Chelsea Flower Show Tour 2023

Chelsea Flower Show & Gardens Tour May 2023

May 21st – May 29th, 2023

‘No gardener would be a gardener if they did not live in hope’ Vita Sackville-West

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

May 21, 2023 Sunday - 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

May 22, Monday RHS Wisley – Our Welcome Dinner at our hotel!

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.

Return back to hotel.

Breakfast included, lunch on own and Our Welcome Dinner – 3 courses with glass of wine

May 23, Tuesday Full Day Excursion to Hidcote and Kiftsgate Court Gardens

‘In a house, each room can be quite different to the next, both in appearance and purpose.

Each section of a garden can also vary in its appearance and purpose. This is how some of the best landscape designers think of gardens.

Rooms or sections of a garden can be separated by hedges, dense shrubberies, trellis or walls of stone, timber or any other material. The floor of a garden may be covered with gravel, lawn, paving, creepers, low shrubs or even water. The roof is most often the sky; but it could also be the interlocking canopy of large trees or the framework of some other structure such as an arched walk or pergola.

One of the best examples of the outdoor room concept is Hidcote Manor, near Stratford upon Avon in England. Even if you only have a small garden, you can find inspiration in some of Hidcote’s smaller outdoor rooms.

There are 28 distinct garden areas at Hidcote. The series of smaller hedged gardens close to the house are particularly inspiring. Soon after entering Hidcote, most people find themselves at the circle garden. From this point, paths lead in two main directions; one through the Red Borders to the stilt garden, and the other down a series of terraces to the bathing pool garden.’

https://www.acsgarden.com/articles/garden-travel/hidcote-a-garden-with-many-rooms.aspx

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hidcote

Three Generations of Women Gardeners

Perched on the edge of the Cotswold Hills, Kiftsgate Court is a family home and garden that has been loved and cultivated by the same family for over 100 years. Three generations of women gardeners have left their mark, each building on the legacy of the previous owner. When Jack and Heather Muir bought the Grecian-fronted Victorian house in 1919, Heather, without any horticultural training, started to layout the Kiftsgate garden straight away. Instead of a lawn, she planted semi-formal beds of roses and other flowers, a Tapestry Hedge with a mix of beech, yew and plain and variegated holly, and a Rose Border full of unusual varieties. Heather’s horticultural aesthetic favored the Arts & Crafts Movement which emphasized perennials and plants chosen for their adaptability, including drought tolerant cistus, spiky agaves and other Mediterranean style plantings. She was encouraged by her friend and next-door neighbor at Hidcote, Lawrence Johnston, and other notable garden designers including Norah Lindsay and Vita Sackville-West—who planted the enormous and famous Kiftsgate Rose (Rosa filipes) at Sissinghurst. 

Heather’s daughter, Diany Binny continued the family gardening tradition during the 1950s and quickly became an accomplished plants woman. She extended the planting, creating paths and replanting more borders with shrubs and herbaceous plants and re-fashioned the White Sunk Garden with a pool and fountain. Since the late 1980s, her daughter Anne Chambers and her husband Johnny have brought the garden into the 21st century. They introduced plants that flower year-round and are suited to warmer winters. They also created a new Water Garden with a sculpture by Simon Allison, a woodland with plants from the Scilly Isles, an avenue of tulip trees, and an orchard among other features.    http://www.kiftsgate.co.uk/

Return to our hotel

Breakfast included with lunch and dinner on own.

May 24, Wednesday Full Day Excursion to Great Dixter & Sissinghurst

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.

Great Dixter   https://www.greatdixter.co.uk/

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.

May 25, Thursday Chelsea Flower Show!!

We will arrive at the gates just prior to them opening and once in you will be able to pick up your show guide which is also included at 1 each for singles and 1 each for Double 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 2022 – Top Garden Trends

https://www.moderngardensmagazine.co.uk/garden/garden-trends/rhs-chelsea-flower-show-trends/

Return back to hotel with your evening at leisure.

Breakfast included with lunch and dinner on your own.

May 26, Friday Your Well Deserved 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.

May 27, Saturday Full Day Excursion to Windsor Castle & Savill Garden

The splendour and history of Windsor Castle is perfectly matched by the beauty and serenity of The Savill Garden, just four miles away. 

The Savill Garden is one of the finest royal gardens within Windsor Great Park. In 1932 Queen Mary gave Sir Eric Savill permission to develop a 35-acre garden in Windsor Great Park. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother showed great interest in the garden, and the Temperate House is dedicated to her. The attractions include the New Zealand Garden, the Queen Elizabeth Temperate House and trees planted by members of the Royal Family. In June 2010, a new contemporary rose garden designed by Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam of Wilson McWilliam Studio was opened by Queen Elizabeth II. Eric Savill was the grandson of Alfred Savill the founder of a large firm of estate agents and was involved in managing Windsor Great Park from 1930 to 1970, being Director of Gardens from 1962 to 1970. He opened the Savill Garden to the public in 1951 and left it as a heritage to the nation. In June 2006, a specially designed new visitor centre, the Savill Building by Glenn Howells Architects was opened. The timber for the floor and roof came from the Windsor Estate.

Return to our hotel

Breakfast included with lunch and dinner on own.

May 28, Sunday 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.

May 29, Monday Your Day of Departure with Breakfast Included

If  your flight is early you can arrange with the hotel to have a grab and go bag ready for you.

Highlights

8 Nights Accommodation

8 Full English Breakfasts

Welcome 3 Course Dinner

Chelsea Flower Show – Full Day Ticket Including Show Guide

Visits to RHS Wisley, Hidcote Manor Garden, Kiftsgate Court Garden, Great Dixter House & Gardens,

Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Savill Garden and West Green House & Garden

Visit to Windsor Castle

Farewell Afternoon Tea at West Green House & Garden

Coach and Driver

Tips and Gratuities

Incredible Memories…

PRE AND POST TOUR ROOMS:

We are holding 5 rooms for 1 night pre-tour and 1 night post-tour at Copthorne Tara Hotel

Price per person per night in twin or double room: 83.00 GBP

Price per person per night for single occupancy: 160.00 GBP

This Includes Full English Breakfast and VAT

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.

May 21st to 29th, 2023

Land package 2650 GBP per person for Twin sharing or Double

For those wanting their own room please add 750 GBP to above price

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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