Discover the Azores at Hampton Court Palace
Sunvil Discovery and Azores Tourism join forces to host The Azorean Garden at this summer’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
This year, Azores Tourism will host a garden at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show (3-8 July) in association with specialist tour operator Sunvil Discovery. The Azorean Garden will be located in the new World of Gardens area, within which four destinations from across the globe will be represented – the Azores, Jordan, St Petersburg and Switzerland. Of all these destinations, the Azores is perhaps the least well-known, and the RHS show will provide the perfect opportunity for keen horticulturists and travellers alike to find out more about this unique archipelago.
Set in the Atlantic Ocean 1,500 km west of Portugal, and less than four hours’ flying time direct from the UK, the nine volcanic islands of the Azores are blessed with spectacular natural beauty. From rugged mountains and lush tropical forests to sheer black cliffs, steaming mineral springs, and vast craters nurturing glistening green and blue lakes – there really is something for everyone with a love of the great outdoors. This year, for the first time, The Azorean Garden will showcase this dramatic variety in the very English setting of Hampton Court Palace.
The World of Gardens will take pride of place at this year’s festival on Show Garden Walk, with the magnificent palace providing an elegant backdrop. Having commissioned leading garden designer Stephen Hall, Sunvil Discovery is going for gold with The Azorean Garden, and hoping to raise awareness of the little-known archipelago in the process. Stephen Hall has been a regular at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show over the last ten years, and has collected an impressive number of awards along the way, including one Gold medal, two ‘People’s Choice’ awards and a ‘Best in Show’ award.
The focal point of The Azorean Garden will be a central pool into which will tumble a gentle cascade of water, evocative of the waterfalls on the pretty island of Flores. This will be surrounded by subtropical canna plants, lush green ferns and palms reflecting the verdant, wooded areas found inland on Santa Maria and Sao Miguel. Another intriguing element of the garden will be the three single grape vines – a nod to the five-mile Vinhas da Criacao Velha trail on Pico, an island well known for its Verdelho wine. Meanwhile, specially-imported black basalt rocks and a steaming fumarole hint at the archipelago’s volcanic origins, while the cobblestone path inlaid with a whale motif and leading to the hospitality tent is reminiscent of the cobbled streets of UNESCO World Heritage Site Angra do Heroismo, Terceira island.
Anyone with green fingers and a thirst for adventure shouldn’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to find out more about the Azores’ unique flora and fauna. Should visitors to the show be tempted to explore the archipelago for themselves, Sunvil Discovery will be on hand – offering tempting samples of organic cheese from the island of Sao Jorge and delicious wine from the vineyards of Pico – to answer questions and suggest exciting tailor-made holiday itineraries. From whale watching excursions and mountain hikes to tea plantation tours and bird watching day trips, the Azores offers a huge variety of activities suitable for all the family. For a real opportunity of a lifetime, Sunvil can even arrange for its clients to take the plunge and swim alongside dolphins in the Atlantic.
The lead-in price of a week in the Azores is from just £582 pp (two sharing), staying at the Hotel Talisman on Sao Miguel. Price includes direct scheduled flights on Saturdays (Gatwick) with SATA International, transfers and seven nights’ accommodation on a B&B basis.
Direct weekly SATA International flights run from 7 April to 20 October to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel island and depart from London Gatwick. Alternatively, TAP Portugal offers flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester to Ponta Delgada via Lisbon. An overnight stay in Lisbon may be advisable, depending on flight times.
For further information, visit sunvil.co.uk. To find out more about the Azores, visit visitazores.com.
Tickets for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (3-8 July 2012) cost £29 for the day and can be purchased from the Royal Horticultural Society website (rhs.org.uk). Members’ Days are 3 and 4 July; the show is open to the general public on 5, 6, 7 and 8 July.