Leura Gardens Festival 2018

Think Spring! Think Leura Gardens Festival 2018


The Leura Gardens Festival celebrates cold climate gardening. In its 54th year and in an exciting departure from previous festivals, this year’s event will be held for six days over two long weekends in September and October.


Diary dates


The festival runs on Saturday, September 29  Sunday, September 30,  Monday October 1  AND Friday October 5, Saturday October 6 and Sunday October 7. Note there will be no festival from Tuesday October 2 to Thursday October 4.




In addition to beautiful new gardens for visitors to enjoy, there will be a selection of old favourites, all maintaining the high standards of past festivals.

The Upper Blue Mountains in the spring is a feast of new growth. With masses of flowers, gorgeous bulbs and an amazing variety of cold climate plants as well as wonderful deciduous trees that will just be coming into their full glory. As gardens at their very best in spring, the Leura Gardens Festival has always been a magnet for visitors seeking not only to enjoy the beauty that is on show, but also seeking inspiration for their own gardens.

Festival highlights include the daily Music in the Garden performances, the art show featuring works painted in the gardens during the festival, and excellent bargains from the festival’s plant sales centre.

More details of this not-to-be missed event for garden lovers are available at www.leuragardensfestival.com.au .

Natural Landscapes & Gardens of the Channel Islands: Jersey, Guernsey, Herm, Burhou & Sark

Natural Landscapes & Gardens of the Channel Islands: Jersey, Guernsey, Herm, Burhou & Sark


The following itinerary describes a range of sites which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight & ferry schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches and evening meal, indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal.


St Helier, Jersey – 6 nights


Day 1: Friday 24 May, Arrive Jersey

Welcome Meeting
Participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer from the airport to the hotel in St Helier on the island of Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands. Those taking alternative flights should meet the group at the Pomme d’Or Hotel.

St. Helier stands in St Aubin’s Bay on the southern side of the island and is named after Jersey’s first and most famous saint, a 6th century ascetic hermit who was martyred on the island in c. AD 555. The town is the capital of Jersey and has a population of about 28,000 – roughly one third of Jersey’s total population. While St Helier has a distinctive British atmosphere, the town retains numerous French influences as attested by the many streets that carry old French names and numerous shop fronts still displaying the names of their island founders. In the evening we will gather for a Welcome Meeting before time at leisure for dinner. (Overnight St Helier)


Day 2: Saturday 25 May, Jersey

Walk around St Helier: Royal Square, Central Market & Church of St Helier
Eric Young Orchid Foundation
Mont Orgueil Castle, Grouville
Welcome Talk by Tim Liddiard, Natural Environment Officer for the States of Jersey: An introduction to the unique ecology of the Channel Islands
Welcome Dinner


Today we begin with a short orientation walk around the cosmopolitan harbour town of St Helier. Our walk includes a visit to the Central Market, where we may purchase ingredients for our picnic lunch. This Victorian covered market includes a stunning array of overflowing flower stalls, fresh fruit and vegetables, cakes, wines and chocolates, dairy products made from the famous Jersey cow, and local specialties including des mèrvelles (small doughnuts), de nièr beurre (apple preserve) and cabbage loaf (bread baked wrapped in cabbage leaves). We visit the Royal Square, where at its centre a stone commemorates the Battle of Jersey, which took place in 1781. We also visit the pink granite Church of St Helier, the largest of the parish churches. The seafront used to come right up to the church, and the square tower served as a useful observation post. The stretch of land between here and the sea was reclaimed from the end of the 18th century for town housing and warehouses.

We then travel by coach to the Eric Young Orchid Foundation. Nestled in the heart of the beautiful parish of Trinity and sitting within its own wonderful landscaped garden, this nursery and display complex houses one of the world’s finest collections of orchids. Jersey orchid breeders are considered amongst the best and this collection has won many awards.

We next turn our attention to a medieval site, Mont Orgueil Castle. This iconic landmark commands a prime position overlooking the picturesque harbour at Gorey and the Royal Bay of Grouville. Blue Badge Guide Sue Hardy will guide our visit here, explaining how construction of the castle was begun in the 13th century after King John lost control of Normandy and how for 600 years Mont Orgueil Castle protected the island against French invasion. Although Elizabeth Castle replaced Mont Orgueil as the island’s premier defence station when it was decided an inland setting was safer to protect, Mont Orgueil remained the island’s secondary defence until it was decommissioned in 1907.

This evening we will have a special lecture by Tim Liddiard, Natural Environment Officer for the States of Jersey, that introduces the unique ecology of the Channel Islands. This will be followed by a welcome dinner at the hotel, where we will enjoy a taste of Jersey’s marvellous local produce. (Overnight St Helier) BD


Day 3: Sunday 26 May, Jersey

Le Clos du Chemin, St Peter
Jersey War Tunnels, St Lawrence
Grey Gables, St Brelade
Parish Church and Fishermen’s Chapel of St Brelade’s Bay

This morning we travel to St Peter to visit Le Clos du Chemin, the private garden of Mrs Susan Lea. Colour and texture reign in this garden, set on a hillside overlooking the bay. It features a glorious herbaceous border; a bed filled with plants in shades of silver; around twenty different types of magnolias; and an extraordinary ‘foxglove tree’ that sports vivid violet flowers in the spring.

The five years of German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II has had a significant impact on islander psyche. This, along with the material legacies left by the German occupation, is now reflected in tourism on the islands. During their occupation the Germans built hundreds of reinforced concrete bunkers and gun emplacements, anti-tank walls and tunnels – all constructed for an invasion that never came. Such was Hitler’s belief that England would try to regain the islands, he sent to the Channel Islands over 20 percent of the material allocated to the so-called ‘Atlantic Wall’ – a line of massive defence works which stretched from the Baltic to the Spanish frontier – to turn them into ‘impregnable fortresses’. Following Germany’s defeat, islanders began the job of decommissioning and destroying this legacy, but now they are recognised as important heritage sites and considerable energy and money has been expended on conserving and interpreting them.

We visit the Jersey War Tunnels, originally constructed as an ammunition store and artillery barracks, but were converted into a casualty clearing station known as Hohlgangsanlage 8 (often abbreviated to Ho8) or the German Underground Hospital. A huge workforce was needed to build the 1-kilometre network of tunnels and this was supplied by the Organisation Todt. More than 5000 slave labourers were brought over to Jersey – Russians, Poles, Frenchmen and Spaniards. Conditions were terrible, although Russian and Ukrainian POWs were treated the worst, with cases of malnutrition, death by exhaustion and disease among them becoming common. Today the site is a museum, which through interactive displays tells the story of the Occupation.

This afternoon we visit the extensive gardens of Grey Gables, located in a peaceful, elevated position above La Haule Hill in St Brelade. Developed by the late Mrs Celia Skinner, the garden consists of a mixture of terraced and formal gardens with large areas of natural wood banks featuring many mature indigenous and specie trees including Australian tree ferns. There is also a well-stocked greenhouse, a herb garden and a vegetable area with fruit trees.

At nearby St Brelade’s Bay we visit the Parish Church and La Chapelle des Pecheurs (locally known as the Fishermen’s Chapel), which occupy the site of an original wooden church built by St Brelade in the 6th century. In the early centuries of Christianity it was common for a community, or a wealthy local family, to fund a chantry chapel. Here a priest could be paid to say prayers to keep the devil at bay and guarantee a path to heaven for the righteous. Originally it was thought that the name derived from the fishing guilds of the island, although it is also possible that pecheurs (‘fishermen’ in French) is a corruption of péchés (‘sinners’). A wooden structure may have existed on this site as the first church, however these churches were often burned down by pagan invaders. While the chapel appears older than the adjacent church, recent archaeological work suggests that it was constructed afterwards, probably during the 12th century. The chapel is built from the same material as was used in the parish church. Limpet shells from the bay were crushed and dissolved with boiling seawater. Until the 19th century, when the military fortifications were built in Jersey, it housed cannon for the local militia. It therefore survived the destruction of chapels at the time of the Reformation. (Overnight St Helier) B


Day 4: Monday 27 May, Jersey

La Maison des Près, St Peter
Rozel Valley

We begin today with a visit to La Maison des Près, the private garden of Lord and Lady Brownlow. Its fine selection of trees includes a tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, and a Metasequoia (dawn redwood). A walk through the wildflower meadow allows us to note the lime trees around the border and the different windbreaks. After the informality of the meadow and orchard, there is a complete change as you enter the more formal garden. Here we find a giant Romneya coulteri (Californian tree poppy) and a delightful semi-circular summerhouse leading into Lady Brownlow’s ‘secret garden’, guarded by two actual-size reproductions of the celebrated terracotta warriors which were excavated in Xi’an, China.

We then travel by coach to Rozel Valley. After a light pub lunch we will walk through the grounds of La Ferme, one of the largest dairy farms on the island, and on to the north coast cliff path. From here we will be able to see L’Etacquerel Fort before returning to the coach. (Overnight St Helier) BL


Day 5: Tuesday 28 May, Jersey

Wildlife walk with Mike Stentiford: Le Noir Pré Orchid Field
Creux Baillot Cottage Gardens, Leovill, St Ouen
Tour of St Ouen’s Manor Gardens with Ned Malet de Carteret, brother of the current Seigneur
St Matthew’s Church, (Glass Church), Millbrook

The favourable climate of the islands, warmed all year around by the Gulf Stream, ensures that the Channel Islands have dynamic ecosystems, and each provides a sanctuary for a rich variety of flora and fauna. This morning we take an environmental wildlife walk with the ‘Birdman of Jersey’, naturalist Mike Stentiford, who will introduce you to some of Jersey’s abundant flora and fauna. Mike was awarded an MBE in 2000 in recognition of the work he has done in promoting and introducing Jersey’s natural heritage to visitors to the island.

We begin early this morning with a visit to Le Noir Pré Orchid Field, whose meadows fringing St Ouen’s Pond burst into colour at the end of May with over 40,000 blooming orchids. Often known simply as ‘the Orchid Field’, this unique site is one of the last remaining strongholds of the Jersey or loose-flowered Orchid (Orchis laxiflora), which also occurs in Guernsey, but is absent from the rest of the British Isles. In addition, three other species, the southern marsh (Dactylorhiza praetermissa), common spotted and heath spotted orchids (Dactylorhiza maculata), occur at the site. The meadows also contain a wide variety of other plant species, many of which have become increasingly uncommon in Jersey. During May and June, the meadows are a riot of colour, with the stunning deep purple of the Jersey Orchids contrasting with the various shades of pink, through to white, of the remaining species. Other notable wildflowers include the ragged robin, yellow bartsia, parsley water-dropwort, common knapweed, square-stalked St. John’s-wort and tufted vetch. A wide range of insects can also be seen in the meadows, especially butterflies of various species, such as the orange tip, whose caterpillars feed on cuckooflower, and dragonflies, including the spectacular emperor dragonfly. Small mammals such as voles, mice and shrews attract the kestrel, the barn owl and other predatory birds, and the rare marsh harrier can sometimes be observed hunting over the site.

We then visit the private garden of Judith Quérée at Creux Baillot Cottage. Judith and her husband Nigel bought the traditional stone house over 30 years ago. They’ve gradually created a glorious garden, crammed with unusual species of plants that thrive in the mild local climate. There are strange flowers that drip nectar, roses the colour of clotted cream, a burgundy-coloured buddleia and a mysterious mandrake: “Folklore says you should only pull it up at night when the spirit of the plant is asleep,” says Judith. Her garden is divided into different ‘rooms’, with a cool boggy area complete with a rowing boat, and a hot, dry border that attracts scores of butterflies. Hanging from a mature tree are some ropes – a playground for the local red squirrels, which still thrive on the island. This garden is featured in both Hidden Gardens of the Channel Islands and 1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die.

After time for lunch at leisure in Greve de Lecq, we take a guided tour of St Ouen’s Manor Gardens. The traditional home of the Seigneur of St Ouen, and the ancestral home of the de Carteret family since the 11th century, the garden features an ancient colombier (traditional dovecote) and walled garden. The walled garden and landscaped gardens are surrounded by a moat and stream flowing down to a wooded valley. The dramatic entrance arch next to the lodge leads to an avenue of majestic trees with huge trunks of ash, beach and oak above green verges.

Our day finishes with a visit to St Matthew’s Church at Millbrook. While the exterior of this church scarcely merits a second look, its interior is a work of such beauty that even the Germans took care not to damage it during their occupation of the island. Often referred to as the Glass Church, St Matthew’s has wonderful Art Deco glass fixtures and fittings designed in 1934 by René Lalique (1860-1945). The work was commissioned by Florence Boot, Lady Trent, Lalique’s neighbour in the South of France. Lady Trent’s principle residence, however, was in Millbrook on the island of Jersey and the work was commissioned to honour her late husband Jesse Boot, founder of Boots the Chemist. Opalescent panels, a magnificent altar cross, a glass font – perhaps the only one to be found anywhere – the Jersey lily motif, and Art Deco angels make the church one of the Island’s treasures and arguably some of the finest work Lalique ever produced. (Overnight St Helier) B


Day 6: Wednesday 29 May, Jersey

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
Introduction to Jersey’s Prehistoric Sites by archaeologist Olga Finch
La Hougue Bie: prehistoric mound and dolmen
La Hougue Bie Museum & the ‘Jersey Hoard
La Pouquelaye de Faldouet, Neolithic Passage Grave

We begin our day with a visit to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, formerly the Jersey Zoo. Located in a 16th-century manor house and surrounded by 32 acres of park and farmland, Jersey Zoo was the realisation of a dream by naturalist and author Gerald Durrell (1925-1995) to create a safe place for his animals. From the outset the Jersey Zoo was dedicated to breeding endangered species to ensure their survival. Many zoologists denounced Gerald’s early efforts at captive breeding but they are now universally acknowledged as an important weapon in the fight to save animals from extinction.

In 1963, Gerald turned his ‘zoo’ into a charitable trust, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which has established breeding groups of many species of endangered mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and has pioneered the return of their progeny to the wild. In Jersey, in the 50 plus years of the Zoo/Trust’s operation, it has achieved many major breeding firsts. These include: Alaotran gentle lemurs, Rodrigues and Livingstone’s fruit bats, Rodrigues fodys, Madagascan flat-tailed tortoises, Round Island boas and Montserrat mountain chicken frogs. While most of us think of Gerald Durrell in connection with his best-selling book, My Family and Other Animals, which documented his earliest animal adventures and the antics of his family on the island of Corfu, Durrell’s greatest legacy has undoubtedly been in the field of animal conservation and the Trust he created on Jersey.

Durrell met his second wife, Lee McGeorge Durrell, in 1977 when he lectured at Duke University; she was studying there for a PhD in animal communication. They married in 1979. She co-authored a number of books with him, including The Amateur Naturalist, and became the Honorary Director of the Trust after his death.

This afternoon archaeologist Olga Finch joins us to explain what the various Neolithic sites on Jersey signified to the indigenous population. Jersey became an island at the end of the second Ice Age as the land that once linked it to France was flooded. Neolithic people from the Mediterranean started to move north through France up to the coast of Brittany and eventually settlements appeared around the coast of Jersey. These early settlers brought with them a megalithic tradition of erecting stone monuments, known as dolmens or menhirs. They also introduced ‘passage’ graves, where a narrow entrance and passageway led to a burial chamber providing a focus for spiritual beliefs.

We will have the special opportunity to visit the La Hougue Bie Museum with one of the conservators who has been working on one of the newest and most important discoveries to be made in the Channel Islands – the Grouville Hoard. More commonly known as the ‘Jersey hoard’, this is a collection of over 10,000 Celtic and Roman coins that was found in 2012 by two metal detectorists. Work on the find is ongoing, but at this stage it is believed that the hoard belonged to the Curiosolitae tribe from Brittany, who came to Jersey fleeing the armies of Julius Caesar in approximately 50 BC.

We conclude the program by visiting the 6,000-year-old burial site at La Hougue Bie. This prehistoric mound and dolmen is one of Europe’s finest Neolithic passage graves. Particularly significant at La Hougue Bie is the placement of its entrance; it points directly east and during the Equinox sunlight penetrates the passageway illuminating the chamber deep in the mound. The discovery of the Equinox alignment demonstrates how important this time of year was to this past farming community and how critical cycles of nature were to its survival. (Overnight St Helier) BL


St Peter Port, Guernsey – 7 nights


Day 7: Thursday 30 May, Jersey – Guernsey

Flight from Jersey to Guernsey
Clematis Greenhouses of Raymond Evison

This morning we depart Jersey and take a flight to Guernsey, where we will be based for the next six days. From 933 AD Guernsey was part of Normandy, forging a link between Britain and France that survives locally on the island in Norman Law, surnames and D’gernésiais, the local language. When in 1066 William of Normandy (‘William the Conqueror’) became King of England, Guernsey was linked to the English Crown. Guernsey remained an English possession after King Philippe Augustus of France took back the mainland of Normandy from King John in 1204. Guernsey prospered particularly from the 18th century when its port became free from British import duties. Wine and brandy were stockpiled here and taken to Britain in small quantities when prices were good. Referred to as ‘Free Trade’, the practice legitimated what was in effect little more than smuggling.

On our arrival at St Peter Port we will check in to our hotel before visiting the greenhouses of renown plantsman Raymond Evison where we shall learn about his extraordinary collection of clematis. Raymond had devoted five decades to breeding and cultivating this exquisite plant. He won the first of his 28 Chelsea Gold medals while still in his early twenties and he has won gold each year from 2003. (Overnight St Peter Port) B


Day 8: Friday 31 May, Guernsey

La Petite Vallée, St Peter Port
L’Etiennerie Farm, Castel

Today we visit the private gardens of Mrs Monachan, La Petite Vallée, with a wide range of exotic and traditional planting on terraces and slopes leading down to the sea. Here we will have the chance to explore the seasonal cloisters, herbaceous borders, woodland walk and a tropical area with a number of unusual plants and water flows.

Following lunch at the Fleur du Jardin Hotel, we walk to L’Etiennerie Farm, home of Tim and Eleanor Henderson. This informal country garden features herbaceous borders, a pond, potager, a wild flower meadow and stunning views over the Fauxquets Valley and surrounding countryside. (Overnight St Peter Port) BL


Day 9: Saturday 1 June, Day Excursion to Sark

Ferry to and from Sark
Guest talk by Dr Richard Axton on Sark’s prehistoric finds and Sark in the 16th century
Guest talk by the Seneschal of Sark, Jeremy La Trobe-Bateman (subject to confirmation in 2019)
Guided tour of La Seigneurie Garden
Lobster lunch at Hathaways Brasserie
Tour of the island by horse and carriage

This morning we take a 45-minute ferry ride to Sark. The island is only 5 kilometres long and a little over 1.5 kilometres wide, but boasts 64 kilometres of picturesque coastline. Although it has a population of just 600, Sark is a self-governing Crown Dependency and was the last European territory to abolish feudalism in 2008. The Head of Government is the Seigneur, a hereditary position dating back to 1565 and currently held by John Michael Beaumont.

Sark consists of two main parts, Greater Sark and Little Sark to the south: they are connected by a narrow, razor-edged isthmus called La Coupée, which is 90 metres long and has a drop of 100 metres on each side. Two bays flank the isthmus: La Grand Grêve to the west and Convanche Bay, part of Baleine Bay, to the east.

We will be given a talk on two periods of Sark’s history – the Prehistoric era and the 16th century – by Dr Richard Axton. Subject to confirmation, we will also be joined by Jeremy La Trobe-Bateman, the Seneschal of Sark (President of Chief Pleas and Chief Judge), who will explain the history and politics of the island.

We will then visit the gardens of La Seigneurie, the home of the Seigneurs of Sark. With its colourful borders and stone walls, this is one of the finest gardens in the Channel Islands. There is also a potager, a pond, a restored Victorian greenhouse and a recently extended fruit and vegetable garden. The walled garden dates to the mid-19th century, complete with some of its original Victorian lay out. The high walls give protection from the wind and the island’s almost frost-free climate allows many tender and half hardy plants to thrive.

Sark is renowned for its local lobster, and we will partake of this delicacy at a special lunch in the beautiful surrounds of the gardens. We will spend the remainder of our time in Sark visiting sites on Greater Sark. As there are no cars on Sark, our tour of the island will be made the old-fashioned way – by horse and carriage. (Overnight St Peter Port) BL


Day 10: Sunday 2 June, Alderney

Flight to Alderney
Boat cruise of the Alderney Ramsar Site: including Burhou Island for puffin watching & viewing of gannet colonies on Les Etacs and Ortac
A guided walk to Fort Tourgis

Today we take a flight to Alderney, the third largest of the Channel Islands, situated at the mouth of the Channel, 11 kilometres due west of Cap de la Hague in Normandy. From Alderney a boat trip takes us on a tour of the Alderney Ramsar Site (1,500 hectares of important wetlands, accredited under the Ramsar convention in 2005) to view the Puffins on Burhou, as well as the impressive gannet colonies on Les Etacs and Ortac and the Atlantic seal colony near Burhou Reef.

Burhou Island is just 2.25 kilometres northwest of Alderney. Despite being only about one kilometre long and half a kilometre wide, Burhou is a bird sanctuary which is home to eleven species of breeding birds. The island is best known for its colony of Atlantic puffins, which may be viewed between March and July. The Atlantic puffin is one of four species of puffin and the only one found in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a member of the auks (Alcidae) family of sea birds which includes guillemots, the razorbill and auklets. Today there are 143 pairs of Burhou puffins, having declined from a total of many thousand birds in the last twenty years. The puffins spend most of the year out in the Atlantic Ocean. They only return to land at the end of March to breed and raise their young. On Burhou the puffins build their nests in old rabbit burrows or on the side of the cliffs. Other nesting birds on Burhou include the oystercatcher, storm petrel, shag, greater and lesser black-backed gull and herring gull.

Les Etacs and Ortac rocks support more than 2 per cent of the world’s gannet population. These colonies are the most southerly within the gannet’s range, with over 6,000 breeding pairs recorded. Gannets feed primarily on fish such as mackerel, sand eels and herring, which they find by diving to depths of up to 20 metres of scavenging along the surface of the sea.

Before returning to Guernsey, we will take the opportunity to visit the charming town of St Anne before taking a guided walk to Fort Tourgis. Fort Tourgis was built in the Victorian era, and although not the largest fort on the island, it is an impressive structure with a fascinating history. (Overnight St Peter Port) BL


Day 11: Monday 3 June, Guernsey

Le Vallon, private garden of Major and Mrs A. Philippi
Sausmarez Park (Garden and Folk Museum (optional))
Les Nicolle Prison Garden

This morning we visit Le Vallon, a 10-acre garden surrounded by gentle rolling parkland that is split into a magnificent formal area, a natural wooded area adorned with the English Bluebells dissected with moss pathways and a stream running into a large pond, surrounded by Lysachitum americanum. At the centre of this garden is a walled kitchen garden.

From Le Vallon we transfer to Saumarez Park. The Saumarez family arrived in Guernsey between 1200 and 1254. Since their arrival on the island they have been in and out of its affairs, holding such positions as Bailiff, as well as being Hereditary Seigneurs.

A few parts of the house date from the late 12th or early 13th centuries, but most of it is a result of the many facelifts it has received throughout its history. Major changes were made in Tudor, Queen Anne, Regency and Victorian times but the facade is its most impressive feature: it is considered the finest example of Queen Anne Colonial architecture in Britain. Befitting Saumarez’s house and its rich history is its wonderful sub-tropical garden – possible because of the warm Gulf Stream. As you wander through its winding paths and jungle glades you will see why it has been written up in many publications, including 1001 Gardens to visit Before You Die. Growing here are ginger (Hedechium), giant geraniums and echiums, palm trees in profusion, drifts of bamboo, yams (Collocasia & Alocasia), several types of banana and a variety of tree ferns and camellias, as well as birds of paradise plants, (Strelitzia) Arum and Canna Lillies. We also visit the National Trust Folk Museum. Costumes, implements and artefacts dating from the 17th century to the current day provide a fascinating insight to Guernsey’s heritage in the home, in local industries, farming and fishing.

In the afternoon we visit Les Nicolle Prison Gardens, opened as part of the island’s open garden scheme. “Prisoners are more relaxed generally, not just here but we’ve got full employment in the prison, prisoners are gainfully employed, they’re in purposeful activity, they are learning, they are gaining qualification and they are preparing for release ….. Working outside somewhere like this its a privilege t come into prison and work on a project like this.” Comments David Matthews, Prison Governor. (Overnight St Peter Port) B


Day 12: Tuesday 4 June, Excursion to Herm

Ferry to and from Herm
Guided tour of Herm’s award-winning gardens with chief gardener, Brett Moore
Cliff Path Walk of the South Coast
Lunch at the Mermaid Tavern

The Island of Herm is a 20-minute ferry ride from St Peter Port. Like Sark, it has no cars, and visitors tour the island on foot. This tiny island, covering just 550 acres, is a subtropical paradise supporting beautiful gardens laden with native and exotic plants. From spring onwards wildflowers take over the island with violets, red campion, primroses and daffodils lining the coastal cliff paths and carpeting the woodland. The fragrance of Burnet rose drifts across the heathland by June whilst the southern cliffs are sprinkled with sea pinks, rock samphire and heather.

The island rarely suffers from frost and has few native trees, having been cleared for sheep grazing. After the First World War, Sir Compton MacKenzie took over the lease of Herm and set about restoring the gardens. Trees were then introduced by the next resident, Sir Percival Perry, chairman of the Ford Motor Company, who realised that Monterey pines, holm oaks and Monterey cypresses would offer shelter from the prevailing sea winds and allow subtropical plants to flourish. Today, all the displays and gardens on the island are successfully looked after by a head gardener with an assistant, who have won numerous awards for their efforts. This morning we join Herm’s head gardener, Brett Moore, for a private tour during which we will learn about the unique plant life and challenges associated with gardening on Herm.

We will take a walk around the island to explore the beauty of its coastline, and then return to Guernsey. (Overnight St Peter Port) BL

Day 13: Wednesday 5 June, Guernsey
Royal Bank of Canada Garden, Les Cotils
Candie Gardens
Private garden of Mr & Mrs Cummings
Grange Court, St Peter Port
Farewell Dinner
Today we will walk along an ordinance line to visit four very different gardens. The 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal-winning Royal Bank of Canada garden has found a permanent home in the grounds of Les Cotils, a not-for-profit hotel and conference centre. Its relocation is in partnership with Floral Guernsey and it forms part of a new floral trail through St Peter Port. Designed by Hugo Bugg, the garden explores the role of water and is divided into three zones – a ‘dry garden’ without irrigation, a water harvesting zone and an edible garden with a seating area.

We then walk through the restored Victorian Candie Gardens that offer the best view across St Peter Port harbour and over to the sister islands of Herm, Sark and Jethou, along with a rare example of a late 19th-century public flower garden. They are home to the oldest known heated glasshouses in the British Isles, which date back to the late 18th century.

We continue our floral trail with a visit to the charming private garden belonging to Mr and Mrs Cummings, and Grange Court – the private gardens of Mr and Mrs Pat Johnson, which featured in the April 2013 edition of The English Garden magazine. Set in the heart of town, Grange Court is a 2-acre garden with a mix of formal and informal styles, containing many exotic and rare plants. A mature private town garden, it is shaded by majestic old trees, including a magnificent copper beech. Features of the garden include the remains of an elegant old stone orangery which forms the backdrop to the rose gardens, and an impressive Victorian ‘cactus’ greenhouse. Mixed shrub and perennial borders provide colour all year round in this immaculately maintained garden.

There will be time to return to the hotel before we head out to a local restaurant to share a farewell dinner. (Overnight St Peter Port) BD


Day 14: Thursday 6 June, Depart Guernsey

Airport transfer for participants departing on the ASA ‘designated’ flight

Our tour concludes in St Peter Port today. After breakfast, group members taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight will be transferred to Guernsey Airport. Alternatively you may wish to extend your stay in the Channel Islands. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B

Physical Endurance & Practical Information

Physical Rating
The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.


This 14-day Cultural Garden Tour of the Channel Islands involves:

A moderate amount of walking, often up and down hills and/or flights of stairs, along cobbled streets and uneven terrain, and/or standing, interspersed with coach travel.
Moderate coach travel on minor roads.
Many early-morning departures (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (5.30-6.30pm).
A morning birdwatching walk on Jersey.
The use of audio headsets which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.

Other considerations:
3- to 4-star hotels with one hotel change.
You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.
Ferry boat transfers between Guernsey & Sark, Guernsey & Herm and Alderney & Burhou.
Flight transfers between Jersey & Guernsey and Guernsey & Alderney.
It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.


Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers: www.smartraveller.gov.au


Plant Identification App

During the tour you may wish to consider using a plant identification app. Prof Tim Entwisle, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, suggests “that for a garden tour of Europe that two apps be considered.

Download Pl@ntNet for free and use its ‘Western Europe’ dataset, then consider investing $1.03 for the Flowerchecker+ app, which gives you three free identifications from an expert then 1USD for any subsequent identification. Pl@ntNet is probably the most useful for someone just curious about a few plants along the way but it won’t help you with all the garden plants that come from outside Europe (although it does have a couple of other datasets – South America, for example – which might be very useful).” For further information see Tim Entwistle’s review at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-11/plant-recognition-apps-no-replacement-for-botanists/8251280


Hidden Design Festival 2018

Hidden Design Festival 2018


Hidden Design Festival, reveals the usually private gardens and outdoor spaces behind the gates, walls, passageways and hedges that showcase some of our leading landscape designers. Most of the gardens have never before been opened to the public and are unlikely to be open again.

Hidden 2014, 2015 and 2016 were all a sell-out success, with nearly 1000 ticket holders enjoying the wide range of gardens on offer.


Hidden Design Festival Sydney 2018 designers include:

Banksia Design Group

Bates Landscape (2 gardens)

Landsberg Garden Design

McManus Design

Michele Shennen

Garden Life

Formed Gardens

Tig Crowley Designs


Branch Out Landscape Design

Imperial Gardens


There is a also a bus tour available for $199


Hidden Design Festival charity 2016: GO Foundation

The GO Foundation is a national scholarship program for Indigenous Youth, providing mentoring and support to GO students on their journey from kindergarten to employment.


Australian Landscape Conference Melbourne, 2018

Australian Landscape Conference, Melbourne, 23-27 March 2018


Conference 24 and 25 March 2018

Design with Nature: Reconnecting People and Place – an international conference with the world’s finest landscape and garden designers.

The Conference theme shines light on the tangible and intangible benefits of communing with Nature, in contrast to the 2015 conference of ideas. We have invited the diverse panel of leading landscape designers to respond to the conundrum of an increasingly urbanised lifestyle and the inherent human needs of being nurtured by nature.

With varied global practices and cultural influences, speakers will present their individual approaches to reconnecting people and place through meaningful public and private landscape design.

With a much expanded program of international and Australian speakers, Workshops, Garden Tour and other activities, this Conference will be outstanding. There will be twelve presentations by leading international speakers and they are also leading many of the Workshops.



Garden Tour on Friday 23 March 2018

Features 5 stunning gardens, including designers Phillip Johnson, Michael McCoy, Simon Rickard, Sam Crawford and the famous Garden of St Erth. The tour is always an early sell-out.


Workshops and Masterclasses on Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 March 2018

Enjoy a more intimate atmosphere from which to learn from these experts in landscape design, planting, garden photography and gardening.

Book a workshop with Andrew Laidlaw, Andy Sturgeon, Angus Stewart, Anna Turner, Arno King, Bettina Jaugstetter, Cassian Schmidt, Claire Takacs, Ed Snodgrass, Kate Cullity/Lisa Howard, Mel Ogden, Noel Kingsbury, Sam Cox.

Hurry, limited places!



Conference: Melbourne Convention Centre, 1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf, Victoria, Australia

Workshops: Burnley Campus University of Melbourne

Speakers’ Dinner:  Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, Carlton Gardens, Melbourne


Auckland Garden DesignFest 2017

Auckland Garden DesignFest


The fourth biennial Auckland Garden DesignFest, on 25 and 26 November 2017, will showcase 20 of Auckland’s most beautiful, professionally designed gardens.


With only one exception, which is back after a gap of six years by popular demand, these private gardens have not previously been open for public viewing. With each garden highlighting the benefit of good design, visitors will receive a unique opportunity to gain inspiration and learn more about the creative process behind each garden.


The talented designer line-up for this year’s DesignFest includes popular previous participants: Trudy Crerar, Damian Wendelborn, Mark Read, Sue and Colin McLean, Trish Bartleet, Joanna Hamilton, Bryan McDonald, Barbara Garrett, Sally McLeay and Matt McIsaac.


The Auckland Garden DesignFest is also delighted to introduce the following newcomers: Paul Gallagher, Jason O’Toole, Keren McDonnell, Kerry Spiers, Zoë Carafice, Nick Robinson, Chris Ballantyne, and Glenys Yeoman.


The gardens selected for this year’s DesignFest offer an array of styles, shapes and sizes, with budgets to match. Choosing which ones to visit will not be easy but should please the most discerning of palettes.


Popular guided bus tours are once again available to ensure a more relaxed, enjoyable and informative experience.


CLICK HERE for more information and updates on the 2017 Auckland Garden DesignFest, or follow Auckland Garden DesignFest on Facebook or Instagram.

Plant Lovers Fair at Kariong, NSW

Plant Lovers Fair at Kariong, NSW


Kariong Mountains High School, Festival Drive, Kariong.

Central Coast, NSW


Opening times:

Saturday 23 September 8am to 4pm 

Sunday 24 September 9am-3pm




Our Exhibitors are always specially chosen to offer ‘something different’ – rare, unusual and collectable plants not commonly available in Garden Centres. This does not make these plants difficult to grow! You will always find a great selection of interesting species more familiar to you that will be hard to resist and we are very pleased to host all our Exhibitors at the 2017 Plant Lovers Fair, many of whom are returning in 2017 after proving so very popular in previous years.


Perennials, Herbaceous Plants and Bulbs – for Cool & Warm Climates

Edible plants – Herbs, Fruit and Vegetables

  • Delightfully Fresh Organics – NSW – Certified organic herb and vegetable seedlings and edible plants.

  • Fruit Salad Trees – NSW – A variety of fruit trees that grow up to 6 different types of fruit all on the one tree.

  • Greenpatch Organic Seeds – NSW – Certified organic vegetable and ornamental seeds, perennials, fruit trees and berry fruits.

  • Kariong Mountains High School – NSW – Selection of edible plants grown by the students.

Ornamental Shrubs, Trees and Australian Native Plants

Orchids, Bromeliads, Carnivorous Plants, Ferns, Bonsai, Cacti and Succulents

  • Australian Cactus and Succulent Supplies – NSW – Cacti and succulents

  • Australian Carnivorous Plant Society – NSW – Nepanthes, Venus Fly Trap, Saracenia and Drosera.

  • Bromeliads Australia – NSW – Bromeliad hybrids for sun and shade.

  • Coachwood Nursery – NSW – Succulents, perennials and other ornamental plants.

  • Harland’s Nursery – NSW – Warm and cool climate bulbs, cacti, and succulents.

  • Succulents Australia – NSW – Rare and unusual succulents.

  • Kawana Gardens Nursery – NSW – Orchids, hanging baskets and a large range of epiphytic jungle cacti, including Rhipsalis, Hatiora
    and Lepismium.

  • Ray Nesci Bonsai Nursery – NSW – Established bonsai plants, starter plants and accessories.

  • Bloomin’ Greenery – NSW – Begonias and other shade-loving plants.

  • Tinonee Orchids – NSW – Native and hybrid orchids, and orchid cultivation accessories.

  • Verdigris Fern Nursery – NSW – Native and exotic ferns.

Garden Accessories and Special Interest

Food and Beverages​

  • Cafe Moves – Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and cookies.

  • Emmy’s Turkish Gozleme – Freshly prepared savoury and dessert gozleme and cold drinks.

  • Green Point Community Coffee Grind   –  Coffee, tea and refreshments.

  • Kariong Mountains High School Canteen – Sandwiches, pies, sausage rolls, wraps, nachos, banana bread, muffins, cold drinks coffee and Devonshire Tea.

  • Kariong Scouts – Sausage sandwiches, steak sandwiches and cold drinks.

  • Viet Yum – Traditional freshly prepared Vietnamese food, including spring rolls, summer rolls, papaya salad, and crispy wontons.


There is an ATM onsite


Guest Speakers and Demonstrations

Meet 2017 PLF Ambassador Costa Georgiadis of Gardening Australia TV


Workshop Demonstration Program

Learn from our expert Growers, who have specific, detailed knowledge about the plants that they grow and love. Attend the demonstration to find out more about the unique plants on offer at the Fair.
Go to the Demonstration Marquee; through the Entry Barrier to the right.

Cultural Landscapes of the Midi-Pyrénées & the Dordogne

Cultural Landscapes of the Midi-Pyrénées & the Dordogne with Adrian Mialet



Tour Highlights


•  This tour, led by Adrian Mialet, travels across the great southern plain between the Pyrénées and the Massif Central, into the heavily wooded highlands of the Auvergne, and down the superb river valleys of the Lot, Tarn and Dordogne.

•  Discover the unique history of the Cathars and their cities and castles in Carcassonne and Albi.

•  Visit some of the grandest pilgrim churches, at Toulouse, Moissac, Conques and Périgueux, built on the great medieval pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela.

•  Explore the Templar and Hospitaller territories and the Commanderie in Sainte-Eulalie de Cernon, the Knights’ headquarters dedicated to the pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem.

•  Tour through one of the most scenic and dramatic regions of France, dominated by the lovely river valleys of the Lot, Tarn and Dordogne.

•  Learn about the unique medieval frontier towns, bastides, such as Cordes-sur-Ciel, Najac, Sarlat and Monpazier.

•  Visit châteaux that were once medieval fortress castles but later became majestic palaces surrounded by fine gardens.

•  Visit Cro-Magnon in the Dordogne, where Homo sapiens was first identified.

•  See the spectacular cave paintings of the Late Stone Age in the caves of Rouffignac, Cougnac, Pech-Merle and newly opened Lascaux IV facsimile.

•  View the large prehistoric sculpted frieze at Abri de Cap Blanc.

•  Amble through the weekly village markets and taste the famous Périgord delicacies (truffle, foie gras).

•  Cruise along the Dordogne River on board replicas of traditional gabares.

•  Enjoy a falconry show at Château des Milandes.

•  Sample award-winning wines and enjoy lunch at Château Carbonneau near Saint-Emilion, a family-run winery with strong New Zealand ties.



16-day Cultural Tour of the Midi-Pyrénées & the Dordogne


Overnight Toulouse (2 nights) • Albi (3 nights) • Conques (1 night) • Saint-Jean-Lespinasse (1 night) • Sarlat (4 nights) • Montignac (3 nights) • Bordeaux (1 night)


Toulouse – 2 nights


Day 1: Tuesday 11 September, Arrive Toulouse

Orientation Walk

Basilica Saint-Sernin, Toulouse

Our tour commences in Toulouse. Upon arrival, participants on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will be included in the group transfer to our hotel. People who have not taken ASA ‘designated’ flight should meet the group at the Grand Hôtel de l’Opéra situated in the centre of Toulouse.

In the afternoon we shall take an orientation walk in the vicinity of the hotel and visit the great pilgrim church of Saint-Sernin (1075-1096). After the abbey church at Cluny (destroyed during the French Revolution), Saint-Sernin was the largest Romanesque church in France. It was one of the five archetypal pilgrim churches on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela, the others being Sainte-Foy at Conques, Saint-Martin at Tours, Saint-Martial de Limoges, and the great cathedral at Santiago. All these churches are aisled basilicas. In each, these aisles run down either side of the nave and around the transepts and semi-circular chevet. From the chevet of each church project chapels that once displayed saints’ relics. The aisles that ran right around the church allowed pilgrims to process through the building to see the relics in these chapels without disrupting services in the chancel. Saint-Sernin was constructed from a richly coloured red brick. Its nave, the longest on the pilgrim route, leads to a crossing topped by a magnificent Gothic tiered tower and spire. (Overnight Toulouse)


Day 2: Wednesday 12 September, Toulouse – Carcassonne – Toulouse

Château Comtal, Ramparts & Basilica of St Nazaire and St Celse, Carcassonne

Welcome Dinner

Today we drive southwest to what was once the medieval frontier between the Kingdom of France and the Spanish kingdom of Aragón, to Carcassonne, the walled city we shall visit. Before its integration into the French kingdom by Louis IX, Carcassonne was a stronghold of the Cathars, who were decimated by Simon de Montfort during the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229). Before the Crusade, Carcassonne, like many cities in this region, had been a centre of local power, jealous of its independence from larger hegemonies. Originally a Celtic settlement, then a Roman colonia (Carcasum), it became a Visigothic stronghold (508) that resisted the early Franks, was taken for a time by the Iberian Muslims (725), and had become the seat of a local county that often allied itself either to the counts of Barcelona or Toulouse. Fragments of Carcassonne’s Roman walls still exist, within the magnificent concentric rings of medieval ramparts defended by many towers. Louis IX founded a lower city across the River Aude from the original fortified city (1247), and even after it had lost importance as a bastion against Aragón (when the frontier moved further south) its towers and ramparts made the upper, older, city almost impregnable. During the Hundred Years’ War, the Black Prince destroyed Louis IX’s lower city, but could not take Carcassonne proper (1355).

Despite prosperity during the later Middle Ages as a centre of wool manufacture, Carcassonne slowly declined to provincial obscurity and its walls fell into such ruin that in the 19th century the French government considered dismantling them. Carcassonne’s mayor, the antiquary Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille, and the writer Prosper Mérimée, France’s first inspector of ancient monuments, protested, and the city was eventually restored in the 1850s and 1860s by the great Neo-Gothic architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. Carcassonne’s restoration became a key moment in the growth of French, and therefore world, notions of conservation and preservation. Much of France’s medieval built heritage had either fallen into disrepair or had suffered depredations through countless wars and the French Revolution. Eugène Viollet-le-Duc – who also restored Notre-Dame de Paris and was then working on Saint-Sernin, Toulouse – performed the massive feat of bringing Carcassonne back to its medieval glory. Although he was criticised for giving the Carcassonne’s towers steep conical pinnacles that were uncharacteristic of a southern region without heavy snowfalls, his restoration is nevertheless seen as a masterpiece, albeit with touches of Romantic fantasy.

We shall explore Carcassonne’s ramparts and visit its Château Comtal (Count’s citadel) and the Basilica of St Nazaire and St Celse. There will be time at leisure for lunch and to allow you to further explore the city. Mid-afternoon we return to Toulouse and enjoy a Welcome Dinner. (Overnight Toulouse) BD


Albi – 3 nights


Day 3: Thursday 13 September, Toulouse – Moissac – Albi

Musée des Augustins, Toulouse

Cloisters of Saint-Pierre, Moissac

The morning in Toulouse will be spent exploring the town centre and visiting the Musée des Augustins. The Musée des Augustins, once a grand old Augustinian priory used as a residence and studio by Viollet-le-Duc when he worked on the restoration of Saint-Sernin, now holds a comprehensive collection of Romanesque and Gothic sculpture from the city’s churches.

In the afternoon we depart for Albi via Moissac, visiting the church of Saint-Pierre (1100-1150), which was once a Cluniac abbey. Moissac boasts a fine trumeau (door jamb) graced by the ethereal elongated figures of St Paul and the Prophet Jeremiah. Although much of the original monastery has been destroyed, its cloister remains. It has an important corpus of sculpted panels and capitals including figures in relief whose monumentality suggests that the artist, who also worked in Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, was inspired by antique sculpture, which was to be found in abundance in Southern France. (Overnight Albi) B


Day 4: Friday 14 September, Albi

Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile d’Albi

Musée Toulouse-Lautrec

Les Jardins du Palais de la Berbie

Afternoon at leisure

We spend a full day in Albi, a city of red brick, reminiscent of Siena. It stands on the river Tarn, whose bed provided the clay for these bricks. We visit the Bishop’s palace – the Palais de la Berbie – which has a fine garden and houses the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, as well as Albi’s extraordinary, fortress-cathedral, Sainte-Cécile. The Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, one of the finest museums devoted to a single artist in France, incorporates early paintings by the master and some of his most important images of Parisian life. There is also a collection of his posters and a section devoted to his lithography displaying many of his lithographic stones.

As late as the 12th century, the County of Toulouse was independent of the French crown. Its cities were wealthy and their merchants criticised the corruption of the Church. Many were Cathars, a name derived from the Greek word for ‘pure’. Cathars believed in the strict separation of good and evil in the world. They were divided into two groups: ordinary believers who worked in thriving cities like Albi and Toulouse, and ‘perfecti’ who separated themselves from the world, living lives of exemplary abstinence, which contrasted awkwardly with abuses within the Church. The French crown mounted the Albigensian Crusade (c.1208-1244) to destroy the Cathar ‘heresy’. Its hidden motive was to conquer the independent south and incorporate it into the French realm. The population of Albi was slaughtered and Bishop Bernard de Castanet (1240-1317) constructed the new Cathedral of Sainte-Cécile (1282-1330; porch 1519-1535) using riches confiscated from the Cathars. The building, with huge, smooth defensive walls and curved tower-buttresses (so that stones hurled by siege machines would glance off them) was designed like a fortress to remind the Albigensians of the authority of the Church whose dogmas they had questioned.

The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure to explore this beautiful city for yourself. (Overnight Albi) B


Day 5: Saturday 15 September, Albi – Sainte-Eulalie de Cernon – La Cavalerie – La Couvertoirade – Millau Viaduct – Albi

Templar and Hospitaller Circuit in the Larzac

Sainte-Eulalie de Cernon: the headquarters of a local Templar Commanderie

Templar and Hospitaller villages of La Cavalerie and La Couvertoirade

Millau Viaduct (time permitting)

The south of France was enriched by Mediterranean trade and pilgrimage to Santiago, but it was also a highly contested region, where the forces of the French and Spanish kingdoms, local potentates such as the Counts of Toulouse and Carcassonne, and religious groups like the Cathars, all vied for power. Another force in this region was the Knight Templar, originally dedicated to the succour of pilgrims in Jerusalem, which had been transformed during the Crusades into an aristocratic, military order. Many myths have been spun around the Templars, most of which, such as their involvement in occult practices, are apocryphal. They nevertheless constituted a powerful force in medieval Europe, amassing vast wealth that raised the jealousy of kings. The Templars, like the Knights Hospitaller (later Knights of Malta) attracted charitable donations, including vast tracts of land. Among their many activities was banking, and Philip IV (1268-1314), who was heavily indebted to them, had many arrested, tortured to produce false confessions, and burned at the stake as heretics. He also forced Pope Clement V to disband the Order in 1312.

We spend today exploring Templar territories in the Larzac region to the east of Albi, visiting Sainte-Eulalie de Cernon, their regional headquarters (commanderie), and their stunningly picturesque fortified village of La Couvertoirade. Sainte-Eulalie de Cernon occupies a deep valley between ridges of the Larzac. It is the best-preserved Templar commandery in France, having been established by the Order in 1159, and then taken over by the Hospitallers when Philip IV eliminated the Templars. La Couvertoirade, in a wildly beautiful setting, deep in the Larzac on the edge of the Cévennes National Park, was a Templar stronghold until the fall of the Order, when it also was taken over by the Knights Hospitaller who built the village’s curtain wall between 1439 and 1450. This wall still stands, and within it are a church, a small château, and a number of lovely old houses.

We shall also have lunch at a small restaurant in La Cavalerie, another fortified Larzac Templar site, halfway between Sainte-Eulalie de Cernon and La Couvertoirade.

We return to Albi in the late afternoon and, time permitting, make a brief stop to view the Millau Viaduct a cable-stayed road-bridge that spans the valley of the river Tarn. Designed by the French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster, it is the tallest bridge in the world. (Overnight Albi) BL


Conques – 1 night


Day 6: Sunday 16 September, Albi – Cordes-sur-Ciel – Najac – Conques

Bastides of Cordes-sur-Ciel & Najac

Today we drive north to the secluded town of Conques through the region of the Aveyron Gorges, visiting beautiful hill-top bastides, Cordes-sur-Ciel and Najac.

Bastides played a vital role in the emergence of France after the Dark Ages and the consolidation of royal power after the Albigensian Crusade. They also figured in the ensuing territorial struggle with the Plantagenets of England, the Hundred Years’ War. A bastide was a fortified village or town, usually of regular plan, in which the rural population was forced to reside so it could be defended as well as exploited by the crown or a feudal lord. Both the Plantagenet and French monarchies built bastides, and one of their later functions was as strongholds in the Hundred Years’ War. Before the advent of these very particular communities, the landscape of this heavily forested, under-populated region had only tiny, scattered, isolated settlements, abbeys or the strongholds of the local nobility. The bastides were therefore the ‘frontier towns’ or ‘colonies’ of the Middle Ages, which tamed the land. Although an ideal bastide has a grid plan centring on an arcaded market square, they in fact took many forms that depended upon topography, microclimate and available building materials.

The plan of Cordes, the very earliest bastide, does not conform to type. Its organic plan accommodated the urban fabric to the steep bluff upon which it was located. Its domestic architecture is distinctive to the region. Originally, its limited agricultural domain would have been surrounded by forest, for Cordes was founded in virgin territory. Its neighbour Najac, a fine, small bastide that occupies a craggy cliff, is dominated by a partly ruined château built by the villagers in 1253 on the orders of Alphonse de Poitiers. Najac’s 13th-century Church Saint-Jean, erected by the local population as a punishment for their Cathar beliefs, overlooks the village, while at the opposite end, the faubourg (medieval suburb or extension to the town) has the typical architecture of many bastides, with timber-framed houses and commercial arcades around an open area. Najac’s houses are so valued that they have been registered in a special catalogue.

After lunchtime in Najac, we turn east again into deep, heavily forested valleys formed by the river Lot to Conques, one of France’s greatest treasures. Tonight we stay in a delightful small hotel occupying a late medieval house next to Conques’ famous church. (Overnight Conques) BD

Saint-Jean-Lespinasse – 1 night


Day 7: Monday 17 September, Conques – Figeac – Saint-Jean-Lespinasse

Benedictine Abbey of Sainte-Foy, Conques

Abbey Museum, Conques


Conques owes its fame to the Benedictine Abbey of Sainte-Foy (1031-1090) that, despite its isolation, became one of the most famous shrines on the medieval pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela (northern Spain). The church is one of five archetypal pilgrim basilicas, along with Saint-Sernin (Toulouse), Santiago de Compostela, Saint Martin (Tours: destroyed) and Saint-Martial (Limoges). It has a fine east-end with radiating chapels, a narrow, high nave with galleries, and a well-preserved coloured portal depicting the Last Judgement in vividly descriptive detail. The abbey was founded in 866 in a lonely, thickly wooded region of the Dordogne. It became an important station on the pilgrim route to Santiago from Le Puy because of the extraordinary popularity of the saint, martyred in 330 AD, whose relics were brought here in five centuries later. The adolescent girl Sainte Foy, like Saint George, was of obscure origins, but later became so popular that monuments to her were founded throughout Britain, continental Europe and the Near East. Her strange reliquary, fashioned in the form of an enthroned monarch, is the only surviving example of a form popular in the 11th century. It is housed in Conques’ Abbey Museum, which holds one of Europe’s best-preserved collections of medieval pilgrim art.

We shall spend the morning visiting the abbey church and the museum of Conques, and wandering through the small town viewing its lovely small houses.

After lunchtime we shall drive west through the old town of Figeac. Its old houses, many of which have turrets and typical Quercy open-fronted attics, cling to terraces on the steep valley sides above the river Célé. The town has a wonderful ensemble of merchant houses from the Renaissance and, in a medieval courtyard called Place des Ecritures, a large modern sculpture by the American artist, Joseph Kosuth. You will have time to wander through the town and see Figeac’s two churches, Saint-Sauveur and Notre-Dame-du Puy, both of which have Romanesque sections. We continue our journey north to our next accommodation, a small country hotel overlooking the Bave Valley outside the village of Saint-Jean-Lespinasse that is noted for its fine cuisine; we shall dine here tonight. (Overnight Saint-Jean-Lespinasse) BD


Sarlat – 4 nights


Day 8: Tuesday 18 September, Saint-Jean-Lespinasse – Montal – Autoire – Loubressac – Carennac – Sarlat

Château de Montal



Carennac Church

Today we explore a château and two villages close to St Céré and then turn west along the valley of the Dordogne. Our route takes us through the heart of an ancient agricultural region with numerous beautiful châteaux, villages and Romanesque pilgrim churches. We begin at the Château de Montal whose powerful towers and picturesque profile give it the aspect of a fortress. Built in 1523-4, it is, however, a Renaissance palace similar to the great châteaux of the Loire, and the rich decoration of its stately façades reflects a political stability unknown earlier, when bastides were used to tame this part of France and when French and English armies fought each other for control of it. Of particular note are Montal’s portrait sculptures of Robert de Balsac, his wife Antoinette de Castelnau, and members of their family that grace the upper storeys of the courtyard façade. Within, the château has a magnificent central staircase and beautiful fittings, such as great ornamental fireplaces. After touring the château and its gardens, we continue our journey, travelling through Autoire, located at the head of the Gorge d’Autoire, a chasm running south from the Dordogne, to the nearby village of Loubressac where we break for a picnic lunch.

Near Loubressac, the Bave meets the Dordogne, whose south bank we follow to Carennac. Here we stop briefly to view the medieval tympanum over the doorway of the church. Carved tympana, often with graphic depictions of the Last Judgement, were a feature of Romanesque churches, presenting the faithful entering the shrine with awesome visions of Christ or terrifying views of eternal punishments meted out to sinners. You will be able to compare Carennac’s Last Judgement with those you have seen at Moissac and Conques, and will see how each has a very different style compared to its counterparts. From here we follow the Dordogne as it winds its way west and continue on to Sarlat-la-Canéda. (Overnight Sarlat) BL


Day 9: Wednesday 19 September, Sarlat – Les Eyzies de Tayac – Rouffignac – Sarlat

Musée National de la Préhistoire, Les Eyzies

Abri Pataud, Les Eyzies

Prehistoric cave of Rouffignac

For over a century the Dordogne has been celebrated for its magnificent painted caves from the Late Pleistocine, what archaeologists call Late Paleolithic (40,000-10,000 BC). At this time humans were sufficiently technologically advanced to survive the extreme cold of the Last Ice Age in this region, and to hunt the huge herds of animals that roamed it. For 25,000 years in this region of limestone plateaux and verdant valleys, humans decorated caves with engravings, sculptures and paintings, depicting all kinds of animals in extraordinary, vividly naturalistic detail. Around 10,000 BC the climate ameliorated and the magnificent cave decorations cease, possibly because the great herds of bison, deer and other animals that man had hunted – and depicted – moved further north to new pastures that had been freed from the retreating ice cover.

This morning we visit the Musée National de la Préhistoire at Les Eyzies-de-Tayac situated in a restored château on a terrace overlooking a plane on which vast herds of reindeer and other beasts would have roamed in the Late Stone Age. The château, in fact, is located on the site of a Prehistoric settlement chosen, no doubt, for the excellent view it provided those scanning the plane for game. The museum holds, among other exhibits, an amazing collection of artefacts such as beautifully sculpted reliefs of animals.

Following lunch in Les Eyzies, we visit the excavation site of Abri Pataud, the only prehistoric site in the Dordogne to have been converted into a museum. It is situated 15 metres above the river Vézère at the foot of an imposing cliff that dominates the village of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac.

Our last visit today is Rouffignac, a vast prehistoric cave which includes ten kilometres of galleries, two of which were frequented by Cro-Magnon artists. It’s also exceptional for its more than 150 depictions of mammoths. An electrical train takes us through. This is linear art: animals and signs outlined in magnanese dioxyde, or finely engraved, or finger-drawn where the wall’s surface is soft enough. The simplicity and accuracy of line here reveal the artist’s talent and expertise more in this cave, perhaps, than anywhere else. The Great Ceiling, one kilometre from the entrance, offers the viewer an unforgettable whirl of mammoths, bisons, and ibex. (Overnight Sarlat) B


Day 10: Thursday 20 September, Sarlat – Monpazier – Castelnaud-la-Chapelle – Sarlat

Orientation walk of Sarlat-la-Canéda

Bastide town of Monpazier & Thursday Market

Château des Milandes, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle incl. the Falconry Show

This morning we take a leisurely stroll of Sarlat-la-Canéda which will include a visit to the mysterious Lanterne-des-Mortes and the cathedral, and time to view its golden stone buildings. Sarlat-la-Canéda was largely a ruinous town until purposefully restored by the French government in the 20th century to act as a cultural focus for the Périgord-Noir region.

Next, we drive to the bastide of Monpazier, nominated one of ‘plus beaux villages de France’. It is not only the best-preserved bastide in the Dordogne, but is also considered the most typical example of a bastide in the entire south-west of France. King Edward I of England founded Monpazier in 1284 with the help of Pierre de Gontaut, Lord of Biron, and it was only during the reign of King Charles V of France (1366-1380) that it was taken by the French. In 1574 the Huguenot captain, Geoffroi de Vivans, took control of Monpazier and in 1594 it became a centre of the Peasant’s Revolt.

Despite the ravages of the Hundred Years’ War and the Wars of Religion, Monpazier has remained remarkably unchanged for 700 years. Monpazier’s urban core is perfectly quadrilateral in overall layout, its symmetrical, gridded plan covering an area of 400 x 220 metres. The town’s grid is crossed by four transverse streets, which divide it into rectangular precincts. Medieval and 17th-century houses surround the central Place des Cornières; originally, all of Monpazier’s houses were exactly the same size and separated from one another by narrow side alleys or androns to prevent the spread of fire. The ground floor of those surrounding the square form a continuous arcade, a feature typical of bastides, also seen in northern Italy and in Spanish cities and towns. Monpazier’s old market hall is intact; its 16th-century timber roof frame is supported by wooden pillars that rest on stone blocks. St Dominique’s Church was built in the 13th century and added to later. Its nave, with ribbed vaults, leads to a polygonal chevet. Monpazier’s 13th-century Chapter House, situated behind the church, once served as the tithe barn for stocking harvest produce requisitioned as taxes. This tithe house, as well as the town’s highly organised plan and characteristic architecture, all speak physically of the fact that bastides were created from scratch as centres of power and commerce by princes.

Our visit to Montpazier is timed for the Thursday market when you will be able to purchase ingredients for a picnic lunch. Walnuts are a local speciality and taste wonderfully fresh. You may wish to try the local walnut bread and tarts!

In the afternoon we visit the Château des Milandes in Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, a turreted 15th-century château, flanked by hundred-year-old magnolia trees. Les Milandes affords one of the best views of the rolling hills and tiled-roof villages of the Dordogne Valley. The château was built in 1489 when Claude de Cardaillac begged her husband, the Lord of Castelnaud, to build her a house that, true to her wishes, has a very grand interior, with beamed ceilings, mullioned windows and stained-glass panels, and huge fireplaces.

Milandes’ modern fame stems from the fact that it became the home of Josephine Baker, a far cry from the slums of St Louis, USA, where at the age of 12 she had lived on the streets. Baker entered Vaudeville at 15, and soon became one of its most popular dancers, and a key player in the ‘Harlem Renaissance’. Baker fled the racism of the USA in 1925, and gained notoriety for her semi-nude performances at the Folies Bergère, becoming one of Europe’s most popular and richest music hall stars. This extraordinarily talented woman then augmented her music hall performances by becoming an important opera singer. During the war, she spied for her adopted country, assisted the Resistance, and earned two of France’s most important military honours, the Croix de Guerre and the Rosette de la Résistance. Charles de Gaulle also made her a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur. Baker was a civil rights activist, friend and associate of Martin Luther King Jr, and after his death was asked by his widow to lead the movement. Childless, she adopted 12 orphans from different countries. She bought Château des Milandes in 1947, and lived here with her French husband and adopted children. We shall tour her home, and see a number of memorabilia, including her famous banana skirt.

Milandes accommodates many birds of prey including buzzards, falcons and barn owls. Before touring the château and grounds we shall attend a Birds of Prey Show, presented by two falconers in the gardens in front of the castle. (Overnight Sarlat) B


Day 11: Friday 21 September, Sarlat – Grottes de Cougnac – Labastide-Murat – Pech-Merle – Sarlat

Grottes de Cougnac

Lunch at Hotel La Garissade, Labastide-Murat

Centre de Préhistoire du Pech-Merle

This morning we drive to two fascinating caves at the Grottes de Cougnac, one of which is important for its geology and the other for its fine paintings. You will see mammoth, ibex, human figures and three megaloceros (reindeer with huge antlers). Many of the painted forms take advantage of the natural shapes of the cave wall that may possibly even have suggested them. Some of the stalagmites and stalactites in the cave were deliberately broken at the time the paintings were executed. This suggests that the paintings were to be viewed from the other side of the chamber.

After lunch at Hotel La Garissade, a charming restaurant located in the small village of Labastide-Murat, we drive to Pech-Merle, where we visit a marvelous cave, with painted black outlines of aurochs, mammoth and spotted horses. The art here has been assigned to three distinct phases. To the earliest belong images of circles, dots and the outlines of hands; this phase also includes the ‘spotted horses’. The second phase includes figures made by finger-tracings on the ceiling as well as 40 black outline drawings. The last phase includes engravings, the most famous of which is a bear’s head. In the late afternoon we return to Sarlat, where the evening is at leisure. (Overnight Sarlat) BL


Condat-sur-Vézère – 3 nights


Day 12: Saturday 22 September, Sarlat – Vézac – Beynac-Cazenac – Condat-sur-Vézère

Market Day at Sarlat-la-Canéda

Jardins de Marqueyssac, Vézac

Barge excursion along the Dordogne River

Village of Beynac-Cazenac

Saturday is market day in Sarlat-la-Canéda, which rivals Conques in the beauty of its medieval streetscapes. Our leisurely morning stroll will include participation in the market where you will be able to purchase ingredients for your picnic lunch in the gardens of Marqueyssac.

The Dordogne south of Sarlat-la-Canéda is littered with exquisite châteaux, bastides and churches. Our drive to the Château de Marqueyssac allows us to inspect this landscape more closely. Marqueyssac has extraordinary ‘hanging gardens’ named because of their position on a craggy promontory with breathtaking views over the surrounding valley. The château was founded in the late 17th century and has remained in the family ever since. In the 18th and 19th centuries a vast number of box trees, which lend themselves so well to topiary, were planted. Marqueyssac’s boxwood folly, along with a great variety of oaks, hornbeams, lime trees, Judas trees, viburnum, plantain, elms and cypresses, shares this inimitable setting with vegetable and flower gardens, fine cliff-top bastions, sinuous paths, and a grand allée derived from one family member’s fond memories of Italy.

We next drive to Beynac-Cazenac, a village which has managed to retain its medieval charm. The Château de Beynac, one of the great castles of the Périgord, dominates the north bank of the Dordogne River from a precipitous height and is defended on the north side by double walls. Crouching beneath its limestone cliff is a small village, once the home of poet Paul Eluard. During the Hundred Years’ War, the Dordogne River frequently marked the border between French and English territories: the fortress at Beynac, then in French hands was faced on the opposite bank of the river by the Château de Castelnaud held by the English.

We shall enjoy a cruise along the Dordogne River on board replicas of traditional gabarres (the Dordogne’s traditional flat-bottomed boats), passing some of the valley’s most beautiful castles along the way, and a local guide will provide a commentary on various aspects relating to the river, its history and its environment.

Following some time at leisure in the village of Beynac-Cazenac to wander through its narrow paved streets, we continue to Montignac where we shall reside for the next 3 nights. Montignac is dominated by a tall tower, the vestige of a fortress that was once the home of the counts of Périgord. Until recently a sleepy backwater, Montignac was transformed when the Lascaux caves were discovered. It is now a thriving small town with attractive medieval streets and houses, a 17th-century priory church and a local folk museum. (Overnight Montignac) BD


Day 13: Sunday 23 September, Montignac – Thonac – St-Léon-sur-Vézère – Lascaux – Montignac

Château de Losse, Thonac


Lascaux Caves IV

We begin this morning with a visit to the Château de Losse. This castle owes its position, inhabited continuously since prehistory, to its strategic command of the valley. In the 13th century a Flemish family, the Loss, fortified the cliff above the river. Like so many French châteaux, it was transformed from a fortress to a country palace during the Renaissance. This was affected by Jean II de Loss who was one of François I’s pages and tutor to Henry IV. We shall visit the elegant Renaissance building and its large formal garden, all with magnificent views of the valley

We then drive along the Vézère Valley up to the picturesque village of St-Léon-sur-Vézère where we shall have a picnic lunch by the river.

In the afternoon we return to Montignac. Here we will visit the recently opened (2016) new facsimile of the world famous painted caves, Lascaux IV, the original having long since been closed to the public. This is the most famous and spectacular of all decorated caves, best-known perhaps for its 600 paintings of aurochs, horses, deer and a variety of signs; there are also almost 1500 engravings in the cave. Although we cannot visit the original, it is important to see this facsimile in order to gauge the quality of this pinnacle of cave art. (Overnight Montignac) BLD


Day 14: Monday 24 September, Montignac – Marquay – Eyrignac – St-Amand-de-Coly –Montignac

Abri de Cap Blanc, Marquay

Les Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac

Saint-Amand-de-Coly: Fortified Church

This morning we head to the small village of Marquay to explore the Abri du Cap Blanc, a rock shelter that presents a large prehistoric sculpted frieze. Considered to be one of the best examples of Palaeolithic sculpture, the frieze is 13 meters long and includes carvings of horses, bison and deer.

Then we drive through lovely, often dramatic, countryside to Eyrignac, where Patrick Sermadiras de Pouzels de Lile has restored a formal 18th-century garden, a rarity in Périgord. Here, box, hornbeam and yew are clipped with an almost obsessive exactness to produce verdant architectural forms aligned along three vistas. Strong perspectives of sharply formed leafy structures are orchestrated in subtle tonal contrasts – between the fresh green of lawns, the glossy leaves of the box, the slightly translucent foliage of the hornbeam and the matt, almost black needles of the yew.

We enjoy lunch at the gardens’ terrace restaurant before driving to the picturesque village of Saint-Amand-de-Coly, which has an interesting 12th-century fortified church. The small walled village of Saint-Armand-de-Coly grew up around an Augustinian monastery first mentioned in a document of 1048. A monk from the Catalan monastery of Ripoll, later bishop of Vich, who made a journey around the monasteries of Périgord, wrote the 1048 text. He recorded that the monastery had grown up around the tomb of Saint-Armand, a young Limousine noble who came here as a hermit in the middle of the 6th century from the community of Genouillac (Terrasson). Saint Armand preached to the local population, and when he died was made a saint. The day of his death was fixed as 25th June. A small town grew up around the monastery, whose houses like the monastery itself, were constructed of Sarlaise stone, with typical lauze roofs. Little remains of the monastery and the high defensive walls that protected it and the town, but the magnificent early 12th-century fortified church remains. (Overnight Montignac) BLD


Bordeaux – 1 night


Day 15: Tuesday 25 September, Montignac – Périgueux – Pessac-sur-Dordogne – Bordeaux

Pilgrim cathedral of Saint-Front, Périgueux

Farewell Lunch and wine tasting at Château Carbonneau, Pessac-sur-Dordogne

Today we drive to Bordeaux via one of France’s most important medieval pilgrimage centres, Périgueux. Its Cathedral of Saint-Front, although very heavily restored in the 19th century, nevertheless is particularly interesting for its medieval domes. The use of domes to roof churches in this region resembles that at St Mark’s, Venice. It is typical of the ecclesiastical architecture of the Byzantine Empire rather than Western Europe. Saint-Front is actually composed of two earlier churches, separated by a high medieval bell tower.

We sample wines and eat lunch at one of the region’s wineries, Château Carbonneau, located between Saint-Emilion and Bergerac. Recently awarded International Best of Wine Tourism prize, this is a corner of New Zealand in the Sainte-Foy appellation, which is between Castillon and Bergerac. Now on the third generation of New Zealand owners (with a French husband however), and a New Zealand winemaker, they produce three types of wine: red, rosé and white. The 100-hectare plus estate is also a working farm, with cattle, forest and some beautiful Bernese mountain dogs. (Overnight Bordeaux) BL


Day 16: Wednesday 26 September, Bordeaux. Tour Ends.

Airport transfer for participants departing on the ASA ‘designated’ flight

Our tour ends today in Bordeaux. Participants departing on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will be included in the group transfer to Bordeaux airport. Participants wishing to extend their stay in France and Europe are advised to contact ASA for further information. B


Bloomin’ Tulips, Tasmania

Bloomin’ Tulips! is a festival of sense stimulating events celebrating the flush of spring colour in the small coastal town of Wynyard on the north west coast of Tasmania. The event is themed Colours of Wynyard to celebrate the spring flowering of the tulips at Van Diemen Quality Bulb Farm on Table Cape.

During Bloomin’ Tulips you will marvel at the wonderland created by tulips in full bloom along our scenic coast. The Bloomin’ Tulips Festival itself will offer you the chance to enjoy local art, craft, and music to suit all tastes; experience some magic at our at the spectacular fireworks over the Inglis River on Saturday evening; sample the culinary delights of our fresh island produce or just become a local during your brief time with us!

Join the Bloomin’ Tulips Colour Run on the Saturday morning.

Volunteers form an integral part of the Festival’s success and a huge thak you must go to the Wynyard Fire Brigade, Somerset Rotary Club, Wynyard Lions Club, Rostrum and all the people that roll up their sleeves every year.

Program includes:

Saturday 14 October Festival Commences – 10.30am and concludes with FIREWORKS at 9pm

See Brochure for full details

Festival Information Marquee located near the fountain. Tulips for sale, raffle and fantastic prizes drawn on the day.


Kids activities

Live music

Displays: historical, machinery, wildlife, environmental groups, community and craft groups

Craft: More than 30 art and craft stalls: jewellery, embroidery, puzzles, crafts, garden gifts, leather & felt creations, designer glassware, quilting, gemstone and beaded jewellery plus so much more.

‘Eden Unearthed’ at Eden Gardens

Eden Unearthed, Sydney


Eden Gardens in Macquarie Park in Sydney is the venue for an exciting exhibition called Eden Unearthed, the largest collection of commissioned temporal artworks in Australia.

Eden Unearthed combines the talents of both established and developing artists to create works that respond to the site specifically, working with the garden to interpret it in a unique and exciting way.

A selection of our many exhibiting artists:

Leon Kluge – an award-winning landscape designer from South Africa/New Zealand, with his work ‘Hidden Truth‘, which explores how the roots that connected us with nature, the environment and a love for the world’s biodiversity are being torn away, exposing man’s lust for material wealth.

Ainslie Murray – with ‘Human Hostilities‘ which looks at the use of bird spikes on buildings as devices that we employ to control the way in which species interact with built forms in architecture and landscape architecture. It addresses the use of bird spikes as an act of ‘kindness’ within an overarching context of hostility, and explores the tensions between these ideas.


Emma Mattson, with ‘Moss Balls‘, an installation of a hanging sphere, created by smaller spheres. They will be balls of replicated moss created using thread and yarn.

Pamela Lee Brenner and Johannes Muljana with ‘Fly Away‘, a work similar in appearance to a dandelion seed head, where the “space” within it makes it appear to “float” whilst being invisibly tethered so that it does not blow away.

Leanne Thompson with ‘Sound Line for Compos Mentis‘ which plays with layers of meanings present in the word sound: from water that joins land forms to waves of vibration we can hear. However, the key concept ties an awareness of the intricate connections linking water cycle to functional ecosystem processes.

Margarita Sampson – ‘Homes for Better Living‘, a series of small sculptures extrapolates plant structures into architectural forms, referencing the graphic style of initial notebook sketches.

Veronica Richterova – ‘Cactus‘, a series of sculptures that reuse plastic bottles to creatively reinterpret naturalistic themes that also draw attention to the increasing production of plastic packaging, often unnecessary, all over the world.


‘Eden Unearthed’ at Eden Gardens

FREE entry

Open every day 31 August 2017 to 28 February 2018, from 9am to 5pm (excepting public holidays of Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and Australia Day)

Plenty of onsite parking

307 Lane Cove Road
Macquarie Park NSW 2113
Phone: 02 9491 9900

For tickets to the special champagne and canapé launch of Eden Unearthed on Thursday 31 August 4.30-7.30pm, click HERE. All tickets $20

Klein Bosheuwel Guesthouse

Klein Bosheuwel Guesthouse, Cape Town


Klein Bosheuwel is set on Bishopscourt Ridge overlooking the beautiful Constantia Valley near Cape Town, South Africa. The Constantia Valley is a wine-making region and also a cultural and historical centre for Cape Town.

Klein Bosheuwel Guesthouse is a combination of old world charm and luxury with many warm and cosy places to relax in. It is surrounded by a beautiful garden filled with an amazing variety of birdlife, insects, squirrels and many other shy little creatures. You can enjoy walking through our roses, discovering the scented herb patches and vibrant flower beds, There is also an ornamental pond and a sparkling sun-splashed salt water swimming pool.

Start your day with one of our famous breakfasts and then take an easy 5 minute walk to the world-renown Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – Klein Bosheuwel is the closest guest house to Kirstenbosch and guests receive a free entrance pass.

For a more active adventure, you can take a 2 hour walk to the top of Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain and enjoy spectacular views of Cape Town.

Klein Bosheuwel is only 15 minutes drive from Cape Town’s airport, its buzzing waterfront cafes and restaurants, and beautiful beaches.

Children are welcome at Klein Bosheuwel and they love playing with Feather, the Sheepdog.


Klein Bosheuwel
51A Klaassens Road
Cape Town

Phone: +27 21 762 2323

Email: kleinbosheuwel@iafrica.com

Victoria’s Private Gardens and their Designers

Victoria’s Private Gardens and their Designers with Deryn Thorpe


Tour Highlights

With Deryn Thorpe, visit some of Victoria’s most beautiful gardens and meet the owners and the designers who created them.

Meet celebrity designer Paul Bangay who takes us through his own spectacular rural garden called Stonefields.

Rare plant collector, nurseryman and former Gardening Australia host, Stephen Ryan, will spend the day with the group showcasing the gardens of Mt Macedon. This will include a visit to his 25 year-old home garden ‘Tugurium’.

Spend a day with Deryn Thorpe and ABC Perth radio presenter, Sabrina Hahn at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

View the work of Phillip Johnson, the only Australian designer to win a gold medal and a ‘Best In Show’ award for his landscape display at the Chelsea Garden Show; we visit Lubra Bend in the Yarra Valley and his own private garden in the Dandenong Ranges.

Meet award-winning Melbourne designer Jim Fogarty who introduces us to Cranbourne’s Australian Garden, gives us a talk on using indigenous plants, and shows us one of is inner-Melbourne design projects.

Tour the magnificent gardens at Cruden Farm with Michael Morrison who worked tirelessly with Dame Elisabeth Murdoch for more than four decades. Michael is co-author of the recently published Cruden Farm Garden Diaries.

Spend a day with landscape architect and former presenter for ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, John Patrick, who introduces us to a number of spectacular gardens of the Mornington Peninsula. John will also host us for lunch in his home garden.


11-day Cultural Garden Tour of Victoria


Overnight Ballarat (3 nights) • Melbourne (3 nights) • Flinders (2 nights) • Melbourne (2 nights)



Visit some of Victoria’s most beautiful gardens and meet the owners and the designers who created them.

This new tour visits some of Victoria’s most important gardens and interesting home gardens. What sets this tour apart is spending time with the home owners and designers who make the gardens come to life as they describe their struggles and triumphs. We also meet some of the garden leaders for ASA, who join the tour to show us their home gardens, gardens they have designed and share their knowledge of the Victorian design aesthetic and their own garden passions.

The tour travels to the Ballarat goldfields, Daylesford spa country, the green heart of the Macedon ranges, the picturesque Yarra Valley, fern glades and forests of the Dandenongs, Victoria’s award winning native garden at Cranbourne and coastal and inland areas of the Mornington Peninsula. The gardens in these areas are very different due to varying soils, climatic conditions and the desires and styles of the garden owner and designers, so they’ll be lots of variety.

We’ll see flowery cottage gardens, cool rainforest designs, grand estates, striking use of Australian plants, dry gardens, contemporary spaces, relaxed country gardens, coastal landscapes, an inner-city design and collector’s gardens and get to spend a day at the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show.


Ballarat – 3 nights

Day 1: Saturday 17 March, Arrive Melbourne – Ballarat

  • Coach journey from Melbourne airport to Ballarat
  • Cameron House – a florist’s garden
  • Welcome Dinner

Our private coach collects us at Melbourne airport and drives to Ballarat, a city with ornate architecture built during the prosperous days of the 1850s gold rush. First we visit Cameron House, a quirky home garden created by Greg Block, an ex-florist with a passion for form, texture and shape. Recycled garden materials including fronds and branches have been transformed into beautiful sculptures which enhance a garden overflowing with potted plants including a big collection of ferns, bonsai and topiary.

We drive to the historic Craig’s Royal Hotel, a grand boutique hotel, dating to the gold rush which will be our home for three nights.

Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) D


Day 2: Sunday 18 March, Ballarat – Ascot – Creswick – Clunes – Coghills Creek – Ballarat

  • Begonia extravaganza at Robert Clark Conservatory
  • Lambley Nursery, the garden of horticulturalist David Glenn, Ascot
  • Pub lunch in historic Creswick
  • Free time in Goldfields streetscape of Clunes
  • Wine tasting at Eastern Peake Winery

We’ll walk through colourful bedding displays and beneath mature trees in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens to visit the spectacular autumn begonia display in the Robert Clark Conservatory. The showcase includes large flowered tuberous begonias in pots and pendulous varieties in baskets with perfect blooms in a rainbow of colours and forms.

We transfer to Lambley Nursery in Ascot, home of horticulturalist David Glen and his wife the artist Criss Canning. Their gardens have been created around an old farmhouse. David has learnt to work with Ballarat’s harsh climate and has transformed barren paddocks into a beautifully designed space overflowing with colour and structure. In autumn the spectacular display gardens which feature many salvias and dahlias are looking spectacular. The striking dry garden, which is watered no more than four times a year, will supply inspiration to those gardening with limited water. David is a plant breeder and his best known release is Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and he also trials flowers, fruits and vegetables which are on display in his bountiful and beautiful edible garden which feeds his family.

From Ascot we travel to Creswick for a light lunch at The American Hotel. There will also be some time at leisure for a short stroll up and down the town’s historic streets.

In the afternoon we travel to Clunes which has streetscapes straight out of a colonial history book. The picturesque and laid-back town is the most original and intact gold town in Australia and we have free time to appreciate the well-preserved 19th-century architecture.

Our last stop is to Eastern Peake Winery for wine tasting. Set on a small plateau at Coghills Creek the boutique winery, which was established in 1983, has the granite outcrop of Mt Bolton as its dramatic backdrop. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) BL


Day 3: Monday 19 March, Ballarat – Denver – Daylesford – Trentham – Ballarat

  • Stonefields, designer Paul Bangay’s home garden
  • Spa town of Daylesford
  • Frogmore, the garden of a horticulturalist and a florist

The day is spent in the country and our first stop is the home of celebrity designer Paul Bangay, widely regarded as the foremost garden designer in Australia. For more than 25 years he has created timeless and elegant designs around the world. He will take us through his own spectacular rural garden called Stonefields and will talk to us about the process of design as he shows us through the garden’s series of elegant and formal garden rooms. They include an entry court, front courtyard with water rill, burgundy rose garden, white garden with formal pond, apple walk, mirror image back garden overlooking the countryside and relaxed woodland garden.

Next we visit the charming spa town of Daylesford and have time to wander the picturesque streets full of boutique shops and find a café for lunch.

In the afternoon we journey onto Frogmore Gardens which started in 2002 when florist Zena Bethell and horticulturalist Jack Marshall bought eight acres of land near Trentham. Three hectares adjoining the Wombat State Forest have been transformed into a spectacular garden and Jack will explain the ideas behind his plant combinations as he takes us on a tour to see beds overflowing with dramatic perennials and annuals in dramatic, colour-themed wide herbaceous borders. He also has a passion for grasses which move theatrically in the breeze in the drought tolerant, prairie-style gardens. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) B


Melbourne – 3 nights


Day 4: Tuesday 20 March, Ballarat – Macedon Ranges – Melbourne

  • Morning tea and tour of Tugurium, home garden of former Gardening Australia host Stephen Ryan
    Bolobek, a historic garden with designer flair
  • Lunch in the gardens of Bolobek
  • Alton Gardens Hill Station

We leave Melbourne for the green heart of the Macedon Ranges to visit the home garden of raconteur, rare plant collector, nurseryman and ASA garden leader Stephan Ryan. Stephen will show us through his 25 year-old home garden which includes a woodland area beneath a Eucalypt canopy, orchard with circular lawn, vegetable garden, perennial border and pond.

Stephen will spend the day with the group showcasing the gardens of Macedon.

We’ll meet Bridget Robertson who bought Bolobek, a historic working cattle property, with husband Hugh in 2006. This garden was laid out in the early 1900s and today demonstrates how a creative design style can be overlaid on an earlier garden landscape. Bolobek is on the Victorian Heritage Register because of the quality of its design, artistry and plantings. Bridget will share stories of the people that made the garden and we’ll admire its geometric design which focuses on attractive bark, soft green foliage and white flowers.

Following a light lunch at Bolobek, Stephen will lead us on a tour of Alton Gardens, an Australian terraced hill station around an 1870s home with an amazing collection of 600 trees, 24 of them on the National Trust Register of Significant Trees.

In the late afternoon we transfer to the Rydges Hotel in Melbourne, our home for three nights. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BL


Day 5: Wednesday 21 March, Melbourne

  • 24th Melbourne International Garden & Flower Show

It’s a ten minute stroll from our hotel to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show, the biggest and best in the Southern Hemisphere and we’ll get there for 9am when the gates open. The show is ranked in the top five flower shows in the world and floral displays fill the world heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building.

Deryn will be joined by ASA garden leader Sabrina Hahn, best known as ABC Perth garden talkback presenter and for her weekly chat with Trevor Chappell on ABC Radio Overnights. Deryn and Sabrina will ensure you get the most from the show and will take ASA clients on a tour of the landscape displays which are created by some of Australia’s most talented landscape designers. They will introduce clients to the designers who will tell the group about the philosophy behind their designs and Deryn and Sabrina will highlight elements that we can incorporate in our own backyards. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) B


Day 6: Thursday 22 March, Melbourne – Yarra Valley – Melbourne

  • Visit to Lubra Bend with design Phillip Johnson
  • Lunch and garden tour of Alowyn Gardens by its owner, John Van de Linde
  • Guided tour and afternoon tea at Dame Nelly Melba’s home, Coombe Estate

We spend the day in the Yarra Valley, firstly with Phillip Johnson, the only Australian designer to win a gold medal and a ‘Best In Show’ award for his landscape display at the Chelsea Garden Show.

At Lubra Bend Phillip has created sprawling wetlands from a dry garden by capturing water to sustain a network of billabongs which cascade down to the Yarra River. Land was recontoured and boulders selected and positioned by hand to create natural sculptures. Phillip will explain how the garden was created.

We’ll also hear about the creation of a garden from bare paddocks by owner, John Van de Linde from Alowyn Gardens. After three years clearing blackberry from paddocks and improving the soil the first tree was planted in 1999. The four acre gardens are designed along strong symmetrical lines and include a perennial border, a silver birch forest, edible garden, and a formal parterre garden leading through to a series of small courtyards and display gardens.

We leave the gardens and travel a short distance to Coombe Estate. In 1909, after twenty years singing around the world, Dame Nelly Melba created a home and seven acre garden that has been preserved in its original state. Our guided tour of Coombe Estate will take in the Italianate garden and pool, French style rose garden, English herbaceous border, Australian garden and kitchen garden, all surrounded by a 10-metre high hedge, running 700 metres around the garden’s perimeter that was recorded in paintings by Hans Heysen in 1914. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BL


Flinders – 2 nights


Day 7: Friday 23 March, Melbourne – Olinda – Cranbourne – Flinders

  • Designer Phillip Johnson takes us through his natural billabong garden
  • Jeremy Francis’ Cloudehill, a masterpiece garden in Olinda
  • Homely lunch at Seasons Restaurant
  • Designer Jim Fogarty gives us a tour of The Australian Garden at Cranbourne

We meet Phillip Johnson again today as he takes us through the home garden he created at Olinda which inspired his award-winning Chelsea garden in 2013 for Flemings Nurseries. His gorgeous garden has a sustainable billabong, surrounded by tree ferns, that doubles as a chemical free swimming pool. It has a waterfall, spa and is surrounded by garden featuring many indigenous plants.

Just down the road is Cloudehill where a maze of stone walls and jewel-like garden rooms are set within woodlands of historic cool climate trees. Over the last 25 years Jeremy Francis has created a garden on deep volcanic loam and a rainfall of 1.25 metres a year on a site that was formerly a cut flower nursery. Jeremy is a master gardener with an exquisite eye for detail and design. He will guide us to areas looking their best in autumn, including the tranquil water garden, the warm coloured perennial borders and two of Australia’s best Japanese maples. Keep an eye out for the detailed paving, few gardens do it as well as Cloudehill.

We’ll enjoy an old-fashioned, tasty lunch in Seasons Restaurant which has windows overlooking the gorgeous Cloudehill gardens.

In the afternoon we travel to Cranbourne where award-winning Melbourne designer Jim Fogarty, who is also a leader for ASA, takes us on a private tour of the multi-award winning Australian Garden. The garden shows the dramatic variety of Australian plants in an inspiring and immersive display of flora, landscapes, art and architecture. Set over 15 hectares the garden follows the journey of water from the arid inland landscapes of central Australia, along dry river beds and down mighty rivers to the coastal fringes of the continent.

Our tour will take in the dramatic red sand garden, rock pool waterways, Eucalypt walk and exhibition gardens all featuring Australian plants and Jim will use his designer eye to explain the design concept and plantings.

We drive to the Flinders Hotel, home for the next two nights. (Overnight Flinders Hotel) BLD


Day 8: Saturday 24 March, Flinders – Sorrento – Moorooduc – Flinders

  • Tour of Designer Fiona Brockhoff’s coastal home garden (to be confirmed)
  • Visit and lunch at The Garden Vineyard, one of Australia’s finest gardens
  • Rick Ekersley’s Musk Cottage (to be confirmed)

Talk on using indigenous plants in design by Jim Fogarty and Charles Solomon in the garden of Jim’s holiday home

We are joined today by landscape architect John Patrick, best known as presenter with ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, and leader for ASA. John will spend the day on the peninsula with us where our first visit is to a private garden in Sorrento.

Designer Fiona Brockhoff’s Sorrento garden called Karkalla, is more than 20 years old and showcases the importance of creating gardens in sympathy with the local environment. It is influential and much admired for the way it embraces its coastal location, modern aesthetic and sculptural use of Australian plants.

We continue to Moorooduc to visit the Garden Vineyard which features in Monte Don’s book and television program Around the World in 80 Gardens. Architects Sue McFall and her husband Darryl are the owners of one of Australia’s finest gardens. It was created in 1986 with many European plants but the plant palate has changed to suit our drying climate. There are several European-style rooms including a memorable silver garden, walled courtyard, a big perennial border and a formal area flanked by lilly pillys. The terrace overlooks a lawn that rolls down to a garden with only Australian plants and the adjoining lawns lawn lead to a display of maples in the glorious red foliage of autumn.

Designer Rick Eckersley’s sustainable garden, Musk Cottage, is on a ten acre block and was purchased to showcase a different way of creating gardens on the Mornington Peninsula. It combines Australian plants with others that suit a low maintenance, no-water garden. He describes it as a ‘multicultural melting pot’ of plants. Boggy areas have been transformed into a wetland in a garden that over the last ten years has continued to evolve and mature.

Jim Fogarty welcomes us to his holiday home in Flinders and is joined by Charles Solomon from Garawana Creative. Jim will talk about how the design was inspired by indigenous shapes of moving water and waterholes and will address the design challenges, including a small budget and a site that floods each winter.

Jim and Charles will explain some of the indigenous uses of the key plants in the garden. (Overnight Flinders Hotel) BL


Melbourne – 1 night


Day 9: Sunday 25 March, Flinders – Shoreham – Melbourne

  • Bagnols, a garden designed by Paul Bangay in Shoreham
  • Heronswood Gardens (to be confirmed)
  • Tour of Cruden Farm with garden manager Michael Morrison

Paul Bangay designed this garden to complement the French country manor design of the home. Built on a 1.5 hectare block with water views to Western Port and Bass Strait, the garden is divided into rooms and has an olive grove, dam, sunny lawn, shrubberies and paving beside a pergola supporting climbing roses. Paving is edged with lavender, garden beds made edged with box and an extravagant grassy staircase rises from a gravel boules court to a wide, flat lawn.

We will have lunch at historic Heronswood House where the vegetables and fruits served are heirloom selections picked straight from the gardens. Afterwards Deryn will take us on a tour of Diggers, a garden where edible plants replace many traditional ornamentals in the display gardens. Display gardens include ornamental vegetable borders and gardens with succulents and flowering perennials.

We travel to one of Australia’s best known gardens, Cruden Farm, which was given to the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch in 1928 as a wedding present from her husband Sir Keith Murdoch. She cherished the farm at Langwarrin throughout her long life and created a fine garden with garden manager, Michael Morrison, who will lead us on a garden tour. We’ll take a stroll to the lake and walk through herbaceous borders, the picking garden, shrub walks and famous avenue of lemon scented gums that lead to the house before enjoying afternoon tea. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BL


Day 10: Monday 26 March, Depart Melbourne

  • Visit a Glen Iris garden with designer Jim Fogarty
  • Visit two design projects by Andrew Laidlaw
  • Light Lunch and a talk on design trends in the home garden of designer John Patrick
    Farewell dinner at Locanda

Today we learn more about the process of garden design when we reconnect with ASA leader Jim Fogarty who will take us through a private garden he designed in Glen Iris.

Jim will take us through the owner’s design brief and explain how he came up with an attractive and traditional design that followed the owner’s instructions. They said that they did not want a garden full of hedges and asked him to retain some of the mature trees, connect the front porch with the garden and reduced areas of red brick paving. We’ll get to see the results!

We then travel to the small, inner city home garden of landscape architect John Patrick, who will share his knowledge of Melbourne garden design trends and forecast the future of Australian garden design.

Today we also meet with Andrew Laidlaw who designed the Potter Foundation Children’s Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Andrew has kindly agreed to show us two of his designs for residential homes in the Hawthorn area.

We have a farewell dinner tonight in a private dining area at Locanda in The Rydges Hotel. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BLD


Day 11: Tuesday 27 March, Depart Melbourne

  • Morning transfer to Melbourne airport
  • Today a transfer to the airport, departing the hotel at 11.00am, will be provided. B
  • Physical Endurance & Practical Information


Physical Rating
The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.


This 11-day Cultural Garden Tour of Victoria involves:

  • A moderate amount of walking mainly during outdoor site visits, often up and down hills and/or flights of stairs and uneven terrain.
  • A moderate amount of coach travel, several on winding mountainous roads
  • The daily schedule generally involves an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (between 5.00-5.30pm)
  • 4-star hotels with 4 hotel changes
  • You must be able to carry your own hand-luggage. Hotel porterage only includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.


Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on weather, clothing and what to pack.

Celebrating Gardens and Roses

Celebrating Gardens and Roses of Japan with Sophie Thomson




Day 1 Wed 25 Oct Arrive Tokyo

On arrival in Tokyo, make your own way to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.


Day 2 Thu 26 Oct Tokyo

After breakfast we visit the Kyosumi Garden. In the afternoon, we visit Senso-ji Temple and Asakusa for a taste of traditional Japan. Senso-ji is one of the very popular temples in Tokyo while the Asukusa area that surrounds it provides a wonderful variety of snacks, restaurants and souvenir shopping. In the afternoon, we will visit the historic Imperial Palace East Gardens, an oasis of calm in the middle of this giant city. Edo Castle was once the residence of the Tokugawa shoguns who ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. The old site of the castle now makes up the park and garden areas. Later we marvel at skyscraper views from the heights of iconic Tokyo Tower. Welcome dinner tonight. (B, D)


Day 3 Fri 27 Oct Tokyo

Today we will take an excursion to Keisei Rose Garden and Sakura Rose Garden.
Keisei Rose Garden has over 1600 rose varieties and 10,000 plants. This rose garden is owned by the Japanese agent for many international commercial rose breeders, including the infamous French rose breeder Meilland. Sakura Rose Garden is a municipal rose garden with an emphasis on heritage roses. (B)


Day 4 Sat 28 Oct Tokyo-Atami-Hakone

We escape Tokyo and journey by private coach to Hakone via Atami. Hopefully weather permitting we will get an excellent view of Mount Fuji. We will visit Akao Herb & Rose Garden in Atami. Continue travel to Hakone, where we will visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum, home to over 120 permanent Japanese and Western sculptures, in a garden setting. (B, D)


Day 5 Sun 29 Oct Hakone-Nagoya-Takayama

Transfer to Odawara station for bullet train to Takayama via Nagoya. Arrive in Takayama, we will visit Kusakabe Folk Crafts Museum. This building dating from the 1890s showcases the striking craftsmanship of traditional Takayama carpenters. Tonight enjoy a Hida beef dinner. (B, D)


Day 6 Mon 30 Oct Takayama

Work off your breakfast with a relaxing walking tour of the morning market. Take a walking tour around the downtown area. Many of the old town streets date from the Edo Period and are perfect for people who love to browse. Then we take an excursion to the remote mountains of Honshu to visit the UNESCO listed Shirakawa-go Village, famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. It is a fairytale walk back in time with quaint original cottages, water wheels and paddy fields. Return to Takayama for overnight. (B)


Day 7 Tue 31 Oct Takayama-Kani-Nagoya-Okayama

Today we travel by coach to visit the Flower Festival Commemorative Park in Kani which has over 7000 varieties of roses and 30,000 plants. The garden has two main sections with their own themes. The first is the Rose Theme Garden which contains 14 themed gardens such as the Fragrant Rose Garden, the Royal Rose Garden and the Blue Rose Garden. The second is the World Rose Garden with roses gathered from all over the world and planted by country. Then we take coach to Nogoya station for our train to Okayama. (B, D)


Day 8 Wed 01 Nov Okayama

We will visit Adachi Museum of Art, established in 1970, based on the private collection of Zenko Adachi. Works collected include Japanese paintings by famous painters such as Taikan Yokoyama, Shiho Sakakibara and Shunso Hishida. The museum’s gardens are also famous. A true lover of gardens, Adachi collected each of the pines and stones for the garden himself from around the country, creating a beautiful garden filled with his own passion. (B, L)


Day 9 Thu 02 Nov Okayama-Kyoto

After breakfast, we visit the magnificent Okayama Castle, nicknamed “Crow Castle” because of its very black colour. Then we explore the colourful and expansive Koraku-en Garden, another of the “Three Great Gardens” of Japan that celebrates the typical features of a Japanese landscape garden. Later we travel by bullet train to Kyoto. (B)


Day 10 Fri 03 Nov Kyoto

Today we visit Gio-ji Temple. It presides over a magnificent grove of thick magical moss that just about begs you to lie down on it (you are strictly forbidden), straight out of a fairytale. Then we head to the picturesque Arashiyama District for a relaxing walk through the peaceful Bamboo Forest. (B)


Day 11 Sat 04 Nov Kyoto

Today we will experience a truly Japanese cultural event, a tea ceremony at Kodaiji Temple, one of the most well-known temples in Japan. Then visit the peaceful Ryoan-ji Temple home to the famous Zen rock garden. It is fortunately right next door to Kinkakuji (The Golden Pavilion), another treasure! (B)


Day 12 Sun 05 Nov Kyoto

This morning we visit the I M Pei-designed Miho Museum in Shiga Prefecture. The building is a work of art in itself, as it sits in perfect harmony with an incredible mountain landscape. It is best known for its Shigaraki pottery as well as an incredible collection of artworks belonging to the founder of the museum, Koyama Mihoko, one of the richest women in Japan, and her daughter Hiroko. Afternoon is at your leisure. Farewell dinner tonight. (B, D)


Day 13 Mon 06 Nov Depart Kyoto

Our tour ends after breakfast. Make your own way to the airport for your onward flight. (B)

Iran and the Legendary Silk Road by Private Train

Iran and the Legendary Silk Road by Private Train with Jennie Churchill



• An exciting first time itinerary combining Iran, east to west, with the Silk Road
• Unique combination of two comfortable private trains with 4 different categories: Orient Silk Road Express and Persian Explorer
• Unforgettable immersion in centuries of Central Asian, Persian and Islamic history
• Ten extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage Sites
• Warm and welcoming people
• Samarkand’s massive, mosaic-tiled Registan Square
• Among Bukhara’s thousand monuments, experience its architectural masterpiece the Mire-e-Arab Madrasah
• The ruins of Merv rising from the desert
• Iran’s holiest city Mashhad
• Wind towers of the desert city Yazd, stronghold of Zoroastrians
• Five of the nine UNESCO World Heritage listed Persian Garden complexes
• The vast Maidan of Isfahan, the world’s second largest Square
• Shiraz, gentle city of poets and gardens
• The magnificent ruins of Persepolis, once powerful capital of the world’s largest empire
• Museums and palaces of Tehran
• Markets, bazaars and traditional crafts including the making of silk fabric and carpets



Day 1 Sat 16 September Arrival in Tashkent
Flight from your airport of departure to Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan.
Overnight: Grand Mir Hotel (or similar).

Day 2 Sun 17 September Tashkent
The green oasis of the Steppe, Tashkent is Central Asia’s hub. We traverse centuries: from the C16th Kukeldash Madrasah, Soviet-era architecture to contemporary Independence Square, the Amir Timur museum and Tashkent Metro’s beautiful artwork. Depending on the schedule, settle in for an evening performance at the famous Navoi Opera Theatre. Afterwards your private train Orient Silk Road Express departs for Samarkand.
Overnight on board. Breakfast (B), lunch (L) and dinner (D)

Day 3 Mon 18 September Samarkand
After breakfast we arrive in Samarkand, for centuries a powerful political, economic and cultural centre on the Silk Road. Founded in the C7th BC, this extraordinary city reached its peak during Amir Timur’s C14th rule. Discover magnificent Central Asian Islamic architecture: the huge Registan Square with its mosaics and blue-tiled domes, necropolis Shah-e-zende and the excavation sites of Afrosiab, the oldest existing evidence of this ancient city.
Overnight: Hotel Registan Plaza (or similar). (BLD)

Day 4 Tue 19 September Samarkand
The ancient rural town of Urgut has one of Uzbekistan’s busiest and most traditional markets and the Chor-Chinor garden’s 1,000 year old trees. Back in Samarkand, there’s much more to discover: the observatory of Ulug Beg, C15th ruler and remarkable astronomer, the enormous Bibi Khanum Mosque and Timur’s resting place in the Gur Emir Mausoleum. In the evening, your train departs for Bukhara.
Overnight on board. (BLD)

Day 5 Wed 20 September Bukhara
Journey through the red sands of the Kyzyl Kum desert to Bukhara, a fascinating city more than 2,500 years old. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed old city still boasts around one thousand monuments. We visit the Kaljan Minaret, Labi-Hauz Ensemble, the architectural masterpiece Mire-e-Arab Madrasah, and the beautiful Samanid Mausoleum. The day ends with a tour through the massive earthen Fortress Ark and a dance performance in a madrasah.
Overnight on board. (BLD)

Day 6 Thu 21 September Merv
Our train crosses into Turkmenistan, the somewhat mysterious and least visited country in Central Asia. Towards morning, we arrive at the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site of Merv. Once a glorious metropolis famous for its exports, scholars, culture and gardens, the city was destroyed in 1221 by Ghengis Khan’s son. Merv’s astounding remnants rise from the desert among ancient ruins: the Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar, Kyz Kala Fortress and historic mud brick ice-houses. Late in the evening our train arrives in the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat.
Overnight: Hotel Ak Altyn (or similar). (BLD)

Day 7 Fri 22 September Ashgabat and Nisa
A morning drive takes us to the ancient city of Nisa, former flourishing capital of the Parthian state. Later, a guided tour of Ashgabat introduces this distinctive and rather bizarre modern-day capital. Hollywood meets Stalin in a rapidly transforming city flush with new-found oil wealth. Artefacts from Nisa and Merv in the National Museum provide further insight into a country where great science, art, architecture and spirituality countered an often-violent history.
Overnight: Hotel Ak Altyn (or similar). (BLD)

Day 8 Sat 23 September Mashhad
After breakfast, a bus ride takes us across the border to Mashhad, Iran’s holiest and second-largest city. One of the seven holy sites of the Shiite Islam – and the only one in Iran – Mashhad is the site of the mausoleum of the eighth Shiite Imam, Ali ibn Musa ar-Reza. This beautiful and massive shrine complex, with its dazzling intricate blue tiles, gold domes, minarets and fountain-cooled courtyards, commemorates the AD 817 martyrdom of Imam Reza. Attracting around 20 million pilgrims each year, the shrine features one of Iran’s most comprehensive art collections.
Overnight: Hotel Homa (or similar). (BLD)

Day 9 Sun 24 September To Yazd
Around noon, we leave Mashhad on our private train, the Persian Explorer, and journey across the desert to Yazd.
Overnight on board. (BLD)

Day 10 Mon 25 September Yazd to Isfahan
We arrive in Yazd, Iran’s most exciting desert city, early morning. Wedged between two deserts, Yazd is regarded by UNESCO as one of the oldest cities on earth. It is also the centre of Zoroastrianism in Iran. Yazd’s old, sun-dried mud brick city skyline is dominated by badgirs (wind towers), the tallest sitting in the UNESCO-listed Bagh-e Dolat Abad, described as ‘the quintessence of the Persian garden’. We visit the Zoroastrian fire temples and, rising from the desert just outside the city, former burial sites the Towers of Silence. A visit to the Yazd Water Museum explains the desert city’s Qanat water supply system. Back on board, we take lunch as we travel towards Isfahan.
Overnight: Hotel Kowsar/Abbasi (or similar). (BLD)

Day 11 Tue 26 September Kashan
Often bypassed by tourists, Kashan is one of the most alluring destinations in Iran. A full day exploring this oasis city north of Isfahan includes the exquisitely decorated, turquoise and gold Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse, the Tabatabei House, one of Kashan’s architecturally-significant C19th merchant houses, and Bagh-e Fin, the oldest extant garden in Iran, its classic Persian design dating to the C16th rule of Shah Abbas 1.
Overnight: Hotel Kowsar/Abbasi (or similar). ( BLD)

Day 12 Wed 27 September Isfahan
Our time in this elegant jewel of ancient Persia centres on its heart – the vast, beautifully-proportioned, Savafid Dynasty Maidan or Imam Square, once the site of trading, assembling troops, polo games and celebrations. We visit a number of the monumental buildings bordering this UNESCO World Heritage Site: Masjed-e Imam (Imam Khomeini Mosque), the Ali Qapu Palace and its veranda overlooking the Square, and the Lotfullah Mosque, once a private mosque for the Safavid royal families. A short walk brings us to Chehel Sotun (Pavilion of Forty Pillars) with its huge reflecting pool, shady gardens and wonderful fresco museum. In the ancient historic centre we visit the Jameh Mosque, a stunning illustration of Iranian Islamic architecture over twelve centuries.
Overnight on board. (BLD)

Day 13 Thu 28 September Shiraz
With the verses of much-loved poets Hafez and Sa’adi top of mind, a visit to Bagh-e Eram reminds us this is the city of the Persian paradise garden. The hustle and bustle of the Old Town Vakil bazaar is fun and entertaining (stock up on excellent Iranian saffron) and contrasts with the calm interiors of the elegant Nasir-al-Molk (Pink) Mosque. Its mesmerising decorations are more than matched by the dazzling mirrored tiles of the Shah Cheragh Mausoleum, the third most venerated pilgrimage site in Iran.
Overnight: Chamran Grand Hotel (or similar). (BLD)

Day 14 Fri 29 September Pasargadae & Persepolis
At the site of his victories east of the great Zagros Mountains, the Persian King Cyrus the Great built his capital city of Pasargadae. I am Cyrus the King, an Achaemenian, states the inscriptions on pillars and reliefs of the audience hall of the Residence. The sprawling archaeological site, which includes the King’s mausoleum, also contains remnants of the garden he created at Pasargadae 2,500 years ago. The oldest extant garden layout in the world, it can still be ‘read’ among the remains. We travel an hour by bus to our next destination, the magnificent ruins of Persepolis, founded by Darius 1 in the early years of the C6th BC. His Achaemenid empire was the largest the world had ever seen, extending from Egypt to Pakistan, with Persepolis its capital. The vast part-artificial platform above the plains holds an extraordinary complex of ruins, with royal palaces, reception halls, apartments, walls covered by sculpted friezes, gigantic winged bulls and monumental stairways – all burned and looted by the Greeks of Alexander the Great in 330 BC. Nearby is the impressive Naqsh-e-Rostam necropolis of the Achaemenids. A short bus ride brings us to our private train, destination Tehran.
Overnight on board. (BLD)

Day 15 Sat 30 September Tehran
Arriving in Tehran, we farewell our charming train staff before spending a day out of the busy city centre. First stop, a guided tour of the Iranian National Botanic Garden, with the Alborz Mountains as backdrop. The garden’s 150 hectares sit at 1300 metres, with different landscapes designed to represent Iran’s diverse flora. Just 40km to the north-east of Tehran city lies the Khojir National Park, one of the oldest protected areas in the world with stunning views to the stratovolcano Mount Damavand. Khojir is renowned for its high biodiversity and as an important base for migratory birds. Dinner will be served in the Milad Tower, the sixth tallest telecommunication tower in the world.
Overnight: Hotel Laleh (or similar). (BLD)

Day 16 Sun 1 October Tehran
The Iranian capital is rich with museums. We explore the glories and excesses of the Qajar emperors in the lavish Golestan Palace and take a journey through history at the Archaeological Museum. A short walk away is the Glass and Ceramics Museum, with exhibits spanning centuries of workmanship by Iranian artisans. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy. A visit to see the glittering collection of gemstones and jewellery at the Treasury of National Jewels is highly recommended, as is time spent in Park-e Laleh or another of Tehran’s beautiful parks.
Overnight: Hotel Laleh (or similar). (BLD)

Day 17 Mon 2 October End of journey
Airport transfer for individual departure.



• 6 overnights on Private Train according to the booked category (Day 1-7 with Orient Silk Road Express; Day 8 – 15 Persian Explorer)
• 10 overnights in hotels
• All meals according to program (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
• Full sightseeing program including all entrance fees as per the itinerary
• Airport transfers arrival in Tashkent and departure from Tehran
• Private air-conditioned coach for sightseeing side trips
• Tour Leader Jennie Churchill
• English-speaking Train Tour Director
• Experienced local guides
• Doctor on board
• All gratuities for guides and drivers throughout the trip
• Visas for Iran, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan

Canada Blooms

Canada Blooms – connecting people with nature


Canada Blooms in Toronto each March is the largest flower and garden show in Canada.

Garden designers will create gardens to theme of ‘Let’s Go To The Movies’, which will celebrate the grandeur of the silver screen, from the early days of silent classics though to toady’s blockbusters. Film noir, cartoon, thriller, romantic comedy or action drama – Let’s Go To The Movies will showcase gardens for all tastes, filled with rich colour and fragrance.

Previous years’ designers have included Vaughn Landscaping, Greer Design Group, Down2Earth, Melanie Reloka Landscape Design, Jackson Pond, Green Art Landscape Design, Ginkgo Design, Creative Garden Designs, and Bancheri Brothers.

Every day there are lots of inspiring speakers to hear, covering a wide range of topics such as garden design, cooking, birds, garden lighting, solving soil problems, gardening Q&A, growing plants from seed, keeping bees, container gardens, native plant gardening, and many more.

Come along to one of the many wonderful workshops on creating a pollinator garden, creating terrariums, creating a cut flower fairy gardens, or create and Easter centerpiece.

Canada Blooms also has every gardening product you need, with everything from wood ovens, sheds, garden lighting and conservatories to plants, seeds and garden design companies.

The Toronto Flower Show at Canada Blooms has entries from both amateurs and experts in floral art, photography and special horticulture exhibits.

Canada Blooms is open daily at 10am, closing times vary from 6pm to 9pm.
Enercare Center 100 Princes’ Blvd, Toronto.

Proceeds from Canada Blooms are used to support community projects that promote horticulture and nurture and enhance our landscapes.


See all the fun at Canada Blooms 2017

Viet Nam – New Blooms and Old Days

New Blooms and Old Days – a spring-time garden and history tour in Viet Nam


Friday, 12 May 2017 – Friday, 26 May 2017 – 15 days


Day 1: Friday, 12 May 2017 – Sydney – Ho Chi Minh City
Arrive HCM City. Light evening meal. O/Night HCM City

Day 2: Saturday, 13 May 2017 – Ho Chi Minh City
Breakfast. Visit HCM City Botanic Gardens and Zoo opened in 1869. Visit Le Van Duyet Tomb. Lunch Visit to Dinh Doc Lap – Independence Palace. Stroll down to Lam Son Square via the Cathedral, Post Office and Dong Khoi Street Dinner. (Old Rue Catinat). O/night HCM City

Day 3: Sunday, 14 May 2017 – Ho Chi Minh City
Breakfast. Breakfast. Morning coffee in the Tao Dan Park (Công Viên Tao Đàn) with the Bird Fanciers followed by a stroll around the park and on to Circle Sportif. Drive by the oldest house in HCM City and visit the monument to Thich Quang Duc. Visit Cho Lon. See the Chinese Funeral House, the historic Church of Father Tam and Cho Lon Market, stopping off at the Herbal Apothecaries before heading to lunch. Post lunch stroll from Nguyen Van Hao Theatre to the 23/9 Park. Visit the Nhi Dong II Hospital and stroll to the US Consulate, site of the old US Embassy. Dinner O/night HCM City.

Day 4: Monday, 15 May 2017 – Ba Ria – Vung Tau
Breakfast. Drive to Ba Ria. Sightseeing in Ba Ria. Visit Nui Dat site of the old Australian Army Base and Long Tan Cross, site of the famous battle. Drive to Vung Tau. Dinner by the sea. O/night Vung Tau.

Day 5: Tuesday, 16 May 2017 – Ho Chi Minh City – Da Lat
Breakfast. Vung Tau City Tour. Lunch. Drive to Ho Chi Minh City via Binh Ba and Xuan Loc for evening flight to Da Lat. Dinner in Da Lat. O/night Da Lat.

Day 6: Wednesday, 17 May 2017 – Da Lat
Breakfast. Da Lat is a garden city. Cut flowers are a major industry. We take the cable car over the cut flower gardens of Da Lat. Visit the beautiful gardens at the Truc Lam Zen Monastery. Lunch. Afternoon visit to local falls, going on to the Langbiang Tourist area. Dinner, dancing and drinking with the Cil and Lach ethnic minority. O/night Da Lat

Day 7: Thursday, 18 May 2017 – Da Lat – Ho Chi Minh City
Breakfast. Leisurely stroll around Da Lat city centre including local markets. Lunch. Afternoon flight to HCM City. O/night HCM City

Day 8: Friday, 19 May 2017 – HCM City – Hue
Breakfast. Mid-morning flight to Hue. Lunch on arrival. Afternoon visit to Hue Citadel. Dinner on the Perfume River. O/night Hue

Day 9: Saturday, 20 May 2017 – Hue
Breakfast. Visit to Minh Mang Tomb. Return to Hue by Dragon Boat. Lunch. Afternoon visit to Thien Mu Pagoda. Dinner. O/night Hue.

Day 10: Sunday, 21 May 2017 – Hue – Ha Noi
Breakfast. Mid-morning flight to Ha Noi. Lunch of Cha Ca in the Old Quarter. Afternoon stroll around the old Quarter. Check in to Hotel. Attend Water Puppets Performance. Dinner. O/night Ha Noi.

Day 11: Monday, 22 May 2017 – Ha Long Bay Day Trip
Breakfast. Drive to Ha Long Bay. Cruise the Bay with lunch on board. Return to Ha Noi.

Day 12: Tuesday, 23 May 2017 – Ha Noi-Sa Pa
Breakfast. Morning visit to Ba Dinh Square, Ho Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda. Lunch at KOTO Restaurant. Visit Temple of Literature. Check out O/night train to Sa Pa.

Day 13: Wednesday, 24 May 2017 – Sa Pa
Early Arrival at Lai Chau and drive to Sa Pa. Relax. Lunch. Afternoon visit to Cat Cat Falls. Dinner. O/night Sa Pa.

Day 14: Thursday, 25 May 2017 – Sa Pa – Ha Noi
Breakfast. Visit local ethnic minority villages in the valley below Sa Pa Town. Lunch. Late check out. Drive to Lai Chau. O/night train to Ha Noi

Day 15: Friday, 26 May 2017 – Return to Australia
Breakfast. Leisurely day. Afternoon flight to HCM City. Evening flight overnight to Australia

Japan – Land of Beauty

Japan – Land of Beauty



To visit Japan is to step into another world, an enchanting one in which beauty is prized. Beauty comes in many forms, not only in the perfect gardens and exquisite flowers, but also in the country’s natural areas – the mountains and forests. There is beauty too in Japan’s cultural practices, architecture and many forms of art.
We will see so much of it on this varied tour, from Mt Fuji and the Shibazakura Festival of Moss Phlox, the Moss garden in Saiho-Ji Temple, the Bamboo Forest, world famous gardens, and wonderful bonsai, to the modern sculpture parks, World Heritage village of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama in the mountains, the Golden Temple, and ancient castles.
We will travel by air conditioned coach and by bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, experience a traditional tea ceremony and enjoy nights spent in modern Japanese style spa accommodation.



Day 1 Sun 07 May Sydney-Tokyo
Overnight flight with Qantas to Tokyo.

Day 2 Mon 08 May Arrive Tokyo
On arrival in Tokyo, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The first visit on our tour will be to the historic Imperial Palace East Gardens, an oasis of calm in the middle of this giant city. Edo Castle was once the residence of the Tokugawa shoguns who ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. The old site of the castle now makes up the park and garden areas.
Later we marvel at skyscraper views from the heights of iconic Tokyo Tower.
We will spend two nights in Tokyo.
Welcome dinner tonight. (Dinner)

Day 3 Tue 09 May Tokyo-Omiya-Tokyo
Today we enter the private world of the bonsai experts and visit Omiya Bonsai Village. Multiple bonsai nurseries and a superb bonsai art museum are situated along the district’s peaceful paths. In the afternoon, we visit Senso-ji Temple and Asakusa for a taste of traditional Japan. Senso-ji is one of the very popular temples in Tokyo while the Asakusa area that surrounds it provides a wonderful variety of snacks, restaurants and souvenir shopping. (Breakfast)

Day 4 Wed 10 May Tokyo-Hakone-Kawaguchiko
Journey by private coach to Hakone, the city famous for the view of nearby Mt. Fuji. We will visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum, home to over 120 permanent Japanese and Western sculptures, in a garden setting.
Continue travel to Kawaguchiko, where we will stay for two nights in Japanese style. (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 5 Thu 11 May Kawaguchiko
Throughout Japan’s spring season different flowers take the stage, from blossom, azaleas and wisteria, to roses and hydrangeas. Today we will celebrate Shibazakura, moss phlox, whose name translates as ‘grass cherry’, at Japan’s largest Shibazakura festival called “Fuji Shibazakura Matsuri”. The festival gives insight into real Mount Fuji beauty as well as the natural beauty of Japan in spring. Approximately 800,000 Shibazakura, covering 2.4 hectares of land, burst into life and carpet the ground in shades of pink and white.
Later we visit the excellent Itchiku Kubota Art Museum devoted to kimono artist Itchiku Kubota. With a panoramic view of Itchiku’s beloved Mount Fuji, the museum permanently showcases some of his artistic creations and invites visitors to discover the artist who created them.
There is also an opportunity for us to take a ride on Kachikachi-yama Ropeway. The gondolas take us to the hilltop with breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 6 Fri 12 May Kawaguchiko-Matsumoto-Takayama
Today we will travel to Matsumoto and visit the impressive fortress – Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan’s most visually stunning castle completed in 1593 and one of the twelve complete original castles still in existence in Japan. Matsumoto Castle was founded by the Ogasawara clan in 1504 but it was another lord, Ishikawa, who remodelled the fortress in 1593 and built the imposing black five-tier donjon that is now the oldest keep in Japan. From the top of the tower we enjoy spectacular views of the town and surrounding mountains.
Continue by coach to Takayama, for a two night stay. (Breakfast)

Day 7 Sat 13 May Takayama
Work off your breakfast with a relaxing walking tour of Takayama Old Town, and the Kusakabe Folkcraft Museum, including the cultural heart of the town, and the morning market. Many of the old town streets date from the Edo Period and are perfect for people who love to browse.
Tonight enjoy a Hida beef dinner. (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 8 Sun 14 May Takayama-Kanazawa
Travel by coach to Kanazawa, stopping en route in the remote mountains of Honshu to visit the UNESCO listed Shirakawa-go Village and Gokayama. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, they are famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Here we will see a fairy tale walk back in time with quaint original cottages, water wheels and paddy fields.
We will stay in Kanazawa for two nights. (Breakfast)

Day 9 Mon 15 May Kanazawa
Today we are off to Kanazawa Castle and Kenroku-en Garden, one of the “Three Great Gardens” of Japan. The Japanese say Kenroku-en means having six factors: spaciousness, tranquillity, artifice, antiquity, water courses and a magnificent view, and they are right!
Nomura Family House shows us just how the Samurai would have lived in times past. It evokes a sense of what old Japan and, best of all, its exquisite gardens might have been like. It is an absolute joy. Many of us will be inspired by the imaginative opportunities that could apply even to our own backyards.
We also visit Higashi Chaya district, a traditional place of feasts and entertainment, where geisha have been entertaining people since the Edo period. (Breakfast)

Day 10 Tue 16 May Kanazawa-Okayama
Travel by bullet train to Okayama.
We will wander through the Bikan area of Kurashiki, a time warp into ancient feudal times. With a distinct and stunningly beautiful architectural design, you’ll see a central canal crossed by traditional curved bridges, and lined by fascinating shops, eateries and museums.
Overnight in Okayama. (Breakfast)

Day 11 Wed 17 May Okayama-Naoshima Island-Okayama
In the morning, as a change of pace, we take a day excursion to the Benesse Art Site on Naoshima Island, home to a collection of some of the world’s most inspiring art, architecture and outdoor sculptures.
Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, our visit to the Lee Ufan and Cichu Art Museums is akin to a spiritual experience; the synergy between art, nature and architecture is exquisite.
Return to Okayama for overnight. (Breakfast)

Day 12 Thu 18 May Okayama-Kyoto
After breakfast we will explore the colourful and expansive Koraku-en Garden, another of the “Three Great Gardens” of Japan that celebrates the typical features of a Japanese landscape garden. Then we cross the Asahi River to view the magnificent Okayama Castle, nicknamed “Crow Castle” because of its very black colour.
In the afternoon we travel by bullet train to Kyoto where we will stay for 4 nights. (Breakfast)

Day 13 Fri 19 May Kyoto
After breakfast, we visit the garden of Saiho-ji Temple, acclaimed by many as Kyoto’s most beautiful garden. It is especially famous for its moss garden.
Then visit the peaceful Ryoan-ji Temple home to the famous Zen rock garden. This UNESCO World Heritage site in Kyoto encourages contemplation while enjoying the simplicity of carefully arranged boulders amidst raked pebbles that resemble ripples of the sea.
It is fortunately right next door to Kinkakuji (The Golden Pavilion), another treasure! This Buddhist temple’s main buildings is famous for its top two floors completely covered in gold leaf overlooking a pond and surrounded by a beautiful garden. (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 14 Sat 20 May Kyoto
A more relaxing day. We head to the picturesque Arashiyama District for a relaxing walk through the peaceful Bamboo Forest.
Later we will experience a truly Japanese cultural event, a tea ceremony at Kodaiji Temple, one of the most well-known temples in Japan. (Breakfast)

Day 15 Sun 21 May Kyoto
Today is at your leisure. You may decide to enjoy the excellent shopping in Kyoto, or visit more of the city’s many sights.
Enjoy our special farewell dinner tonight. (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 16 Mon 22 May Kyoto-Tokyo-Sydney
Transfer to airport for flight to Tokyo and connect your overnight flight home. (Breakfast)

Day 17 Tue 23 May Arrive Sydney
Arrive Sydney in the morning.
To enquire or book this tour, please contact
Opulent Journeys 1300 219 885
Email: tony@opulentjourneys.com.au

Bundanoon Garden Ramble

Bundanoon Garden Ramble 2016


Bundanoon NSW, the home to Garden Ramble, is the ‘Quintessential Southern Highlands Experience’ and the perfect village alternative to larger towns such as Bowral, Mittagong and Moss Vale…the perfect place to relax & unwind. With a population of just under 3000 our quaint village is the northern gateway to Morton National Park where you can walk for miles and take in the breathtaking scenery it has to offer.

Now in its 20th year, the Bundanoon Garden Ramble on 22 and 23 October 2016 once again promises to be an enjoyable event attracting visitors from all parts of the state and beyond.

Open from 9.30am to 4.30pm both days, 8 private gardens will showcase their diversity ranging from large country gardens down to small town blocks. There will be plenty to see and do, thanks to the dedicated garden owners who spend months prior to the weekend preparing their beautiful gardens in anticipation of the many visitors.

Refreshments will be available in some of the gardens and visitors can also lunch in one of the many town cafes. There will be a market in the hall where plants and gifts are available for purchase and the Bundanoon History Group will mount an exhibition in the old goods shed. A display of old farm machinery will be set up in the main street. A Gypsy Wagon made by the garden owner will display a collection of old linen and lace.


Open gardens in 2016

•  Spinning Hill Farm – 5 Evelyn Avenue

•  Jean Flora — 11 Evelyn Avenue

•  Idle a Wile – 2 Penrose Road

•  Bonnie Doon – 46 Greasons Road

•  81 Coalmines Road

•  Fern Creek – 2 Ferndale Road

•  Applegate Cottage – 3 William Street

•  Birdsong – 13 William Street


Southport Flower Show

Southport Flower Show


Victoria Park, Southport, UK


Visit beautiful seaside Southport for the biggest independent garden show in the UK, now in its 88th year.


Southport Flower Show Display Gardens:

The Southport Flower Show has loads of inspirational display gardens (17 gardens in 2016), featuring from classical design to the latest trends, and designed by local landscape designers and landscape companies.


Southport Flower Show Plant Societies

Get all the best expert advice from a wide range of plant societies, including regulars like the Cottage Garden Society, British Fuchsia Society, Alpine Garden Society, National Dahlia Society and the Hardy Plant Society North West Group.


Southport Flower Show Garden Roadshow

Hear your favourite local garden experts giving advice and answering questions.


Southport Flower Show Amateur Growers

Every year, the Southport Flower Show hosts the biggest Amateur Grower’s Competition in the UK, with entries displayed in our 100m long competition marquee. Enter your best efforts in a wide range of categories, from floral design to baking and preserves. There’s 22 different classes of individual flower and plants to enter, with a central theme announced for each year.


Southport Flower Show Grand Floral Marquee

See the best of the North West’s growers showing all the latest varieties in stunning floral displays


Southport Flower Show Ladies Day

Each year there is also a special event Ladies Day on the Friday of the show, with an all-inclusive ticket for show entry, lunch and entertainment.

Robertson Open Gardens

Robertson Open Gardens


Robertson garden owners will open seven private gardens for visitors. Set among rolling hills amidst the stunning country scenery, these beautiful gardens range from large country gardens to smaller town gardens and are guaranteed to inspire gardener visitors. Five of the gardens are large country gardens on the outskirts of Robertson, with three in the village. These gardens demonstrate all the beauty of gardening in the Southern Highlands. Wide open spaces with smaller intimate gardens, walks and wonderful displays of dramatic plantings, including parterres, knot gardens, pergolas with climbing roses and wisteria. Fabulous conifers combine with deciduous and evergreen trees to highlight the design elements of these interesting gardens.


All gardens are open 10am to 4pm on both days, and tickets are on sale at all gardens.

$5 each garden, or $20 for all gardens


Robertson Open Gardens 2017 includes:

This year there are five new gardens:

The Kaya is a 6 acre garden of a horticulturist and a botanical artist. It is an outstanding garden of exceptional design and wonderful plant combinations, with a gravelled parterre showcasing purple and grey foliage plants including arches of trimmed ‘Crimson Century’ maples and wisteria covered pergolas.


The Secret Garden is a large country garden with several garden rooms with both formal and more relaxed styles, featuring a fountain garden, a birch walk and large expanses of lush green lawn. There are banks of rhododendrons and azaleas, a cherry blosssom walk, a vegetable potager and a number of espaliered fruit trees.


Deirdre’s Garden is a smaller lovely formal garden planned by the previous owner, a horticulturist. Fir trees, magnolia and waratahs make a stunning first impression. A formal rose garden screened by a 2 metre high Pittosporum hedge includes several statues. Deciduous trees include cherry trees, magnolias and maples and in the native garden kangaroo paws and waratahs are sheltered by gums and native shrubs.


Dragon Farm is a splendid country garden with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. From the top of the hill there is a fabulous view to the lake with a delightful Celtic knot garden featuring Buxus hedging surrounding white Meidiland roses on the side of the hill above the lake. Many species of deciduous trees grow throughout the garden including two large chestnut trees and a birch grove. Dotted throughout the garden wonderful statuary can be seen.


The Garden The framework of our garden was created in 1974 by the original owners of the block bought by them when the subdivision was first done.  It was apparently an empty block and they planted it fully with a wide variety of plants and trees. Rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas, roses, maples and a large number of conifers which were to serve as hedges.  When we bought the block in 2001 the garden was not just established but heavily overgrown as they had been unable to spend the time necessary to care for it.

The conifer hedges had not been hedged and in fact dwarfed most of the other plants.  The front hedge of cyrus pines were huge with little vegetation on them.  After a substantial cull we found that many of the plants that had been dwarfed had survived albeit they were in need of a lot of care.  We commenced with a new Camellia sasanqua hedge in the front with over 60 plants in 4 inch pots.  They looked more like a hair transplant but in the 13 years they have been in they have blossomed into a wonderful hedge.


And back again in 2017, two very popular Robertson gardens:


The Moorings is a 100 acre farm with a 4 acre garden surrounding a restored/ rebuilt 1870’s house. The present garden is basically a foliage garden with specific areas dedicated to conifers, azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons amidst three lawn areas. Many trees and shrubs are close clipped in a variety of shapes. A rose garden, a hydrangea garden, a vegetable garden, and a small orchard are also featured as well as a summer house and a small “lake”. Everywhere in the garden presents spectacular views of the countryside. Throughout the garden beautiful sculptures can be seen.


The Willows is a 5 acre property with extensive established gardens.  Mature trees include maples, crabapples, cherries, ginkgo and a Davidia under planted with camellias, azaleas, Pieris and Kalmia.  The rear garden contains a Japanese style conifer island, plus a mini arboretum of rare and unusual trees.  A large bonsai collection greenhouse with orchids, tuberous begonias and Streptocarpus.  There will be nursery stock for sale especially plants suitable for bonsai and a horticulturist will be on hand to answer your questions.


And there’s more!

There will be art work on display from our local artists, and stop and buy plants at the Robertson Garden Club’s large plant stall.


Over the weekend there are many attractions to be seen in Robertson. Browse the local galleries, antique shops and visit The Old Cheese Factory’s large collectable stalls. Have coffee at the local cafes and pop into Robertson Village Woodworks. Check out the local market on Sunday. Picnic among the beautiful waratahs at the Heritage Railway Station where the Fettlers Shed will have an art exhibition and the museum will be open. Visit Robertson’s Nature reserve where you can wander through remnants of Yarrawa brush and rainforest.


Tabu Bed and Breakfast, Cairns

Tabu Bed and Breakfast, Cairns


‘Tabu’ is located in the foot hills of Cairn’s rainforest, in northern Queensland. An exclusive pavilion style room (1 only), opens onto a furnished deck with a view of the exotic tropical gardens. Guests have their own private entry to their room.

Your accommodation has a comfortable king size bed, personal ensuite and is fully air conditioned. Your room boasts fine designer linen, quality towels, coffee, tea & ironing facilities, the bar-b-que is available if you wish to ‘fire up a feast’.

The serene azure pool is set amongst cool plantings of mangos, lychees, bananas, gingers and palm trees, and is designed for your own private enjoyment.

A self served continential breakfast of fresh tropical fruit, baguettes/croissants & muesli for your enjoyment on your deck or in the garden.

Tabu is located 10 mins drive from the airport and 15mins from the city centre of Cairns, set in the leafy rainforest of Freshwater. Local community shops include an exquisite French artisan bread & Patisserie are easily reached within a quick walk. Tabu is situated a 3 minute walk from the Freshwater station which is your hop on point for the famous “Kuranda Rail” journey.

The local bar/hotel provides a large menu, occasional entertainment and courtesy bus to and from the venue.


  • King Size Bed
  • Luxury linen
  • Quality towels
  • Pillow selection
  • Private ensuite
  • Airconditioned
  • Large wardrobes
  • Wi-fi
  • Tea, coffee and milk
  • Beach/pool towels
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron & iron board
  • Clock radio
  • Bedside lamps
  • Personal deck

Fairlie & Mark at Tabu can book and organise many of the reef trips & tours which Cairns has to offer.

Gardens in Spanish Culture with Professor Tim Entwisle

Gardens in Spanish Culture with Professor Tim Entwisle


18 days in Spain

Overnight Seville (3 nights) • Córdoba (2 nights) • Ronda (1 night) • Granada (3 nights) • Toledo (2 nights) • Jarandilla de la Vera (2 nights) • Segovia (1 night) • Madrid (3 nights).


Tour Highlights

Travel with Professor Tim Entwisle, Director and Chief Executive of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and Anneli Bojstad, author of Great Gardens of Spain.
Meet Spanish garden designer Eduardo Mencos, author of Hidden Gardens of Spain. Eduardo and his wife Anneli will show us their family country farm ‘La Lancha’, a landscaped working farm near Jarandilla de la Vera.
Study the work of award-winning landscape architect Fernando Caruncho at the private gardens of the Rosales, and the ‘Terraza de los Laureles’ at Madrid’s Royal Botanical Gardens.
Visit a selection of private gardens hosted by their owners including: La Zarcilla, a rose garden in Madrid; Carlos Mayans’ garden, created by his late mother in Trujillo; the palace gardens of Marquès de Salvatierra in Ronda; the gardens of Marquesa of Casa Valdés, author of the acclaimed book Spanish Gardens; the garden of San Segundo in Ávila, owned by Juan Martínez de las Rivas; and Jardín de El Romeral de San Marcos, owned by Julia Casaravila Silva, widow of pioneering landscape designer Leandro Silva.
Meet Álvaro de la Rosa, an award-winning sculptor and landscape designer who will show us examples of his inspirational work.
Visit Córdoba’s delightful, hidden, Islamic-style courtyard gardens during the Festival de los Patios.
Tour the historic La Concepción garden in Málaga.
With a naturalist visit Monfragüe National Park, an outstanding site for the Eurasian Black and Griffon vultures, as well as the Spanish Imperial, Golden and Bonelli eagles.
Visit a number of the country’s greatest monuments: Granada’s Alhambra, Córdoba’s Great Mosque, Seville’s Alcázar and Cathedral, Trujillo’s castle and grand church of St Martín and Segovia’s Roman aqueduct
View the work of 17th-century masters like Velázquez and Goya, as well as German and Italian masterpieces, in the Museo del Prado.
Stay at several heritage hotels including the paradors of Ronda, Jarandilla de la Vera, and the Hotel San Juan de los Reyes.
Dine at paradors and local restaurants to feast on regional specialities; and conclude with a memorable evening dinner at the private home of art collector Sofía Barosso in Madrid.



The following itinerary describes a range of museums, patios, carmenes, cigarrales and gardens which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure in 2017. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches & evening meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meals.


Seville – 3 nights

Day 1: Monday 8 May, Arrive Seville

Arrival transfer for participants arriving on the ASA ‘designated’ flight
On arrival at Seville’s airport, participants taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer by private coach to our hotel, ideally located just 250 metres from Seville Cathedral. If you are travelling independently please meet the group at the Inglaterra Hotel.

Seville gained great importance and prosperity in the 12th century when the Almohad dynasty of North African Berbers made it the capital of Muslim Spain (al Andalus); and again in the 16th century, when it became the Spanish entrepôt for silver and tobacco from the Americas. Its major monuments and most important works of art date from these periods and from the 13th and 14th centuries, when Ferdinand III of Castile wrested the province from the Muslims in 1248. Seville therefore boasts fine Muslim, Gothic, Mudéjar and Baroque monuments (‘Mudéjar’ is the term which denotes buildings built for Christians by Muslim craftsmen). In the 17th century it vied with Madrid as the centre of Spanish sculpture and painting. Zurbarán, Velázquez and Murillo all worked in Seville and the city produced a fine school of polychrome wood sculpture, examples of which are still used in processions for Holy Week (Semana Santa). In the 19th century, Seville became a picturesque setting for Northern European Romantic novels, artworks and operas, because of the popularity of Murillo’s paintings of street urchins, Seville’s famous bullfights, and the magnificence of its celebrations during Holy Week. Just after Semana Santa, the city celebrates the colourful Feria de Abril, a popular festival begun in the 19th century, in which wealthy landowners ride through the feria grounds decked out in resplendent costumes, and people dance the ‘Sevillana‘ and ‘Seguidilla‘ in special pavilions set up by the wealthy. (Overnight Seville) B

Day 2: Tuesday 9 May, Seville

Introductory Meeting
Cathedral and Giralda of Seville
Santa Cruz Quarter
Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes
Welcome Evening Meal
This morning after an introductory meeting we visit Seville’s Cathedral. This huge building, which is the largest Gothic structure of its type in Europe, was built upon the foundations of the Almohad Friday Mosque by the Christian conquerors of the city. It retains the general plan and dimensions of the mosque and its courtyard that was used by the Islamic population for ritual ablutions. The courtyard, as its name – Patio de los Naranjos – suggests, is now dominated by a veritable forest of orange trees. Although now used primarily as a thoroughfare, the courtyard would once have provided Islamic students with a quiet shady place for the study of the Qur’an; plantings would have been more diverse at that time. The cathedral boasts what is arguably Spain’s greatest retablo mayore, a massive gilt and painted wood retable occupying the whole of the chancel wall. It also contains a number of major medieval, Renaissance and Baroque artworks and the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

The cathedral’s bell tower, originally the minaret of the Almohad Friday mosque, is in the same style as those at Rabat and Marrakesh in Morocco. It is a monumental, square tower that houses seven superimposed rooms. Access is provided by a ramp up which the Imam once rode a donkey five times a day to call the faithful to prayer. The exquisite brick patterns on its four façades assured its survival when Seville fell to the Christians. Upon it they placed a belfry (bells are anathema to Islam) and a weather vane, or Giraldillo, which gives the tower its modern name, ‘Giralda’.

Following some time at leisure for lunch, we visit Seville’s Alcázar, a fine Muslim palace built, not by the Islamic city’s Almohad dynasty, but by the Christian king, Pedro the Cruel, in the 14th century. This palace, its courtyards lined with fine stucco reliefs and coloured tiles, speaks of the cultural ambivalence of the Christian invaders who emulated the tastes of the vanquished Islamic princes. The Alcázar echoes the Alhambra (Granada) in its richness, and was, in fact, built in conscious imitation of that great group of mansions. Pedro saw in the architecture of the Alhambra a reflection of the sophistication of the autocratic Nasrid state of Granada, and by inserting his own emblem within a decorative scheme inspired by it was asserting his own status, authority and power. The complex grew beyond Pedro’s original palace and eventually included, for example, the Oratory of the Catholic Monarchs, with splendid early 16th-century polychrome tiles, a fine garden with a subterranean bath, and rooms in which expeditions to South America were planned. Appended to the palace is one of Spain’s greatest and most interesting gardens. These began as a typical Almohad ‘paradise’ garden, and although little remains of the original because of successive plantings by Christian monarchs (especially in the 19th and 20th centuries), much of the Mudéjar architecture (pavilions), the lovely discrete walled gardens near the palace, the ubiquitous pools and gently bubbling fountains, all reflect Spain’s cultural debt to the Muslims. Magnolia grandiflora, pittorosporum, palms, peaches, roses and bitter oranges share this garden with fascinating Central- and South American species brought back to Spain when Seville prospered as the country’s gateway to its colonies.

We next walk through the Santa Cruz quarter, Seville’s medieval ghetto. Despite its narrow winding streets, this precinct grew in popularity in the 16th and 17th centuries. Aristocrats built small palaces here, without disturbing its original, picturesque street plan. A walk through this quarter, therefore, will provide us with a unique opportunity to discover the shape of old Seville.

We also visit the 17th century Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes. Originally one of Seville’s many charitable institutions, this is now a cultural centre. Of particular interest is its sunken courtyard, which is a fascinating fusion of a convent-cloister and a patio, a central court so characteristic of Spanish secular architecture. Arcaded galleries supporting the upper levels of the house surround this courtyard. Its design is a pleasant interplay of spaces of square and curved plan.

This evening we enjoy a welcome meal at a local restaurant. (Overnight Seville) BD

Day 3: Wednesday 10 May, Seville

Casa de Pilatos
Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de las Bellas Artes)
Unlike their Parisian counterparts in that city’s aristocratic district, the Marais, Seville’s noble palaces are usually found, not in exclusive suburbs, but in the narrow streets of the city that in the past would have been inhabited by vendors, craftsmen, beggars, and Murillo’s street urchins. Their often bland façades, however, give on to lovely patios and gardens which, following Islamic tradition, are enclosed, secret paradises embedded in, but contrasting dramatically to, the noisy, dirty, smelly city outside the walls. Today we visit a Sevillian mansion of the late-15th and 16th centuries, the Casa de Pilatos. Built by Fabrique de Ribera in 1519, it owes its name to a legend that it was modelled upon Pilate’s house in Jerusalem. Processions during Holy Week used to leave this building, winding their way out of the city to the Cruz del Campo, the distance believed to be exactly that from Pilate’s Jerusalem Praetorium to Golgotha, where Christ was crucified. The house, organised around a great patio, is a fascinating mix of Mudéjar, Flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance elements. An antique sculpture collection, adorning the main patio and the Jardín Chico (small garden), reflects the humanist tastes of its original owners. This garden also has a delightful pool, which was the water tank of the original house. This, and the Jardín Grande, have a marvellous variety of plants, including clusters of citrus and banana trees that thrive in Seville’s warm climate, and myriad flowers. The walls that enclose the gardens and their loggias are covered with brilliantly coloured bougainvillea and wisteria. Paths with yellow sand, also used in the bullrings of southern Spain, add yet more colour. Mature palms and figs give the gardens ample shade.

After some time at leisure for lunch, we visit the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville, a large museum of Andalucian art which was refurbished for Expo ’92. The museum is located in the former convent of the Merced Calzada whose architecture exemplifies Andalucian 17th-century mannerism, designed around three patios and a large stairway. It opened its doors to the public in 1841 with the works from closed down convents and monasteries. Today it is one of the best fine arts museums in Spain, whose impressive collection extends from the medieval to the modern, focusing on the work of Seville School artists such as Francisco de Zurbarán, Juan de Valdés Leal and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. (Overnight Seville) B


Córdoba – 2 nights

Day 4: Thursday 11 May, Seville – Córdoba

Gardens of the Palace of Moratalla
Lunch at ‘Restaurante Monasterio de San Francisco’
Walking tour of the Patios of the Zona Alcazar Viejo, San Basilio District of Córdoba
Today we drive from Seville to Córdoba, capital of the great Caliphate of Córdoba, the earliest Muslim State in Spain (712-1031). Our first visit between, Seville and Córdoba, is to the Gardens of Moratalla (‘the Moor’s Lookout’), near the Sierra Morena, the mountain range that separates the Guadalquivir Valley and Andalucia from the vast plain of La Mancha in New Castile. This was originally a 19th-century English landscape garden but has been transformed over the last 150 years, not least by the great French garden designer Jean-Claude Nicholas Forestier, who fused a French grand vista with Neo-Arab elements, such as patios with brickwork, tiles and low fountains. Cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens and Cupressus arizonica), oleanders and mimosas contribute to the (French) perspective that these Arab elements inflect. This garden, like the Casa de Pilatos, was a property of the famous Medinacelli family and the present proprietor, the Duke of Segorbe, takes a very dynamic approach, constantly transforming it. He believes the garden to be a living world and therefore a place where constant transformations may be made. He was a friend of Salvador Dalí, with whom he shared an interest in philosophy. The fruits of this friendship are seen in garden details like the spiral pool; the spiral is an age-old image of unity and infinity.

After visiting this lovely garden, we take lunch at the nearby Restaurante Monasterio de San Francisco, a religious foundation founded by the seventh Lord of Palma in the late 15th century. The monks from this monastery are purported to have founded settlements in California that have grown to be cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles!

We next drive to Córdoba and spend the early evening exploring its patios. This tour has been timetabled to visit Córdoba during the recently inaugurated festival of the patios. This city has some of the loveliest small urban gardens in Spain, located in the courtyards of old Córdoban houses. Some of these houses are very, very old; everywhere in the ancient city core are to be found the fragments of Muslim dwellings built before the end of the 11th century. Even if houses were constructed later, they follow earlier plans because their foundations (and many of their cellars) are the walls of older houses. Once a year, Córdoba opens its patios in an Andalucian version of our open garden scheme; prizes are given to the best exhibits. Many of the previous prize-winners are in the San Basilio district of the city near our hotel. (Overnight Córdoba) BL

Day 5: Friday 12 May, Córdoba

Synagogue, Córdoba
Great Mosque, Córdoba
Alcázar Gardens
Afternoon at leisure
Palacio de Viana and Córdoba Patios
After breakfast at our Córdoba hotel, which is in the Jewish Quarter (Judería) of the city, we visit Córdoba’s delightful small synagogue. The Jews arrived in Córdoba before the Muslims and almost immediately made it a centre of learning. They established the Jewish Quarter after the city had become the capital of Muslim Spain. Its 14th-century synagogue is one of three surviving medieval synagogues in Spain. It has a women’s gallery, and the upper reaches of its walls are in the Mudéjar stucco style, with Hebrew inscriptions. These stuccoes, like those of many mosques, alternate geometrical and vegetal motifs.

We continue our morning program with a visit to the great mosque of Córdoba. The mosque (c.786-986), one of the earliest and finest still standing, was constructed by successive members of the Ummayad dynasty. Its outer façades boast exquisite geometrical and floral patterns set in the tympana of horseshoe arches and in panels above them. Within the prayer hall is a forest of columns supporting superimposed tiers of polychrome arches thought to have been modelled upon the Roman aqueduct at Merida. The mihrab (prayer niche) is adorned with exquisite abstract designs in mosaic executed by a school of Byzantine mosaicists from Constantinople. These mosaics, and those of the domes above the mihrab, give meaning to Allah’s prescription to the prophet concerning images: that they should be act as a simile to nature, not an abstraction of it; and that they should convey by their delicacy the notion that nothing material has meaning or permanence. The mosque is punctured by a huge cathedral; its minaret became the cathedral bell tower.

Our tour also takes in the Alcázar Gardens. The latter have been planted in the old castle and administrative centre of the Islamic city; typically, the Alcázar was close to the Friday Mosque (Great Mosque) where the whole male community gathered each Friday to pray and to hear the Friday sermon. The Alcázar gardens stand on the oldest garden site in Spain (9th century) and, although the present gardens are from the 19th- and 20th centuries, they are sensitively designed to evoke the feel, if not the exact form, of the original. They constitute a fine orchestration of hedges and clipped orange trees, roses and gentle pools.

Following an afternoon at leisure, we remeet in the early evening and continue to explore the patios of Córdoba. Our tour includes a visit to the Palacio de Viana. Located on the northern edge of the old town, this traditional Andalusian mansion features twelve patios covering the Renaissance and Baroque periods with fountains, formal parterres, citrus trees, date palms and roses with a profusion of pots, pebbled floors and elegant arches. (Overnight Córdoba) B


Ronda – 1 night

Day 6: Saturday 13 May, Córdoba – Ronda

Puente Nuevo, Ronda
Bullring, Ronda
Casa del Rey Moro, Ronda
This morning we depart early for the magnificent Andalusian ‘white town’ of Ronda, dramatically sited on sheer cliffs above a deep ravine, with grand panoramic views framed by mountains. The early 19th century artists David Roberts and J.F. Lewis both painted the picturesque view of the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) which spans the deep ravine, ‘El Tajo‘, separating the two parts of Ronda, the old Muslim town and the Christian district, the Mercadillo. The Guadelvin River cut this ravine, and the high bridge which spans it was built in the late eighteenth century. Of Roman origin, Ronda became an almost impregnable Muslim fortress city until the armies of Ferdinand and Isabella took it in 1485. It retains another Roman bridge that those who wish may cross to visit the Muslim baths, a reminder of its Islamic history.

In 1493, eight years after the Christian capture of the city, the Maestranza, a Company of Knights, was formed here for the supervision of bullfighting. Ronda’s bullring, the second oldest in Spain after that of Seville, was built here in 1794. In the 18th century Ronda’s greatest matador was Pedro Romero, who is believed to have developed the classical bull-fighting style of the School of Ronda. We shall visit the bullring in the Mercedillo.

The old town preserves its Muslim street plan. Here we visit the Casa del Rey Moro, the Moorish King’s House. The present 18th-century palace purportedly occupies the site of a palace of one of the petty Muslim kings of Ronda, and has a fine garden with steps leading down to the river below. The splendid small Hispano-Moresque garden (hortus conclusus) was originally designed by the great 19th-century gardener Jean-Claude Nicholas Forestier for the house’s owner, the Duchess of Parcent. Forestier (1861-1930), a botanical and forestry expert, town planner and garden designer, was extremely influential in Spain, Cuba and Central America. He became conservateur of the promenades of Paris and developed an arboretum at Vincennes and the gardens of the Champ-de-Mars below the Eiffel Tower. He also influenced the layout of Havana and Buenos Aires. He is renowned for his innovations, including the ‘Neo-Arab’ or ‘Neo-Sevillian’ garden. His own gardens and those inspired by his innovations are to be found throughout Spain, amongst them are the Park of María Luisa in Seville and Montjuïc in Barcelona. His gardens in Ronda combine Islamic features like ceramic tiles with the formality of a European garden. A wide variety of carefully combined trees such as palms, laurel, cedar, oleander and myrtle form a verdant canopy under which a profusion of flowers gives colour and fragrance.

Tonight we sample Andalusian cuisine together in the restaurant of the Parador de Ronda. (Overnight Ronda) BD


Granada – 3 nights

Day 7: Sunday 14 May, Ronda – Málaga – Granada

Garden of Palacio de Marqués de Salvatierra, Ronda (by private appointment)
Lunch at El Carambuco
Historical-Botanical Garden La Concepción, Málaga
This morning we visit the Palacio of Marqués de Salvatierra, an 18th-century renovation of an earlier 16th-century building, gifted to the family by the Reyes Catolicos. Its impressive Baroque entrance displays sculpted figures believed to represent natives of South America. The current Marqués of Salvatierra, Rafael Atienza, has kindly agreed to give us a tour of his garden which includes a rare, 200-year-old pinsapo (evergreen fir). Abies pinsapo is a species of fir native to southern Spain and northern Morocco. Related to other species of Mediterranean firs, it is considered the Andalusian National Tree. In Spain, it appears at altitudes of 900–1,800 metres in the Sierra de Grazalema in the province of Cádiz and the Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra Bermeja, both near Ronda in the province of Málaga.

We next drive through the hills above the Mediterranean coast to Finca Carambuco, a cortijo (Andalusian country estate) located south of Málaga. Owned by the Baroja family (Pío Baroja is one of the most important Spanish authors of the 20th century) the estate features a subtropical garden with an outstanding Phytolacca dioica tree and an alley of Peacan trees. Here we enjoy lunch, tour the garden and learn about the estate’s literary history.

Nearby we visit Málaga’s La Concepción garden, begun in 1889 by Thomas Livermore, who was British consul in this city. La Concepción, which at one point commands views down over the city, is an important example of a Mediterranean coastal garden, and affords interesting comparisons to gardens on the Catalan coast north of Barcelona.

We continue our drive through the Sierra Nevada, which acted as a barrier protecting the Spain’s last Muslim kingdom, Granada, from Christian incursions. You will gain a strong feel for the way the mountains isolated Granada from the grand views you will encounter along this road. We arrive in the late afternoon at the great capital of this Muslim kingdom and check into our hotel in the centre of town. (Overnight Granada) BL

Day 8: Monday 15 May, Granada

Alhambra and Generalife
Dinner at ‘El Huerto de Juan Ranas’
This morning we visit the Alhambra (1354-1391) and Generalife (summer palace and villa of the Nasrid rulers) to study the architecture and garden design of Nasrid Granada. We visit palaces and villas in the complex that centre upon the Court of the Myrtles and the Court of the Lions, and the Generalife. The first complex – comprising the Patio de Machuca, the Mexuar, the Patio del Cuarto Dorado, and the Patio de Comares (Court of the Myrtles) – gives a sense of the disposition of an Islamic palace, the discrete, hermetic spaces of which bespeak Islam’s emphasis on privacy. This complex combines areas where the ruler sat in court or received ambassadors with a harem designed to isolate the royal household from the outside world. In essence the palace is introverted, its main façade secreted within the Patio del Cuarto Dorado, rather than turning outwards to announce to the outside world the palaces within, in the way of a Western façade. The Hall of the Ambassadors is an example of the spatial rhetoric of power, while the Patio de Comares used a great pool and trees (later replaced by hedges of myrtle) to create a paradisal, secluded core to the complex. Next to this group is the villa of the Nasrids, built about the Court of the Lions, whose fine stucco arches and slender columns are, some scholars argue, the architectural evocation of an oasis. Here we find rooms decorated with exquisite detailing, such as the Abencerrajes Gallery, the Sala de los Reyes, and the Sala de las Dos Hermanas, two of which have extraordinary stucco domes reproducing star bursts in the desert sky. Beneath this villa there is yet another villa, to which are attached the Royal Baths.

We then walk out across the pine-forested hills of the Alhambra Mountain to the Generalife, an exquisite villa retreat and hunting lodge of the Nasrids. Here we see gardens to rival the Villa d’Este, outside Rome, with fine fountains whose sounds were intended to provide a poetic counterpoint to the architectural aesthetics of the Arab palace or villa.

Lastly, we shall visit the Alcazaba, the fortress of the Alhambra, which has a broad panorama of the Sierra Nevada. The Alhambra and Generalife complexes sit within what could almost be termed a ‘forest’ that covers their hills. Watered by conduits from the Sierra Nevada, this lush environment enabled not only the inimitable orchestration of buildings and plants in the main complex, but also a proliferation of carmenes around it.

Tonight we shall dine together at the restaurant ‘El Huerto de Juan Ranas’, which enjoys one of the best views of the Alhambra from the Albaicín and serves delicate Arabic influenced dishes. (Overnight Granada) BD

Day 9: Tuesday 16 May, Granada

Corral del Carbón
Capilla Real
Muslim Baths
Afternoon at leisure
This morning we shall visit Muslim and Christian sites in the centre of Granada. We shall start our tour at the market centre of Islamic Granada where we shall visit the Corral del Carbón, a 14th century warehouse and inn (caravanserai) for merchants, which is the only one of its type to have survived in Spain. Despite recent restoration, the ground plan, the central water trough for animals, and the delicately carved brick and plaster gateway date to the Middle Ages. From here we shall make our way through the Alcaicería, an area of narrow gridded streets which were once part of the covered market (Arabic, al-Qaysariyya) of the Muslim rulers of Granada.

Nearby we visit the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel), built in flamboyant late Gothic style, which houses the magnificent Renaissance tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, their daughter Joan ‘the Mad’ and her husband Philip ‘the Handsome’. In the adjacent Sacristy is a dazzling collection of royal regalia and Flemish paintings. We then walk to the cathedral, one of Spain’s last, which was envisaged by its founder, Charles V, as a model of the heavenly Jerusalem.

After visiting the centre of Granada we shall explore its most important residential quarter, the Albaicín, which nestles below the Alhambra. The Albaicín was the last refuge of the Muslims of Granada and traces of its Islamic heritage remain to be discovered, including a beautiful and tranquil bathhouse, and fragments of minarets converted into church towers. The afternoon will be at leisure. (Overnight Granada) B


Toledo – 2 nights

Day 10: Wednesday 17 May, Granada – Toledo

Toledo Cathedral
Santo Tomé Church
Museo El Greco
Today we drive north, through the Siera Morena, into the vast, arid plain of La Mancha, famed for its association with Don Quixote, and for its dry wine and Manchego cheese. Toledo, located on a promontory created by a bend in the River Tagus or Tajo, is another Spanish city with a multi-layered past. Inhabited at least from Roman times onwards, Toledo (Toletum) was a provincial town until the Visigothic period when it became an important ecclesiastical centre, and in the mid-6th century AD, the Visigothic capital. Visigothic Toledo was dominated by its castle, and although it is long gone, the Alcázar, its successor, stands on its original site.

Toledo was conquered by Arabo-Berber armies in 712 AD and became part of the Umayyad state of Córdoba. The inhabitants of the city regularly revolted against their Umayyad masters and in the early 11th century when the Umayyad Caliphate collapsed Toledo, like many other cities, became the seat of a Ta’ifa (petty) kingdom. During this period, Toledo became the centre of the Mozarabic Church, whose Visigothic rituals and liturgy were deeply influenced by Muslim culture. It also played an important cultural role in transmitting the rich syncretic literary and scientific heritage of al-Andalus to the Christian north of the Iberian peninsula and on to northern Europe. Toledo was captured by Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085 and was thus one of the first major Muslim cities to fall to the Christians.

Culturally, however, Toledo remained ‘Islamic’ for centuries after the imposition of Christian rule. Large Muslim and Jewish subject communities remained, and they were employed by their new Castilian rulers to emulate earlier Muslim art and architecture, creating a distinctively Toledan Mudéjar style. This style is a blend of Roman, Visigothic, Umayyad and later Almohad styles characterised by decorative screenwork realised in brick on the exteriors of churches and bell towers. Toledan Mudéjar can also be found in the former synagogues of the Judería (ghetto), Santa Maria la Blanca and El Tránsito, which contain stuccowork decoration that mimics Almohad and Nasrid styles respectively. The cathedral, built on the site of the great mosque, also bears many traces of Toledo’s multi-cultural character, whilst the narrow twisting streets of the old city and its absence of open squares and public spaces perpetuate Muslim urban-planning. Despite Toledo’s strong tradition of cultural eclecticism, the growth in Castilian Catholic militancy in the 15th and 16th centuries changed the city’s form and culture forever. After the unification of Aragón and Castile to form the nucleus of modern Spain in the 15th century, and the fall of Granada in 1492, the monarchs of Spain became less tolerant towards Jewish, Muslim and Mozarab culture. The Counter-Reformation and its Inquisition, a tool to root out Crypto-Jews and Muslims, confirmed Spain’s close association with Catholicism, a change most dramatically stated in Toledo in the cathedral, the most richly decorated of all Spain’s Gothic edifices and a trenchant architectural expression of Christianity triumphant. When Toledo lost commercial status to Seville, the hub of New World commerce, and political status to Madrid, Philip II’s capital from 1561, parochial conservatism replaced her old cosmopolitan style. In the 16th and 17th centuries a pious aristocracy emerged in the city numbering many mystics in its ranks. Many aristocrats, influenced by the Counter-Reformation’s emphasis on good works, spent vast amounts of money adding monastic foundations to the urban fabric, creating an imposing ecclesiastical cordon around the medieval core of Toledo.

This afternoon, we begin our tour of this splendid city with a visit of Toledo’s Cathedral, a Gothic cathedral modelled upon Bourges Cathedral in France. The construction of the cathedral began two centuries after Toledo’s capture by Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085, and until its construction the Christians worshipped in the re-dedicated great mosque of the city. In the 14th century the great mosque was finally torn down and a Gothic cathedral constructed on its foundations implicitly celebrating the Catholic triumph not only over Muslim culture but also over the syncretic culture of the Mozarabs of Toledo, upholders of an Arabised Visigothic church tradition rejected by northern Iberian Catholics. However, even this self-consciously Gothic Catholic cathedral has distinguishable Mudéjar elements, and is still one of the few places where the Visigothic liturgy is on occasion recited. Later monarchs and state dignitaries embellished the cathedral by the addition of a rich choir, decorated with reliefs recounting the conquest of Granada, and sumptuous chapels. We shall look at both the exterior and interior of the cathedral, noting in particular the opulent retablo mayor, the choir and the lateral chapels.

We shall also visit the Cathedral Museum which holds a range of works by El Greco, Titian, Zurbarán, and Ribera, and the Almohad banners captured by the Castilians at the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. In the treasury we shall see an illuminated manuscript given by St Louis of France to Alfonso X and a massive Gothic gold monstrance in the shape of the intricate flèche of a cathedral. We also visit the El Greco museum, which displays a great collection of the painter’s works, and the Church of Santo Tomé, which houses El Greco’s famous The Burial of Count Orgaz. (Overnight Toledo) B

Day 11: Thursday 18 May, Toledo

El Tránsito
Santa Maria la Blanca
San Juan de los Reyes Monastery
Palacio de Galiana: visit and drinks
Cigarral de los Menores
This morning we continue our guided tour of Toledo with visits to the two former Mudéjar synagogues of Santa Maria la Blanca and El Tránsito. Santa Maria la Blanca is a 13th century building which bears a strong similarity to contemporary Almohad architecture further south, whilst El Tránsito is a 14th century structure with stucco panels of a similar style to those in the Alcázar of Seville and the Alhambra. El Tránsito also houses a small museum dealing with the history of the Jews in Iberia.

We also visit San Juan de los Reyes, a Franciscan monastery originally intended, before the capture of Granada, as the mausoleum of Ferdinand of Aragón and Isabella of Castile. The monastery has a beautiful two-storey cloister, a typically Spanish form, with exquisite flamboyant tracery. The mausoleum church itself will remind you of the Capilla Real in Granada. On the walls are intricate Gothic reliefs with the coats-of-arms of the Christian monarchs. One façade of this chapel is hung with the chains of Christian galley slaves bought from the Muslims by charitable individuals and organisations; a charitable act among both Christians and Muslims was to buy the freedom of co-religionists enslaved by the devotees of the other faith.

We will then travel just outside Toledo to visit a lovely garden as a guest of its owners. It is known as the Galiana Palace, but its owners prefer to call it Galiana Castle. The hills surrounding Toledo on the opposite banks of the River Tagus command stunning views of the medieval walled city and are dotted with private estates called cigarrales, the Toledan equivalent of the carmenes of Granada. Some believe that these country houses owe their name to singing cicadas (cigarras in Spanish) found here in summertime. Each cigarral consists of a large, several-storey home with garden and orchard. The style of the house is usually quite humble and somewhat rustic. Many have white walls and are surrounded by terraces and patios that cascade down the steep hillsides. Often planted with lilacs, lilies and irises, these gardens and the houses they surrounded were the equivalent of Italian villas, affording citizens and minor clergy relief in summer from the hot, narrow, smelly, crowded streets of the old city. They were often used as places in which to recuperate from illness. They invariably commandmagnificent views of the great city. The forty-year-old garden of Galiana Castle was created round the ruins of a Mudéjar villa built by Alfonso X, ‘the Wise’. He was a great patron of culture, and it is during his reign that Muslim, Jewish and Christian scholars in Toledo translated many Islamic classics into Romance languages. Alfonso’s palace occupied the site of an earlier Muslim establishment called the ‘Pavilion of the Water Wheel’; a water wheel, used by the Muslims to lift water from the Tajo, has been reconstructed nearby. Such medieval inventions, brought by Muslims from the Middle East, introduced vital irrigation technology to Spain. Carmen Marañón and her husband Alejandro Fernández Araoz reconstructed the ruined palace sensitively in the late 1950s and 1960s. In order to avoid compromising the original structure, they built a home for themselves elsewhere. The garden, which is a masterpiece, was inspired by the Alhambra and Generalife in Granada. For example, as in the Generalife, Cypresses are used as a sculptural element; the garden has a strict formality that gives it an ascetic feel.

We next meet Maria Marañón, who will accompany us to visit her own family home, the Cigarral de Menores. Dating from 1617, the Cigarral de Menores has been in the ownership of the Marañón family since the Toledan writer Dr. Gregorio Marañón acquired it in 1922. We shall explore its charming garden, surrounded by olive groves and orchards, and featuring little beds edged in box and myrtle hedging, fountains, a pool and a glasshouse.

Tonight we will enjoy a meal in a local restaurant. (Overnight Toledo) BLD


Jarandilla de la Vera – 2 nights

Day 12: Friday 19 May, Toledo – Trujillo – Jarandilla de la Vera

Visit of olive grove and olive oil production workshop
Private garden of the late Olga Mayans & buffet lunch, Trujillo
Exploring Trujillo’s rich heritage
This morning we are joined by leading Spanish landscape designer, filmmaker and photographer Eduardo Mencos, who will accompany us to Jarandilla de la Vera. From Toledo in Castile, we head to the western frontier region of Extremadura, famous for its conquistadors like Francisco Pizarro, who conquered much of South America. We travel through an area of undulating hills where traditionally the noble Trujillanos had their olive groves and vines producing oil and wine for their own consumption. Today the region of Extremadura produces approximately 3.3% of the total olive oil produced in Spain. The types of olives that are cultivated in this region for the production of oil include Cornicabra, Carrasqueña and Morisca. Eduardo will take us to visit a local olive grove and oil production workshop.

In the very centre of Trujillo, Pizarro’s home town, Eduardo Mencos’ close friend Carlos Mayans will welcome us to his late mother’s beautiful garden built around the ruins of the medieval city’s old castle. Our visit will include a light tapas lunch hosted by Carlos.

This afternoon we explore the rich heritage of Trujillo. Among the most important monuments are the Castle (Alcazaba), the church of Santiago, the church of Santa María la Mayor, the church of San Francisco, the Church of San Martín, the Plaza Mayor, and beautiful palaces like the palace of the Marquis of the Conquest, the palace of the Orellana-Pizarro family, the palace of the Duques de San Carlos, Marquesado de Piedras Albas, the house of the strong Altamirano, Palace Chaves (Luis Chaves Old)..

Tonight we stay at the nearby countryside Parador of Jarandilla de la Vera. Housed in a 14th-century castle, this parador retains many historic features including Gothic galleries, a fireplace specially built for Emperor Charles V, and an ancient garden featuring a fountain famous for bringing good fortune. We shall dine at the Parador’s restaurant, which offers a delightful selection of Extremaduran cuisine. (Overnight Jarandilla de la Vera) BLD

Day 13: Saturday 20 May, Jarandilla de la Vera – Monfragüe National Park – Jarandilla de la Vera

Monfragüe National Park
Visit and lunch at ‘La Lancha’ – private farm of Eduardo Mencos & Anneli Bojstad, Jarandilla de la Vera
We spend the morning exploring Monfragüe National Park, a UNESCO listed Biosphere Reserve. Accompanied by Eduardo and a local naturalist, we shall study the many species of Mediterranean plants and trees, and visit a number of observation blinds located along the course of the river Tagus in order to view (with the aid of telescopes) the park’s magnificent variety of birds of prey. Monfragüe is an outstanding site for raptors, with more than 15 regular breeding species, including the world’s largest breeding concentration of the Eurasian Black Vulture, a large population of Griffon Vultures, and several pairs of Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle and Bonelli’s Eagle. During our tour we shall also view a number of the park’s geological and cultural landmarks including the ‘Bridge of the Cardinal’ the ruined Castle of Monfragüe; and the Penafalcon, an impressive rock face carved by the river Tagus.

Over the past 10 years Eduardo and Anneli have shown much generosity in opening their family’s gardens to our group members, including their 30-hectare country farm ‘La Lancha’ that we visit this afternoon. On the grounds of ‘La Lancha’, Eduardo has produced his version of an 18th-century ‘ornamental farm’ – a landscaped working farm with decorative features such as arbours, antique wells, water reservoirs, ruins. You won’t see a single wire or a water deposit (they are hidden underground). Here Anneli and Eduardo grow organic olives and raspberries and breed Merino sheep which roam free around the property. Their free range hens supply fresh eggs and solar panels produce the electricity. We shall explore the farm and enjoy a light lunch as guests of Eduardo and Anneli.

In the late afternoon we return to Jarandilla de la Vera to enjoy another meal at the Parador’s restaurant. (Overnight Jarandilla de la Vera) BLD


Segovia – 1 night

Day 14: Sunday 20 May, Jarandilla de la Vera – Ávila – Segovia

Ávila’s city walls
Garden of San Segundo, Villa Winthuysen
Early this morning we depart for Ávila, one of the many Spanish towns which began life as a Christian frontier post located in the medieval marches between al-Andalus and the tiny northern Christian kingdoms. The architecture of Ávila reflects the martial and entrepreneurial spirit of its early inhabitants (soldiers of fortune, aristocrats of modest means and peasants) who were prepared to risk everything to profit from the freedom and opportunities afforded by life on the frontier. The town is encircled by strikingly complete late 11th-century walls, whilst inside, the small fortified palaces of its late medieval inhabitants reflect the same desire for a good life as the late medieval houses of the Italian urban classes. Ávila also possesses several fine Romanesque churches and later monasteries, including the Convento de la Encarnación, where Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (Teresa of Ávila), the co-patron saint of Spain, lived for 27 years in the 16th century. It was here that she experienced the spiritual ecstasies that she described in a language so vivid that it has influenced Spanish literature ever since. On arrival, there will be some time at leisure for lunch and to explore a section of Ávila’s city walls. Declared a National Monument in 1884, in addition to its obvious defensive function, the wall controlled the entrance of provisions and merchandise, guarded it against the potential outbreak of a plague or epidemic elsewhere. Its plan is an irregular rectangle, defended by crenellated towers and round turrets. Nine gates provided access to the city, of which the most spectacular is Puerta del Alcázar (Gate of the Fortress). A walk along the top of the walls provides spectacular views of the town and countryside.

We then visit the Garden of San Segundo, owned by good friend of Eduardo Mencos, Juan Martínez de las Rivas, Spanish Grandee Marqués del Salar. In Eduardo Mencos’ important book Hidden Gardens of Spain the garden is described as “a miracle of colour, fragrance and joy protected from the outside world by the longest city wall in Europe, like the walled fortress of the Alhambra in Andalucia”. In 1920, the Viscount of Güell bought a number of houses and an adjacent vegetable garden and commissioned the Spanish master Javier de Winthuysen (also a painter and a writer on gardens) to design him this garden. Winthuysen had an international reputation, and is known for his contribution to the world famous garden of Villandry in the Loire Valley. San Segundo’s garden has kept Winthuysen’s legacy. His design drew inspiration from secluded monastery and Islamic gardens; the lovely small house acts as an adjunct to the garden rather than dominating it, as in the Islamic style. The present owner, who is a gardener, author, and published scholar on garden history, will show us his garden and discuss its design with you.

In the late afternoon we drive to Segovia, where we shall dine at the Parador’s restaurant. (Overnight Segovia) BD


Madrid – 3 nights

Day 15: Monday 22 May, Segovia – Madrid

Segovia’s Old Town
Lunch at Mesón de Cándido restaurant
Romeral of San Marcos, Segovia
Evening reception at the private home of art collector Sofía Barroso
Evening lecture by sculptor and landscape designer Álvaro de la Rosa ‘Water Features in Contemporary Spanish Gardens’
We spend the morning exploring Segovia, a city settled since Roman times. During the early Islamic period, Segovia stood in the marches between the Kingdom of the Asturias and Umayyad Córdoba and may have been temporarily deserted. In the 10th century, the Umayyad caliphs constructed a frontier fortress here. Segovia subsequently became part of the Ta’ifa kingdom of Toledo. Segovia became Castilian after the fall of Toledo. In the 14th and 15th centuries the Muslim fortress was rebuilt as a Christian castle and in the 16th century, a Gothic cathedral with unusual Classical domes was constructed. Segovia’s Roman aqueduct, a remarkable dry-stone structure, was partially destroyed in the Middle Ages and rebuilt by Isabella of Castile in the 15th century.

Midday we dine at Mesón de Cándido to feast on the town’s local speciality, roast suckling pig.

Before departing the city, we visit the beautiful Romeral de San Marcos, situated below limestone shelves on the Eresma river at the foot of Segovia’s great castle. The famous landscape architect, Leandro Silva, created this, his intimate half-acre garden to echo the paradisal feel an old Segovian huerta (orchard or market garden). Its sheltered position creates a microclimate that protects a wide variety of plants that would not normally prosper in the tough Segovian climate. At times, this small garden bursts into colour provided by a feast of different flowers. After exploring this beautiful garden we drive to Madrid.

This evening we are hosted by Sofía Barroso who will show us her Madrid-based office, which houses an impressive private art collection. Sofía Barroso was born in London, the daughter of Spanish diplomats, and has a degree in art history from Madrid Universidad Complutense. She is an art collector and has been involved in the Spanish art and museum scene as well as with historic gardens and the new Spanish school of landscape design. Tonight, we meet the award-winning sculptor and landscape designer Álvaro de la Rosa, who will deliver a talk on ‘Water Features in Contemporary Spanish Gardens’. (Overnight Madrid) BLD

Day 16: Tuesday 23 May, Madrid – Guadalajara – Madrid

‘Terraza de los Laureles’, Royal Botanical Gardens, by Fernando Caruncho
Landscape Design Projects by Álvaro de la Rosa
La Zarcilla, private garden and lunch
Jardin Rosales designed by Fernando Caruncho
Today, Álvaro de la Rosa will show us examples of his work (Álvaro’s projects include designs for patios, terraces and urban houses). He will also accompany us to the Royal Botanical Gardens, where in 2005 a modern addition designed by well-known Spanish landscape architect Fernando Caruncho, with architect Pablo Carvajal, was commissioned to house the extensive bonsai collection of former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González. The new garden called the ‘Terraza de los Laureles’ consists of an elevated avenue, a central square with a pond and a small greenhouse, and provides a grand panorama of the historic gardens below.

La Zarcilla, located in the residential quarter of La Florida, is a landscaped rose garden owned by Blanca De Rueda. Considered a ‘rose expert’ and an exceptional cook, Blanca specialises in painting botanical motifs on ceramics and porcelain. We shall tour the rose beds and enjoy lunch in the gardens.

Our final visit for today allows us to view another design by Fernando Caruncho. The garden is featured in Mirrors of Paradise: The Gardens of Fernando Caruncho, edited by Monacelli Press: “Renowned internationally for serene compositions based on timeless principles of natural forms and geometry, Caruncho has recently completed two landscapes in the United States, one in the rolling farmland of New Jersey and the other in Florida. Caruncho draws inspiration from a wide spectrum of precedents –the garden-academies of ancient Greek philosophers as well as important historic gardens in Spain, Italy, France, and Japan …. Caruncho’s gardens range from small urban spaces to grand country estates, and his design trademarks include geometric grids, rolling waves of the shrub escallonia, refined and playful pavilions and gazebos, calm reflecting pools, and vistas that capitalize on the contrasts inherent in his plant palette. In their inventive and evocative fusion of the historic and contemporary, Caruncho’s garden designs are masterful compositions that exemplify the formal garden for the new millennium”. Jardin Rosales was one of Caruncho’s first projects, designed for his parents-in-law, Mr & Mrs Rosales in the 1980s. Also located in the residential quarter of La Florida, this beautiful garden is minimalistic and features waves of escallonia. (Overnight Madrid) BL

Day 17: Wednesday 24 May, Madrid – Guadalajara – Madrid

Patrick Blanc’s Vertical Garden, CaixaForum, Madrid
Prado Museum
Private gardens and Farewell lunch hosted by Eduardo Mencos’ family
We begin today with a brief visit to Madrid’s CaixaForum where we may view an example of Patrick Blanc’s vertical gardens. This is not only the first to be installed in Spain but also the largest implemented to date on a façade without gaps, as it has a planted surface area of 460 m2. The result is a surprising, multicoloured ‘living painting’ that, in addition to being visually attractive, also acts as an effective environmental agent. The vertical garden forms an impressive natural tapestry made up of 15,000 plants of 250 different species that have transformed one of the buildings adjoining the developed area of the CaixaForum Madrid into a surprising garden.

We spend the remainder of the morning visiting the Prado. One of the gallery’s key collections comprises the works of Hieronymus Bosch and the Flemish School from the collections of Philip II. The extraordinary apocalyptic visions of Bosch were once housed at the Escorial in the Philip II’s private apartments, but were stored away during the Enlightenment because they were considered too extreme. It was Goya who revived interest in them. We shall also look at the collections of Dürer, Titian and Rubens before moving on to the works of the Spanish Baroque. Our encounter with works by Velázquez and Zurbarán, El Greco and Goya will explore the strange mix of realism and fantastic distortion which distinguishes the Spanish tradition. We shall study the grand portrait tradition, works by Velázquez, such as Las Meninas, and the extraordinary mystical visions of El Greco. We also trace Goya’s development from the early tapestry cartoons through the royal portraits, and horrific visions of the war with the French, to the so-called ‘Black Paintings’ of his old age.

This afternoon we enjoy a very special highlight of our tour with visits to the private gardens of one of Spain’s great gardening families. Here we explore how they have changed the arid meseta near the nation’s capital with their distinctive gardens. We first drive across the empty plains of Guadalajara province and through the sun-baked olive-covered hills of La Alcarría, to reach the garden created by the Marquesa de Casa Valdés, Eduardo Mencos’ grandmother and author of the seminal book Jardines de España (Gardens of Spain), which has had a profound influence on modern Spanish gardening. Against the advice of many, the Marquesa de Casa Valdés created her garden in 1945 in a particularly arid terrain subject to extreme temperatures. It became a triumph in tempering the environment and a landmark in the development of modern Spanish gardens. The garden now belongs to Beatriz Valdés Ozores (Condesa de Bornos), one of the author’s daughters. The Condesa, along with her sisters María and Micaela (Eduardo’s mother), who also welcome us to visit their own gardens nearby, will kindly host our Farewell Lunch. (Overnight Madrid) BL

Day 18: Thursday 25 May, tour ends, Madrid

Departure transfer to Madrid’s Airport for participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight
The tour ends in Madrid. Participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to the airport to take their flight home to Australia. Alternatively you may wish to extend your stay in Spain. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B

Chatsworth Flower Show

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2017


RHS Chatsworth Flower Show location

Chatsworth House, home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The extensive grounds surrounding Chatsworth House were landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and also Joseph Paxton.

Chatsworth House
DE45 1PP


RHS Chatsworth Flower Show dates and times:

Wednesday 6 June 2018 to Saturday 9 June opening times: 10am to 6.30pm

Sunday 10 June opening: 10am to 5pm.


Chatsworth Flower Show highlights

The Chatsworth Flower Show will celebrate gardens and garden design, especially new and innovative designers by bringing their ideas to the gardening public.

The show garden category called ‘FreeForm’ will encourage designers to stretch their imagination and create exciting conceptual gardens without conventional design constraints.

There is also a new competition for students and new and emerging designers called ‘Gardening in a Changing World’ which will highlight the new RHS ‘Science Strategy’. Winning designs will be developed as 3D models for display.

The Great Conservatory will recreate Paxton’s Great Conservatory which was in the grounds of Chatsworth from 1840 to its demolition in 1920. Nursery displays inside will feature everything from jungle to Mediterranean, and trees to bonsai.

Unlike most RHS shows, the Chatsworth Flower Show will be spread out around the beautiful Chatsworth grounds, taking advantage of the shape of the landscape and its wonderful views.

Chelsea Flower Show

Chelsea Flower Show


Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London SW3 4SL

The first two days of the Chelsea Flower Show are reserved for RHS members so if you’re planning a visit, it’s well-worth joining the RHS to widen your choice of days. And all tickets sell out very quickly! There are also reduced price late-afternoon entry tickets.


Chelsea Flower Show’s Show Gardens

See a wondrous selection of around 15 large landscape show gardens designed by the world’s best designers. Chelsea Flower Show regularly features such designers as Andy Sturgeon (Winner 2016 Best in Show), Cleve West, Jo Thomson, James Basson and Diarmuid Gavin.

Many of these gardens are designed to explain or highlight a cause or a charity, from animal welfare to the plight of those stranded in war-torn countries, to habitat lost and environmental degradation, and those suffering from debilitating diseases and coping with long-term disabilities.

From a design point of view Chelsea’s gardens are at the forefront of coming trends, whether it’s a new popular flower or a colour scheme, or greater themes like formal versus informal design, plant shaping and management, mass versus intermingled planting and gardens versus outdoor entertaining areas.

Chelsea’s show garden judging is very plant-centric so you can be sure to see some wonderful and innovative plantscapes using a wide range of ornamental and edible plants.


Chelsea Flower Show’s Artisan Garden

Chelsea’s smaller Artisan gardens are smaller display gardens but no less exciting. Popular regulars in this category include renown Japanese designer Kazuyuki Ishihara of the Kazuyuki Design Laboratory but many others are new-comers, looking for their first taste of Chelsea fame.


Chelsea Flower Show’s Fresh Gardens

The Fresh Garden category displays what are often conceptual and experimental gardens. It’s a great place to see our next generation of up-and-coming young designers.


The Great Pavilion Floral Marquee

Nobody can forget the wonder of first entering this immense marquee, filled with luscious displays of flowers. Every year the UK’s top nurseries vie for the top prizes. See spring bulbs and perennials, clematis, bonsai, elegant specimen trees, cacti and succulents, bromeliads, flowering shrubs, orchids, alpine plants and roses.


Garden products

Every year Chelsea features brand new products and art for you to discover for your garden, including furniture, sculpture, pavers, pavilions, garden wear and lots more.

Each year the RHS awards a Chelsea Garden Product of the Year.




Treecycle is a special exhibition that celebrates the 200th Birthday in 2016 of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney featuring timber from trees that were once growing in one of three botanic gardens.

Trees in the Sydney Garden and also the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan and the Blue Mountain Botanic Garden Mount Tomah follow a dynamic cycle of planting, growth and decay. During normal garden maintenance and rejuvenation, trees are pruned, or felled and replaced leaving a legacy of beautiful and often unique timber.

Artisans have created a wide range of beautiful objects from these timbers, from decorative objects to functional items like clocks, furniture and even musical instruments.

Curated by Leon and Ginny Sadubin.


All works are for sale, some by silent auction on opening night of Thursday, 11 August 2016.

Location: Moore Room and Palm House, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Free entry, suitable for all ages.


Treecycle artisans:


Melissa Allen, David Muston, Howard Archbold, Takashi Nishiura, Russell Beardmore Tim Noone, Elise Cameron-Smith, Darren Oates, Colen Clenton, Garry Olson, Holly Cope, Ben Percy, Nick Coyle, Michael Purdy, Brian Dawson, Richard Raffan, Dale Dryen, Ginny Sadubin, Phoebe Everill, Leon Sadubin, Mikey Floyd, Bob Scott, Charlie Gillings, Anthony Springford, Minky Grant, David Springford, Alby Johnston, Hugh Springford, Hape Kiddle, Nick Statham, Gayl Leake, Peter Stibilj, Graham Mandelson, Isao Takezawa, Will Matthysen, Christian Timbs, Harry McInnis, David Upfill-Brown, Stuart Montague, John Van der Kolk, Isabelle Moore, Grant Vaughan, Aidan Morris, Warwick Wright, Thirston Morris

Malvern Autumn Show

Malvern Autumn Show 2016


Open 9am-6pm each day


Malvern Autumn Show main attractions

There will be plenty to do and experience for people of all ages at this year’s Malvern Autumn Show
As a show celebrating everything rural, there are plenty of attractions encompassing every type and element of country life and the land based industries.


Grow it in the Good Life Pavilion – There are few things more satisfying and rewarding than growing your own fruit and vegetables and you can be inspired by the feature gardens, talks in The Good Life Pavilion, the growing competitions and the produce available at the show. Hear celebrity gardeners, plus see the impressive UK National Giant Vegetable Competition and also a range of flowers that featured at RHS shows for sale.


Orchard Pavilion and Hopyard – all the help you need to grow your own fruit, make and brew drinks, plus preserving.


Harvest Pavilion – meet all the experts from more than 30 National Plant Societies and hear talks by plant experts on a wide range of topics including growing vegetables, carnivorous plants, succulents and growing tender plants.


RHS Flower Show – featuring a huge range of nurseries all vying for the coveted RHS Gold Medal. Includes new exhibitors like Wack’s Wicked Plants. See Reg Moule at The Potting Bench and visit the RHS team for all your gardening questions.


Vintage Village – head back in time for a bit of sentimentality and to recapture the past! Go ahead and while away some time in the Vintage Village, harking back to days gone by, with vintage vehicles from steam engines to lawn mowers, ride the vintage carousel, and also take the chance to look at historic skills and industries such as forestry and wood turning. There’s even a 1940s-50s dance hall!


Gourmet food and drink – The show’s expansive food and drink areas will tantalise your taste buds. From cheeses to pastries, there will be the best of local and regional produce on offer as well as incredible ingredients that are available to take home from the market. Visit the Westons Cider Garden, There will also be a range of demonstrations from knowledgeable experts and celebrity chefs like Mark Diacono, Tom Kerridge and Seren Evans Charrington.

Tropical Garden Fair Darwin

Tropical Garden Fair, Darwin


The Tropical Garden Fair in Darwin will feature:

•   celebrity landscape designer from Bali, Made Wijaya, in action over both days working on his new design project for the Garden

•   a huge plant market of luscious tropical plants

•   expert garden advice

•   floral displays

•   gourmet food and drink

•   live music

•   garden workshops

•   a garden-themed dress-up parade for kids at 11am on Saturday 13 August

•   Tea Party with Tinkerbell 11am Sunday 14 August




George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, 10am-4pm each day

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show


Each July, the grounds of the historic Tudor-built Hampton Court Palace in East Molesley, Surrey, become a showpiece of the latest in garden design and innovative landscaping.

Over 30 gardens in a range of sizes and categories: show gardens, summer gardens, water gardens and conceptual gardens feature lush planting, new products, and an abundance summer flowers.

Visit the majestic floral pavilion, enjoy a wide range of presentations and workshops, buy garden products and latest plant releases, and indulge your tastebuds at the Market Deli.

Local retailers along nearby Bridge Rd get into the Hampton Court spirit with wonderful garden and window displays.

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park


A show for all the family, RHS Flower Show Tatton Park brings you the best of high summer’s flowers, fabulous display gardens, loads of gardening products, plants and spectacular floral displays in the Floral Marquee.

If you want to see the latest in contemporary and conceptual garden design, you will be wowed with our new Evolution Gardens. Our popular Water Gardens return as does the perfect ideas hub for everyone with a small garden – the Back To Back garden category with its tiny 6m x 4m plots.

In 2017, for all those starting out in the industry, there’s the prestigious RHS Young Designer of the Year Competition, RHS Young Landscaper of the Year, RHS Young Plantsperson of the Year and the RHS Future Florist competition.


Other special features include:

•  Blooming Beds

•  Garden Hideaways

•  children’s activities

•  The Vineyard, dedicated to English wine

•  entertainment in the Bandstand


RHS Tatton Park Opening times

Thursday-Saturday – 10am to 6,30pm

Sunday – 10am – 5pm



Kangaroo Paw Picnic at Cranbourne Gardens

Kangaroo Paw Celebration


Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and the Cranbourne Friends are combining to present a wonderful opportunity for people to participate in a very special occasion in November 2016.

The iconic kangaroo paw and its relatives will be a celebrated in a number of activities. We may be familiar with kangaroo paws in our own and other gardens, but there is a whole lot more to this fascinating plant family.

The Australian Garden at Cranbourne will be enlivened by the planting of over 5000 kangaroo paws. The main plantings will be in the Cultivar Garden and the Northern Exhibition Garden precinct. Planting of gardens and containers of varying proportions will provide a stunning floral display.

Over November 2016, the Gallery at the Australian Garden Visitor Centre will have a Kangaroo Paw and relatives themed exhibition of artworks, crafts and floral art. Cranbourne Friends groups such as Botanical Illustrators, Botanical Basketmakers and Botanical Fabricators will be represented. During the month there will be a ‘Best Kangaroo Paw Pic Instagram Competition’ with winner announced on 27 November 2016.


Kangaroo Paw Picnic


Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November 2016

Held over the weekend of Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November 2016 the Kangaroo Paw Picnic will provide a varied program of activities for everyone to enjoy.


Cranbourne Gardens

Cnr Ballarto Road and Botanic Drive (off South Gippsland Fwy), Cranbourne, 3977.

Open: 9am – 5pm. Entry to Cranbourne Gardens is free.
Please leave your dog (other than assistance dogs) and other pets at home to protect our local wildlife.


Some of the highlights include:

–   Guided Tours by Angus Stewart [Bookings are essential: ph (03) 5990 2200]
–   Launch of the beautiful Angus Stewart bred Anigozanthos ‘Landscape Violet’ at 11 am on the Saturday.
–   Special Growing Friends Plant sale of Kangaroo Paws & Cottonheads
–   Floral art demonstrations with Kangaroo Paws & Australian plants.
–   Live music by Dan Arnott & The Gardeners Blue Grass Band.
–   Everybody will have the opportunity to vote in the ‘Best Kangaroo Paw Competition’.
–   There will also be displays by Sponsors and Public Gardens in the Melbourne Region


The Horticultural Media Association Victoria is one of the sponsors of this important ‘Kangaroo Paw Celebration’.


Kangaroo Paw Symposium: Kangaroo Paws, Bloodroots, Cottonheads and More

Kangaroo Paw Celebration


Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and the Cranbourne Friends are combining to present a wonderful opportunity for people to participate in a very special occasion in November 2016.

The iconic kangaroo paw and its relatives will be a celebrated in a number of activities. We may be familiar with kangaroo paws in our own and other gardens, but there is a whole lot more to this fascinating plant family.

The Australian Garden at Cranbourne will be enlivened by the planting of over 5000 kangaroo paws. The main plantings will be in the Cultivar Garden and the Northern Exhibition Garden precinct. Planting of gardens and containers of varying proportions will provide a stunning floral display.

Over November 2016, the Gallery at the Australian Garden Visitor Centre will have a Kangaroo Paw and relatives themed exhibition of artworks, crafts and floral art. Cranbourne Friends groups such as Botanical Illustrators, Botanical Basketmakers and Botanical Fabricators will be represented. On the weekend of 19-20 November Cranbourne Gardens will host a Kangaroo Paw Picnic and during the month there will be a ‘Best Kangaroo Paw Pic Instagram Competition’ with the winner announced on 27 November 2016.



Three Day Symposium Event: Kangaroo Paws, Bloodroots, Cottonheads and More

24, 25 and 26 November 2016

As part of this month-long celebration there will be a special three-day symposium on this group of plants that are all in the family Haemodoraceae. This is thought to be a ‘First’ for Australia.

Members of this plant family include the iconic Kangaroo Paws, Anigozanthos and Macropidia; Bloodroots, Haemodorum; Cottonheads, Conostylis and other genera such as the more poorly known Blancoa, Phlebocarya and Tribonanthes

This Symposium is packed with interesting and inspiring topics to be presented by a range of very experienced people over three days and will cater for all levels of interest and expertise. It will be a ‘not to be missed event!


Speakers include

•    Prof Stephen Hopper (world authority on the Haemodoraceae Family)

•    Prof Kingsley Dixon from Curtin University

•    Dr Brett Summerell, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

•    Angus Stewart, kangaroo paw breeder and native plant expert

plus Digby Growns, Professor Michael Simpson, Bronwyn Ayre and Ellen Hickman, Craig Scott, Jim Fogarty, Loretta Childs, John Arnott, Neil Marriott, John Thompson, Rodger Elliot, Amy Akers, and Keith Oliver.



Day One: Thursday 24 November – Kangaroo Paw family Science Day

•   for those who want to gain a greater understanding of this intriguing plant family, and its botanical, zoological and horticultural aspects. It will be held in Domain House at the Melbourne Gardens


Day Two: Friday 25 November — Professional Day – Kangaroo Paw family breeding, design, cultivation and diseases

•   especially suitable for people working in Botanic Gardens, Parks & Gardens, Horticulture, Design and Construction. This day will be in the Tarnuk Room at the Cranbourne Gardens.


Day Three: Saturday 26 November — Home Gardeners’ Day – the Kangaroo Paw Family for home gardeners and native plant enthusiasts

•   a great day dealing with subjects that gardeners like! This day will also be at the Cranbourne Gardens.


Download the brochure for full Symposium details!

Melbourne Garden DesignFest

Melbourne Garden DesignFest 2016


Melbourne’s Garden DesignFest in 2016 offers the opportunity to visit more than 40 professionally designed gardens on two weekends during the spring peak of November:


Melbourne Garden DesignFest first weekend:

November 12 and 13, 2016 – city gardens throughout Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula


Melbourne Garden DesignFest second weekend:

November 19 and 20, 2016 – country gardens in Euroa, Ballarat, Bendigo, Macedon Ranges, West Gippsland and Geelong.


Spend an intoxicating weekend seeing gardens designed by such famous designers as Robert Boyle, Lisa Ellis, Rick Eckersley, Paul Bangay, Richard Bellemo, Eugene Gilligan, Jamie Clapham, Deborah Hambleton and many more.

The range of 2016 gardens has a range of both city/suburban gardens, and regional Victorian gardens. So that it’s possible to get to so many gardens over such a wide geographical area, the event is being held over two weekends, one for the gardens in and near Melbourne, and one for the regional gardens. You will find something for everyone, from small inner city gardens, to suburban gardens, to broad acre country gardens.

The garden designers will be in their gardens over the weekend to chat with visitors about the design principles, materials and plant choices they have applied to meet the particular characteristics of the site and the client’s brief.


The Melbourne DesignFest 2016 list of designers and their designed garden includes:


Gardens open 12-13 November 2016 – Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula


Lisa Ellis – 27 Carnarvon Road, Caulfield North

Robert Boyle – 15 Riverside Road, Ivanhoe

Jamie Clapham – 67 Albany Road, Toorak

Inge Jabara – 20 Melton Avenue, Carnegie

Paddy Milne – TBA

Mark Pedley – 210 Were Street, Brighton East

Diane Beddison – 62 Bryson Street, Canterbury

Sue Meli – 72 Dalton Street, Gisbourne

Stephen Read – 2 Euston Street, Malvern

Sandra McMahon – 73 Pascoe Avenue, Kilsyth

Paul Pritchard – 111 Rathmines Street, Fairfield

Betsy-Sue Clarke – 108 Sackville Street, Kew

Richard Bellemo – 4 Glan Avon Road, Hawthorn

Carolyn and Jobie Blackman – 272 Domain Road, South Yarra

Eckersley Garden Architecture – 21 Rochester Road, Canterbury

Andrew Murray and Julie Daniel – 15 Myrtle Grove, Blackburn

Mark Vanden Boom – 8 Trafalgar Street, Mont Albert

Eugene Gilligan – 14 Merriwee Crescent, Toorak

Tom Remfry – display garden at 4 Villa Mews, Vermont



Gardens open 12-13 November Mornington Peninsula


Eugene Gilligan – 24 Morell Street, Mornington

Ben McDonald – 187 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento

Clive Abben – 33 Deakin Drive, Mount Martha, AND 7 Douglas Court, Rye

Steve Taylor – 14 Tallis Drive, Mornington

Eckerlsey Garden Architecture – 371 Musk Creek Road, Flinders



Gardens open 19-20 November 2016 – country Victoria


Paul Bangay – 267 Longwood Gobur Road, Creightons Creek

Roy Roberts – 8 Brewster Street, Woodend

David Musker – 125 Palmer Road, Jindivick

Deborah Hambleton – 33 Clowes Street, Malmsbury

Richard Bellemo – 357 Remembrance Drive, Cardigan

Kylie Rose Blake – 35 Pre-Emptive Road, Scarsdale

Robert Boyle – 142 Longwood Gobur Road, Longwood

Gail van Rooyen – 948 Top Road, Terip Terip

Eckersley Garden Architecture – 224 Longwood Mansfield Road, Creightons Creek

Christian Jenkins – 70 High Ridge Drive, Clifton Springs

Peter Shaw – 48 Harvey Street, Anglesea

Stephen Read – 221 Noble Street, Newtown

Lee Adams – 123 Neale Street, Flora Hill, AND 328 Nankervis Road, Mandurang


You can find all the details about each of the gardens and the designers, as well as more photos on the GardenDesignFest website

For those unfamiliar with Melbourne or who don’t want the worry of a long day’s drive there are Garden DesignFest guided bus tours to gardens on both weekends. The tour means you can fit in even more gardens and still have a relaxing day out. Our knowledgeable guides will provide background information on each of the gardens and its designer, and commentary and discussion about the gardens.

Garden DesignFest is organised and managed by Rotary volunteers and all of the funds received are donated to charity. Over the previous 6 DesignFest events we have raised almost $400,000 for charity. In 2016, we will be allocating proceeds to the three major charities: the Monash Children’s Hospital, Sporting Chance kids cancer foundation and also the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s research into Friedreich Ataxia.

Piet Oudolf & The Dutch Wave

Piet Oudolf & The Dutch Wave


NOW 15% off special offer – BOOK TODAY!



August 16, Tuesday – Arrive in The Netherlands at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
August 17, Wednesday – Jac. P. Thijssepark, Vlinderhof
August 18, Thursday – Kasteel Geldrop, Van Nature, Private Garden designed by Noel van Mierlo
August 19, Friday – Oudolf/Hummelo, Peter Janke’s Hortvs
August 20, Saturday – Het Loo Palace & Garden, Kröller-Müller Museum
August 21, Sunday – Priona Garden, Mien Ruys Gardens, Cruydt Hoeck
August 22, Monday – Lianne’s Siergrassen, Jakobstuin, Dewit Garden Tools
August 23, Tuesday – Village of Zaanse Schans, Boon Garden, Tuin aan het Weeltje
August 24, Wednesday – Depart or continue travels on your own



Day 1, August 16, Tuesday – ARRIVE IN THE NETHERLANDS

•   Tour participants will independently arrange travel to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and have the opportunity to get settled before the garden tour starts on Saturday.



•   What’s more appropriate than starting our Dutch Wave tour in a town renowned for its use of Dutch wildflowers? Just around the corner from Schiphol Airport is the suburb of Amstelveen with plantings that have been described as “intensified nature.”

•   We’ll visit Jac. P. Thysse Park, named for a biologist who was an ardent devotee of native plants and birds. Designed by the late Christian P. Broerse, the park is home to just about every Dutch habitat imaginable and loaded with wild and semi-wild plantings. Read blogger Michael King’s enthusiastic post after a recent visit.

•   The Vlinderhof, or Butterfly Garden, is nestled in Maxima Park in Utrecht, and the garden plan is by acclaimed designer Piet Oudolf. Residents in the area asked Oudolf to design a garden within the park, to be maintained by volunteers. Now, over 15,000 plants of 97 different varieties in a naturalistic setting attract not only butterflies, but also bees and many other beneficial insects.



•   We’ll start the day by visiting Kasteel Geldrop, a 14th century castle, to see the work of planting designer John Schoolmeesters. He came to this garden in 2005 to turn the walled fruit and vegetable garden into a contemporary naturalistic perennial and grass garden. The end result is a prime example of a post Dutch Wave garden with an emphasis on color, texture, and shape. Schoolmeesters is also a very good photographer and chronicles the development of this garden daily on Facebook.

•   Van Nature is a post Dutch wave display garden and nursery, started in 2013, bylandscaper Frank van der Linden, nursery woman Caroline van Heeswijk, and garden designer Frank Heijligers. Here we’ll see ornamental grasses and perennials that are difficult to find but are low maintenance & good in all seasons. That’s a tall order but it will be fascinating to see what combinations they recommend.

•   Our final garden for the day will be a private garden by Noel van Mierlo. Known for his naturalistic style, Van Mierlo is a three-time winner of the National Garden of the Year Award plus the Most Sustainable Garden, Netherlands and the Most Natural Pool. Getting a chance to see a garden by such an accomplished designer is a treat we’ll long remember.


Day 4, August 19, Friday – OUDOLF/HUMMELO, HORTVS

•   Piet Oudolf’s private garden at Hummelo has become a place of pilgrimage for thousands of followers from around the world. As the master designer of the New Perennials style of naturalistic planting (which, of course, started as Dutch Wave), Oudolf’s garden is a place of experimentation and testing and therefore, constant change. Enclosed by typical Dutch hedges, the interior garden explodes with familiar and new plants in an exuberant, unconventional display. Oudolf has said, “What I try to do is build an image of nature.” Here we’ll see his current image of nature and draw inspiration from Oudolf’s own innovations. This will be a garden experience we’ll never forget.

•   Our only garden in Germany is Hortvs, the private garden of designer and author Peter Janke, considered a rising star in the German landscape design world. The design is inspired by the work of British designer, Beth Chatto, with whom Janke studied in England. We’ll see meadows, a gravel garden, a woodland garden with simple mulched paths, and a wild, abundant herb garden. It’s geometric and organic, a beautiful mixture of classic and modern styles.


Day 5, August 20, Saturday – HET LOO, KRÖLLER-MÜLLER

(Today we take a break from Dutch Wave gardens and visit two places that are important to Dutch culture. One is historical and the other is modern.)

•   At Het Loo Palace, we’ll see an example of 17th century formal Dutch garden design, heavily influenced by the French – about as far away as one could get from Dutch Wave. The Great Garden in the back of the palace was designed by a nephew of André Le Nôtre and has a symmetrical axial layout with radiating gravel walks, parterres, statuary, fountains, and raised walks. In the 18th century, the original Baroque garden was destroyed to make way for a landscape park but it was restored for the palace’s 300th anniversary in 1984. There continue to be renovations. Recently the boxwood in the parterres were pulled out due to boxwood blight and replaced with a cultivar of Ilex crenata.

•   The Kröller-Müller Museum is an art museum and sculpture garden set in a national park. We’ll spend some time here at the museum itself, seeing the second-largest collection of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh (after the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam) and works by Picasso, Gauguin, Mondrian, and Seurat among many other artists. We’ll also want to see the sculpture garden, which has an equally renowned collection of modern sculptures in a beautiful park setting. Then, if there’s time, we’ll walk along the Ecological Walking Route or perhaps take advantage of the free bikes and cycle around the 75 acre national park.


Day 6, August 21, Sunday – PRIONA, MIEN RUYS, CRUYDT HOECK

•   We begin our day at Priona, the home garden of the late Henk Gerritsen, one of the founding members of the Dutch Wave. Gerritson is credited with developing the main principles of Dutch Wave design and it shows throughout the garden. Wild and cultivated plants grow next to each other. Weeds and pests are tolerated in the name of naturalism. Gerritson said his design principle is simple: “What is straight should be curved, what is curved should be straight.” We’ll discuss what that means after our visit to this garden which author Noel Kingsbury has described as “magical and entertaining … wild and zany.”

•   Our second garden of the day is the important Tuinen Mien Ruys. Here we’ll pay homage to the woman many call the “Mother of Modernism,” landscape architect Mien Ruys (1904-1999). She made these gardens over 70 years and they’re a reflection of her amazing creativity. Her style is distinctly architectural but the plantings are loose and naturalistic. There are 28 gardens in all, incorporating old and new styles while using unusual materials and perennial introductions from her father’s internationally renowned nursery. Above all, Ruys was experimental. Never afraid to try new things, her garden was an inspiration to the founders of Dutch Wave as it has been to designers from all over the world from many years.

•   Our final stop of the day is Cruyd-Hoeck, the seed nursery started by the late Rob Leopold, a specialist in wildflower seeds and one of the founding members of the Dutch Wave movement. Leopold established the nursery in 1978 to preserve the biodiversity of wild plants, bees, butterflies, and other animals, offering seed mixtures for native wildflower plantings and flower meadows. His influence continues today. A connection with Leopold’s work can be made to the much acclaimed landscaping done with seed mixtures at the recent London Olympics.Since Leopold’s death in 2005, the nursery continues under the leadership of Jasper Helwinkel and Jojanneke Bijkere, designers who are experts in Dutch Wave principles.



•   The theme of today’s first garden could be summarized simply as “Plants, Plants, Plants!” Lianne’s Siergrassen is a well respected Dutch nursery that specializes in Dutch Wave ornamental grasses and perennials. Not only has the owner, Lianne Pot, indulged her passion and brought together a virtual living encyclopedia of grasses, she has also created a demonstration Prairie Style Garden arranged in curving beds with over 12,000 dynamic plants. There’s probably not one moment in the year that this garden isn’t beautiful.

•   We continue our tour at Jakobstuin, a garden that falls somewhere between Oudolf’s current style and Prairie Style. The owner and designer, Jaap de Vries, calls Jakobstuin an “Ode to the Dutch Wave.” In addition to warm season grasses typical of the North American Prairie, de Vries also uses many perennial selections favored in the New Perennial movement and arranges plants in the currently popular matrix pattern. Look carefully and you’ll notice that he pays particular attention to texture, form, and light, which is probably the reason his daily photo posts on Facebook are loved by hundreds of followers.

•   The Dutch are known for making some of the finest garden tools in the world so we’re very fortunate that DeWit Garden Tools has invited us to visit their factory and maybe even get a chance to make our own tools! The company was started by Willem de Wit in 1898, and today, the 4th generation of the family is running the forging operation. You’ll note the old-fashioned, top-notch quality, along with innovative designs.



•   On our final tour day we’ll start with a visit to the village of Zaanse Schans. This is where you’ll get to explore traditional wooden windmills in a working community dating from the 18th & 19th centuries. Have your cameras ready because this is a photo op to text to your friends back home.

•   On our final tour day, we’ll start with the Boon Garden, a private garden near Amsterdam designed by Piet Oudolf in 2000. It combines all the advantages of an urban location but displays the harmony and tranquility of nature. The bold, modern house is open to the landscape and seamlessly transitions to lush outdoor plantings. In the back, we’ll see the iconic infinity edged pool surrounded by a beautiful mass planting of the native Dutch grass, Deschampsia cespitosa.

•   The final garden of our tour is Tuin aan het Weeltje, another private garden designed by Piet Oudolf. Large groups of grasses are combined with delicately colored perennials making a rich, waving tapestry. Here will be our chance to see how Oudolf’s ideas fit into a home garden with typical Dutch landscape elements of water, reed, and ancient willow trees. Maybe we’ll pick up some tips to apply to our own gardens when we get home.


Day 9, August 24, Wednesday – DEPART or CONTINUE TRAVELS

•   Our time together will come to an end but the true garden lover always finds fresh inspiration wherever she is. Travelers can choose to return home or carry on the adventure. We’ll provide coach transfer to airport in the morning. Or you can take the train or taxi from Central Station to the airport.

Portland Fall Home and Garden Show

28th Annual Portland Fall Home & Garden Show®



Portland Expo Center
2060 N Marine Drive
Portland, Oregon


Dates and times:

October 6 – 9, 2016
Thursday: 11am – 8pm
Friday: 11am – 8pm
Saturday: 11am – 8pm
Sunday: 11am – 6pm

Box office closes 1 hour prior to show closing.


Farwest Portland

Farwest Portland 2017 Trade Show – Be Far From Ordinary


The BIGGEST green industry trade event in the US west with over 6000 attendees each year.

Farwest is designed to meet the needs of retailers, growers, plant breeders, landscape professionals , landscape designers, wholesale buyers, arborists, researchers and educators and allied horticultural suppliers.

•  Growers showcase

•  New Varieties Showcase

•  New Products Showcase

•  Seminars, classes and workshops

Plus a wide variety of nursery stock, decor, pots, landscape products, turf, gifts and accessories, soils and soil mixes, fertilizers, irrigation equipment, tools and computer equipment


Show hours:

Wednesday August 23: 12 noon to 5pm

Thursday August 24: 10am to 5pm

Friday August 25: 10am to 2pm



Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, Oregon 97232


Early bird registration until July 31, 2017.


ASA Lecture Series – Melbourne

ASA Lecture Series – Melbourne




Venue: Theatre, Lauriston Girls’ School, 38 Huntingtower Road, Armadale 3143.

For all lectures, places are limited and people wishing to attend are advised to book well in advance. Each day offers 2 lectures, allowing time for a Q&A session at the conclusion of each lecture.

Bookings: Please book online, or contact ASA on: (03) 9822 6899, Freecall 1800 645755 (outside Melbourne Metro) or email: info@asatours.com.au



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm

Ancient Kingdoms of Southern India – by Em. Prof Bernard Hoffert

Few buildings anywhere match the spectacle of the temple complexes of the South. Vast enclosures with narrow streets, directing the way to prayer, sadus offering blessings beneath giant gate-towers alive with carved and painted images, idols with throngs of worshippers winding through the temple maze to the sanctuary. South India has long been a bastion of Hinduism, triumphing over Buddhist and Jain teachings and expressing its gods and myths in vast temples covering as much as 150acres. But all faiths have left their legacy in temples and towns built by the great dynasties which supported them. South India records the history of faith and conquest in stone and art, across millenia and this is the story Ancient Kingdoms and Empires of Southern India tells.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm

Art and Charity in Venice – by Em. Prof Bernard Hoffert

The great Scuole, or charitable institutions of Venice, provided care for the needy and ill, looked after the interests of different crafts and professions, found jobs for foreign workers and supported communities from abroad. Their contribution underpinned the great financial success of the Republic and allowed merchants and artisans, excluded from government since the 13th century, to contribute to the development and status of the city. In doing so they commissioned the great artists of the day to decorate and embellish their meeting halls and churches; Tintoretto, Bellini, Carpaccio, Tiepolo, Lazzarini, Mansueti and others all created masterpieces to express their influence and deeds. This lecture focuses on the contribution of the Scuole and their art with particular attention to the Scuola Grande de San Rocco and its masterpieces by Tintoretto.



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm – by Dr Christopher Gribbon

– The Tale of Diocletian’s Palace, Split, Croatia –

The Roman Emperor Diocletian (ruled AD 284-305) brought the Empire back from the brink of collapse, introduced financial and administrative reforms and oversaw one of the largest persecutions of Christians. But after two decades in the top job, he’d had enough. So he built himself a retirement home fit for an emperor – an immense palace, at a beautiful spot on the Adriatic coast, with monumental architecture in the latest style.

Three hundred years later, most of the Roman Empire had fallen to invaders. Refugees from the “barbarians” sought shelter in what had been Diocletian’s palace. Within the palace buildings, they created a thriving new town, which became the important port of Split (now in Croatia) and was subsequently fought over by Byzantines, Venetians and Hungarians, among others.
Join Dr Christopher Gribbin as he explores this fascinating site, where much of Diocletian’s palace is still preserved, side-by-side with mediaeval homes, churches and palaces.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm – by Em. Prof Frank Sear

– Mosaics of Norman Sicily –

After Palermo was conquered by Robert Guiscard and his brother Roger de Hauteville in 1072 it became a royal capital which flourished under successive Norman kings as a centre of enlightenment and toleration. Many of the most beautiful monuments of the city and its surroundings date from this period, when architectural and decorative elements from eastern and western cultures were adopted and combined. In particular glorious, glittering mosaics were used to adorn churches, chapels and royal apartments. This lecture will explore the extraordinary and rich mosaic decoration of Norman Sicily found at Monreale, Cefalu and in Palermo.



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm – by Iain Shearer

– Persepolis: Imperial power, colour, decoration and sculpture –

“All the World’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players…” William Shakespeare ‘As You Like it’ Act II Scene VII
An aphorism that Darius the Great instinctively understood 2000 years before Shakespeare wrote a truth that is today but a misunderstood newspaper cliche. After seizing the Achaemenid throne and largest land empire of the ancient world in 521 BC, under somewhat murky circumstances, the new King of Kings began construction of an imperial capital befitting the glory of the Chosen of Ahura Mazda. This lecture will examine the inherent theatricality of Darius’s palace-city of Persepolis – added to by all his successors until the site’s destruction in 329 BC at the hands of Alexander the Great. The glorious utilisation of sculpture, colour and luxury at Persepolis was designed to convey the Achaemenid’s own sense of themselves as saviours of the world and this lecture will bring some of their unseen splendour back to vivid life.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm – by Dr Alex McKay

– Kyrgyzstan: The Silk Road between the Pamirs and the Tien Shan –

While Kyrgyzstan is one of the most mountainous countries on earth, its fertile valleys were an important part of the ancient Silk Road. The Fergana valley was especially renowned in early China for its “Heavenly Horses” and since gaining its independence from the USSR in 1991, Kyrgyzstan has become central Asia’s only democracy. Learn about the history, culture and natural beauty of this spectacular land.



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm

Gardens, Art & Fall Foliage in the USA – by John Patrick

This talk explores the blending of gardens with art that is such a characteristic element of garden design. Modernist designers in the years immediately after the Second World War contributed strongly to this tradition, none more so than the famed fabric designer Jack Lennor Larsen who in his garden in the Hamptons displays an ever changing and always exciting collection of sculpture. Past participants have been thrilled to see that Jack’s garden approach extends into his house where ceramics by leading twentieth century ceramicists including Lucie Rie and Hans Coper are part of the house’s remarkable decoration. Russell Wright’s Manitoga was revolutionary in its day and today shows a collection of his domestic wares. Outside the old quarry that his home is perched against is the setting for experimental contemporary art displays. Wright and Larsen may not be familiar names to all but the Rockefeller name brings immediate recognition. Nelson Rockefeller loved sculpture more than almost any other art. His collection transformed the garden at Kykuit acting as an exemplar for inclusion of sculpture in a garden setting.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm

Drawing on Japanese influences in Garden Design – by Jim Fogarty

The earliest recorded Japanese gardens were created for recreation and aesthetic pleasure and are mentioned briefly in the first chronicle of Japanese history, published in 720 AD. However it is the more widely known gardens of Buddhist temples, designed for contemplation and meditation, that have captured the minds of gardeners the world over. In this presentation we will explore the core garden design principals of entrance & enclosure, the principals of Feng Shui & the Zen ideology of viewing a garden and the psychology of designing for flow and movement through a garden. Importantly we will explore the potential of how you can adapt these nuances into your own garden design.



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm

The Mysteries of Paris: An urban landscape of dream and desire – by Prof. Chris McAuliffe

While Paris is famed as the City of Light, many artists and writers have preferred to explore its darker corners. For romantics, surrealists and radical bohemians, Paris is a city of mysteries, dreams and uncanny experiences. In the mid-nineteenth century, the poet and critic Charles Baudelaire wrote of the flâneur, the urban drifter spying on the rough drama of street life. By the 1930s, surrealists wandered arcades and backstreets in the hope that chance encounters might reveal the le merveilleux quotidien — strange and marvellous irruptions of the unconscious in daily life. After World War II, this Freudian poetics of the streets was recast as ‘psychogeography’ by the Situationist movement. No longer merely an architectural or geographical space, Paris was mapped as a landscape of psychic intensities and navigated by playful, drifting bohemians. In all of this, artists and poets sought the secret life of Paris; its forgotten quarters, its nocturnal life, its irrational and unpredictable character. This lecture will explore Paris’ subconscious, guided by some of the city’s most challenging artists.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm

An Englishman’s home is a Welsh castle – by Richard Heathcote

This talk explores the uses that castles served both for suppressing the Welsh and in dominating the landscape as the homes of various nobility through the ages. You will hear about Powys, Prince Charles’ favourite castle where he has his own bedroom, and Caernavon where he was crowned Prince of Wales. Penryn, on the other hand, was the home of the Kings of the slate industry who exported to the world and with proceeds built a modern castle for their home. Gwydir reveals its owner’s romantic restoration journey from a ruined heap to lovingly restored medieval castle.



Lecture 1 | 1.00 – 1.50pm

Bulgaria: Treasure house of the Balkans – by Iain Shearer

Bulgaria’s 20th century was both bleak and bloody and this has obscured a western understanding of the glorious culture that emanated from this centre of civilisation for 2 over millennia. One of the wealthiest of Roman provinces and a heartland of the later Byzantines, both Latin and Greek-speaking imperial powers absorbed the earlier culture of Thrace and Greek colonies that respectively occupied the mountainous interior and Black Sea coast. This lecture will link the early history of Bulgaria through the rise of Orthodox Christian medieval kingdoms, to the modern era, revealing a cornucopia of cultural treasures.

Lecture 2 | 2.20 – 3.10pm

Algeria and the M’zab Valley: Pearl of the Maghreb – by Iain Shearer

A hidden valley-sanctuary for a persecuted sect located in the deep Sahara of central Algeria, the M’Zab valley holds 5 fortress towns that until the beginning of the 20th century were entirely closed to outsiders: Islamic Algerians and French Christians alike. Today, the “Moazabites” are a dynamic minority community with a reputation for hard work and strict religious and social custom. This lecture will locate the history of the M’Zab people within the extraordinary mosaic of Algerian history: Numidian Berber kings and one of the wealthiest of all Roman provinces; home of Church Father St Augustine and a dynamic Christian past; Vandals and the end of Imperium; a great Byzantine stronghold of Justinian; jewel of Islamic dynasties, Ottomans, and Barbarossa the Corsair; to Colonial French rule, Albert Camus, and Independence.

Crookwell Garden Festival

Crookwell Garden Festival 2016


The 2016 Crookwell Garden Festival will be held over the weekend of Saturday, 5th and Sunday 6th of November, 2016.

At this time of year visitors can enjoy roses blooming as well as the beauty of flowering trees and cold-climate plants all set within the wonderful rolling green hills of the Upper Lachlan Shire in NSW, only 45km north-west of Goulburn and an hour from Canberra.

As with our highly successful inaugural Crookwell Garden Festival held last year, we will have a good variety of gardens open for viewing by visitors, both within the township of Crookwell and in the nearby countryside.

A popular feature of last year’s Festival was the Garden Lover’s Market, and we’ll be running it again on Saturday, 5th November at St. Bartholomew’s church hall and grounds in Denison Street, Crookwell.

As with the 2015 Crookwell Garden Festival, 25% of proceeds from the 2016 Festival will go towards a local charity.

Details of the gardens are available on the gardens page of our website: Crookwell Gardens Festival

Given the popularity of the 2015 Festival, we suggest intending visitors for 2016 book their accommodation well in advance. Visit the Upper Lachlan Shire website for your options: Visit Uppper Lachlan Shire

Nursery Cottage in Ojai Valley, California

Nursery Cottage in Ojai, California


The cottage is situated on the grounds of Australian Native Plants Nursery, a specialist nursery growing drought tolerant plants from Australia and South Africa.

The cottage sleeps 6 and is fully self contained and private from the nursery and owners next door. There are 3 bedrooms, one with a queen sized bed, one with a full/double bed, the third has a day bed and a single bed. The house has one bathroom, however, there is another toilet attached to the bunkhouse near the cottage. It has a kitchen-dining area and living room. Fast internet and Netflix available.

There is additional accommodation in the original small barn, “The Bunkhouse” (seasonal) that sleeps 2-4. The bunkhouse is available during the warmer months for an extra $100/night (additional $100 cleaning fee). This bunkhouse has 2 double beds (one a futon), a kitchen and toilet facilities.

There are plenty of outdoor sitting and eating areas.

The house is ten minutes from Ojai and 7 miles from Ventura and the beach. It is 40 minutes south of Santa Barbara and one and half hour (traffic permitting!) from LAX. Excellent location for day trips to Los Angeles Botanical Gardens and Art galleries and all that LA has to offer. Also close are the Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara wineries.

Please contact Jo O’Connell at jo@australianplants.com if you wish to check dates and book the cottage or visit the nursery.

China Luoyang Peony Cultural Festival 中国洛阳牡丹文化节

Many consider the peony to be the most beautiful flower in the world – even ahead of the rose. Luoyang, in Henan Province in northern China (about 400km east of Xi’an) is considered to be the place in China where the best peonies grow. The history of Luoyang’s association with the peony date back to the Sui and Tang dynasties, covering the years from 618 to 907 CE.

The China Luoyang Peony Cultural Festival (中国洛阳牡丹文化节) began in 1983 and has become one of China’s most important national festivals, attracting hundreds of thousands of local Chinese tourists as well many international tourists wanting to delight in all things peony.

While at Luoyang, you can see peonies in a wide range of colours from white through to the deepest purple as well as many different sizes and forms, including singles, doubles, bi-colours and even huge blooms up to 20cm+ (8 inches) in diameter!

Luoyang has a number of large parks and botanical gardens dedicated to growing this beautiful flowering plant that open for the peony festival, including Wangcheng Park, the China National Flower Garden, the National Peony Garden, Luoyang International Peony Garden, Shenzou Peony Garden and the Sui and Tang Ruins Dynasties Botanical Garden.

To satisfy the large number of visitors, most are open from first light (6am) until at least 7pm (19:00). Peony blooms should be at their peak during the middle two weeks of April.

You can access Luoyang by high speed train from Beijing which takes 4 to 4.5 hours, or from Xi’an (home of the terracotta warriors), a 2 hour train trip.


Chelsea Fringe – the alternative garden festival

Chelsea Fringe


Chelsea Fringe begin on Saturday 20 May and runs until 4 June 2017, at a host of different venues and settings across England and Scotland plus events in various locations around the world.

Building on the success of the previous Chelsea Fringe festivals, it will feature a wonderful mixture of public spectacles, horticultural happenings and community celebrations.

The Fringe is all about harnessing and spreading some of the excitement and energy that fizzes around gardens and gardening. The idea is to give people the freedom and opportunity to express themselves through the medium of plants and gardens, to open up possibilities and to allow full participation.

Entirely independent of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (though acting with its support), the Fringe explodes out of the showground geographically, demographically and conceptually. Its events encompass everything from grassroots community garden projects to avant-garde art installations. Our open-access principle means that just about anything goes – as long as it’s interesting and legal, and on the subject of gardens, flowers, veg-growing or landscape.

Leura Gardens Festival 2017

Leura Gardens Festival


Think Spring … Think Leura

The 2017 Leura Gardens Festival will be held from Saturday 30 September – Sunday 8 October inclusive.

Gardens are open from 9.30 am – 4.30 pm daily.

The 2017 Leura Gardens Festival will feature 11 beautiful spring gardens for the price of $25 per person to visit all gardens, or $8 per individual garden. There are two new gardens to the festival, four are returning after a break including visitor favourites The Braes and Ewanrigg, and also on show are many wonderful old favourites which draw visitors back year after year.

The full list of gardens will be available on our website

There is a Festival bus available from Leura Station from 9.30 am until the close of gardens. This follows a set route and stops at all gardens throughout the day. On the two weekends of the Festival (30 September-1-2 October and 7-8 October) which are the busiest times, two buses will be running to ensure our visitors can comfortably access all gardens. These buses will be evenly spread to minimise time delays. The cost of an all day bus ticket is $5 per person during the week days of the Festival and $10 per person during the weekends.

Gardens are open from 9.30 am – 4.30 pm daily.