- UK - England and Wales
- Our idea of the perfect English summer day inspired us to arrange this tour of contemporary residential gardens. Unrestricted by traditional approaches, the work of modern designers offers us a peek into a series of remarkable gardens. The influence of modernism, romanticism, and pure plantsmanship will be ours to discover.
Day 1, August 11, Tuesday – ARRIVE IN THE UK
Tour participants will independently arrange travel to London Heathrow Airport and have time to get settled before our garden tours start the next day.
Day 2, August 12, Wednesday – BURY COURT, WALTHAM PLACE
We’ll begin our tours at Bury Court which has two recently designed gardens. The first is a transformed farmyard filled to the brim with a wide variety of herbaceous perennials and grasses. Dutch designer Piet Oudolf completed this space in the late 1990s. As the first garden Oudolf made in England, it holds a special place in garden design and naturalistic planting in England today. The other area we’ll see is in the front. Here, UK designer Christopher Bradley-Hole designed a grid of 20 squares and filled them with tall, textural grass plantings. We’ll have time to pause at the dining pavilion that overlooks a dark reflecting pool and enjoy this quiet, minimalist garden.
Our visit to Waltham Place will continue our exploration of naturalistic plantings by introducing us to the work of the late Dutch designer Henk Gerritsen. Along with Piet Oudolf, Gerritsen is credited as a founder of the New Perennials movement. At Waltham Place, he transformed a square walled garden that dates back to the 17th century by using plantings that seem wild and unplanned. A cloud pruned caterpillar hedge snakes through the space, a playful contrast to the looseness of the perennials. We’ll see other gardens here and have time to consider the contribution of Gerritsen to modern planting design.
Day 3, August 13, Thursday – DENMANS, HANNAH PESCHAR, SUSSEX PRAIRIE
At Denmans Garden, we’ll step into the personal garden of world famous UK garden designer, author, and educator John Brookes. Here Brookes has created intimate spaces within a fluid structure, explored easy care maintenance, chosen textural plants with strong form, and demonstrated how to make a garden with year round interest. Brookes recently said, “Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, we are increasingly adopting a stance that we are not superior to nature and forcing a plan upon it, but that we are part of it and are becoming more and more sensitive to it.” Wise words to ponder.
A visit to the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden highlights carefully curated contemporary sculpture sited in a garden by UK landscape designer Anthony Paul. Explore this video tour to get a preview of this delightful, lush woodland garden that fuses art and nature.
Sussex Prairie Garden was fashioned out of a farm field in 2008 by the owners, garden designers Paul & Pauline McBride. The 6-acre nautilus-shaped garden is surrounded by oaks and planted in vibrant drifts of herbaceous perennials and architectural grasses. The McBride’s commitment to this naturalistic planting style puts this garden squarely in the New Perennial movement. A stop at the Tea Room for tea and cakes will give us time to consider this romantic & colorful garden.
Day 4, August 14, Friday – FOLLERS MANOR, GREAT DIXTER
Our day starts at wildlife friendly Follers Manor, UK designer Ian Kitson’s award winning garden. Using a boldly curvaceous plan, Kitson began the garden from scratch in 2008 by carving into a slope overlooking the beautiful Sussex countryside. The garden features sunken areas with flint retaining walls, flowing limestone paths with crazy paving, a wildlife pond with a deck walk, and colorful herbaceous plantings. The result is contemporary and spectacular.
Next we’ll visit Great Dixter, the home garden of the late renowned author and plantsman Christopher Lloyd. Although the structure of this garden is early 20th century, the spirit of the plantings is most certainly contemporary. Head gardener Fergus Garrett is carrying forward what Lloyd started. Great Dixter is a visionary, exuberant, plant lover’s haven. Expect to see contemporary planting design at its best.
Day 5, August 15, Saturday – WISLEY, BETH CHATTO
We’ll spend the day at the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship garden Wisley, which holds a world-class collection of plants in 25,000 taxa. We’ll explore model gardens of all types, the famous rock garden, the new Glasshouse, the Alpine House, numerous water features, wild gardens, and the trials field. In recent years, both UK designer Tom Stuart-Smith and Dutch designer Piet Oudolf created large, breathtaking perennial borders that should be at their peak during our visit. With so much to see, we’ll want to take a break for lunch in the Food Hall or rest our feet at afternoon tea in the Restaurant.
Next we’ll visit the Beth Chatto Gardens. Started in the 1960s, Chatto’s guiding principle was placing plants in conditions closest to their natural habitats. Out of a wasteland, she created distinct gardens for water, gravel, and woodland. This kind of ecological design is still relevant today. In a time of climate change, Beth Chatto Gardens are particularly inspirational.
Day 6, August 16, Sunday – VEDDW, LADY FARM, BROCKHAMPTON COTTAGE
Veddw House Garden is a must-see Welsh garden designed by a husband and wife team, writer Anne Wareham and photographer Charles Hawes. Using traditional hedging to create structure, Wareham and Hawes have infused these intimate spaces with modern ideas and plantings. A visual highlight is the Pool Garden with its dark water reflecting the undulating hedges rising up the slope. A definite photo op you won’t want to miss.
Lady Farm was designed over the last 20 years by owner Judy Pearce in collaboration with horticulturalist Mary Payne. We’ll see natural spring fed lakes, a stream with cascades, and meadows. The naturalistic plantings follow the contours of the land and are chosen for low maintenance. Sculptures, both serious and playful, are sited throughout the garden. Voted a top UK garden by the Daily Telegraph, this country garden is sure to please.
Next we’ll visit Brockhampton Cottage, a billowing, romantic garden designed by Tom Stuart-Smith. Starting with the goal of connecting to the wider landscape, Stuart-Smith added terraces that descend from the house. Generous herbaceous plantings in grey, purple, blue, and deep pink flank each level, while below, the designer sited a meadow dotted with native trees. Beyond is a lake surrounded by trees with swaths of rushes and grasses. If this garden seems to be a compendium of modern must-have plants, there’s a reason. The owners also own Crocus, the popular nursery that supplies plants for many Chelsea Flower Show gardens.
Day 7, August 17, Monday – THROUGHAM COURT, HANHAM COURT
Througham Court is designer Christine Facer’s personal garden where she experiments with ideas, materials, and planting combinations. An example of cutting edge design, this garden is a living laboratory inspired by scientific facts, theories, and mathematical sequences. Here, Facer, whose background is in research science, has created a Cosmic Evolution Garden, Fibonacci’s Walk, Chaos Gate, and an Eclipse Shadow Bed, just to name a few. Prepare to expand your mind and explore new possibilities in contemporary garden composition.
Voted #1 Dreamy Garden by Gardens Illustrated in 2010, Hanham Court Gardens will delight every sense. Julien and Isabel Bannerman designed the gardens while Hanham Court was their home. They’re known for a deeply romantic style with a witty, contemporary spin. Here we’ll see a formal, old rose garden with tree peonies and lilies; a woodland with a stream, pool, and tree ferns; a wildflower meadow overlooking the River Avon; and a working kitchen garden. Throughout, we’ll check out the architectural features—obelisks, arched gateways, a pavilion, and temple—traditional garden elements with clever updates.
Day 8, August 18, Tuesday – BROUGHTON GRANGE, PETTIFERS
We’ll explore another captivating design by Tom Stuart-Smith at Broughton Grange. Part of a larger 19th century garden, this new addition transformed a paddock into an ambitious 6-acre walled garden. Three themed terraces traverse a slope and open to the surrounding rural landscape. We’ll see masses of perennials and grasses punctuated with topiary, a modern boxwood parterre based on leaves, beech tunnels, pleached lime squares, and a rill carrying water into a large stone tank. The scale of Stuart-Smith’s 21st century design is a bold step away from typical English garden rooms.
Pettifers is a stylish townhouse garden designed by the owner Gina Price. With little experience in design, Price started in the early 1990’s with a conventional, old fashioned garden. Gradually through visiting other gardens and asking for criticism from knowledgeable friends, Price began editing. Today Pettifers is known for its innovative plant choices, remarkable plant combinations, and vivid color blends, all within a confident structure. Price admits to being influenced by the New Perennials movement but says she couldn’t have a garden without English prettiness. This is a pairing that’s sure to please.
Day 9, August 19, Wednesday – BOUGHTON HOUSE
Our final day will be spent in the garden at Boughton House, where UK landscape architect Kim Wilkie has created a 21st century landform called The Orpheus Project within the estate’s 18th century gardens. Responding to a geometric mound designed over 200 years ago, Wilke created an inverted grass pyramid sunk 22 feet into the earth and open to the sky. We’ll be able to walk down a spiraling grass ramp to the square reflecting pool below, where sounds of the world above disappear. At Broughton House, formal landscapes of the past meet minimalist modernism, a fascinating juxtaposition to be sure.
Day 10, August 20, Thursday – DEPART UK OR CONTINUE TRAVEL ON YOUR OWN
- Carex Tours A Designer's Tour of Contemporary English Gardens 2015 Download
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We’ve taken care of the details. Hotels, garden admissions, and most meals are included in the price of the tour.
$3,265USD per person, double occupancy.
+$600USD, single supplement.
Tour price includes:
8 Nights, 4 star hotel accommodations.
Comfortable coach transport.
Admission to all gardens.
All breakfasts (traditional English) and dinners.
Tips & gratuities
Friendly and knowledgeable professional tour guide.
The design and botanical expertise of your CarexTours host.
An $800USD deposit is due when you book your tour.
Final payment, in full, is due by June 16, 2015.