Ooh, thanks for that heads up Amazing. I'm expecting my copy through the door any day!
I really like Chelsea and it's good value compared to concerts and football matches cos you can stay 12 hours and go back to see favouriet exhibits more than once and at difefrent times of day with different light. It's busy but good natured and actually not that busy till about 11:30. I stay with friends so just have to pay for fuel on top.
I've also been to Hampton Court and hated the long long walk to the car park and the crowds. I've been to Tatton which I really enjoyed but it's a long way from Belgium so that's hotel costs on top and loads of fuel and, while it's fun buying plants, they're not cheap. The gardens are not as good as at Chelsea but I like the back-to-back section and it was great to see old boarding friends and meet Trillium and see her garden.
I've also done Malvern which is pretty disappointing for display gardens but great for plant buying and I have rellies I can call on if needs be.
The RHS also does monthly shows in London which are free to members and members get free entry to the big RHS gardens as well as quite a list of associated gardens all over the UK and some abroad. That plus a good magazine each month makes it exceptionally good value for the annual subscription..
So agree re Malvern, my friend and I were planning to go, but £60 plus for tickets, then petrol to drive there (no public transport available, and even were we able to find any, it would cost another small fortune) - that put it way out of our reach. I suppose they don't want ordinary gardeners like us there, only the rich and famous.
When we've been to Hampton Court, we park our car in the grounds of a nearby school so the parking charge goes to school funds. A short walk to a motorboat and a pleasurable ride across the Thames to the entrance. Brilliant! Also the Daily Mail always seem to do vouchers or reduced rate tickets during the previous week. We take a packed lunch so that other than a beer at midday, it's a good day. And the crowds are far lighter than at Chelsea, or so I've found.
I was at the Foriade over the weekend and found the entrance although expensive, 30.00 euro pp, I did find it good value for money. For me it is the 10.00 euro car parking annoying. If anyone is planning to visit the Floriade come later in the year, the gardens are a little light on colour at the moment.
I am being treated this year to the bbc gw show, a Gift from my son..... But that's the only way I would be able to go. Went to Malvern show in sept a few years ago. It was a coach trip and even then it was £35. pp. I was disappointed at the amount of stalls that really should have been in a country fair.
I hope to buy some plants from b'ham, to see them in the green and ensure they'll cope with my altitude.
I open for the NGS twice a year, plus all the extra small party visits, so sadly I don't get time to visit other gardens...................... I'm too busy keeping on top of my backyard! And with OH's health, looks like I will be caring for his 3 acres as well as my own 2.
It is many years since I went either to Chelsea or Hampton Court - it's a long, long way from West Somerset. It was pricey, but perhaps it is one of those items I can tick off of my list of things to do before the Grim Reaper appears!
But for the last couple of years OH and I have gone to Taunton Flower Show - a special deal from the West Somerset Railway, with a trip on the train and bus link to Taunton. Makes a lovely day out, and quite reasonably priced given the combination of train and show (about £30 per person).
I don't go to Hampton Court to buy plants (although I always end up buying some). I like talking to the experts and getting free gardening advice. I take photo's of things which I think I could do at home. Last year we had a nice long chat with the mother of one of the creators of a show garden. It was the end of the day when most of the crowds had left and she was so proud of her son's work.
I agree with most people that the cost of admission to top flower shows are very expensive and some garden centres plant prices are very costly. When I visit any garden centre I always head for what I call A& E , were plants have passed their best or been neglected and so are marked down in price. I find it a challenge to try to resuscitate them , and Ive had quite a few successes.I do the same in supermarkets and DIY stores in their garden areas, some failures but most ive saved, I look at myself as the Florence Knightingale of neglected plants. & shrubs.
I took will always look for abandoned or neglected plants. Some years ago my wife and a friend visited Heligan and came back with a stick of a plant. It was a very poorly Rhododendron which with nurturing has since become a beautiful bush, currently in bloom with soft pink flowers. We lost the label so emailed them a while back to be told is was quite a rare specimen and that we were lucky to have her.
Two week ago my non-gardening son told me to dug up a tall Rosa glauca from his childr friendly back garden. It's now doing well in ours.