Chelsea Flower Show & Country Gardens 2018

Chelsea Flower Show & Country Gardens from Kent to Cornwall

  • May 17-25, 2018
  • $4,375 USD per person
  • Visit Chelsea, Great Dixter, Sissinghurst, Wisley, Tresco, & more.

Chelsea Flower Show & English Country Gardens from Kent to Cornwall

May 17 – 25, 2018

A simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place is the organizing principle behind the 100 year tradition of the Royal Horticultural Society’s world famous Chelsea Flower Show. On this tour, garden lovers will get a chance to check out this international stage where the very best contemporary garden design talent and newest horticultural knowledge is on full display.

We couldn’t plan a tour to England without also seeing the best country gardens. This year we’re traveling to the gardens of Southern England going all the way to subtropical Cornwall to see the gardens of Tresco and Lost Gardens of Heligan. We’ll also explore beautiful Sissinghurst and be dazzled by the plantings at Great Dixter and Gravetye Manor. Along the way, we’ll dip into some private gardens: modern Fairlight End; the new garden at historic Trematon Castle; and the plantsman’s paradise, Wildside.


May 17, Thursday – Arrive at Heathrow Airport
May 18, Friday – Great Dixter, Fairlight End, Sissinghurst
May 19, Saturday – Wisley, Trematon Castle
May 20, Sunday – Tresco
May 21, Monday – Trebah, Lost Gardens of Heligan
May 22, Tuesday – Wild Side, Knoll Gardens
May 23, Wednesday – West Dean, Gravetye Manor
May 24, Thursday – Chelsea Flower Show
May 25, Friday – Depart or continue travels on your own

CarexTours strives to operate according to our published itinerary. However, in the event of unforeseen circumstances beyond our control or opportunities that would enhance the itinerary, adjustments may be necessary.


Day 1, May 17, Thursday — ARRIVE IN LONDON
  • Tour members will independently arrange travel to Heathrow Airport and transfer on their own to the Hilton London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 4 where a room will have been booked for them.We’ll gather in the hotel bar to get acquainted at 6:30 PM for Welcome Cocktails. First drink courtesy of carexTours.
  • We begin our tour south of London at Great Dixter, perhaps the best known and most loved of all English gardens. It exists as a living testament to the life and passions of the late owner, plantsman, and writer, Christopher Lloyd. Head gardener Fergus Garrett, who worked for Lloyd during the last years of his life, carries on the tradition of experimentation that Lloyd started. Although the structure of this garden is early 20th century, the spirit of the plantings is most undoubtedly contemporary. Under Garrett’s leadership, the garden is being developed and maintained to such a high level that you are unlikely to find any other garden like it. Great Dixter is a visionary, exuberant, plant lover’s haven. Expect to see contemporary planting design at its best.
  • Moving on closer to the English Channel, we’ll visit Fairlight End, a young private garden set on land that slopes steeply from the house at the top downward across wildflower meadows to a pond at the bottom. New owners, baffled by the unwieldy topography, brought in landscape architect Ian Kitson whose signature gesture is the curve. Here, he inserted a single curvaceous corten steel retaining edge to separate the more refined garden close to the house from the less tamed areas below. Fairlight End is not the only example of the contemporary English taste for wild gardens we’ll see on our tour, but it is certainly the most stylish.
  • We end our day at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens. These gardens are treasures today thanks to the commitment, imagination, and marriage of writer Vita Sackville-West and diplomat Harold Nicolson. In the 1930’s, he planned the gardens’ architecture, and she filled it with lush, romantic plantings. Besides exploring the series of famous garden rooms, make sure you climb the tower and take in the panoramic views from the top. From this vantage point, it’s easy to see why thousands of garden lovers consider a pilgrimage to Sissinghurst an absolute must.
Day 3, May 19, Saturday — WISLEY, TREMATON CASTLE
  • We start our day at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden, Wisley. For more than 100 years, Wisley has been a center of gardening excellence. Although the garden spreads over 240 acres, we’ll focus on the demonstration gardens which feature a diversity of types from stream gardens to meadows to classic double borders. We can expect to see lots of colorful May flowers wherever we stroll: tree peonies, camassia, allium, roses, iris, wisteria and giant rhododendron, all beautifully grown. Not to be missed is the new Glasshouse with nearby perennial borders created by influential designers Tom Stuart-Smith and Piet Oudolf.
  • Trematon Castle is our next stop and our first garden in Cornwall. It dates from the time of the Norman Conquest and is a perfect miniature castle with superb river views complete with boats plying the waters and even battleships in the distance. It is the ideal setting for a new garden by designers Julian & Isabel Bannerman, who in 2012 moved in and began making a garden that plays to the castle’s romantic aura. Their style has been called “grandness tempered by whimsy.” We shall discover what that means. Make sure to remember your camera.
Day 4, May 20, Sunday — TRESCO
  • Today we’ll go by boat 30 miles off the Cornish coast to the island of Tresco, which is home to the Abbey Gardens. Created in the 19th century, the gardens have grown into a unique collection of sub-tropical plants from 80 different countries ranging from Brazil to New Zealand and Burma to South Africa. The diversity of plants is remarkable and made possible by the Gulf Stream which creates mild, frost-free winters. There will be numerous horticultural surprises as we walk the garden paths and take in the stunning views.
  • We start the day at Trebah, a woodland, ravine garden that falls 250 feet from the house to its sandy cove beach below. A beneficiary of Victorian plant hunters, the mature garden today boasts of nine champion plants, the largest specimen of their kind in all of England. There are pools, cascades, and lakes along with a bamboozle, gunnera passage, and a stumpery. The overall effect is that of a dramatic jungle.
  • Our next stop is the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Formerly part of a large estate, the gardens fell into neglect during World War I and were hidden under a jumble of overgrowth until a chance discovery in the 1990’s. After a massive restoration, the gardens are back to their original 200-acre size as both productive and pleasure grounds complete with giant statues and a 100′ rope bridge thought by many to be magical.
Day 6, May 22, Tuesday — WILD SIDE, KNOLL GARDENS
  • Wild Side is the garden of Keith Wiley, who advocates for working in harmony with nature to allow plants to thrive much as they do in the wild. Since 2004, Wiley has taken a nearly level apple orchard and sculpted the earth into hills, canyons, pools, and dry river valleys all in the name of providing the right microclimates for his diverse plant collection. The garden is now a series of intensely designed vignettes, all with a hint of wildness. Bulbs are planted in streaming “rivers,” free-standing wisteria are grouped in thickets resembling a forest, and weeping plants create natural waterfalls. At every turn, colorful vistas appear and pools of water catch reflections of the sky. It’s a garden unlike any other you’re ever likely to experience.
  • Our next stop is Knoll Gardens which is known for its extensive naturalistic demonstration gardens. Knoll Gardens was an early proponent for the use of ornamental grasses in English gardens. The 4-acre gardens have been created to illustrate ways grasses can be used not only as accents in borders but also in meadows, prairies, gravel gardens and as substitutes for lawn. We’ll come away with lots of low maintenance, wildlife-friendly ideas to try when we get home.
Day 7, May 23, Wednesday — WEST DEAN, GRAVETYE MANOR
  • We start at West Dean this morning, best known for a pergola designed in the early 20th century by the architect Harold Peto. At more than a hundred yards long with stone piers connected by wooden cross pieces draped in rambling roses and clematis, it is still astonishing today. There is also an impressive and productive walled kitchen garden with thirteen working Victorian glasshouses. Gardens Manager Jim Buckland and Gardens Supervisor Sarah Wain have been working diligently to bring the plantings into the 21st century while honoring West Dean’s history. What a challenge.
  • The gardens of Gravetye Manor, with their lovely views of the surrounding countryside, were created a century ago by writer, designer, and owner, William Robinson. Here he showcased his ideas about naturalism and wild gardening, dramatically contrasting untamed plantings with more structured areas close to the house. Today, Gravetye Manor is a country house hotel, and the gardens have had an extensive restoration. But don’t expect to see a historical set piece. Tom Coward, the current head gardener, after a stint at Great Dixter, is adding experimental plantings, giving the garden a 21st-century twist.
Day 8, May 24, Thursday — CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW
  • Each year the Chelsea Flower Show attracts gardeners and designers from every corner of the world. Held in the middle of London, the show consistently displays design excellence with its competitions for Best in Show, Best Fresh Garden, and Best Artisan Garden. Not to be missed is the Great Pavilion where nurseries and plant societies exhibit the best and newest in international horticulture. We’ll be tired but inspired when we return to our hotel.
Day 9, May 25, Friday — DEPART FOR HOME
  • Our time together will come to an end, but garden lovers always find fresh inspiration wherever they are. Travelers can choose to return home or carry on the adventure. We’ll provide coach transfer to the airport at 7:30 AM for those with flights leaving at 11:00 AM or later. Or you can take a taxi on your own from hotel to the airport.


Tour price:

$4,375 USD per person, double occupancy
+$1,200 USD per person, single occupancy

Tour price includes:
  • 8 nights, 4 star hotel accommodations
  • Comfortable coach transport
  • Admission to all gardens
  • All breakfasts and 4 dinners
  • Tips & gratuities for included meals
  • Ground transportation to the airport on departure day
  • Friendly and knowledgeable professional tour coordinator
  • Design and botanical expertise of your CarexTours host
Tour price excludes:
  • Airfare
  • Travel Insurance
  • 7 lunches, 3 dinners, drinks, and snacks
  • Meals on arrival day. Lunch & dinner on departure day
  • Tips for tour coordinator & driver
Payment schedule:
  • A $1,000.00 USD deposit is due when you book your tour.
  • Final payment, in full, is due on March 15, 2018.


Hotel Accommodations

After a day filled with garden inspiration and botanical discoveries, we will retire to the comfort and convenience of 4 star accommodations. Rooms are double occupancy with the option for a single room for an additional fee.

May 17: Hilton London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 4
May 18: Ashdown Park Hotel
May 19 – 21: Alverton Hotel
May 22: Bridge House Hotel
May 23 – 24: Richmond Hill Hotel

Coach Travel

Daily transportation will be provided by a modern, comfortable coach operated by an experienced driver.

Chelsea Flower Show & Country Gardens from Kent to Cornwall tour


CarexTours, LLC is a limited liability company organized under the laws of the state of Maryland in the U.S. CarexTours hosts garden tours operated by Garden Tours. As the hosting organization, CarexTours provides reservation services and has designated Garden Tours, a professional tour operator, as its designated tour operator. As the designated tour operator, Garden Tours conducts the actual tour at the garden sites. Garden Tours also acts as an agent for services connected with specific tours hosted by CarexTours such as ground transportation, lodging accommodations, and meals. Each service provider is solely responsible to the participant for providing their respective services.

By making a reservation for a tour hosted by CarexTours, the participant certifies that he/she does not have any mental, physical, or other condition or disability that would create a hazard for him/herself or other participants. CarexTours and Garden Tours, reserve the right in their sole discretion to accept, decline to accept, or remove any participant on a tour hosted by CarexTours.


Published tour prices are based upon current exchange rates, tariffs and taxes. Fluctuations in these rates could result in a price adjustment without prior notice until the tour is paid in full. Once the price for the tour is paid in full, the fee will not be adjusted due to any later change in exchange rates, tariffs or taxes.

Liabilities & booking conditions:

Garden Tours is established in the Netherlands, and rights and responsibilities for all tours operated by Garden Tours will be governed by Dutch and EU laws only. CarexTours and Garden Tours will have responsibility only for the proven negligent acts and omissions of its employees or agents and suppliers, subcontractors, servants and/or agents of the same while acting within the scope of or in the course of their employment in respect of claims arising as a result of death, bodily injury, or illness caused to the signatory to the contract and/or any other named persons on the booking form.


All participants in CarexTours and Garden Tours agree to comply with a non-smoking policy on all coaches and in all lodging places.


CarexTours and Garden Tours have no responsibility or liability to any person for loss of baggage, money or other property whatsoever. CarexTours and Garden Tours have no responsibility or liability for any loss or additional expenses caused by delay or interruption to travel services through weather conditions (such as rain, wind or fog), civil disturbance, riot, illegal acts of third parties, strikes, wars, floods, sickness or any circumstances amounting to Force Majeure.


In the unlikely event that you have a complaint, you must promptly inform the Garden Tours tour guide directly, so he/she can take remedial action on the spot. If the matter cannot be solved directly, any complaints must be submitted in writing to Garden Tours within 20 days after the date of your return.

Your tour canceled by us:

CarexTours and Garden Tours aim to provide your tour as booked. But if, for example, there are not enough people booked on your tour or you do not pay the balance of the tour price on time, we may cancel it. We reserve the right to cancel your tour in any circumstances, but if we cancel your tour, except where this is because you have not paid, you will receive a full refund.

Changes in itinerary details:

CarexTours and Garden Tours strive to operate according to our published itinerary. However, in the event of unforeseen circumstances beyond our control or opportunities that would enhance the itinerary, adjustments may be necessary or appropriate. CarexTours and Garden Tours reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of participants. CarexTours will let you know about any important changes when you make your reservation. If you have already made your reservation, CarexTours will let you know as soon as we can if there is time before your departure.

Discounts, cancellations & refunds:

The price stated when you make your reservation is your final price. There will be no discounts after you make your reservation.

If you should need to withdraw from the tour for whatever reason, you must notify CarexTours in writing. Cancellation becomes effective when written notice is received. The following cancellation dates and charges will apply:

  • Cancel on or before 3/14/18, the refund will be your deposit less $200 USD administration fee.

  • Cancel after 3/15/18, there will be no refund.


Travel insurance is required in case you need to cancel your trip after 3/14/18, you have health emergencies while on the tour, or other unforeseen issues arise. Squaremouth ( and Insure My Trip ( are two travel insurance search sites. You will be required to provide evidence to CarexTours that you have obtained travel insurance by March 15, 2018.

To book this tour, contact Carolyn Mullet at or 240 429 0889.

Your reservation will be secured after a deposit/full payment is received.

Deposit amount: $1,000 USD
Full payment: $4,375 USD per person (double occupancy)
Single occupancy: +$1,200 USD

Additional information about CarexTours costs, including details about inclusions and exclusions, can be viewed on our pricing page.

PLEASE NOTE: CarexTours reserves the right to cancel the tour. Deposits/payments will be refunded in full if the tour is canceled.