Chelsea Flower Show & Private Country Gardens

Chelsea Flower Show & Private Country Gardens

  • May 19 – 26, 2020
    (Postponed Until 2021)
  • $4,475 USD per person
  • Visit the acclaimed Chelsea Flower Show & some of the best country gardens anywhere: Beth Chatto, Bressingham, East Ruston Old Vicarage.

Chelsea Flower Show & Private Country Gardens

May 19 – 26, 2020 (Postponed until 2021)

On our May tour to England, we first stay in London to attend the garden world’s most spectacular event: the Chelsea Flower Show. Each year, this horticultural conclave brings together the very best contemporary garden design talent and the most recent horticultural developments. We’ll join gardeners from around the globe in our search for fresh ideas and creative encouragement.

For the rest of the week, we’ll travel through East Anglia exploring its finest private gardens. Located east of London, this region, next to the North Sea, is known for its big skies, broad horizons, and luminescent light. Over the last fifty years, some remarkably inspiring gardens were created here. At the top of the list is Beth Chatto’s naturalistic garden in Essex. Chatto has had an enormous influence on gardeners everywhere through her admirable artistry in laying out plants and for her iconic phrase “right plant, right place.”

At Bressingham Gardens, we’ll see the creations of Alan and Adrian Bloom, the father and son team that introduced so many superior perennials through Blooms of Bressingham. Their gardens are best known for beautiful, curvilinear island beds separated by rivers of lawn. In the windy Northeast, close to the sea, we’ll explore the eclectic gardens at East Ruston Old Vicarage. In fourteen garden rooms, the owners display their love of meticulous design, bold colors, and theatrical displays.

Come with us for an eight-day garden adventure you’ll never forget.


May 19, Tuesday – Arrive at Heathrow Airport
May 20, Wednesday – Malverleys Garden & Wisley
May 21, Thursday – The Garden Museum & Chelsea Flower Show
May 22, Friday – The Barn & Marks Hall
May 23, Saturday – Beth Chatto Gardens & Bressingham Gardens
May 24, Sunday – East Ruston Old Vicarage & Helmingham Hall
May 25, Monday – Spencers Garden & Cambridge University Botanical Garden
May 26, Tuesday – Depart or continue travels

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, Tuesday. May 19 — ARRIVE IN ENGLAND
  • Tour members independently arrange travel to Heathrow Airport, walk to the Crowne Plaza London Heathrow T4 hotel just outside Terminal 4, and check into the room that will have been booked for each of you (included in the price of the tour). We’ll gather in the hotel restaurant at 6:30 PM for a Welcome Dinner (included) with the first round of drinks courtesy of CarexTours.
Day 2, Wednesday, May 20 — MALVERLEYS GARDEN & WISLEY
  • Our tour starts at the exquisite Malverleys Garden, a private garden barely ten years old. Designed by Mat Reese, the talented head gardener, in conjunction with the owners, the garden is made up of hedged rooms with color-themed perennials and annuals planted in an exuberant, naturalistic style. There is a White Garden, a Hot Garden, and a Cool Garden along with a flowering meadow dotted with topiary and a shady stumpery. Throughout, self-seeders are allowed to run and romp—with careful editing—making an atmosphere that verges on wildness. What an introduction to contemporary English gardening!
  • Next, we travel back toward London to the Royal Horticultural Society Garden, Wisley where you may first have lunch at a restaurant or cafe of your choice (not included). For more than 100 years, Wisley has been a center of British gardening excellence. Although the garden spreads over 240 acres, we’ll focus on the demonstration gardens, which feature everything from stream gardens to meadows to classic double borders. Expect to see lots of colorful May flowers—tree peonies, camassia, allium, roses, iris, wisteria and giant rhododendron—all beautifully grown. The new Glasshouse with perennial borders created by influential designers Tom Stuart-Smith and Piet Oudolf is not to be missed.
  • For the night, we’ll check into the Amba Hotel Grosvenor located in the heart of London for 2 days, and eat dinner together in the hotel’s restaurant (included).
  • For our first visit, we’ll check out the newly renovated Garden Museum. The museum is all about British gardens and gardening, with temporary exhibits as well as displays of its permanent collection. There is also a new garden, a glass-enclosed courtyard filled with unusual, exotic plants. Dan Pearson, the courtyard’s designer, calls the space a “Wardian case full of beautiful treasures.” We’ll have lunch in the cafe (not included) before traveling to Chelsea.
  • Each year, the Chelsea Flower Show attracts gardeners and designers from every corner of the globe. Celebrating design excellence, it holds show garden 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 by the time we leave, having just explored what many call the best flower show in the world. Dinner this evening is at the show; you may dine at one of three Chelsea Restaurants or in one of the cafes, food courts, or picnic areas (not included).
  • We’ll return to the Amba Hotel Grosvenor for the night.
Day 4, Friday, May 22 — THE BARN GARDEN & MARKS HALL
  • This morning we leave London to travel north into Hertfordshire to visit The Barn Garden. Thirty years ago, much-acclaimed designer Tom Stuart-Smith and his family moved to this converted barn and have been turning the land around it into a garden ever since. There is a modern courtyard with Corten water tanks, a garden behind the barn with interlocking hedged spaces—some empty, others filled to the brim with thickly planted perennials—a kitchen garden, and two meadows. Stuart-Smith thinks of the garden as both a work in progress (as all gardens are) and as an experiment. He notes that it is “very much a home and not a show garden.” We’ll have lunch in a pub (not included) on our way to our next garden.
  • In the afternoon, we travel to East Anglia, stopping first at Marks Hall, which has an arboretum with a collection of mature trees from every temperate region of the world. However, it is the Walled Garden that will be our special focus on this visit. Inside the 17th-century walls, landscape architect Brita von Schoenaich created a design with five linked gardens that were unveiled in 2003. Included are connected landforms, curvaceous walls and hedges, blocks of frothy grasses, and sturdy, long-blooming perennials. Graceful and original, this blend of new and old will enchant us.
  • This evening, we check into the Swan Hotel for three nights and dine together in the hotel restaurant (included).
  • We’ll spend our morning at Beth Chatto Gardens, a five-acre informal garden in a peaceful hollow in front of Chatto’s house. Over nearly sixty years, Chatto made her planting choices using prudent ecological reasoning, gardening with—not against—her soils, climate, and rainfall. She divided her plot into five areas comprised of a Gravel Garden, Water Garden, Woodland Garden, Scree Garden, and Reservoir Garden, all planted with well-grown plants appropriate to the conditions. She was also the winner of ten Gold Medals at Chelsea and, by the time she died in 2018 at the age of 94, had written eight popular gardening books. Many think she was one of the most influential horticulturists in the last fifty years. We’ll have lunch in the Tearoom (not included) before we move on to our afternoon garden.
  • Our afternoon will see us at the world-famous Bressingham Gardens made up of two adjoining gardens: The Dell and Foggy Bottom. The Dell was started in 1953 by nursery and plantsman Alan Bloom in front of his home, Bressingham Hall. Noticing that perennials at the back of his traditional borders were leaning forward, he got the idea of planting in islands surrounded by lawn, placing the tallest plants in the middle so that they wouldn’t require stalking. And that’s the way perennial island beds were introduced into English gardens. Alan’s son, Adrian Bloom, began Foggy Bottom fourteen years later at his home next door. His interests, in addition to perennials, included conifers, heathers, trees, and shrubs giving his garden appealing in all four seasons.
  • We return to the Swan Hotel for the night. Dinner this evening is at a restaurant of your choice in town or in the hotel restaurant (not included).
  • This morning we travel to the farthest northeastern corner of East Anglia to visit East Ruston Old Vicarage. Described as adventurous and exotic, the garden was designed and built from scratch by the owners Graham Robeson and Alan Gray starting in 1983. Adding new features or rooms each year, the garden has grown to 32 acres and includes beautifully designed vistas and avenues, congenial intimate settings, and large relaxed areas. With handsomely crafted hardscapes, each garden flows into the next creating an atmosphere of controlled abundance. Thriving in rich, loamy soils, the plantings throughout the garden are diverse and lush—some plants quite rare, many used in unexpected ways. We’ll see dozens of ideas here to inspire us in our own gardens when we return home. You may choose one of two Tearooms in the garden for lunch today (not included).
  • Helmingham Hall is a manor house fit for a fairy tale, surrounded by a sixty-foot wide moat with two drawbridges raised and lowered daily. The Tollemache family has lived here through nineteen generations since 1487. Lady Xa Tollemache, a professional garden designer and Chelsea gold medalist, has been in charge of the gardens since she moved there in the 1970s as a young bride. Until recently, she remade and enhanced the garden she inherited. The result has been called hauntingly beautiful, and won the 2017 Historic Houses Association Garden of the Year Award. We’ll find much to admire in this refreshed ancient place.
  • We return to the Swan Hotel for the night. Again this evening, dinner is at a restaurant of your choice in town or at the hotel restaurant (not included).
  • Our first garden today is Spencers Garden, originally laid out in a grid structure in the 18th-century by Lady Anne Spencer, an ancestor of Princess Diana. In the late 1990s, the previous owners commissioned Tom Stuart-Smith to remake the gardens. Working within the existing old framework, Stuart-Smith made an intensely planted garden that overflows with dreamy blooming plants in spring and summer. We will want to pay special attention to the 18th-century wood-framed glasshouse—the oldest in England—as well as the huge ancient wisterias and the roses in every form imaginable, enhanced by the tall spires of Delphinium. Make sure to bring your camera to this photogenic garden. We’ll have lunch in a pub (not included) on our way to the next garden.
  • The last garden of our tour is the Cambridge University Botanical Garden, which was started in 1846 by Charles Darwin’s mentor and teacher, Professor John Henslow. Located in the center of Cambridge, the 40-acre garden is the most popular botanical garden in the United Kingdom, and with good reason. Its collection of over 8,000 plant species, from all around the globe, are planted in handsomely designed and landscaped gardens including a Scented Garden, Bee Borders, a Woodland Garden, and a Lake. There are also glasshouses for alpines and tropicals. What a lovely way to end our tour of English gardens!
  • On our way back to Heathrow, we’ll stop in a restaurant for our Farewell Dinner.
  • For the night, we return to the hotel we stayed in the first night, the Crowne Plaza London Heathrow T4. With close access to the terminals, you will be able to walk to your gate tomorrow in time for your flight.
Day 8, Tuesday, May 26 — DEPARTURE
  • Our time together comes to an end, but garden lovers are likely to find inspiration wherever they are. Tour members can choose to return home or carry on the adventure.


Tour price:

$4,475 USD per person, double occupancy
+$1,200 USD per person, single occupancy

Tour price includes:
  • All 4-star hotel accommodations.
  • All breakfasts and 4 dinners.
  • Admission to all gardens including tips.
  • Comfortable coach transportation.
  • Friendly and knowledgeable professional tour coordinator.
  • Design and botanical expertise of your CarexTours leader.
Tour price excludes:
  • Airfare.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Lunches, 3 dinners, drinks including water, and snacks.
  • Lunch on arrival day.
  • Lunch & dinner on departure day.
  • Tips for driver & tour coordinator.
Payment schedule:
  • A $1,000.00 (USD) deposit is due when you book your tour.
  • Final payment, in full, is due on April 1, 2020.

NOTE: CarexTours offers thoughtfully arranged garden tours. Each tour is guaranteed to proceed as soon as the minimum of 10 reservations has been met. In the event that our reservation minimum is not met, CarexTours reserves the right to cancel the tour. Deposits/payments will be refunded in full if the tour is canceled.

Please DO NOT make your airline reservations until CarexTours has guaranteed (by email) that the tour will proceed.


Hotel Accommodations

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

May 19: Crowne Plaza London Heathrow T4
May 20 – 21: Amba Hotel Grosvenor Road
May 22 – 25: The Swan Hotel at Lavenham
May 26: Crowne Plaza London Heathrow T4

Coach Travel

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



CarexTours, LLC is a limited liability company organized under the laws of the state of Maryland in the United States. CarexTours hosts this garden tour operated by Garden Tours. As the hosting organization, CarexTours provides reservation services and has chosen Garden Tours, a professional tour operator, as its designated tour operator. As the designated tour operator, Garden Tours arranges for the actual tour of 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 she/he does not have any mental, physical, or another 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.


The tour prices in this agreement 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 tours hosted by CarexTours agree to comply with a non-smoking policy on all coaches, in restaurants, 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 notify the CarexTours host or the Garden Tours tour coordinator 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 CarexTours within 20 days after the date of your return.

Your tour canceled by us:

CarexTours aims to provide your tour as booked. 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 the 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 agreed-upon 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 as soon as we can if there is time before your departure. Otherwise, we will announce changes on the tour.


If you need to withdraw from the tour for whatever reason, you must notify CarexTours in writing. Cancellation becomes effective when written notice is received. There will be no refunds from CarexTours on or after April 1, 2020.


Travel insurance is required in case you need to cancel your trip after April 1, 2020, you have health emergencies while on the tour, or other unforeseen issues arise. Squaremouth and Insure My Trip are two travel insurance search sites. If you are under 70 years old, World Nomads is usually an economical travel insurance choice. You will be required to provide evidence to CarexTours that you have obtained travel insurance by April 1, 2020.

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: $4,475 USD per person (double occupancy)
Single occupancy: +$1,200 USD

Additional information about the 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.