“I love sharing what I know about Europe. I am passionate about the continent as a whole. It’s a privilege to show people what we have to offer, the variety of culture the scenery and the history, and I greatly enjoy learning from our guests along the way’” he tells us. “Of all the tours Chelsea Flower Show and Springtime in the Alps is one of my favorite to run. We see some of the best gardens in Europe along with the most spectacular landscapes.”
THE RHS CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW
Described as the ‘World Cup of gardening’ the Chelsea Flower Show is the place to see cutting-edge garden design, breath taking floral displays and innovative garden products, with some 168,000 visitors attending the show each year. Specialist nurseries reveal new plants, top designers from Japan to New York show off their creations, and fashion brands and manufacturers launch their latest lines at the trade stands.
“The show is only open for three days to the public, so tickets are very exclusive,” Philip explains. “We are always the first people in, as soon as the gates open to see the show gardens.”
A QUINTESSENTIALLY ENGLISH EXPERIENCE
“Guests love the show’s royal connections and the fact that it is a quintessentially English experience. There are lots of stands selling champagne and strawberries, Pimms, clotted cream teas and the famous Chelsea buns.”
THE GREAT PAVILION
SHOWSTOPPING SHOW GARDENS
“As soon as we arrive, we always head for the winning garden,” Philip says. “As we arrive early it is easy to see them in relative peace and quiet, as they are the most popular attraction of the show.”
“Sometimes show gardens are allied with a cause, to promote a charity. A couple of years ago the [then Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton] the Princess of Wales, was involved in a garden which was hugely popular,” Philip says.
A ROYAL OCCASION
Also present this year was HRH Catherine, the Princess of Wales, who was there to meet the school children attending the first ever Children’s Picnic.
SUSTAINABILITY AFTER THE SHOW
SAVE TIME FOR SHOPPING
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CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW & SPRINGTIME IN THE ALPS
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As the trip starts in Amsterdam you are immediately treated with a visit to the colossal Aalsmeer Flower Auction. Here over 30,000 species are featured, with 43 million flowers and 5 million plants sold daily Monday to Friday. Witness all the action from a specially designed viewing gallery as traders bid against the clock for a mind-blowing assortment of blooms. This is then followed by a visit to Keukenhof, hailed as the most beautiful spring garden in the world. The sea of colour is breath-taking with tulips as the showstopper.
In the south of England, Sissinghurst Castle Gardens are really special. Designed as a series of rooms, the white garden was the very first of its kind in the world. And at the Gardens of Wisley, explore the beautiful Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden, a picturesque orchard and the huge cathedral-like glass house.
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OTHER TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
“We also stay in the Swiss Alps. The village of Grindelwald is a truly dramatic setting, with a beautiful valley, fast flowing rivers, lakes and mountains. From here you can even see the iconic north face of the Eiger. To wake up and be greeted with such mountain scenery is something you won’t forget.”
“The Thames cruise provides a great finale to the trip. London lit up at night is just spectacular. The food is delicious and there is also live music. You cruise under Tower Bridge and travel right down to the Millennium Dome, passing the naval college at Greenwich, the Houses of Parliament… it’s just amazing.”
OPT FOR A DIFFERENT GARDEN ITINERARY
On the former, you’ll elevate your Chelsea Flower Show experience with a 10-day tour through Europe’s most picturesque cities. Cruise the charming canals of Bruges, witness the world’s largest flower auction in Amsterdam, and experience the beauty of Monet’s Garden and water-lily pond in Giverny. On the latter, you’ll be staying in Britain, journeying far and wide for 15-days to see more glorious gardens, such as the stunning Trentham Gardens in Llandudno Bay, the Victorian Greenhouses at Kew, and the interlaced lakes and colorful blooms of Leonardslee.