Day 1 - 16 May 2020
Check-in Doubletree by Hilton Victoria Hotel, London
This is the first of three nights that we will stay at the very comfortable Doubletree by Hilton Victoria Hotel during this tour. Guests can check into the hotel from 14:00. We’ve chosen this hotel not only for its comfort but also its location. From here you can explore some of the main London landmarks on foot: Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Harrods, and the famous Oxford and Bond Street shopping are all nearby.
Meet your tour guide and fellow garden visitors over complimentary drinks between 1800-1900 . Make you own arrangements for Dinner.
Day 2 – 17 May 2020
Gardens Visited : Waterperry Gardens, Rousham Park.
Waterperry Gardens date from the 1930’s when it was run as a small independent horticultural school for ladies. It is of historical and horticultural importance and although no longer a school, we will visit its extensive and well-maintained gardens. There is a long classical herbaceous border full of color and a walled garden with a glasshouse containing a large Seville orange tree. Elsewhere in the garden we will come across the Mary Rose Garden enclosed by yew hedges in which we’ll find both ancient and modern roses on display. There is also a rock garden with a wide variety of alpine plants. The whole garden has commanding views over the Oxfordshire countryside.
After exploring Waterperry Gardens we’ll have lunch (included) before heading off to Rousham Park.
Rousham Park dates from the 1730s and is the most complete example of an English landscape garden designed by William Kent still in existence. The garden is set in 27 acres and is designed as a series of scenes from a play. Using small purpose-built buildings, follies, and sculptures for dramatic effect, the visitor’s attention is drawn outwards at each vista towards the surrounding countryside. A dovecote and rose garden are adjacent to the house along with a walled vegetable garden with excellent herbaceous borders. Rousham House cannot fail to make a powerful impression on every visitor.
After visiting our first two Oxfordshire gardens we’ll leave Waterperry by coach and drive to the very comfortable King’s Hotel in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. A boutique hotel with distinctive and stylish accommodation, King’s Hotel will provide us with comfortable surroundings for the next three nights of our stay in Oxfordshire.
Make your own arrangements for Dinner either by choosing to eat in the Hotel’s restaurants or nearby at one of the restaurants recommended by the Hotel’s concierge.
Day 3 – 18 May 2020
Gardens Visited: Hidcote Manor, Kifsgate Court.
After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll leave our hotel and drive to Hidcote Manor, an arts and crafts masterpiece set on 10.5 acres, Hidcote Manor is one of Britain greatest gardens by far. It’s owner, the American plant collector Major Lawrence Johnston started building a garden after the World War I. He took inspiration French and Italian gardens styles and created walks, different types of hedges, sometime stilted and garden rooms or compartments each with a different character. In some parts of the garden he also used the Naturalistic style developed by Robinson at Gravetye Manor. Unfortunately, we cannot be sure of the plants that Johnston used in his original planting scheme. What we do know is that over the years, Johnston made many new plant introductions and rediscovered many forgotten species many of which now bear the Hidcote name such as the Campanula latiloba ‘Hidcote Amethyst’ which has pride of place in the cottage garden.
Mention Kifsgate Court to anyone and roses immediately spring to mind, especially the eponymous Rosa filipes ‘Kifsgate’. Although the famous roses won’t be in flower when we visit, Kifsgate is an amazing Spring garden with thousands of bulbs to admire such as the Allium christophii! Before we visit the garden though, we’ll have lunch here.
Kifsgate Court house was built in the late 19th century on a magnificent 6-acre site. The 4-acre garden for which it has become famous was created just after World War I. Surrounded by three steep banks, the garden is in full color with flowering bulbs in Spring followed by roses in June and July when the scent from old and new species of rose lies heavy in the air. Kifsgate is all about texture and the use of color and our tour is timed to experience the garden at its Spring best.
At the end of a full day, we return to the King’s Hotel for the third night of our stay here. Make your own arrangements for Dinner either by choosing to eat at the Hotel’s restaurant or nearby at one of the restaurants recommended by the Hotel’s concierge.
Day 4 – 19 May 2020
Gardens Visited: Barnsley House, Upton Wold.
Built in 1697 from Cotswold stone, Barnsely House is now a country house hotel and was once the home of Rosemary Verey one of the most influential plantswomen of the 20th Century. Our interest is of course in its 4-acre garden, which is surrounded on 4 sides by a stone wall built in 1770. Redesigned in the 1960’s, in its day this garden was very influential due to the way in which it combined many different historic garden styles into a unified whole. There is a laburnum, allium and wisteria walk, a large potager which produces vegetables and fruits used by the hotel kitchen as well as a Tudor knot garden. At the end of our visit, we’ve arranged a special lunch here, in the restaurant.
Upton Wold garden surrounds an early 17th Century House. Since 1976 its owners have created a quintessentially English garden set in 9 acres of land with commanding views across the surrounding countryside. There are many things here to excite the garden enthusiast: extremely long herbaceous borders planted with unusual and rare plants; an arboretum which includes a National Collection of 14 different types of walnut and wingnut trees as well as fruit and vegetable gardens and even a labyrinth!
We return to our hotel for the fourth night of our stay. Make your own arrangements for Dinner either by choosing to eat at the Hotel’s restaurant or nearby at one of the restaurants recommended by the Hotel’s concierge
Day 5 - 20 May 2020
Gardens Visited: St Catherine's College Oxford, Oxford Botanic Gardens.
Oxford is a University town and we will make a short stop here and walk through some of its famous streets, many of which have formed the backdrop to many films and TV series. We’ll reach St Catherine’s College. Only officially opened in 1962 St Catherine’s College is the youngest of Oxford’s mixed colleges. It’s buildings and gardens are the work of Danish architect Arne Jacobsen and have become a showcase of 1960’s modernist design. Quite different from many of the gardens that we have visited during this tour, there are no extensive bedding schemes, instead the planting of threes are shrubs although simple, is carefully considered. We next walk a short distance towards Magdalen College where we’ll find Oxford Botanic Gardens, the next stop of our tour.
Oxford University Botanic Garden is the oldest botanical garden in the UK. Founded in 1621 to cultivate herbs for medicinal use, it holds today, more than 6500 botanical specimens on a small 4.5-acre plot in a beautiful spot next to the Isis, a tributary of the River Thames. With more than 90 % of all known families of flowering plant represented here, there is surely something to delight even the most discerning plant enthusiast!
At the end of the day we travel back to central London from the Oxfordshire countryside for the first of two nights at the Doubletree by Hilton Victoria Hotel.
Make your own arrangements for Dinner either by choosing to eat at the Hotel’s restaurant or nearby at one of the restaurants recommended by the Hotel’s concierge.
Day 6 - 21 May 2020
Chelsea Flower Show
The premier horticultural event in the world! How better to describe the Chelsea Flower Show, our final destination of this tour? The Chelsea Flower Show runs over 5 days and because there is so much to see here, we’ll leave the hotel early enough to arrive at the show just as it opens and we’ll let you explore the show on your own. As you’ll probably know, what makes this horticultural event very special is that no matter where you go, you only see the best of the best. Designers, garden nurseries and horticultural experts from all over the world are pre-selected to compete here to receive a much-coveted Chelsea Gold, Silver or Bronze medal. It is extremely competitive: careers can be both made and broken here. If this is your first trip to Chelsea Flower Show, your tour guide will provide you with some tips on what to see and what has caught our attention at the show.
Make your own arrangements for Dinner either by choosing to eat at the Hotel restaurant or nearby at one of the restaurants recommended by the Hotel’s concierge.
Day 7 - 22 May 2020
Gardens Visited: Kew Gardens
Checkout of the hotel will be 12 noon. For those staying in London or who want to extend their tour just a little longer we include a complimentary (optional) short trip this morning between 0900-1200 to visit the recently reopened Temperate House at the world-famous Kew Gardens (minimum of 10 people). The Temperate House is said to be the largest remaining Victorian glasshouse in the world and is home to a collection of rare and threatened temperate zone plants. After a short tour, we’ll all drive back to our hotel in central London and say farewell to those people that will continue with their onward journey.