2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Gardens of Kent and Cotswolds

May 16th–May 23rd, 2018

Includes RHS membership and a full day ticket on a ‘members only’ day to the famed Chelsea Flower Show

8 days/8 nights

This tour is designed as a brief introduction to the gardens in two of England loveliest counties, Kent, and The Heart of England. There are flower-filled gardens, formal and informal, large and small, planned and wild, all bursting into riots of color and overloading the senses with fragrant smells and sights.

Going beyond the usual tourist route in our mini-coach, off the beaten track where those herded on impersonal big buses can’t go, we will introduce you to some local treasures as well as the major sites. Your multi-talented driver/guide will fill in each touring day as time will permit, with visits to some little local gems, participants in the National Gardens Scheme, gardens open for charity. We’ll see properties designed by some of the ‘Best of British,’ Gertrude Jekyll, ‘Capability’ Brown and maybe discover the next ‘Big Thing’ at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The highlight of our gardening adventure is sure to be an annual membership in the Royal Horticultural Society. The RHS is the premiere UK gardening organization. Membership offers a host of benefits including a garden magazine full of gardening advice, discounted/complimentary entrances to dozens of gardens throughout the year and priority access to the RHS Flower Shows. Your tour package also includes a full day ticket to a member only day to the Chelsea Flower Show. This delightful tour is sure to please everyone, avid gardeners and beginners alike!

RHS Chelsea Flower Show – 22–26 May 2018

This is our most popular scheduled tour itineraries — Book early to avoid disappointment!

Contact us for availability or to hold space on the tour: specialgrouptours@yahoo.com

This tour begins and ends in London.

TENTATIVE ITINERARY

Day 1, Wednesday 16 May 2018

Welcome to London! Today is free so you have the chance to relax, recover from your international journey and go sightseeing in the capital as you wish.

Perhaps you will choose to go around on the “Big Bus” the easiest way to see the main icons and get orientated in London. Hop off when you want then hop back on – a fun way to start your holiday! SGT highly recommends a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral during your time in London. Their included multi-media personal Ipod Touch tour guide brings hundreds of years of British history to life – literary at your fingertips! Avoid the queues/lines and pre-book your tickets via us. We can also assist you with pre-booking The Tower of London tickets too, if you wish or how about the Royal Palaces Pass? Heaps of options, ask us for full details. London has a wide array of public parks and gardens of all shapes and sizes plus an interesting Gardening MuseumWhat to do? The choice is yours!

OVERNIGHT: London, BB (accommodation included in package)

 

Day 2, Thursday 17 May 2018

Your tour guide will meet you in the lobby of your tour hotel at approximately 09:00 this morning and we’ll begin our gardens adventure with a garden that requires no introduction – the RHS Wisley is known the world over! We will spend ample time here, exploring the rock garden, alpine garden, wild garden, formal rose courtyards and all that this wonderful place has to offer.

This afternoon, via the marvelously scenic countryside, dotted with oast houses and sometimes blooming lavender fields, we’ll have a visit to Penshurst Place. Here, just one splendor is the 11-acre formal walled garden, with records dating back to 1346. Penshurst is one of the oldest gardens in private ownership and remains much as it was when constructed by Sir Henry Sidney in the Elizabethan era.

En-route to our accommodation, if we manage to have some additional time to fill, there is just a wealth of opportunity. This region of Kent is known to be “The Garden of England” for good reason!

Overnight: Kent; Royal Wells Hotel, Kings Arms Westerham, George Cranbrook or similar property; dinner, bed and breakfast http://www.royalwells.co.uk/; http://www.thegeorgehotelkent.co.uk/

 

Day 3, Friday 18 May 2018

Today, the fabulous Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicholson’s world famous garden will be our main visit. You’ll have plenty of time to explore this intimate and intricate garden and to visit those parts of her home open to the public. Here, we’ll find a Tudor tower complete with Vita’s workshop, a walled herb garden, mixed border gardens, an oast house museum, a white garden and a cottage garden. Certainly something to delight all interests!

This afternoon we’ll see the gem Hole Park Gardens. Here, a 15 acre garden surrounded by open parklands, massed bluebells in season in the woodland walk, standard wisteria, orchids in flower meadow, yew hedges, large lawns and specimen trees. First opened in 1927, the gardens offer a walled garden, pools and mixed borders combined with bulbs, rhododendrons and azaleas.

Overnight: Kent as above; dinner, bed and breakfast

 

Day 4, Saturday 19 May 2018

Our morning is open for participant input in consultation with your guide – certainly spoilt for choice! Choose a visit to a small, local cottage or farm garden from the Yellow Book Gardens for Charity Scheme; there are rose and clematis walkways, rock gardens, sculpted yew hedges and ponds with water lilies all on offer. Some choices are traditional style, others unique and quirky. There are several RHS recommended properties along our route too. Whichever garden chosen, you should experience the personal touch of meeting the locals and perhaps a bit of sharing of gardening secrets!

We’ll be making our way through the county of Surrey, the area that famed garden designer Gertrude Jekyll called home. By special appointment, a visit to a garden called “enchanting” by the Sunday Telegraph, Vann Gardens. Here in the 5-acre wonderland, we can explore the garden ‘rooms’ that boast a variety of styles, both formal and cottage including the water garden designed and planted by Gertrude Jekyll in 1911.

Overnight: Hungerford/Marlborough area, dinner, bed and breakfast Property: The Bear Hungerford or Castle and Ball Marlborough or similar http://www.thebearhotelhungerford.co.uk/   http://www.oldenglishinns.co.uk/marlborough/

 

Day 5, Sunday 20 May 2018

The Cotswolds region is famous for honey-thatch cottage villages. Each is unique and pretty in its own right and there are many opportunities for a stop in a tea or antique shop as we wish and as time permits these few days. With our small vehicle, we can get to where the larger coaches can’t and avoid the commercialized ‘honey pots’ to discover the best of the local treasures. This region offers a fine selection of local gardens, definitely lovely and noteworthy! Our morning is another where we are opened for guide’s choice with guest input. We will visit either Abbey House Gardens or Painswick Rococo.

Abbey House was the labor of love created by ‘the naked gardeners’ Ian and Barbara Pollard. The 5 acre grounds of the town’s 16thCentury Abbey has been transformed in recent years, a popular retreat bursting with a variety of colour – both flowers and the personalities of the designers. Famed gardener Alan Titchmarsh said about Abbey House, “The Wow factor is here in abundance!”

Painswick Rococo is a pleasure ground created in the decadent and fun loving early 18th century. Follies nestle in a hidden valley surrounded by magnificent Cotswolds views.

This afternoon we will visit a place that has been called “breathtaking” by the RHS. Coughton Court offers a wide variety of sections to delight many tastes – enjoy the bog garden, formal lawns and courtyard gardens, veggie garden and orchard plus the main centerpiece, the Walled Garden.

Dinner is not included this evening for flexibility’s sake.

Overnight: Stratford-Upon-Avon, BB; Property: Swan’s Nest Hotel or The Falcon or similar: http://www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/SwansNest/accommodation/   http://www.legacy-hotels.co.uk/legacy-thefalcon/

 

Day 6, Monday 21 May 2018

One main visit today is the gem Hidcote Manor Gardens. Created by horticulturist Lawrence Johnston, this garden consists of a series of small gardens within the whole, separated by walls and hedges of different species. It’s famed for rare shrubs, trees, herbaceous borders, and interesting plant species.

The rest of our day is flexible, tailored by your driver/guide for the particular group aboard. There are one or two ‘Capability’ Brown properties to consider, for the 300th Birthday celebrations. Directly across the road from Hidcote is Kiftsgate Court Gardens, the creation of three generations of women gardeners with the famous Kiftsgate rose it’s crown jewel. There are several small local gardens, the enchanting Cotswolds villages and Stratford-Upon-Avon itself. Another day spoilt for choice!

Dinners are not included in Stratford for flexibility’s sake and the opportunity, dependent upon schedules, to attend the theatre at the RSC. There’s a wonderful viewing tower and highly rated restaurant so worth a visit even if not attending a performance! See what’s on at the RSC: http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/

Overnight: Stratford-Upon-Avon as above, BB

 

Day 7, Tuesday 22 May, 2018

Another morning we’re we are spoilt for choice! We will make our way via the Cotswolds villages as we wish, en-route to Waterperry Gardens on the edge of Oxfordshire. This is a magical place where you will be surrounded by beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers, classical borders, modern plantings, secret corners and long vistas. Waterperry has been called “a gardener’s garden” by a previous tour guest.

Our finale of the day is a guided walk around one of the world’s top gardens. The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew is a lavish 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kew is home to the world’s largest collection of living plants, more than 30,000 different kinds! Kew Gardens originated as the exotic garden at Kew Park in 1759 and remains as a ‘must-see’ destination for garden lovers. We’ll experience the highlights of this wonderful property including the Alpine Gardens, Japanese gardens, The Great Pagoda and Treetop Walkway to name a few.

Together, we’ll enjoy an Afternoon Tea together. Later will make our way to our London hotel, arriving early evening. We’ve included Afternoon Tea in lieu of dinner tonight for the option to attend the theatre if you wish.

OVERNIGHT: London, BB (accommodation included in package)

 

Day 8, Wednesday 23 May, 2018

FULL DAY, RHS MEMBERS ONLY DAY at the CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW

Today is our grand finale, a full, Members Only day at the Chelsea Flower Show! One transfer will be provided from your London hotel to the show in the morning and one transfer back in the evening. You are welcomed to come and go from the show as you please using public transport. Your Member Day Chelsea ticket is valid from 8am – 8pm.

This evening is open so you can enjoy the show until closing and/or have the option of attending the theatre.

OVERNIGHT: London as above, BB

 

Thursday 24 May 2018

Your package includes breakfast at your hotel this morning then concludes.

 

Prefer to stay on in London? Optional tour add-ons in London are also available for a supplemental fee including airport transfers, additional nights London accommodation, “Big Bus” tickets, London transport passes, London city tours or private touring extensions visiting some of the glorious London area gardens such as Syon House, Kenwood and more. Please discuss options with us!

Please Note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we do our utmost to include all properties, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to visit due to change in opening times, days.

 

Oft imitated, never duplicated! This itinerary is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.

Toll Free Tel: 1 866-725-5250
specialgrouptours@yahoo.com

Tour Rate: $3499 USD per person; $3800 USD single rate

Your accommodation for 8 nights in a mix of 3 and 4 star properties while on the tour including breakfast daily, most dinners (as listed) and an afternoon tea. Your price includes all entrance fees to gardens and attractions while with your guide, an annual RHS Membership, a full day ticket to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show on a Member’s Only Day, mini-coach transportation, exclusive services of your driver/guide-companion, all taxes, tolls and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide.

Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, London city tours, London transport passes and theatre tickets are not included but can be added to your package as you wish for a supplemental fee. Ask us for details.