Springtime Garden Showcase: Discovering Kent, Sussex & Surrey’s Enchanting Gardens
Small Group escorted tour to visit to 12 exceptional historic and contemporary gardens in Kent, Surrey & Sussex over 8 days.
- Accommodation in two comfortable 4* Hotels: Crown Plaza London Heathrow and Royal Spa Hotel.
- Transportation by comfortable private coach with Aircon.
- Accompanied by experienced tour guide with botanical knowledge.
- Group dinner on arrival and on the last evening of the tour.
- Entrance fees for all gardens and venues visited.
- 24 hr. Emergency Service.
All the gardens that we visit on this tour are well known for their Springtime Flowers! This tour starts on 7 May 2024 in London. During the first evening, you will have an opportunity to meet your tour leader and fellow garden visitors during a welcome dinner. Over the next 8 days we explore 12 exceptional historic and contemporary gardens in the English counties of Kent, Surrey & Sussex. For example, we’ll visit Sissinghurst Castle garden created by Vita Sackville-West, Christopher Lloyd’s Great Dixter with gardens designed by Lutyens and Sheffield Park, with its Capability Brown landscaped garden.
These, along with the 9 other gardens that we visit during this tour are sure to leave you with a lasting impression of these regions of the UK. We return to London for the last night of the tour and a farewell dinner.
Day 1 – 8 May 2024 – Check-in Crown Plaza London Heathrow – Dinner Included
- After your flight, check into the Crown Plaza London Heathrow Airport hotel. In the evening there will be an opportunity to meet your tour guide and other participants of the tour over dinner.
Accommodation: Crown Plaza London Heathrow Airport
Day 2 – 9 May 2024 – Check-Out – Gardens Visited : Goodnestone Park, Hever Castle – Breakfast, Morning Coffee, & Dinner Included
- Our first visit of the day is to Goodnestone Park, a 17th-century estate nestled in the heart of Kent. This quintessential English garden boasts 14 acres of meticulously landscaped grounds, featuring a classic floral garden in front of the house. As we venture further, we find a gravel garden, a woodland garden and an arboretum with many unique trees, including a large collection of Cornus. The highlight of the park is its walled garden, divided into compartments with different color combinations, where old roses bloom profusely and walls are covered with a variety of climbing plants. We take a leisurely stroll through the herbaceous borders, the charming rose garden, and the serene water features. We learn about the estate’s connection to Jane Austen, who was a frequent visitor, and the inspiration she drew from these surroundings. We’ll have morning coffee at Goodnestone Park.
- Hever Castle Garden, nestled in the idyllic Kent countryside, is a breathtaking oasis of beauty and history surrounding the enchanting Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. As we explore the expansive 125-acre garden, we are transported back in time and immersed in a captivating tapestry of colors, scents, and textures. From the meticulously designed formal gardens to the natural beauty of the woodlands and meandering pathways, each element of the garden invites us to uncover its secrets and experience its unique charm.
- One of the highlights of Hever Castle Garden is the stunning Italian Garden, a masterpiece of design boasting a remarkable collection of Italian sculptures, vibrant flower beds, and a mesmerizing array of water features. As we stroll through the romantic Rose Garden, we are greeted by the delicate fragrance and vibrant hues of over 5,000 rose bushes, while the Tudor Garden evokes the spirit of the castle’s rich history. The enchanting Water Maze and the delightful Anne Boleyn’s Walk provide further opportunities for exploration and discovery.
- At the end of our first day, we make our way to Royal Spa Hotel a stylish and sophisticated hotel situated in 14 acres of picturesque grounds close to Royal Tunbridge Wells. With an indoor swimming pool and gyms, award-winning restaurant and contemporary Zagatos Bar, it offers guests easy access to historic Tunbridge Wells and the Kent countryside. Dinner is included during our stay here but you are of course free to explore other dining options near the hotel. You can ask the hotel’s concierge for recommendations.
Accommodation: Royal Spa Hotel
Day 3– 10 May 2024 – Gardens Visited: Sissinghurst, Great Dixter – Breakfast & Lunch included
- After breakfast, we travel to Sissinghurst, the first of two gardens that we will visit today. In 1930 Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson created Sissinghurst Castle garden around a moated Elizabethan mansion. Their garden has become extremely influential, helped partly by Sackville-West’s writing in which she documents the gardens development. The garden is designed around a series of axial walks each terminating with a statue or some other garden element. Enclosed garden compartments open out from each walkway and many have a seasonal theme. During our Spring visit we’ll experience the spectacular Lime Walk: drifts of bulbs provide a stunning tapestry of colors all as per Nicolson’s original meticulous planning. Other parts of the garden have specific color schemes. For example, you’ll find the White garden next to the Priest’s House and the Cottage Garden which is planted mainly in orange and yellow. Sissinghurst Castle Garden was given to the UK National Trust on the understanding that, as per Nicolson’s wishes, it should be kept up to date with new plants. Although the original design (thankfully) remains unaltered new plants are introduced very much in line with principles set out by Gertrude Jekyll. We’ll have lunch before traveling to Great Dixter.
- Great Dixter, is one of two great historic gardens in East Sussex. Built in 1450, the large timber framed house was bought by Christopher Lloyd’s father in 1910 was restored by the famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. The gardens, once a farmyard, were designed by Lutyens. Part of the reason why Great Dixter has become so famous and influential is because of the planting style introduced there by Christopher Lloyd and taught by him over many years at the local horticultural college. His planting style is characterized by the way in which he manages to combine plants in harmonious groupings and where plants of different heights, colors and leaf texture weave together into a unified whole. This style of gardening is often referred to as tapestry gardening and has been copied throughout the world.
- Experimentation has always been central to Lloyd’s gardening approach and nowhere more can this be seen in his 65m long/4.5-meter-wide Long Border, which as you will see is a spectacular mixture of shrubs, climbers, perennials and annuals. After Lloyd’s death the garden has been looked after by Fergus Garrett and is better than ever thanks to his heroic efforts.
Accommodation: Royal Spa Hotel
Day 4 – 11 May 2024 – Gardens Visited: Doddington Place and Pashley Manor. Breakfast, Morning Coffee, Lunch included.
- Doddington Place is a lovely 10-acre garden surrounding an imposing Victorian mansion. The garden features terraced lawns, a formal sunken garden, a rock garden, and a recently restored Edwardian wild garden. Here we can enjoy the tranquility of the wooded areas and the sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. We learn about the garden’s history, the different families who have shaped its landscape, and the ongoing efforts to preserve this beautiful estate.
- As we wander through the gardens, we discover a delightful Italianate terrace adorned with statues, urns, and a stone balustrade. In spring, the wooded area comes alive with a vibrant display of rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias, as well as various bulbs and perennials, adding bursts of color to the landscape.
- The Rock Garden boasts a variety of alpine plants and succulents, nestled among rugged rock formations and small ponds, creating an enchanting and serene atmosphere. The Edwardian Wild Garden, with its winding paths and diverse plantings, provides a tranquil retreat for both visitors and wildlife.
- Nestled in the enchanting East Sussex countryside, Pashley Manor is a magnificent Grade I-listed Tudor house enveloped by a breathtaking 11-acre garden. After lunch, we’ll wander through the estate to experience a blend of traditional and contemporary garden design. From the romantic Rose Walk to the striking herbaceous borders, we’re surrounded by a vibrant tapestry of color and texture throughout the seasons, while serene water features and the tranquil pond offer peaceful havens for wildlife and visitors alike.
Accommodation: Royal Spa Hotel
Day 5 – 12 May 2024 – Gardens Visited: Savill Garden, Ramster Gardens, Breakfast included
- As we step into the enchanting Savill Garden, nestled within Windsor Great Park, we are immediately captivated by the 35-acre horticultural haven that showcases the beauty and diversity of British flora. The garden, expertly designed to provide a breathtaking spectacle all year round, offers a magnificent display of colors, scents, and textures that invite us to explore further. Strolling through the interconnected garden rooms, we discover a wealth of carefully crafted landscapes, from the Spring Wood adorned with vibrant azaleas and rhododendrons to the serene Summer Wood, where dappled sunlight illuminates a picturesque woodland glade.
- After lunch at Savill Gardens, we continue our journey and visit Ramster Gardens, a hidden gem nestled in the Surrey Hills. The 20-acre woodland garden has a tranquil atmosphere and captivating beauty and boasts an impressive collection of azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias that create a dazzling display of color throughout the spring and summer months. As we wander through its winding pathways, we encounter magnificent ancient trees, whimsical sculptures, and a diverse range of rare and unusual plants, each contributing to the garden’s unique charm. Lunch here is on your own.
- The crowning glory of Ramster Gardens is the stunning azalea walk, where we are greeted by a mesmerizing riot of colors as the azaleas burst into bloom, creating an unforgettable sensory experience.
- Dinner is on your own.
Accommodation: Royal Spa Hotel
Day 6 – 13 May 2024 –Gardens Visited: Sheffield Park, Borde Hill. Breakfast and Lunch included
- In 1775 ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped 120 acres of gardens and woodland for Lord Sheffield, the owner of Sheffield Park. Later sold and bought by Arthur G Soames and enlarged to 265 acres, much of what remains today was made between 1909 and 1934 by him. Sheffield Park is a fine example of a Landscape Movement garden. Noted for their scale, Sheffield Park has 5 lakes each linked by cascades and boasts one of the finest collections of trees in the British Isles. During our Spring visit, we expect to see a fine display of flowering trees and rare shrubs including Amelanchier spp., Cornus florida, dendrons, azaleas as well as mass plantings of daffodils and sheets of bluebells.
- At Borde Hill Gardens, we find ourselves immersed in the beauty and tranquility of a magnificent 17-acre garden, nestled within the stunning Sussex countryside. We’ll have lunch here before exploring the exquisite garden, which surrounds the historic Borde Hill House. The garden is a unique combination of rare and exotic plants, sourced from around the world, and expertly curated to create a captivating and inspiring environment.
- As we meander through the lush, expertly maintained grounds, we discover a series of enchanting garden spaces, each with its own distinct character and charm. The tranquil Azalea Ring offers a serene retreat amidst the vibrant azalea blossoms. The Italian Garden, with its formal design and elegant water features, transports us to another time and place, while the Woodland Garden, with its towering trees and dappled sunlight, provides a peaceful haven for both visitors and wildlife alike.
Accommodation: Royal Spa Hotel
Day 7 – 14 May 2024 – Check-out. Gardens Visited: RHS Wisley Gardens, Nymans. Breakfast, Cream Tea & Dinner included. Lunch on your own.
- After breakfast we visit RHS Wisely gardens. Gifted to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) by Sir Thomas Hanbury in 1904 (creator of the famous La Mortola garden in Ischia, Italy), Wisley Gardens, situated on 200 acres (81 ha) is an important center of learning and research and boasts the most important demonstration garden in Europe.
- As RHS’s flagship garden there is something special to see in this garden at every time of the year even during the darkest of winter days. As we’ll be visiting the garden in Spring you’ll certainly see a spectacular display from the very many rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias and deciduous azaleas that have been planted here in an area of woodland called Battleston Hill. There are glasshouses with 4 temperate zones housing cacti, succulents, orchids, epiphytes as well as many other plants not native to the UK, as well as areas devoted to specific plants such as the pinetum – an area of stately conifers many of which are record breakers in terms of their height and which are interesting to visit in any season. During our visit to RHS Wisley, we’ll have a cream tea together and you’ll have time to have lunch (on your own) before travelling to our next garden – Nymans Garden.
- At Nymans Garden, we discover a magnificent six-acre garden designed around a 17th-century house. The garden features an array of historically inspired formal gardens, each offering a unique and breathtaking experience. As we explore the potager, we admire the traditional layout, complete with fruit, vegetables, herbs, and cutting flowers, as well as fruit trees that create an atmosphere of abundance and productivity.
- Adjacent to the potager, we find a walled herb garden with delightful chamomile paths, alongside a cloister walk inspired by a Pre-Raphaelite painting.
- As we continue our exploration, we encounter the enchanting canal garden, with its serene water features and meticulously designed planting schemes. The garden’s tranquil atmosphere invites us to linger and absorb the natural beauty that surrounds us.
- Our visit to Nymans Garden marks the end of our day, and from there, we head back to London and the Crown Plaza London Heathrow. Join the rest of the group for a farewell dinner.
Day 8 – 15 May 2024 – Check-Out. Breakfast Included.
- After a final breakfast at our hotel, we bid farewell to the beautiful English countryside and our fellow travelers. Transfer to London Heathrow Airport for your onward flight or stay in the UK for a little longer. Either way you will be taking away with you the memories of the stunning gardens that we have visited and the new friendships that you have made during our unforgettable journey.
- Start Date08/05/2024
- End Date15/05/2024
- Accommodation4* Hotels
- TransportationLuxury Coach
- Single Supplement780
- Cream Tea1 Included
What's Not Included:
- Flights to and from the UK