Book fair May 12–14 Boswell Book Festival, Dumfries House, Ayrshire. Festival of biography and memoir with Nigel Havers, Alexandra Shulman and COUNTRY LIFE contributor Jeremy Musson. Adult tickets £8 per event, see website for programme (www.boswellbookfestival.co.uk; 01563 554900)
Equestrian May 10–14 Royal Windsor Horse Show, Windsor Castle, Berkshire. The UK’S largest outdoor horse show, with international showjumping, dressage and driving, plus mounted games, showing and The King’s Troop and Household Cavalry musical rides. Adult tickets from £14 (0844 581 4960; www.rwhs.co.uk)
May 12–14 Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials, Bakewell, Derbyshire. Crosscountry in a beautiful setting, plus family entertainments and more than 100 trade stands. Adult entry from £12 (www.chatsworth.org; 01246 565300)
Tour and talk May 18 Lives of the Great Gardeners with Stephen Anderton, Bowood House & Gardens, Calne, Wiltshire. A guided tour of Capability Brown’s parkland will be followed by a two-course lunch and a talk by The Times’s garden writer about his new book. 11am–4pm, £55 (01249 812102; www.bowood.org)
Spring festival May 14 Songs My Father Taught Me, Combe Manor Barn, Hungerford, Berkshire. Soprano Susan Bullock explores the Great American Songbook as part of the Newbury Spring Festival. Grounds open at 6pm, 7.30pm start. Tickets £45 (www.newburyspringfestival.org.uk; 0845 521 8218)
Exhibition Until May 19 Simon Palmer at Portland Gallery (below), Bennet Street, London SW1. More than 30 charming landscapes by the Yorkshire artist (020–7493 1888; www. portlandgallery.com)
Art fair May 12–14 Fresh: Art Fair (above), Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury, Gloucestershire. Pieces from 45 contemporary galleries, plus free valuations by Bonhams. Tickets from £6 (01242 224734; www.freshartfair.net) Arboricultural show May 12–13 The ARB Show, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucestershire. The Arboricultural Association’s annual show will include demonstrations, competitions and talks, plus the UK tree-climbing championships. 9am– 5pm, adult tickets £10, including entry to the arboretum (01242 522152; www.trees.org.uk
Thornton Hall, Darlington, Co Durham DL2 2NB May 14, 1.30pm–5pm. £6, children £1 Two walled gardens perfectly complement this venerable Grade I-listed Elizabethan house (not open), where auriculas and luxuriant combinations of roses and clematis are specialities. With a series of borders planted for meticulous plant association and colour planning, the overall effect is quite spectacular. Natural ponds and a vegetable garden add variety.