1805 | Chelsea Flower Show

Truly a trip of a lifetime. A day at the world's most famous garden show and a dozen, or so, classic English gardens.

Truly a trip of a lifetime, we have brought together the very best elements of a wonderful and exciting few days in London, and a restful and peaceful few days in the Kent countryside.

Without doubt, the centre-piece of this 9-day tour is a whole day at the Chelsea Flower Show - the world's most famous flower show, and when we say whole day, we mean whole day, you will be there when the gates open!

But the true garden-lovers amongst you will recognise, too, the importance of many of the other gardens brought together on this tour - an excellent opportunity to visit these iconic, influential and historically significant gardens.

And we do it in some style, unhurriedly and with a small group of like-minded companions.

Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Membership
The price of the tour includes either an individual or a joint annual membership of the RHS and this, in turn, includes 12 month's subscription to their monthly house journal, The Garden.

Sleeping & Eating
We shy away from the using the terms 'luxury' or 'deluxe', but our accommodation on this tour is pretty luxurious. We spend the first four nights of this tour at the wonderful and traditional Petersham Hotel and the second four nights of the tour at the recently refurbished and modern Marquis at Alkham.

We dine out twice in Richmond, at Ma Cuisine, a relaxed traditional French bistrot round the corner from Kew Gardens, and at A Cena, a wonderful Italian restaurant we found a couple of year's ago, and twice in Kent, at The Fish Café in Rye and at one of several excellent pubs in the Kent countryside.

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At a glance
Flower Show & Garden tour
12 gardens including:
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Max group size 15
RHS Garden Wisley
Members' Only Day tickets
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
NGS Garden
Excellent accommodation
Hampton Court Palace
2 nurseries
4-nights Richmond
Sissinghurst Castle
River Thames boat trip
4-nights Kent countryside
Great Dixter
Fully Escorted
Day 1 | Sunday, 20 May

Arrival day at The Petersham Hotel

Please make your way to The Petersham Hotel, Richmond, and check in.

Tim will meet you for drinks at 6 o'clock, so that we may introduce ourselves to one another, and chat about the week ahead, before dinner at the hotel.

Directions to The Petersham will be sent to you with your joining instructions and, should you wish to arrive earlier than Sunday, 20 May, we can (subject to availability) arrange accommodation at The Petersham for you.

Richmond, one of London's 32 boroughs, lies some 15 miles/24km to the south west of central London and its location, on the River Thames, makes it an attractive and well-placed location, for this part of the tour.

Sunday, 20 May
The Petersham Hotel
Day 2 | Monday, 21 May

A walk along the Thames and an afternoon at Kew

We start the day with a walk across Petersham Meadows, to Petersham Nurseries, and then along the River Thames to Ham House - one of only a few 17th century gardens to survive and the recent reconstruction of the garden is based upon the original 1671 proposals for the garden.

Late in the morning, we drive to the other side of Richmond, for lunch and the rest of the day at the world-renowned Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Your ticket will provide you access to all of Kew's many treats, including its famous glasshouses, the recently renovated and re-opened Kew Palace and the new 18-metre high treetop walk!

Shortly before the gardens close, at 6 o'clock, we will meet at the main gates and walk into Kew village for supper at Ma Cuisine.

Today's total driving is about 5 miles/8 kms

Monday, 21 May
The Great Palm House, Kew © RBG Kew
Day 3 | Tuesday, 22 May

Hampton Court Palace, a riverboat and Richmond

Our day begins with a short drive to Hampton Court Palace, the fabulous Tudor palace built by Cardinal Wolsey, but taken from him by Henry VIII. The riverside palace later became the preferred royal residence of King William & Queen Mary, who had vast modifications made to the palace by Christopher Wren, and a Privy Garden laid out for them in 1702, and it is this recently restored garden which is one of the many joys of this enormous place.

In the mid-afternoon we meet up to return to Richmond, but not by road, but by Thames riverboat. The river between Hampton Court and Richmond is a particularly fine stretch of the Thames and it is, in any case, a thoroughly pleasurable way of whiling away an hour or two, on a late-May afternoon.

The boat brings you into Richmond, a short walk from the hotel, where we will meet, before going out for supper, to a local Italian restaurant, A Cena.
Today's total driving is about 6 miles/10 kms

Tuesday, 22 May
Ham House
Day 4 | Wednesday, 23 May

The Big Day! A whole day at Chelsea Flower Show

Today is the day of the The Royal Horticultural Society's world-famous Chelsea Flower Show. Wednesday is the second of the two Members' Only Days, two days reserved exclusively for members of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

Our day starts with an early continental buffet breakfast, so that we are at Chelsea just before the gates open, at 8 o'clock and, whilst the gates don't close until 8 o'clock in the evening, experience tells us to leave at about 4 o'clock - avoiding the late-afternoon rush and, in any case, eight hours on our feet is enough for most people.

We return to The Petersham for dinner.

Despite what we have said previously - about getting tickets for the Tuesday, the first day of the show - we have, on reflection, decided to stick with the second Members' Only day, not least because the first day is more about London society being seen, than it is about horticulture! Additionally, should you wish to stay at the show, please do not feel that you must return with us at 4 o'clock. You are more than welcome to stay, although you will need to make your own way back to Richmond, but this is not difficult.
Today's total driving is about 18 miles/29 kms

Wednesday, 23 May
The 2013 winning Australian garden © Deborah Kelly
Day 5 | Thursday, 24 May

From Richmond to Kent, via a day at Wisley

After a slightly later start and a leisurely breakfast, we set off to the Kent countryside via RHS Garden, Wisley - the headquarters of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and a Mecca for gardeners everywhere - where we will spend most of the day in these internationally-renowned gardens.

From Wisley, we take the motorway around the south of London, and towards Dover, to our new hotel, The Marquis at Alkham, where, after we have settled in, we'll gather for drinks and dinner.
Today's total driving is about 106 miles/171 kms

Thursday, 24 May
Kew Palace
Day 6 | Friday, 25 May

The French, the Romans, Jane Austen and the French again

We spend today in eastern Kent, starting at the very south-eastern tip of Britain with a visit to Walmer Castle, one of many coastal forts built by the Tudors to keep out Spanish and French aggressors. But there is more to Walmer that just that, it is also the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and, until her death, the late Queen Mother was Lord Warden, and she had a garden designed for her, which we will visit.

After lunch at Walmer we drive north, past Ham, towards Sandwich (I'm not making this up), to the Roman ruins at Richborough, which we visit briefly, before turning inland, to Goodnestone Park - a romantic garden, and once the home to Jane Austen's brother, Edward. There is much to see and admire at Goodnestone, not least a superb collection of trees, a tripple-bay walled garden and an admirable situation. Oh, and exceedingly good cakes!

Late in the afternoon, we'll leave Goodnestone for a drink in the quaint medieval village of Chilham, before dinner at one of several favourite Kent pubs.
Today's total driving is about 73 miles/118 kms

Friday, 25 May
Tulips at Walmer Castle © Jan Corriston
Day 7 | Saturday, 26 May

A busy day in neighbouring Sussex

The day starts with a pleasant drive, across the Kentish landscape, into neighbouring Sussex and our first garden, Merriments, a family-run nursery and display garden which, in truth, deserves a longer stay than we have time for.

But Pashley Manor awaits us, and you won't be disappointed. This is a handsome garden, surrounding, and perfectly matching, the most delightful house - a mid-sixteenth century half-timbered house on one side and a elegant Georgian house, on the other.

After lunch, at Pashley, we drive south to Great Dixter - the home of the late Christopher Lloyd, whose spectacular garden is one of the most inspirational gardens in Britain. Following Lloyd's death, Dixter has been put into trust but, rather than allowing the garden to fossilise, the spirit of Lloyd lives on in Fergus Garrett, the head gardener.

Late in the afternoon, we drive to Rye for a stroll around the cobbled streets of this medieval, hill-top town and a drink at the Mermaid Inn (rebuilt 1420!), before dinner at The Fish Café, in Rye.
Today's total driving is about 107 miles/172 kms

Saturday, 26 May
Great Dixter © Deborah Kelly
Day 8 | Sunday, 27 May

Britain best-loved garden and one you will never have heard of!

We head northwest to Sissinghurst Castle - undoubtedly one of the highlights of the tour and, equally undoubtedly, one of Britain's best-loved gardens. Created in the 1930s, by husband-and-wife team Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West, the gardens have clearly stood the test of time and - quite rightly - they are famous the world over.

We have the whole of the morning, lunch and the early part of the afternoon at Sissinghurst, before an afternoon visit to a National Garden Scheme (NGS) Gardens Open for Charity garden. The NGS don't publish the garden openings until February, but there will be a good choice of private gardens open for charity on a Sunday afternoon in Kent, in May.

Today's total driving is about 76 miles/122 kms

Sunday, 27 May
Sissinghurst Castle gardens
Day 9 | Monday, 28 May

Our last day, but a fitting end to a fantastic tour

Our final visit is to Hever Castle, famously the childhood home of Anne Boleyn (the second wife of Hanry VIII) and, rather more recently, of William Waldorf Astor, the wealthy American financier, who restored the castle and created the gardens and landscape you see today.

The visit combines both the castle and the gardens, and we will stay for lunch, before you then depart to your onward destinations. And whether that is Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, central London or elsewhere, we will assist you in making those arrangements.
Today's total driving is about 63 miles/101 kms

Monday, 28 May
Hever Castle
General Notes

During our tours, we endeavour to be as faithful to our itineraries as possible, but sometimes changes do occur, either necessarily or unavoidably.

Need some help?
We have prepared some helpful information - under 'Essential Information', and this information is designed to enhance your holiday. The pages are, 'An Introduction', 'Additional Information', 'Booking and Paying' and 'Travel Information'.

The tour area map
Click on the Google map of the tour area, and it will open in a new window. The various tour locations are marked GREEN (for gardens), ORANGE (for other attractions), RED (for pubs, hotels and restaurants) and BLUE (for transport) - and click on these markers for more information.

Tour Information
20 - 28 May
9 days
39 000,00
Single person suplement:
7 600,00

Room upgrades may be available at The Petersham, at additional cost.

Fully Booked - Chelsea Flower Show
Please join this tour at The Petersham Hotel on Sunday, 22 May 2016.

Please ask, if you need directions to The Petersham. Information, as to exact times of meeting, and introductions to your fellow travellers will be sent to you in the week before the tour starts.
Please let us know if you are already a member of the RHS, otherwise there are no specific notes for this particular tour.
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