My passion for gardens and my lust for travel have led me to garden destinations all over the world. In fact, I seem to be afflicted with a sort of botanic voyeurism. I feel happiest when I’m in a garden and any garden will do, (even my own, though that often involves physical labour and I’m less happy when work is involved). So, garden travel is my treatment (note, there is no cure!)
I’m often asked where my favourite “garden destination” is. Without hesitation my answer is always England in the spring… because that’s when the Chelsea Flower Show takes place. Every keen gardener should see this horticultural extravaganza at least once. Held annually in London (http://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show/2012) in late May, Chelsea is, without a doubt, the garden world’s most anticipated event. And, with good reason. It`s at Chelsea that the latest trends are revealed to the world, where top designers offer their best show gardens.
The show gardens are thought provoking – some drop dead gorgeous,
some even bizarre,
but always inspiring.
“Gardeners” of all ages drag carts behind them loaded with the newest in plants and garden gadgets. Floral designers exhibit the best of their work at Chelsea.
Chelsea is a 5-day event, but truthfully, I am saturated by day’s end and then I`m ready to head out of the city to poke around in some of England`s greatest gardens.
There are more gardens open to the public in England than anywhere else. This is both good and bad. Good because there are so many to see. Bad because it can be confusing…how do you choose when you only have a week or so? Rather than figure it out myself, I sign up for a garden tour and leave the details (and headaches) to someone else. I have been travelling with Donna Dawson for years. Since 1998 she has been taking garden lovers to England for Chelsea and to visit the best English gardens. She has it figured out just right. Each year the itinerary includes some old favourites such as Sissinghurst – pure romance
(http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle/) and Great Dixter by the legendary Christopher Lloyd (http://www.greatdixter.co.uk/).
And then there are some surprises. This year I am beside myself with excitement because Highgrove, the garden of HRH Prince Charles is on the list. Visits to Highgrove are very limited, so getting in there is a rare treat. Donna has just confirmed that her group is one of the few who are being accommodated. I can`t wait. She may even have a few spaces left. Check out www.gardeningtours.com.
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