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22576
England

Chelsea Flower Show and Gardens: A British Tradition

Inspiration blooms when you join us for the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show and explore some of England’s best-loved gardens with experts!
Rating (4.91)
Program No. 22576RJ
Length
13 days
Starts at
4,299
Flights start at
1,200
England

Chelsea Flower Show and Gardens: A British Tradition

Inspiration blooms when you join us for the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show and explore some of England’s best-loved gardens with experts!
Length
13 days
Starts at
4,299
Flights start at
1,200
Length
13 days
Rating (4.91)
Starts at
4,299
Flights start at
1,200
Program No. 22576RJ

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 15 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
4,299
May 23 - Jun 4, 2023
Starting at
4,399
Itinerary Note

This is a reverse itinerary from 05/15/2023, starting in London for 2 nights. It is also one night longer with an additional night at a Heathrow Airport Hotel. Please see individual departure itineraries for specifics.

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 15 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
5,119
May 23 - Jun 4, 2023
Starting at
5,279
Itinerary Note

This is a reverse itinerary from 05/15/2023, starting in London for 2 nights. It is also one night longer with an additional night at a Heathrow Airport Hotel. Please see individual departure itineraries for specifics.

At a Glance

Renowned by horticulturalists as one of the greatest flower shows in the world, the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show brings the best of blooms and latest trends in landscaping to the public eye. Immerse yourself in the botanical world as you attend this inspiring event and explore some of the finest gardens in England. Meet head gardeners and lifelong experts at castles, cathedrals and country houses, and spend time in the beautiful Cotswolds — home to one of Britain’s best-loved gardens, RHS Wisley. Learn the secrets to creating a quintessentially English country garden and get the latest on gardening trends at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking and standing for up to three hours on field trips.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Spend a full day at the world class Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show, one of the most prestigious in the world.
  • With RHS judge Kevin Tooher as your instructor, meet members of the gardening teams at the World Garden in Lullingstone and the Secret Garden at the Salutation in Sandwich.
  • Discover iconic gardens such as Sissinghurst Castle Garden, RHS Wisley, Hidcote Manor, Kiftsgate Court and Rousham.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden
by Sarah Raven, Vita Sackville-West
This illustrated tribute to the renowned Sissinghurst Castle Garden incorporates the popular weekly columns of gardener extraordinaire and award-winning writer Vita Sackville-West, who founded and tended to the garden for many years.
Watching the English
by Kate Fox
Fox's clever guide to the conversation, behavior, quirks, habits and foibles of the English is wildly popular back home in Britain. Second edition.
The English Cathedral
by Peter Marlow
In this photographic tribute to each of England's 42 Anglican cathedrals (including the great UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Durham and Canterbury) award-winning photographer Peter Marlow evokes the greatness and humbling power of each magnificent building.
English Gardens, A Journey Through the Seasons
by Helene Gammack
A visual feast of pure gardening inspiration. From England’s most modest herb patches to its sweeping landscape gardens -- carpets of bluebells at Emmets Garden, the wild meadows at Tyntesfield -- the National Trust offers a glorious tour.
Londoners
by Craig Taylor
Drawing on the unforgettable stories of nearly 100 Londoners, Taylor provides a rich and vivid kaleidoscopic view of modern-day London through the diverse voices of those who, regardless of whether they love or hate it, capture the heart and soul of one of the world's greatest cities.
The English Garden
by Phaidon
This illustrated survey of 100 iconic gardens in England includes an unrivaled range of gardens by designers, patrons, artists, architects and literary figures.
Insight Guide England
by Insight Guides
This lavishly illustrated guide includes excellent color maps and thoughtful short essys on history, culture and attractions.
Great Gardens of Britain
by Helena Attlee
A photographic tour through 20 of the finest gardens in Great Britain, ranging from famous 18th-century landscapes such as Stourhead to the rather quirky Garden of Cosmic Speculation.
The English Garden, A Social History
by Charles Quest-Ritson
This short piece of scholarship discusses how English gardens are not merely beautiful, but represent lifestyle, money and class. The narrative ushers readers from the walled-off secret gardens of the 1500s to the present day, when gardening is a common pastime.
The Cotswolds, A Cultural History
by Jane Bingham
In this cultural guide, Bingham introduces the churches and manor houses, rich history and celebrated landscapes of southern England.
The English Garden
by Andrew Lawson (Photographer), Ursula Buchan
An illustrated history of English gardens and styles of landscaping, with 350 photographs and a focus on gardens open to the public.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
by Brent Elliott
A world expert on the Chelsea Flower Show, Brent Elliott shows how the show has evolved and influenced over the course of 100 years. Includes 200 color and black-and-white illustrations as well as pieces from gardeners and nurserymen and women.
England and Wales
by Freytag & Berndt
A colorful, double-sided map of England and Wales at a scale of 1:400,000.
A Traveller's History of England
by Christopher Daniell
Historian and archeologist Daniell delivers a comprehensive history of the region since the time of the hunter-gatherers in this compact volume, taking you through the Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, and Medieval monarchs to the Reformation, Renaissance, the world wars and the modern state of things.
Gloucester & Cheltenham Walker's Map
by Ordnance Survey
Great for outdoor activities like walking and hiking, this British-produced map is printed in amazing detail. Scaled at 1:25,000 (2.5 inches equals one mile).
In Search of England
by H.V. Morton, Jan Morris (Introduction)
The much-beloved, enduring account of Morton's ramblings through the English countryside in the early days of the motorcar. Morton charmingly mixes a deep appreciation of the art, culture and history of the place with his own keen observations.
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13 days
12 nights
29 meals
11 B 7 L 11 D
DAY
1
In Transit To Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive London, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
London, England
L,D
Radisson Blu Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel

Lunch: In the hotel, we’ll have a light lunch of soup and sandwiches, with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Arrivals continue. After you check in and get your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This program is staffed with both a Group Leader, who will accompany us throughout the program and deal primarily with logistics, and a Study Leader who will lecture, conduct field trips and serve as an information resource on program-related topics. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel we’ll have a two-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to attend a screening of footage from previous years’ Chelsea Flower Shows, in a private room at the hotel, in preparation for tomorrow’s field trip to the Show.

DAY
3
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
London, England
B,D
Radisson Blu Edwardian Vanderbilt Hotel

Activity note: The Great Pavilion is roughly 11,775 square metres or 2.90 acres.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, bacon, sausages, hash brown, tomatoes, mushrooms, make-your-own muesli, cereals, pastries, toast, milk, juices, tea, coffee, water.

Morning: Our horticultural adventure commences with a field trip by motorcoach to the world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Except for gaps during the two world wars, it has been held on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea every year since 1913. It remains Britain's most prestigious flower show, closely associated with the Royal Family. We’ll depart early to avoid the crowds with plenty of time to explore and be inspired by the show’s dazzling displays. There are various talks, demonstrations, and exhibits you may attend and explore to your heart's content including artisan gardens, fresh gardens, and show gardens.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Village Fete offers a variety of hot and cold food with covered and open air seating.

Afternoon: Our exploration of the Chelsea Flower Show continues. We will rendezvous at a predetermined time and place to return to the hotel by motorcoach, and the remainder of the afternoon is free time.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Transfer to Canterbury, Lullingstone Castle
Canterbury
B,L,D
Best Western Abbots Barton

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach to begin our transfer to Canterbury in Kent, the county known as “The Garden of England”. We’ll stop en route for a field trip to Lullingstone Castle, the ancestral home of Tom Hart Dyke. It is the UK's first “World Garden” and has been featured on BBC TV. Designed and cultivated by Tom himself, plants from around the globe are arranged by their respective countries of origination. We will meet Tom and hear him describe his vision and work as a modern day plant hunter. The idea for this “World Garden” developed when Tom and a companion were kidnapped by guerrillas while searching for rare orchids in the Darién Gap between Colombia and Panama. They were held captive for nine months, often threatened with death. To keep his sanity, Tom began imagining a garden designed to display plants he had collected in his travels, to be laid out in the shape of a world map.

Lunch: At Lullingstone Castle.

Afternoon: We’ll board the motorcoach after lunch to complete our transfer to Canterbury. Once we have checked in to our hotel, we’ll have some free time to relax and explore this ancient cathedral city.

Dinner: At the hotel we’ll have a three-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Rye & Great Dixter
Canterbury
B,L,D
Best Western Abbots Barton

Activity note: Garden: hardened paths, slopes with some ramps. Steps at a number of points may be difficult. Rye is very hilly.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, bacon, sausages, hash brown, tomatoes, mushrooms, cereals, pastries, toast, milk, juices, tea, coffee, water.

Morning: We’ll begin the day with a multi-media lecture at the hotel by our Study Leader: A Brief History of English Gardens. We’ll then board a motorcoach and ride to the picturesque town of Rye.

Lunch: In Rye.

Afternoon: We’ll begin the afternoon with some free time to explore Rye. Charming and picturesque with steep cobblestoned streets, half-timbered cottages, elegant town houses, and even a Norman church, Rye was the 18th-century smuggling capital of England! We’ll then travel by motorcoach to Great Dixter, the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd (1921-2006), who made it famous. The Tudor house is surrounded by a famous Arts and Crafts garden. The gardens are profuse with contrasting colours and a wild area. In Lloyd’s own words: “Most of the garden design was by Lutyens; it always seems fluid, never stodgy… I have no segregated colour schemes. In fact, I take it as a challenge to combine every sort of colour effectively… if I think a yellow candelabrum of mullein will look good rising from the middle of a quilt of pink phlox, I’ll put it there – or let it put itself there. Many plants in this garden are self-sown and they often provide me with excellent ideas. But I do also have some of my own!” After our field trip, we’ll return to Canterbury by motorcoach.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Free Time in Canterbury, The Salutation
Canterbury
B,L,D
Best Western Abbots Barton

Activity note: Walking and standing up to two hours in garden.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Free time. This block of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Lunch: We'll have a light lunch at the hotel.

Afternoon: After lunch we’ll board a motorcoach and head for the ancient town of Sandwich, one of the original Cinque Ports (a medieval confederation of five ports in south-eastern England). Situated behind the town walls is a manor house known as The Salutation, home to 3.5 acres of glorious gardens reclaimed from floods and neglect. Originally a pub and market garden, it was transformed from 1911-12 by the noted architect Sir Edward Lutyens with input from legendary English garden expert Gertrude Jekyll. The property and its gardens went through periods of great success, terrible neglect, and natural disaster. We will meet members of the current team of gardeners who restored the framework of the Lutyens design, and explore the eclectic mix of plants and garden “rooms” to appreciate the fusion of old and new ideas.

Dinner: At The Salutation, we’ll have a 2-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water and one glass of wine included; other beverages available for purchase. The Salutation’s chefs take great pride in making full use of all the vegetables, fruits and herbs grown in the kitchen garden, many of which are unusual heritage varieties.

Evening: We'll return to the hotel by motorcoach after dinner, and the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
7
Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Canterbury
B,D
Best Western Abbots Barton

Activity note: Sissinghurst has 450 acres. Explorations may be from a 1-mile walk passing two lakes to a more adventurous 3-mile walk taking in all of the estate.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we’ll board a motorcoach and head for Sissinghurst Castle Garden, which we’ll explore at our own pace. En route, our Study Leader will deliver a lecture on the story of Sissinghurst — a tale of the aristocracy, sexual intrigue and gardening! From its beginnings as a Saxon pig farm, the place we know as Sissinghurst has become a “poetical refuge” dedicated to beauty and one of the most famous gardens in England. Its modern history began in the 1930s when it was purchased as a derelict by poet and author Vita Sackville-West and her husband, poet and diplomat Harold Nicolson. They began building up the surrounding farm and developing the garden, inspired by the examples of Sir Edward Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. The garden design consists of a series of interconnected “rooms” — each with its own character, color, and theme — and some enchanting lakeside and woodland walks. Sackville-West and Nicolson opened the garden to the public in 1938. After Sackville-West’s death in 1962, Nicolson gave it to the National Trust, who have been its guardians ever since.

Lunch: In Sissinghurst, on your own to enjoy what you like at the café.

Afternoon: We’ll begin our afternoon with some free time to continue our independent explorations at Sissinghurst, then return to Canterbury by motorcoach for some more free time there.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Canterbury Cathedral & Gardens
Canterbury
B,L,D
Best Western Abbots Barton

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: This morning’s field trip features a special opening exclusively for our Road Scholar group of the Dean's Garden in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral. We’ll learn about the history of this secret part of the Cathedral precincts (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) from one of the gardeners, then venture into one of the earliest Gothic buildings in England to explore at our own pace, perhaps paying homage at the shrine of Thomas Becket, who was murdered in the Cathedral in 1170.

Lunch: You will be given a lunch allowance to allow you to explore the many varied eateries in Canterbury.

Afternoon: Free time to continue our independent explorations in Canterbury.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Transfer to Cheltenham, RHS Wisley
Cheltenham.
B,D
Queens Hotel Cheltenham

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; total driving about 175 miles, approximately 3.5 hours. RHS Wisley has 240 acres of grounds.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach, and begin our transfer to Cheltenham. En route, our Study Leader will deliver a lecture on the first 200 years of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). We’ll stop at RHS Wisley along the way. Wisley is the flagship garden of the RHS, and one of the best loved in Britain. Its more than 230 acres offer a beautifully cultivated blend of practical and innovative techniques as well as one of the largest plant collections in the world. It includes decorative gardens, arboretums, and interesting “model gardens” offered as a guideline on what home gardeners can expect to achieve on their own land. Another highlight is the Glasshouse, 40 feet (12 meters) high and the size of 10 tennis courts. We will explore some of the highlights with our Study Leader.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like at the various eateries at Wisley. These include the Food Hall, Glasshouse Café and Restaurant.

Afternoon: We will have time for independent exploration until mid-afternoon, when we will continue on our way to Cheltenham. There will then be time to freshen up and relax after checking in at the hotel.

Dinner: A three course dinner is served in the hotel. Tea, coffee and water are included

Evening: Free time. You may wish to stroll around the Imperial Gardens outside your hotel.

DAY
10
Hidcote Manor Gardens, Chipping Campden, Bourton House
Cheltenham.
B,L,D
Queens Hotel Cheltenham

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, bacon, sausages, hash brown, tomatoes, mushrooms, cereals, pastries, toast, milk, juices, tea, coffee, water.

Morning: We’ll board the motorcoach and set out on a full-day exploration of the Cotswolds, beginning in the north Cotswolds at Hidcote Manor, a celebrated 20th-century garden surrounded by beautiful countryside. Hidcote, created by the talented Anglo-American horticulturist and noted plantsman Major Lawrence Johnston, is considered to be one of the top ten gardens in Britain. This garden also explores the concept of “rooms” within a garden that we have seen elsewhere. It is famous for rare shrubs and trees, as well as its outstanding design with wild flower areas, pools and water features, and long avenues bordered by imaginative and colorful plantings. We’ll then proceed to the nearby market town of Chipping Campden.

Lunch: In Chipping Campden, we’ll have a two-course plated and served meal at a traditional Cotswold inn with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll begin the afternoon with some free time to explore Chipping Campden, then board the motorcoach and ride to another of the Cotswolds' most fabulous gardens at Bourton House. The garden features luxuriant terraces and wide herbaceous borders with stunning plant, texture and colour combinations. Imaginative topiary includes a knot garden, parterre and topiary walk and there are several spring-fed water features including a raised basket pond from the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Dinner: In the hotel.

Evening: Free time.

DAY
11
Painswick Rococo Garden
Cheltenham.
B,D
Queens Hotel Cheltenham

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: This morning we will journey by motorcoach to the beautiful Cotswold town of Painswick, where we will have an opportunity to admire the honey stone architecture before stepping back in time at the flamboyant Painswick Rococo Garden. The only complete Rococo garden surviving in Britain, it was originally laid out in the 1740s, designed as a pleasure garden and place for garden parties, almost like a theatrical set. By the 1970s, it had become terribly overgrown but renewed interest on the part of garden historians led to its restoration. We will return to Cheltenham at the conclusion of our field trip.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like in Cheltenham.

Afternoon: Free time to see and do what interests you most in Cheltenham.

Dinner: At the hotel we'll have a three-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Free time to allow you to pack and prepare for an early start tomorrow.

DAY
12
Transfer to London, Rousham Gardens, Oxford
London, England
B,L,D
Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow Hotel

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board our motorcoach to begin our transfer to London. Our first stop on the journey will be Rousham Gardens, just north of Oxford. The gardens are the purest example of an Augustan landscape garden, designed by William Kent. We’ll walk amongst the statues paying homage to Imperial games, wander into the woods, and venture through a glade leading to a Temple overlooking the River Cherwell. Next, we’ll make the short journey to Oxford where we will be dropped off at the central Martyr's Memorial, with some time for personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will point out some of the main areas and sites to see in this “City of Dreaming Spires.”

Lunch: In Oxford, we’ll have packed lunches with sandwich, snack, fruit, and beverage.

Afternoon: We’ll have some more time for independent exploration in Oxford, before we rendezvous at a predetermined spot for a mid-afternoon resumption of our transfer to London. We’ll arrive at our hotel in the late afternoon, and after checking in we’ll have some time to relax and unpack before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel we’ll have a three-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: In the hotel depending on departure times. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.