One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides – quoted from W.E. Johns, The Passing Show. And… you will be filled with such great anticipation when you decide to join our Interlude to jolly ole England in search of some of the most beautifully lush and charming gardens in the entire world. It’s May and there is no better time to see the wonders of nature throughout the English countryside. This escorted visit to Great Britain includes historic sites, incredible photo opportunities and a glimpse of nature in one of her favorite environments.
Hundreds of years ago, Kew Estate and Richmond Estate were home to members of the British royal family. It was during the reign of King George III that the two estates merged to become Kew Gardens and the site of the Royal Botanical Gardens. Today, the gardens cover 300 acres and contain thousands of species of plants, many of them rare and exotic. Near the entrance to the gardens, you will see Kew Palace, a red-brick mansion, once the home of George III and Queen Charlotte. Located on the River Thames, it was the mother of King George III, in 1759, who laid out a portion of her estate for a collection of plants assembled primarily for scientific and educational purposes. On the site today are glasshouses, a herbarium, the Chinese Pagoda, and museums. Palm House, Temperate House, Evolution House, the Grass Garden and the Wood Museum can all be found within Kew Gardens. .
The Earth laughs in flower (Ralph Waldo Emerson) and never more so than in the Cotswolds. Gardening is one of my true joys and I felt like I had reached gardeners paradise when I visited the Cotswolds. This area of England, about the size of greater Tokyo, is popular with both the English themselves and visitors from all over the world. The Cotswolds are well-known for gentle hillsides (‘wolds’), sleepy villages and for being charmingly and delightfully “English”.
When visiting the “wolds” you will see ‘Drystone walls’ everywhere in the fields. Amazingly, many were built in the 18th and 19th centuries, a matter of considerable skill as there is no cement to hold the walls together. These walls represent an important historical landscape and a major conservation feature – and are of course still used by farmers to enclose sheep and cattle.
During the medieval period of the 13-15th centuries, the native Cotswold sheep were famous throughout Europe for their heavy fleeces and high quality of wool. Cotswold wool commanded a high price and the wealth generated by the wool trade enabled wealthy traders to leave their mark by building fine houses and wonderful churches, known as “wool churches”. Even today, the sight of sheep on the hillside is still one of the classic Cotswold images. Because not all the Cotswold villages are well known – be on the lookout for a hidden village or an unspoiled historic church – a secret world of history may be waiting within.
You know that gardeners always know the best dirt, and much of that info will be shared with you when you attend the Chelsea Flower Show. For more than eight decades, England’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has held this flower show in London on the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. The highlight of this five-day event (besides the fact that YOU will be there) is the full-sized show gardens that are planted and landscaped in the space of only three weeks by some of Britain’s top designers. There are also scientific displays of the latest advances in gardening; booths for flower arranging and garden design; and trade stands showing everything from antique garden statuary to the very latest in garden tools and machinery. Gardening experts are also on hand to give you advice on courtyard gardens, window boxes, hanging baskets, and other less elaborate forms of gardening. Take a pen and notepad and come home with an amazing head start for your own gardens in the spring.
Just a heads up – Her Majesty the Queen has appeared at almost every Chelsea Flower Show since her coronation, and perhaps she’ll visit on the day you are there! Every year this show sees the unveiling of new flowers and lucky you will be among the first from the U.S. to view them. Take lots of pictures – I know they will be incredibly unusual and beautiful.
I picked up a few really good hints for getting the most out of the show and, for that matter, all the gardens you’ll be touring. Remember to wear sun block, May in England can be fickle, but it’s always best to be prepared; sensible shoes are a must – the last thing you want or need is to have your heels get stuck in the mud; remember to drink plenty of water to increase energy and attentiveness; when given the choice eat early to beat the worst of the crowds. What are you waiting for….call Interlude and book this escorted vacation right now – it will be well worth your time. So much to see… so much to do… and a leisurely, comfortable pace – makes this one wonderful adventure. Check out the full itinerary and get on board. And…be sure to give Her Majesty my best regards.
Backroads of the English Countryside (click here for itinerary)
May 22-30, 2011 (9 days, 8 nights)
- Escorted vacation (0% fuss, 100% vacation!)
- Tour for active adults (share a great experience!)
- Includes home pickup and return (for clients in Marion and adjacent counties)
– Interlude blog team
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