

Twin or double room – 78 GBP per person per night

Single room – 144 GBP per night

Tour is priced in GBP because that is the currency in England.. please convert into your own currency.

Tour is priced in the currency we pay our suppliers at destination. Due to exchange rate volatility, we only convert to Canadian dollars at time of final payment at the prevailing exchange rates at that time. Your final payment will be in Canadian Dollars.

Note: Minimum of 15 must be registered for this tour to run, so please do not book your air until you are notified that we have reached this.

Email: donna@icangarden.com

Tour is subject to changes in itinerary but not in dates

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