If you have an interest in garden tours as well as travel, then you have myriad of destinations to choose from which will be bound to satiate your thirst for new gardening ideas and information. From the Chelsea Flower Show, hosted in London, to the wild tundra of the Himalayas – or for the more intrepid traveller – the wild jungles of Borneo, there is much to discover and explore. There are plenty of gardening and botanic clubs, together with tour companies who specialise in trips with a horticultural edge that are sure to satisfy the most avid of garden enthusiasts.
For the most part, the Chelsea Flower Show is the jewel in the crown destination for the keen garden follower and is packed with beautiful gardens and ideas. However, there are equally as compelling organised tours that include exotic destinations such as China, Portugal, Spain, South America, Kenya and even the Galapagos Islands. There are even tours, aimed at the higher end of the market, which involve both sea and river cruises as part of the package.
An organised tour can offer many reasons to take part in, as they are often more comfortable, memorable, and ultimately more informative than going it alone. They often offer entry to gardens that are otherwise not available to the public. There, you can admire and appreciate the surroundings with other like-minded people. Organised tours can make travelling in non-English speaking countries much easier with on board translators and gardening experts.
Locally we have a fantastic organisation called My Open Garden. This is an Australian based online hub where people can register their private gardens for people to come and explore. Travellers and garden enthusiasts can go to this website to find a whole treasure trove of gorgeous private gardens that they can visit.
You may wish to combine the idea of a gardening tour with a longer trip where you can stay on after the tour has concluded, or travel to other destinations. A good tour operator specialising in this will be able to give you some ideas of numbers and flexibility to adding on other desired locations. It may be a good idea to do some online research of the towns and villages you are visiting and see what other accommodation alternatives there are to suit your needs and timeline. If you are staying in a large city, keep in mind the distance between your hotel and the tour destination. As wonderful as a long line of beautiful gardens to visit may be, it pays to give yourself some down time where you can explore your surroundings and take time out to soak up the shopping and culture while you are there.
The weather can be unpredictable at the best of times, so make sure you pack two pairs of shoes, in the even that one may get wet. Bring a lightweight waterproof jacket, a sun hat and plenty of sun screen. The majority of tours will continue, despite the weather conditions.
Bring something back! Although you are not allowed to bring back plants from overseas into Australia, you are allowed to bring back seeds. Many garden destinations will have a shop, so this will be your chance to get them while you can.