Let Chelsea Inspire You to Blooming Travel


With the RHS Chelsea Flower Show just around the corner (21-25 May), our friends at Travel PR have collected a selection of garden-themed holiday ideas to get you into bloom.

Ivy-clad luxury villa in Chelsea itself – London from £263 pp with Big Domain

Why not turn the Chelsea Flower Show into a really special social occasion this year and hire Chelsea House (sleeps 16) with friends? A vast and supremely elegant abode in SW3 featuring four-poster beds, trendy chaises longues and exquisite lighting, guests can enjoy the property’s pretty courtyard garden and have exclusive access to a nearby private park with tennis courts. If you don’t feel like putting the fully-equipped kitchen to use, there are plenty of fashionable restaurants in the neighbourhood. A one-night stay costs from £263 pp (£4,200 total).

Botanical garden and wetlands in Japan – from £256 pp with Hoshino Resorts

Located in the countryside south of Mount Fuji, just 90 minutes from Tokyo, Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands (entry ¥700/ £4.90 per adult) was established in 1976. Open from March-November, the garden is home to over 1,700 indigenous plants which can be viewed from wooden boardwalks meandering through marshland, rockeries, ponds, streams, moorland, swamp forest and alpine gardens. Stay nearby at KAI Sengokuhara, a luxury 16-bedroom ryokan (inn), which combines an art gallery and atelier (art studio) with healing hot springs. The price is from £256 per person, per night (half-board). Flights/transfers extra.

The enchanted jewel of Lake Maggiore – Veneto, Italy from £1,181pp with Sunvil

Like a flower-strewn barge, the flourishing Italian-style gardens of Isola Bella are a floating splendour on Lake Maggiore. Set beneath a majestic Baroque palazzo, the 37m high green haven of overlapping terraces commands impressive views. Nestled amongst 17th century statues and fountains, a plethora of rare exotic plants provide a feast for the senses, while sauntering white peacocks add to the grandeur. Seven nights’ B&B at the family-run Cannero Lakeside Resort costs from £1,181pp (two sharing) for May and June departures, including return flights (Gatwick) and car hire. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4758.

Wildflowers, birds and butterflies in volcanic Madeira – from £1,395 pp with Naturetrek

A naturalist’s paradise, the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira – situated 560 km off the north-west coast of Africa – is often referred to as ‘the floating garden’. This eight-day tour, based in capital city Funchal, is timed to coincide with the peak flowering times of a vast array of beautiful plants. Enjoy daily guided walks across forest, mountain and coastal terrain in search of endemic plants, birds and butterflies, and explore the botanical highlights of Funchal. Madeira – The Floating Garden costs from £1,395 pp (two sharing), including flights (Gatwick), transfers, seven nights’ B&B, lunch daily and expert botanical guiding. Departs 4 June. Call AITO* member Naturetrek on 01962 733051.

Live the pura vida in Costa Rica – from £2,345 pp with Jules Verne

A kaleidoscope of vivid natural colours, wildlife-rich Costa Rica boasts over 2,000 species of orchid, more than 850 species of birds and a dizzying diversity of natural landscapes, including volcanoes, rainforests, and Atlantic and Pacific coasts. On this 11-night tour, explore the Tortuguero Lagoon by boat, birdwatch in La Selva Nature Reserve, bathe in hot springs near Arenal Volcano, traverse the Monteverde Cloud Forest, and more. Central America’s Garden of Eden costs from £2,345 pp (two sharing), including flights (Gatwick), transfers, B&B, three lunches, three dinners, excursions, naturalist guide & local reps. One overnight flight. Departs 2, 16 and 23 November.

Explore Victorian gardens in West Sussex – from £148 pp with Pride of Britain Hotels

The gardens at Gravetye Manor, an Elizabethan stone mansion in West Sussex, are an oasis of calm, originally designed by visionary gardener William Robinson in 1885. The dynamic flower garden features a combination of annuals, perennials and shrubs, and the walled kitchen garden is filled with produce for use in the Michelin-starred restaurant. There are two acres of orchards and, from May, the surrounding meadows are in bloom with native wild flowers. Daily garden tours are available for residents and lunch guests (11am Mon-Fri; £25 pp). Stay overnight from £295 per room total/ £148 pp (two sharing), including full English breakfast.

Paint a sun-dappled garden scene in Tuscany – from £1,640 pp at The Watermill at Posara

Take inspiration from the beautiful gardens surrounding The Watermill at Posara, on a week-long painting holiday in rural Tuscany. The complex of historic buildings is set around a sunny courtyard, vine verandah, rose pergola and sunny walled garden. Wild flowers grow along the millstream and there is an old olive press reservoir in the riverside gardens, all of which can be captured on canvas during Sue Ford’s Watercolours, pastels, collage and mixed media course (13-20 July). The cost is from £1,640 pp (two sharing), including tuition, seven nights’ full board, drinks, transfers (Pisa) & a mid-week excursion (Lucca or the Cinque Terre). Flights extra.

History & style in the Gardens of the French & Italian Riviera – from £2,989 pp with Kirker Holidays

Where better to seek horticultural inspiration than in the many great gardens dotted along the Côte d’Azur between St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and the Italian border, created by 19th century gardeners attracted both by the region’s climate and its beauty? Visit the famous Hanbury Gardens at La Mortola, Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Clos du Peyronnet, Monte Carlo’s Jardin Exotique, and more, on ‘Gardens of the French & Italian Riviera’. Departing 4 June, it costs from £2,989 pp (two sharing), including BA flights (Heathrow) to Nice, accommodation with breakfast in Menton, all lunches & dinners with wine, entrance fees & gratuities, and Kirker Tour Lecturer. Call AITO* member Kirker on 020 7593 2283.

Brecon Beacons bull pen with vegetable garden – Wales from £180 pp with holidaycottages.co.uk

The Boutique B & B (sleeps two, plus one well-behaved dog) is a fabulously converted bull pen situated on a pretty farm, overlooking an impressive vegetable garden, in the rolling Monmouthshire countryside close to the Brecon Beacons National Park. The studio-style accommodation has a private wood-fired hot tub (logs provided), a cute kitchen and a sumptuous bedroom. A breakfast hamper awaits your arrival, with an available ‘upgrade’ to include fresh eggs and meat from the farm. A three-night stay in June costs from £180 pp (£359 total).

See the UK’s longest laburnum arch – Worcestershire from £68 pp at Brockencote Hall

Situated on the banks of the River Severn in Worcestershire, Arley Arboretum & Gardens (open Wed-Sun; £5.50 per adult) is home to over 300 species of trees and the UK’s longest laburnum arch (65m), which blooms in May and June. Other highlights include a Magnolia Garden with over a dozen varieties, beautifully-restored Italian Gardens and spectacular displays of rhododendrons and azaleas. Stay nearby at Brockencote Hall, an imposing Victorian manor house near Chaddesley Corbett with a private lake, set in 70 acres. An overnight stay is priced from £135 per room/£68 pp (two sharing), including full English breakfast.

The joyous mix of gin and gardens – from £100 pp at Seaham Hall, County Durham

On Sunday 9 June, Crook Hall & Gardens – a 13th century Grade I Listed medieval hall in Durham City – will host a Gin-Themed Afternoon Tea, including gin-infused scones, cakes and truffles, plus a menu of fabulous gin cocktails. Enjoy this experience out in the glorious, quintessentially English gardens. Stay just 20 minutes away at Seaham Hall, the five-star, seaside boutique hotel where Lord Byron married back in 1815. An overnight stay in a Junior Suite costs from £100 pp (two sharing), including a full English breakfast and use of the spa facilities.

*AITO is The Specialist Travel Association: more than 120 specialist travel companies providing an unrivalled collection of holiday ideas that cover every corner of the world. Consumers booking with AITO can be assured of high-quality holidays and excellent personal service. Visit www.aito.com for further information.

Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

Read more posts by Mark Bibby Jackson →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *