This is the time of year when we would usually be out and about visiting gardens large and small, public and private. Yet even as travel restrictions are slowly being eased around the world, most gardening events have been canceled and the majority of public gardens are still closed. I personally had been looking forward to attending the world renowned Chelsea Flower Show next week followed by leading a special garden tour through the best public and private gardens in Yorkshire and Derbyshire, a tour which has now been postponed until next year. (PS. If you'd like to be notified when registration opens up for my UK tour next June email me today – there will only be a few spots available).
Although we can't visit in person yet, I wanted to share some wonderful video tours and ideas you can enjoy right now from the comfort of your home patio or armchair. It's not quite the same but it's still a great way to feel connected to one another, to the seasons, to nature – and to peek over a few garden fences!
Virtual Chelsea Flower Show (May 18-23)
If you live in the UK you can watch the daily shows on the BBC. Every morning of the virtual event between 18th and 23rd May, a leading designer, florist or gardening personality will provide a tour of their own private garden. Daily 'school gardening clubs' will take place to provide activities for families to garden together, while 'potting bench' demonstrations will show techniques for growing and maintaining plants and lunchtime sessions will feature special guests doing Q&As for the audience to enjoy.
For those of us who don't live in the UK I've found a few options;
- Join a watch party such as this one.
- Head over to the Royal Horticultural website (RHS) for virtual garden tours, Q&A sessions, and more during the original event dates. RHS members even get to see the preview on the 18th too – just like the real show! Have your membership number handy.
Bear in mind that British Summer Time (BST) is + 8 hours from Pacific and +5 hours from East Coast if you're planning on watching live.
RHS Harlow Carr, Wisley, Hyde Hall, and Rosemoor are all currently closed – but you can see video footage of all of these famous English gardens and enjoy them from home! I had planned to visit Wisley next week – now I'll have to wait a year, but I've been to Harlow Carr a couple of times and absolutely love it! So put the kettle on, sit back, and savor some English gardens with me.
National Garden Scheme
This is my secret resource, hidden in plain sight! Here you'll find a wide range of private gardens throughout England and Wales with details of when they are open, if they serve tea, if dogs are welcome etc. Its a great way to plan garden hopping adventures in England and Wales. If you haven't already registered to get the National Garden Scheme newsletter or opened a free account so you can save favorite garden selections – you should!
So why am I telling you about this now? Because even though these wonderful gardens are still closed due to the pandemic, there are MANY virtual visits you can enjoy -for FREE, (although if you can spare a few dollars to support the NGS you will in turn support nurses and healthcare workers at this crucial time – you can read more about that on the NGS website). From historic halls and manor houses to quaint country cottages, this is a wonderful glimpse into the variety of gardens just across the "pond".
Back on American soil, check out the YouTube channel for Chanticleer and see what's happening behind the closed garden gates in their video tours. Now you'll begin to understand why it is my absolute favorite!
America's Garden Capitol
While most of the gardens in the Philadelphia region are still closed, the gardens in America’s Garden Capital are sharing the beauty of their gardens with you using #OurGardensYourHome. Check out each gardens website for information on virtual tours, online learning, and more. Want to visit in person one day? I have just a few spots left for my tour Gardens of the Brandywine and Delaware Valleys in late September. The itinerary may make you swoon – fair warning!
Did you know that I've written a series of Self-Guided Garden Tours for Garden Design? There are dozens of garden tours for both domestic and international destinations. Plan today. Travel "tomorrow".