An English Spring: The delights of the Garden of England & Chelsea Flower Show Tour 16th-23rd May 2015 (7 nights)
Sorry, this tour is now fully booked. If you would like to be added to a waiting list in case of cancellation please do contact us. We are running this tour in 2016 so please do look at our 2016 Tour pages for more information…
Join us on our Chelsea Flower Show tour to one of the most charming and quintessential corners of England. You will delight in the exceptional gardens, historic houses and castles and beautiful countryside in the early flush of the coming season, full of vigour and hope. We visit the architectural gems of Canterbury, Rye and Royal Tunbridge Wells before proceeding to London for the excitement of the fashionable Chelsea Flower Show near vibrant shops in the heart of London.
Saturday 16th May Our tour starts at the 4 star Tudor Marriott in rural Kent for four nights. Make your own way to the hotel or we can arrange your early morning transfer from London Heathrow airport, with a pause for lunch (time permitting) Leeds Castle, “the loveliest castle in the world”. This evening join your tour director and the rest of the group before sitting down together for dinner.
Sunday 17th May This morning we make a very special pre-opening visit with garden tour to Great Dixter House and Garden, a cottage garden on a grand scale. The Manor of Dixter is first noted in 1220 and structural additions were made again in 1464. In 1910 the English architect Edwin Lutyens restored the house and designed the gardens. The well known gardening writer and lecturer Christopher Lloyd who further developed the garden until his passing in 2006, liked to tease the followers of garden fashion with bold experimentation. His philosophy lives on under the expert management of Fergus Garrett. We continue onto the ancient Cinque Port of Rye, one of the prettiest medieval towns in Britain for lunch (independent). In the afternoon we visit the private garden of Long Barn, the home of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson – where they ‘served their gardening apprenticeship’.
Monday 18th May We begin the day with a private visit to Goodnestone Park, a privately-owned 14 acre garden in parkland with fine old specimen trees, around an 18th century Palladian-style mansion with Jane Austen connections. A mature woodland garden with 1920’s rockery has a pond and shrubbery. Three interconnected exuberantly planted walled gardens use the adjacent church tower as a dramatic eye-catcher. We then visit the historic city of Canterbury. there is time to make an independent visit to the magnificent Cathedral, forming part of the World Heritage Site, and enjoy lunch in one of the city’s delightful eateries. In the afternoon we make a visit to Godinton House and Gardens, a superb ancient estate with splendid formal gardens. Both the Jacobean house and gardens have been lovingly restored. We enjoy a guided garden tour with the Head Gardener.
Tuesday 19th May We start the day with a private ‘pre-opening’ guided tour to Sissinghurst Castle, a romantic garden around a slender brick-built castle tower, this is always one of our most enjoyed visits. Sissinghurst is surely the best known and most copied garden in the world. Its designer Vita Sackville-West’s own words describe the garden: “Profusion, even extravagance and exuberance within the confines of the utmost linear severity”. We continue onto Pashley Manor, an immaculate garden with emphasis on colour and form around a Tudor house with 18th-century additions. After free time for lunch we enjoy a guided tour of the gardens.
Wednesday 20th May We visit Great Comp, an enormous achievement by two people who had retired in 1957 from a busy London life. This is an informal garden against a background of deciduous woodland with an apron of lawn. A wide range of ornamental trees and shrubs which relish acid loam are under planted with campanulas, geraniums, hostas, lilies and violas. We again enjoy a pre-opening visit and private tour of the garden. We continue to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and place of her seduction by Henry VIII. It took 1,000 men and millionaire William Astor’s money four years to restore this moated castle and its garden, with a 35 acre lake, fountains, cascade, topiary chess set and magnificent original Roman and Italian Renaissance statuary. This evening we proceed to the 4 star Carlton Mitre Hotel at Hampton Court for the last three nights of the tour.
Thursday 21st May Today we make an early start to the Chelsea Flower Show, a highlight every time this world class show is in our itinerary. You will see magnificent floral displays, show gardens, garden tools and products, a host of garden structures and artefacts by world famous names at this classic event close to London’s fashionable shopping. Return on our coach or stay later and catch a train back to the hotel. Time to make independent visit to Hampton Court Palace in the afternoon.
Friday 22nd May Finally we visit Wisley Garden, the home of the Royal Horticultural Society. Full of ideas and information, the garden delights and inspires in any season of the year. Part of the garden is always at its best. The shop offers as large a collection of books on gardening as anywhere in the world. Here is a wonderful chance to buy gifts to take home. We stay for lunch at Wisley then return to Hampton Court.
Saturday 23rd May Check-out from the hotel and make your own way by train to central London, by taxi or public transport to Heathrow airport at a time that suits your own travel plans. We can advise on departure planning.
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PRICES INCLUDE: Prices based on twin/double room share. Accommodations at 4 star hotels with en-suite facilities; buffet breakfast daily; dinner every evening; admissions to gardens and RHS Shows in the tour; deluxe coach travel; guest speakers and guides as described in an information pack provided at the start of the tour; services of a Sisley tour director. Arrival transfers are included only if you are joining the tour at Heathrow Airport on the first morning of the tour.
PRICES EXCLUDE: Airfares; passport fees; lunches; beverages; laundry; gratuities; telephone calls; souvenirs and items of a personal nature.