Chelsea Flower Show

Susan Mulvihill and International House of Travel Present Chelsea Flower Show and the Gardens of England

May 16 – 27, 2018

This tour combines the color and excitement of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with some of England's finest gardens, offering you the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful horticultural experience and sharing the excitement with your wonderful leader, known by many as “Susan's in the Garden.” May 16 – Your Garden Journey begins with your departure from Spokane to London. May 17 – Welcome to the United Kingdom! Arrival at Heathrow Airport and collect your luggage. Then you will meet your tour escort who will accompany you throughout the duration of your visit. Your adventure begins today with a visit to Waterperry Gardens. The gardens date back to 1932 when Miss Beatrix Havergal opened her School of Horticulture for Ladies. The 8 acre ornamental gardens include a rose and formal knot garden, water-lily canal, riverside walk, and one of the finest purely herbaceous borders in the country. Herbaceous nursery stock beds provide a living catalogue of plants, and there's also an alpine garden. A commercial plant center, stocked with plants grown in on-site nurseries, occupies large areas of the beautiful walled garden, and the site also boasts 5 acres of commercial orchards, producing the famous Waterperry apple juice each year. Gardening courses are held throughout the year. You will have a light lunch at the Waterperry Tea Shop and then continue to the Cotswolds.

Check into the Old Swan & Minster Mill Hotel which is just 15 minutes from Oxford and nestled in 65 acres of idyllic grounds. What a perfect place to stay for the next 3 nights. After freshening up and relaxing, meet the group for a welcome dinner. May 18 – Today your private tour will be a full-day visiting the Waddesdon Manor House and Gardens. You will spend the day enjoying a Manor Kitchen Discovery Talk, the Garden tour and a wonderful lunch at the Waddesdon Manor Restaurant. There will have some free time to walk through the house at your leisure. Upon return to your hotel, you will be on your own for the evening.

May 19 – Today is all about gardens and villages. Discover one of the most beautiful gardens in the Cotswolds, Hidcote Manor and Gardens is one of the most influential and famous of all English gardens. Hidcote was created in the 1930's by American Lawrence Johnston. The garden is packed with wonderful plantings and visual surprises. After an introductory talk about these gardens, you'll have free time to explore on your own and enjoy an independent lunch before heading to the charming village of Bourton-on-the-Water. This village has been referred to as the “Venice of the Cotswolds” because of the attractive little bridges that cross the gently flowing River Windrush. Bourton has a charm all of its own. Travel back to the hotel and enjoy your evening.

May 20 – After checking out of your hotel it is off to Cliveden Gardens. Enjoy the informal splendor of these stunning gardens and enjoy exploring the peaceful woodland and Thames riverbank. You will discover a garden that delights with colorful planting schemes, miles of walks and breathtaking views as well as a giant maze. After free time for lunch on your own, continue to Chartwell House. For over 40 years this was the home of Winston Churchill. After purchasing the property in 1922, Chartwell became the center of his world. In his study he composed speeches and wrote books; in his garden, he built walls, constructed lakes and painted. In 1953 the house became his refuge when he suffered a devastating stroke. After a wonderful day of exploring you will arrive at your next hotel, Buxted Park. Housed in a grand 1722 Palladian mansion set on 312 acres of parkland, this will be a very enjoyable home away from home for the next 3 nights.

May 21 – With so many important gardens close by, Gravetye Manor is a garden lover’s paradise! You will experience the quintessential beauty looking its best and proving plenty of inspiration. This is a very special place and can be considered amongst the most influential in English gardening history. Today Gravetye is a mature, charming and very beautiful garden. You are in for a very special treat as the manor will be closing in January of 2018 to build a new restaurant that reopens in May and will be a whole new dining experience. Tonight YOU will be able to enjoy the uninterrupted views of the flower gardens whilst enjoying the experience of the Head Chef George's inspiring food while dining here. May 22 – A full day excursion is in order as another classic English Country Garden – Great Dixter – has been planned. The distinguished garden writer Christopher Lloyd was the genius behind Great Dixter, with its timbered 15th-century house. Restored by Edwin Lutyens who also planned the garden, Mr. Lloyd firmly put his lively stamp on it. A recent experiment installation of a summer tropical garden, rich bold shapes and brilliant colors will convince any gardener coming to Great Dixter that a zest for gardening has rekindled. After an independent lunch you will arrive at Sissinghurst Castle Garden. This 16th century tower and other buildings is the most famous twentieth century garden in England. Sissinghurst garden is a prime example of Arts and Crafts style. The garden was made on the site of a medieval manor and some structures have survived. You will enter the world of influential gardener and writer Vita Sackville-West and husband Harold Nicholson. A disciplined framework of walls and hedges is filled out by wonderfully exuberant plantings of old roses, perennials and cottage garden flowers. The most famous of the many gardens is the White Garden. Travel back to your hotel and relax.

May 23 – Today we will continue exploring fabulous gardens by visiting one of the National Trust's premier gardens, Nymans Gardens. Nymans was a country retreat for the creative Messel family, and has views stretching out across the Sussex Weald. Today it's still a place to recharge the batteries where you can glimpse hidden corners through stone archways, walk along tree-lined avenues and be surrounded by lush green countryside. Nymans is a place of experimentation with constantly evolving planting designs and a rare and unusual plant collection.

You will then continue on to London and your new hotel. Upon arrival in the city, enjoy a half-day panoramic city tour before checking into the Radisson Blue Edwardian Vanderbilt.

May 24 – Today you will experience the Chelsea Flower Show, the gardening Mecca of Europe, where some of the most imaginative garden designs are. This show holds a rare position as a great British tradition and an exciting source of inspiration and advice. One of the highlights of the show is the collection of over twenty full-sized show gardens. Inside the Great Marquee visitors have their senses ravished by the hundreds of floral displays, many of them incorporating new, rare and unusual plants. This is the ultimate show that will continue its long tradition of pushing the boundaries. You'll have plenty of time to wander at the show today so ENJOY!

May 25 – After a morning at leisure and after lunch (on your own) , your private coach will take you to the Chelsea Physic Gardens which was founded in 1673 as the Apothecaries' Garden with the purpose of training apprentices in the identification and use of medicinal plants. The location was chosen due to its proximity to the River Thames. This allowed the Apothecaries to moor their barge, collect plants in the surrounding areas and take advantage of the river's warm air currents which contribute to the Garden's unique microclimate. It is one of London's oldest gardens, houses more than 5,000 plants used for culinary and medicinal purposes. A guide will take you around the garden and explain what the various plants are for. Return to the hotel for an evening on your own.

May 26 – This morning departure is to the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, which is now a World Heritage Site and boasts a unique collection of plants from all over the world. Among the attractions are the iconic Palm House, which recreates a tropical rainforest environment, the Temperate House, home to the world's tallest indoor plant and the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which contains ten climatic zones and a huge variety of plants including orchids and cacti. You will return back to your hotel to have the afternoon free to explore London at leisure. This evening will be a farewell dinner at a local restaurant to enjoy your last evening in England. May 27 – After checking out of the hotel, you will be met by your guide and be assisted to the airport. Depart for Spokane.
Susan Mulvihill is the longtime garden columnist for the Sunday Spokesman-Review, co-author of the Northwest Gardener’s Handbook, a Spokane County Master Gardener and member of the Association for Garden Communicators. Susan loves to travel and has visited gardens in many countries. Her website ( and Facebook page ( SusansintheGarden) are popular with gardeners around the world.