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Making the Most Of Your Flower Time

Making the Most Of Your Flower Time

Although the analogy is two months past its sell by date, I often think that designing a customised tour is like decorating a Christmas tree.

The more you put onto it the better it looks.

And so it is with a tailor made tour as it’s my job to ensure that what you offer your clients has a very high “Wow!” factor to the point where it sees off the competition.

Two other tips for you to consider:

– Give your clients something that travels less so that they can see and enjoy more.  Cut down the miles and increase the smiles.

– Decorate your proposal with memorable value-added visits.  Many of them don’t cost an arm or a leg but including them will set you apart from the competition.

Most of the examples listed below come from exhibitors at last Saturday’s excellent Tourism South East trade show at Kew Gardens.  When included in an itinerary and with more of the same filling the other days you will have a definite advantage over others pitching for the garden club business.

Today’s closer look at some remarkable English gardens includes:

– Exbury Garden, the world-renowned home to the Rothschild Collection of Rhododendrons and Azaleas and in March, the Gilbury Lane Garden will open for the first time showing hundreds of camellias interspersed with magnolias including over 200 named varieties from the Trehearne Collection.

– Award winning Borde Hill, where in addition to their Head Gardner led tour and a guided tour of the privately owned Elizabethan house, their annual Sculpture Exhibition features works by local artists thoughtfully placed around the garden creating surprises around every corner.  In late May they also stage a 2 day British Eventing Horse Trials which will add something very English to your visit.

To get the best out of your visit to Parham House, one of England’s finest Elizabethan houses you should take their Platinum tour which includes a house tour led by the Head Guide, lunch independently in their Elizabethan Kitchen and a tour of their magnificent walled garden led by the Head Gardener.

– Oxford, where you should start your day with a specialist tour of the Oxford Botanic Garden, the oldest in the country (established in 1621) and then spend the afternoon at magnificent Blenheim Palace with their ‘Walk in the Past’, an historical garden tour that reveals some of the colourful characters who have shaped its famous landscape.

– The 2014 Hampton Court Flower Show which should include a side trip to the unique high gothic Knebworth House and a Head Gardener led tour of their colour-filled and fragrant formal rose garden.  Set this up on a Wednesday and add an afternoon at treasure filled Hatfield House including a rarely opened East Garden which is maintained by Lady Salisbury and her small band of gardeners.

– Parking your jet lag in the Cotswolds at the beginning of a tour gets things off to a very good start.  Once clear of Immigration and Customs at Heathrow, I recommend you make Waterperry Gardens your first stop.  It’s less than an hour up the M 40 motorway and with a cup of coffee on board, a bit of a leg stretch around the beautiful garden and some clean Oxfordshire air in your lungs, the run to your hotel in Stow on the Wold, Broadway or Chipping Campden will take no time at all.

More time in the Cotswolds where I can suggest garden visits that best suit the season and your client’s particular interests.  A travel less and see more combination might include the award winning gardens at Bourton House with lunch either at the Horse and Groom or al fresco at Batsford Arboretum just across the road.

After a wander through Britain’s largest private collection of trees and shrubs head back to the Garden Terrace Café for a Cotswolds Cream Tea before a free-flying demonstration at the Cotswold Falconry Centre.  This will give you plenty to talk about during your pub supper tonight!

– Although it’s too late to put together a small group tour to the annual Chelsea Flower Show, you can successfully hang a UK tour around three very good Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) shows in the late summer.  The RHS Wisley Flower Show takes place between 2nd-7th September when many of the great gardens in the south east of England still look stunning.

Later in the month, you can base your clients in the Cotswold and offer them a side trip to the RHS Malvern Autumn Show on the weekend of 27th-28th September.  In late October you can then use the RHS London Shades of Autumn Show (21st -22nd October) as the hook for a long weekend to London in the autumn.