Chelsea Flower Show & English Gardens in the Spring

FULL ITINERARY

 

Day 1, May 18, Monday – ARRIVE IN THE UK

Tour participants will independently arrange travel to London Heathrow Airport and have the opportunity to get settled before the start of the garden tours the following day.

 

Day 2, May 19, Tuesday – TOUR STARTS, WISLEY

Our first day together will be the spent enjoying the famous Royal Horticultural Society Garden, Wisley. This flagship garden spans 240 acres and features a diversity of garden types from model gardens to rock gardens to stunning borders. We can expect to see colorful May flowers such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Tulips, Allium, Camassia, Iris & Peony in bloom. We’ll explore the Glasshouse, a recent addition to Wisley, and the nearby perennial borders created by influencial planting designers Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart-Smith. There will be time to pause and reflect over afternoon tea, pay a visit to the garden libraries, or buy a memento in the shop.

 

Day 3, May 20, Wednesday – VANN, GODDARDS, FOLLY FARM

(A day of discovery dedicated to the celebrated 20th century garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll.)

We’ll start our day in the Surrey countryside exploring the 5 acre Vann garden. This garden has been maintained in the spirit of Gertrude Jekyll who designed the plantings in 1911. The lower garden showcases an enchanting, meandering woodland water garden where a natural stream is channeled into a formal rill with a series of ponds resulting in a dreamlike landscape.

Goddards is an example of the famous partnership between Jekyll and the great British architect Edwin Lutyens. Lutyens designed the house around a courtyard that the principal rooms overlook and Jekyll laid out the gardens and plantings. This early 1900s collaboration produced what many call a masterpience.

Another outstanding example of the Jekyll & Lutyens collaboration is Folly Farm. The best known areas are the canal garden and the sunken rose garden. Originally designed in 1912, the current owners have led a recent restoration and replanting with assistance from the influential contemporary English garden designer Dan Pearson.

 

Day 4, May 21, Thursday – SISSINGHURST, GREAT DIXTER

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens are treasures today thanks to the commitment, imagination and marriage of writer Vita Sackville-West and diplomat Harold Nicolson. He laid out the gardens’ architecture and she filled it with lush, romantic plantings. Besides exploring the series of intimate garden rooms, make sure you climb the tower and take in the panoramic views from the top. You can learn more about Sissinghurst right now by checking out its blog.
Great Dixter is perhaps the best known and most loved of all English gardens. It exists as a living testament to the life and passions of the late owner, plantsman, and writer, Christopher Lloyd. Today, Fergus Garrett, who worked for Lloyd during the last years of his life, carries on the tradition of experimentation that Lloyd started. He welcomes visitors with horticultural interests from all over the world. If we’re fortunate, we’ll be greeted by bold displays of poppies, tulips, and spring perennials.

 

Day 5, May 22, Friday – CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW

The Chelsea Flower Show attracts garden designers and enthusiasts from every corner of the world. Not to be missed is the Great Pavilion where nurseries and plant societies exhibit the best & newest plants from around the world. Held at London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea, the Chelsea Flower Show consistently displays design excellence and includes competitions for Best in Show, Best Fresh Garden and Best Artisanal Garden. Take a moment to appreciate the 2014 Best of Show winner, Luciano Giubbilei, and watch his video interview where he poetically describes the creation of his show garden.

Following our horticulture and design packed day, we’ve arranged for a special dinner and views of the London skyline from a surprise destination!

 

Day 6, May 23, Saturday – HIGH BEECHES, GRAVETYE MANOR, MUNSTEAD WOOD

Our time in Sussex will begin at High Beeches Gardens. Here, 100 years ago, plant hunters like Ernest Wilson gathered a collection of rare shrubs and trees from around the world. Declared ‘outstanding historically’ by English Heritage, the gardens are a well preserved example of an early 20th century woodland garden and home to the National Collection of Stewartia. Botanists will swoon over the complete plant list featured in the Gate Lodge. With any luck, the Rhododendron loderi will be at their peak. We’ll lose ourselves in the beauty of these 27 acres.

The gardens of Gravetye Manor, with their stunning views to the surrounding countryside, were created a century ago by writer, designer, and owner, William Robinson. Here he showcased his ideas about naturalism & wild gardening dramatically contrasting untamed gardens with more structured areas close to the house. Today, Gravetye Manor is a country house hotel and the gardens have had an extensive restoration. But don’t expect to see a historic set piece. The current head gardener, having done a stint at Great Dixter, is adding experimental plantings, giving this garden a 21st century twist.

We return to the work of Gertrude Jekyll by visiting the gardens at her historic home, Munstead Wood. Jekyll originally designed this 15 acre property to show clients her planting schemes. Low maintenance, it wasn’t. She employed a team of 14 gardeners. Today the head gardener is Annabel Watts, who’s featured in this video talking about Jekyll’s bold approach to design and her love of exotic plants and texture. “Fun” she says, “I think a garden should be fun.”

 

Day 7, May 24, Sunday – HIDCOTE, KIFTSGATE

From 1907, Lawrence Johnston, a talented plantsman with a strong sense of design, created Hidcote, considered by many to be a masterpiece. A series of hedged, intimate, outdoor rooms, each with its own individual character, are linked by narrow passageways and eventually lead to lawns and views to the countryside beyond. Throughout, Johnston used a vast variety of plants many found on his plant collecting trips. It’s interesting to note the number of plants still used today that were introduced in this garden.

A visit to Kiftsgate Court Gardens is not complete without an understanding of how 3 generations of women have shaped this garden into a beloved treasure. The garden was started in the 1920’s by Heather Muir who boldly employed an intuitive approach to creating gardens instead of using a more formalized plan. In the 1950’s Muir’s daughter, Diany Binny, continued the evolution of the garden by introducing a semi-circular pool to the lower garden, commissioning sculptural features and opening Kiftsgate for public enjoyment for the first time. Today, Anne Chambers, daughter of Binny and granddaughter of Muir, continues to shape the landscape. Her new Water Garden is a contemporary oasis and evidence of her desire to bring the garden into the 21st century. At Kiftsgate, we’ll enjoy the Bluebell Wood, savor the white Erythronium and Trillium in the Sunk Garden, stroll leisurely along the Wide Border packed with perennials, and, with any luck, view the enormous blooms of the tree peony collection.

 

Day 8, May 25, Monday – ROUSHAM

Rousham Garden was designed by William Kent (1685-1748), the landscape designer who popularized a natural landscape style for estates. Rousham is the only 18th century garden featured on our tour and is considered by many to be the single best example of a landscape garden in the country. Little has changed over the centuries at Rousham. The views and accents Kent designed are still there for us to enjoy today. This video featured in the series, “Around the World in 80 Gardens” provides a wonderful introduction.

 

Day 9, May 26, Tuesday – DEPART UK OR CONTINUE TRAVEL ON YOUR OWN

Coucals Cottage, Queensland

Coucals Cottage, Queensland

 

This spacious double brick family home set in the hinterland of Brisbane includes:
3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms
Fully equipped kitchen
Lounge room, Dining area & Breakfast area
Rumpus Room
Laundry
Car Port and a huge covered verandah
Fully air-conditioned
IDEALLY SITUATED
30 kilometres from Brisbane CBD
40 minutes to Brisbane Airport
1 hour to the Gold Coast & Toowoomba
2 hours to Sunshine Coast
With 2 acres of landscaped gardens plus 2 acres maintained bushland

‘Coucals’ of Mount Crosby is situated 30 km west of Brisbane, Australia in the D’Aquilar ranges.
The 2 acre gardens, have been landscaped using 200 tonnes of Helidon sandstone.  The raised garden beds are flanked by 30 metre Spotted Gums and many other native trees originally situated on the property.
Jim and Jan Flanigan bought the property in 1980 where they built a house and raised 2 children.
In 1998 after a trip to the Butchart Gardens, Jan started to seriously garden, previously growing orchids in bush houses and planting shade trees.
These gardens have been created by Jim and Jan with just the aid of a Bob Cat machine to move some of the larger rocks. Jan designed and worked the gardens with Jim cutting rocks and building the many gazebos and seating areas.

A sloping hillside property with huge gums and views of the D’Aguilar ranges.
A variety of gardens incorporating various themes displaying a wide range of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate planting that is unified by the natural sandstone edging. Visitors can discover these garden areas via meandering paths and steps leading you on a journey of discovery, or quiet contemplation should you wish to sit in one of the many seating areas and just take in the bird calls, perfumes and natural beauty of the bush land setting.

The gardens include:

2 Rose Gardens
Rainforest Walk
Circular Terraces
Conifer Walk
Ponds
Waterlily Lagoon
Bromeliad  & Orchid Garden
Succulent Garden
Gravel Garden
Orchid & Wisteria Courtyard
Palm Border
Gazebos
Seating areas
Olive Grove/Dry slope
100 metre Mixed Border
Waterfall garden
Fairy garden
Vegetable garden
Bulb terrace
Bambooserie

OUR CLIMATIC DETAILS
Brisbane enjoys a Sub-tropical climate with temperatures between 0-20 degrees Celsius in Winter which is May to August.  The rainfall is low during these winter months and our driest time is Spring which begins late AugustThe Summer rains start about October and go through to April.  It is most humid (60%-90%) between December to February.  Temperatures during this time are generally around the low 30 degrees Celsius with a night time temperature around 20 degrees Celsius.

Our autumn (March to May) is just a ‘cooling off’ period with most leaf and bark drop in early spring or during dry times.

Jordan and Mediterranean Turkey

ITINERARY

 

DAY 1 Monday 19 October – Arrive Amman
Arrive on recommended group flight Ethiad EY513 departing Abu Dhabi at 0815 and arrive into Amman at around 1025am. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. You will have the opportunity to have a short rest and freshen up before meeting your guide and heading out on an afternoon city tour. Amman is the capital of Jordan, and was known in biblical times as Rabbath Ammon, and under the Ptolemies, as Philadelphia. It is situated on a series of Jebels (meaning hills) and is divided by wadi’s (or dry river beds) into modern and ancient quarters. We will visit the ruins of the Amman amphitheatre, the citadel and the Umayyad Palace. This evening we will join for a welcome dinner. Overnight Qasr Metropole (or similar).
Meals: L,D

DAY 2 Tuesday 20 October – Visit Royal Botanic Gardens of Jordan and Jerash
This morning we will head north of the city and visit the Royal Botanic Gardens of Jordan.
Established in 2005 the Gardens showcase a wide variety of plant species that grow naturally
throughout Jordan. From there we drive to Jerash, where we visit one of the largest and best
preserved Graeco-Roman ruins in the Middle East. The grandeur of Imperial Rome is evident from the extensive remnants of this ancient city. On our return to Amman we will stop for a cool drink and some afternoon tea at the Mountain Breeze Country Club with its lovely views over the surrounding valleys. We return to Amman for dinner and overnight. Overnight Qasr Metropole (or similar)
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 3 Wednesday 21 October – Wadi Mujab, Kerak, Dana Nature Reserve and Petra
After breakfast we drive to Kerak along the Mujib Canyon to visit the well preserved crusader castle with its diverse history dated from the Byzantine to the Mamluk period. We then continue to the Dana Nature Reserve. Apart from its wildlife the reserve is rich with archaeological sites and culture.
We take a guided walk (2-3 hours) to some spectacular viewpoints above Dana Village, exploring the terraced gardens and local community craft workshops. From here we drive to Petra, where we check into our hotel for overnight. Overnight Taybet Zaman, Petra.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 4 Thursday 22 October – Explore Petra
Chief among Jordan’s archaeological sites is the soul-stirring, rose-red city of Petra, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Petra is the legacy of the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled in south Jordan more than 2,000 years ago. This morning our visit of the ancient Nabatean Capital starts with a short walk (or optional horse ride at own risk) to the entrance of the Siq, a long narrow fissure between two overhanging cliffs. We then walk through the Siq, with the sudden view of Petra’s most spectacular monument, the Khaznah (or Treasury) appearing dramatically at the end. Our tour gradually exlores the mysteries of the ancient city with its Royal Tombs and burial chambers. No matter how many pictures of the Rose Red City  you have seen, it will surpass your wildest expectations to see it for real. We return to our hotel in the evening. Overnight Taybet Zaman, Petra.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 5 Friday 23 October – Explore Petra
Today we have our second visit to the ancient city of Petra, this time visiting the Monastery and the High Place of Sacrifices. There are many steps involved today as these specific sites are located at the top of ridgelines but the climbs are worth it. We overnight again at the same hotel. Overnight Taybet Zaman, Petra.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 6 Saturday 24 October – Explore Beida and Wadi Rum
Our first stop this morning is Beidha, also known as Little Petra. This is the place where the
Nabateans used to entertain their guests in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC but it is believed this
ancient settlement had its origins in the 11th century BC. After a short visit here we drive south to the enchanting desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan’s largest desert and one of the most spectacular desert landscapes in the world. It is a unique valley of colored sand dunes surrounded by beautiful rugged mountains. We enjoy an incredible jeep safari through this dramatic landscape. In the late afternoon we reach our Bedouin campsite and delight in a traditional dinner. Overnight Rahayeb Camp.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 7 Sunday 25 October – To Dead Sea, Madaba, Mt Nebo
After breakfast we head out of the Wadi Rum transfer to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the surface of the earth. En route we stop to visit the Christian Town of Madaba, “The City of Mosaics”, best known for its beautiful Byzantine-era mosaics, including the ‘Madaba Map’, a 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land. From here we take a detour to visit the Monastery in Mount Nebo, a high hill overlooking the Dead Sea from where Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land. On our arrival at the Dead Sea, the afternoon will be at leisure to take a dip and float in its salty waters. Tonight we will enjoy our final meal together in Jordan. Overnight Crowne Plaza, Dead Sea.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 8 Monday 26 October – Fly Amman to Istanbul
This morning we check out of our hotel and transfer to the airport for our flight to Istanbul. We depart Amman on Royal Jordanian RJ165 at 1120 and arrive into Istanbul at 1345. Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul was the hub of the Ottoman Empire and many of the grand buildings of this period are still present. Later this afternoon you will meet your Turkish guide and have enjoy a trip briefing before heading out for dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Ottoman Imperial Hotel (or similar).
Meals: B,D

DAY 9 Tuesday 27 October – Sightseeing in Istanbul
Today we will explore the old Sultanahmet Area. We visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Grand (Covered) Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. All sights located on the historical peninsula and within walking distance to our Hotel. Overnight Ottoman Imperial Hotel (or similar).
Meals: B

DAY 10 Wednesday 28 October – Bosphorus, Istanbul Modern Art Gallery, Bebek & Rumeli Hisari
After breakfast we continue our fascinating tour through Istanbul. This morning we will take a ferry (public) to explore the Bosphorus. In the afternoon we will visit the Istanbul Modern Art Gallery and explore the historic Bebek area and Rumeli Hisari (Fortress) with fantastic views to the Bosphorus. Depending on our time we will enjoy lunch at the Istanbul Modern (own expense). In the afternoon we will enjoy a drink atop the fabulous rooftop bar of the Bebek Hotel with its glorious views over the river. Overnight Ottoman Imperial Hotel (or similar)
Meals: B

DAY 11 Thursday 29 October – Botanic Gardens and Fish Markets
Today we spend time this morning in the famous Heilbronn Botanic Garden of the University of Istanbul. The oldest botanic garden in Turkey, it was established 75 years ago by a trio of scientists who fled Hitler’s regime in Germany and came to Istanbul at the invitation of Ataturk (NOTE: A visit to The Gardens must be arranged with officials in advance. A confirmation of this visit will be received 8-10 weeks prior to the trip departure). We will also visit the vibrant and lively Balik Pazari (Fish Bazaar) and see, smell and sample and incredible array of fish, vegetables and local delicacies. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Meals: B

DAY 12 Friday 30 October – Fly to Dalaman and transfer to Kas. Afternoon boat trip to Kekova Island, Simena Castle & Sunken City
This morning we will take an early flight to Dalaman in Southern Turkey. On arrival we will transfer to Kas (approx 2.5 hours). Kas was one of the most important cities of ancient Lycia and is now a small tourist town with great historical interest. Its quaint town centre has a rocky waterfront with good beaches nearby. After checking in to our hotel we will transfer to the harbour and enjoy an afternoon excursion by boat to see the ruins on the northern coast of Kekova island. Kekova is the name of a region of fascinating islands, bays and ancient cities. Along the shore of the Island some of the old houses were completely submerged due to earthquakes during the Byzantine period. We motor (by boat) around the island where you can see remains submerged under the water. We walk up to the Simena castle rewarding us with panoramic views of the surrounding area. We return to Kas for overnight. Overnight Hotel Club Barbarossa (or similar)
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 13 Saturday 31 October – Visit Lake Avlan & Alacadag and the ancient city Myra
Today we drive to the north to Lake Avlan area, with a lovely mosaic of vegetation; a back road takes us up to the Sinekcibeli Pass where we can see the cedar and juniper clad mountains below the region’s highest peak, the Kizlar Sivrisi. Across the valley Baba Mountain rises, it is particularly impressive as on its western side it drops almost vertically into the sea. It has a most marvellous flora too with abundant Colchicum boissieri and Crocus pallasii. We will explore this area on foot where all around are the glowing colors of autumn and expansive views of the Mediterranean below. In the late afternoon we drive back to Kas, on our way we take time to visit the ancient city of Myra which has some of the best preserved Lycian rock tombs. Overnight Club Hotel Barbarossa (or similar), Kas.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 14 Sunday 1 November – Drive to Antalya via Kemer Valley, Beycik Koyu and Phaselis
Today we leave Kas and drive to Antalya. En-route we will take time to visit Kemer Valley and Beycik Koyu and the ancient ruins of Phaselis In the area of Kemer Valley and Beycik Koyu it is possible to see widespread crocus cancellatus amidst a variety of ferns and late blooming silenes and dianthus. In the late afternoon we will arrive in Antalya, often referred to as the Turkish Riviera because of the archaeological and natural riches of the area. The sun, sea, natural environment and history combine to form a very popular area. The 630km shoreline of the province is liberally scattered with ancient cities, harbours, memorial tombs and beaches, secluded coves and lush forests. Antalya iteslf, with its palm-lined boulevard, internationally-acclaimed marina, museums and the old castle, makes it a major tourist city. Today the historical old city of Antalya known as Kaleici. We spend the next 2 nights in Antalya at the Aspen Boutique Hotel (or similar). Approx 200km driving.
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 15 Monday 2 November – Explore Kaleici, Antalya Museum and ancient Termessos
This morning we will explore the old city centre of Antalya, known as Kaleici with its narrow cobbled streets and historic Ottoman era houses. The old town has been restored to retain much of its historical character and in and around the Kaleici area you can find traces of Lycian, Pamphylian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Seljuk architecture and cultures. We will also visit the world class Antalya Museum, with its impressive collection and open air galleries. In the afternoon we drive to the ancient site of Termessos, 34 km north west of Antalya in a rugged mountain valley with jaw dropping position and views. Termessos was an ancient fortified Pisidian city and is protected as a National Park.  As a result, its limestone hillsides have some of the most diverse flora in south-western Turkey. We spend time exploring and walking around this (reasonably spread out) site. We return to our hotel in the late afternoon. Overnight Aspen Boutique Hotel (or similar).
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 16 Tuesday 3 November – Ancient Aspendos, Akseki Road and Ibradi village
We will have an early start today and drive to the area around Akseki. On the way we take time to visit ancient Aspendos known for having one of the best-preserved Roman theatres in Turkey and where people still come to see plays or theatre performed. Akseki is the oldest district in the province of Antalya and has an appearance that befits its location in the rugged Taurus mountains, in a forested and very rocky area. The history of Akseki extends back to the Roman era. The Akseki Road and Ibradi village are a rich hunting ground for naturalists. In autumn this is great crocus country and we will have a chance to see many colourful species on our visit today. We will visit one of the most bulb-rich areas with populations of the endemic crocus. In the late afternoon we will return to Antalya and have time to freshen up before enjoying a final farewell meal together. Overnight Aspen Boutique Hotel (or similar).
Meals: B,L,D

DAY 17 Wednesday 4 November – Trip Concludes Istanbul.
Our trip concludes today after breakfast. You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Istanbul and onward flight home. Recommended group flight departing Istanbul on Ethiad EY096 at 1425 and arrive Abu Dhabi at 1950. Connect with EY454 departing Abu Dhabi at 2150, arrive Sydney EY454 at around 1740 (+1)
Meals: B

Iceland, Land of Ice and Fire

Tour Itinerary

 

Iceland, the land of ice and fire, from its charming capital city Reykjavik to all its natural
and geological wonders: exploding geysers, spectacular waterfalls, fields of lava and moss,
dramatic glaciers close to red hot volcanoes, and the nesting sites of the iconic puffin and
other seabirds. We hope you can join this exciting journey.
Should you wish to extend your stay in Iceland, or elsewhere in Europe, please talk to us and
we will happily discuss and help you with any additional arrangements.

DAY 1 Friday 3 July – Arrive Reykjavik
On arrival you will be met by your Icelandic guide and transferred to your hotel (one group transfer
provided on World Expeditions recommended flight. If you are arriving on alternative flights, a
separate transfer can be arranged at an additional cost).
Meals: NIL

DAY 2 Saturday 4 July – Transfer to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Today you will be transferred to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We check into the Hotel Stykkish.lmur
in a pretty village of the same name on the shores of the Peninsula. Dinner and overnight at Hotel
Stykkishlmur.
Meals: B,D

DAY 3 Sunday 5 July – Full day exploring Snæfellsnes Peninsula
The stunning Snæfellsnes Peninsula has been nicknamed “Iceland in miniature” and we spend
a full day exploring the peninsula, visiting the small hamlets Arnarstapi and Hellnar, the beaches
of Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík as well as the foothills of the Snæfellsnes glacier. Overnight Hotel
Stykkishólmur.
Meals: B,L

DAY 4 Monday 6 July – To Pingvellir NP and Geysir Geothermal Area
Today we set out to explore more of Iceland’s natural wonders. We depart the Snæfellsnes
Peninsula and head to the World Heritage Site Pingvellir NP, an important location in geological and
historical terms. Here, where the Mid Atlantic Ocean Ridge surfaces create dramatic landscapes,
the first National Assembly was established in the year 930. After exploring the botany and birdlife
of the area we drive to Geysir geothermal area where the mother of all geysers, the spouting geyser
Strokkur, errupts every 5 – 10 minutes. A short drive away is one of the most beautiful waterfalls
in Iceland, the Gullfoss, cascading down into the canyon of Hvíta River. In two giant steps the water
falls 32 metres into a deep gorge. We stay overnight at Hotel Grimsborgir.
Meals: B,D

DAY 5 Tuesday 7 July – Hveradalur Valley
Today we travel to the highlands north of Gullfoss waterfall, deep into the Kjölur area located
between 2 of Iceland´s bigger glaciers. Our destination is the magical Hveradalur valley in the
Kerlingarfjoll massif. We take a short hike to explore a geothermal area that is very different
from the southern geyser area. Solfataras and mud pools with many different colours and the
ever present steam from the hot springs are incredible sights in this small valley. An hour´s drive
further north takes us to the highland oasis of Hveravellir, where Iceland´s most famous outlaw Fjalla Eyvindur spent many a winter in the late 1800 on the run from the authorities. Here there is
a natural pool for the adventurous to have a dip before the ride back to the hotel. Overnight Hotel
Grimsborgir.
Meals: B,L

DAY 6 Wednesday 8 July – To Skaftafell National Park
Today we drive along the south coast to the Vatnajökull NP and Skaftafell, stopping en route at
the Fri›heimar greenhouses where geothermal energy is used to cultivate tomatoes. Next stop is
the waterfalls in the foothills of Eyjafjallajökull glacier, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. We visit the
local folk museum at Skógar, then travel further east to the beach of Reynisfjara. Here the surf of
the North Atlantic comes crashing ashore and we hope to see our first puffins of the trip. We travel
through the lovely little village of Vík to cross the sand plains of Mýrdalssandur and Skei›arásandur,
and the Eldhraun lava field. Overnight at our accommodation in Skaftafell National Park.
Meals: B,D

DAY 7 Thursday 9 July – Skaftafell National Park and Glacier Walk
Today we will explore some of the trails of Skaftafell, long considered the best walking in Iceland
with its abundance of trails, long and short. We top off the day with a glacier walk on Svínafellsjökull
glacier, where fully qualified glacier guides will lead us into the magical wonders of the ice. Return
to our hotel for the night.
Meals: B,L

DAY 8 Friday 10 July – Ingolfshöfoi Headland, Jökulsárlón Lagoon and fly to Reykjavik
This morning we leave Skaftafell behind us to visit the headland of IngolfshöfoI and join the local
farmers at Hofsnes for a guided tour to see puffins, skuas, guillemots and fulmars. We then continue
further east and drive around the southernmost tip of Vatnajökull glacier, stopping at the magnificent
glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón and enjoying a boat ride among the floating icebergs. The drive continues
to the small town of Höfn, a lively fishing port with a bird reserve on the coastal wetlands. We take
an afternoon flight to Reykjavík from the local airport and, clear skies permitting, we will see the
vast Vatnajökull glacier and highlands. On arrival in Reykjavík we transfer to our accommodation.
Overnight Hotel Odinsve.
Meals: B

DAY 9 Saturday 11 July – In Reykjavik
This morning we visit the Reykjavik Botanical Gardens. The remainder of the day is at leisure to
explore Europe’s northernmost capital city and its superb architecture, or you may wish to take an
optional excursion to visit Reykjavik’s famous ‘Blue Lagoon’. We join for a final farewell meal this
evening in one of Reykjavik’s many restaurants.
Meals: B,D

DAY 10 Sunday 12 July – Trip concludes Reykjavik
You have the day at leisure before transferring to the airport for your onward flight (one group
transfer provided on World Expeditions recommended flight. If you are departing on alternate flights,
a separate transfer can be arranged at an additional cost)
Meals: B

Sydney Jacaranda Cruises with Graham Ross

Departures on 28 October and 1,4 and 8 November 2015
  • Boarding commences at 1.15pm
  • Cruise departs from Wharf 6, Circular Quay
  • Complimentary tea and coffee, muffins and cookies served on board

Tudor Park Country Stay & Garden, Invercargill

Tudor Park Country Stay & Garden, Invercargill

 

Welcome to Tudor Park Country Stay and Garden, where guests are offered quality accommodation with private facilities in a peaceful garden setting. The property includes two comfortable queen rooms plus a twin room, designed to fit the requirements of any guest.

The garden at Tudor Park makes your visit something special. It is a ‘must see’ by individual gardeners and groups from around the world as well as local ( by arrangement ). Created by Joyce and her late husband John together over the last 17 years, the garden includes many different areas, plantings and features. Around the house are the more structured areas, which give the opportunity to grow special plants that can be viewed and enjoyed from within the house.

The aim has always been to use the site to the best advantage. With this in mind the Long Walk has been developed through the creation of two large pergolas, each of which is eight uprights long, creating a vista down the main axis of the garden and drawing the eye to the open landscape beyond. John marked out the original layout and was dedicated to building the many arbours, bridges, pergolas and seats – all of which define the garden and its many spaces.

The rondel encloses a collection of Old Shrub roses within a hornbeam hedge. A canal leads you to another rondel where a sundial, the first prize from a regional garden competition, is surrounded by a Prunus lusitanica hedge. A large pond, originally used for recreational shooting, has been adapted to accommodate many choice bog and water plants.
There are seats and arbours throughout the garden, offering pleasant resting places along the way to enjoy the birds, plants and peace.

Brickendon Colonial Farm Village Cottages

Brickendon Colonial Farm Village Cottages

 

Brickendon Estate offers guests an extraordinary experience of staying on a World Heritage Site in an original convict built cottage.

The Coachmans and Gardeners cottages were built by convict labour during the 1830s and have been restored to offer an authentic colonial experience. Deep old fashioned baths, antique furnishings and private cottage gardens, these cottages are the closest cottages you will find to times gone by but with modern conveniences. Located in the magnificent Heritage Gardens of Brickendon, both cottages offer unique features that will make your visit to Brickendon complete.

Brickendon’s Farm cottages are a wonderful alternative to the colonial cottages. Constructed with recycled materials and traditional building techniques, the three farm cottages ooze personality and invite guests to relax and unwind from their busy lives. With great views over the farm, a short walk to Brickendon’s World Heritage listed convict built Farm Village and a stroll to the river, these cottages provide a real home away from home. Ideal for either couples, families or groups the farm cottages are often visited by a wandering turkey or rooster and it is not uncommon to see a hen with her numerous chickens passing by. The friendly farm animals are close by so come and enjoy life on the farm.

When planning your holiday – it is worthwhile thinking about travelling distances as Brickendon is within one hours drive of most places in Northern Tasmania and only two hours from Hobart and the East Coast. Use us as a base and enjoy coming home at night to your private cosy cottage.

Historic Cottages

Gardeners CottageGardeners Cottage

The historic Gardeners Cottage was brought back to life in 1991 and offers guests a private cosy cottage featuring the original open fire, bread oven and recycled convict bricks around a deep old fashioned bath. Enjoy the delights of the quaint cottage garden while sipping a complimentary port on the verandah – you may even be visited by some passing sheep! Sleeps 2. See more

 

6058031129_fb85e5d411_zCoachmans Cottage

The historic Coachmans Cottage reflects a time of romance and wealth. Being regarded as the top servant, the Coachman’s lodgings were the most extensive and guests now days have many comforts. An open fire to sit in front and sip your complimentary port, antique furnishings, two upstairs and one ground floor bedrooms, a deep old fashioned bath and a delightful private cottage garden to enjoy the sounds of the evening. Sleeps 6. See more

 

Farm accommodation at Brickendon

In our rustic farm cottages you can wake up, look out across the paddocks and enjoy the sounds of our farm animals. What a contrast from city life!

  • 130_3084.JPG1_thumbPea in a Pod Cottage

    Very cute and very compact, Pea in a Pod is perfect for solo travellers or couples. See more

    Sleeps: 2

     

     

  • 130_3088_thumbPumpkin Cottage

    Pumpkin Cottage is our delightful one bedroom Farm Cottage overlooking the lush English style countryside and only a short stroll to the Macquarie River renowned for its excellent trout fishing. See more

    Sleeps: 4

     

  • 115_15751_thumb_1Sweetcorn Cottage

    What a perfect way to enjoy the company of friends or family. Sweetcorn Farm cottage can sleep up to 7 guests in two bedrooms and enjoys fabulous views over the farm. See more

    Sleeps: 7

Rosetta House, Durban

Rosetta House, Durban

 

Rosetta House is a gracious Edwardian homestead which has been beautifully restored and successfully established since 1998.

This is where perfect location, fine food, abundant hospitality and attention to detail are keynotes of a memorable stay.

 

Accommodation:
Four luxury en-suite bedrooms (three with own entrance and patio)

All rooms are bright and airy and beautifully decorated with a tasteful blend of specially selected antique and modern pieces.

 

All Rooms:

  • Serviced daily
  • Complimentary (free) Wi-Fi.
  • Flatscreen TV
  • MNET and own DSTV decoder offering The Lodge Bouquet and CNN
  • Ceiling Fan (3 rooms)
  • Low-Energy (Green) Airconditioning (all rooms)
  • Tea/Coffee facilities
  • Fridge
  • Clock radio
  • Hairdryer
  • Complimentary toiletries
  • Desk
  • Safety deposit box

 

Local area:

We offer well-lit, off-street parking and are centrally located in exclusive Morningside (adjacent to the Berea) with easy access to:

  • Florida Road (2 min)
  • International Convention Centre (10 to 15 min)
  • Major sports venues (5 to 10 min)
    (Rugby, Cricket, Golf; Horse Racing)
  • King Shaka International Airport (34 km / 35 min)
  • Beaches (5 min)
  • Clifton School, Durban Prep. and Gordon Road Girls’ School (2 to 5 min)
  • uShaka Marine World (15 min)

Bondi Beach Eco Garden, Sydney

Bondi Beach Eco Garden, Sydney

 

Nestled in the leafy quiet end of Hall Street, the Eco Garden is right down the street from the local cafe and cultural centre of Bondi. The residence has been renovated with eco-design principles throughout and is divided into 2 separate apartments.

Grab some fresh herbs and vegetables on your way in for dinner or try our delicious eggs from our resident flock of chicken for breakfast. If you are looking for Bondi accommodation or apartments in Bondi and you care about the environment then Bondi Beach Eco Garden is ideal.

Venturing out to Bondi’s buzzing cafes and small bars takes all of a couple of minutes and the beach is only a further 5 minutes away. After the beach grab your racquet and enjoy a game of tennis at the courts backing on to the property, or fire up our BBQ and enjoy a drink on the sun deck which catches the afternoon rays.

It’s tranquility with convenience, and all done with the planet and your well-being in mind.

We have five happy ‘Rhode Island Red’ hens who will charm you with their plumage and plucky nature, not to mention their fresh organic eggs. The front garden features a fish filled pond, ornamental ferns, and an abundant vegetable garden, which you are welcome to forage in for your meals.

All apartments include free high speed wireless internet, regular fresh organic eggs, organic sourdough bread, and access to the seasons produce from the vegetable gardens (crop output dependant!), certified organic linen, eco-friendly body wash, organic milk, fair trade teas and coffee and fresh raw honey from our two bee hives.

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, Queensland with Libby Cameron

ITINERARY

DAY 1
Thursday 17 September 2015
Home – Toowoomba (L/D)

Meet tour Leader Libby Cameron at Sydney Airport ready for our direct flight to Toowoomba. Our first stop is the beautiful Queens Park downtown, decorated at this time of year with heavenly wisteria arches, delphiniums and paddocks of poppies. The park is the headquarters for the Carnival of Flowers.
Next stop Downs Steam Railway, a heritage railway on the Darling Downs. See the fascinating restored steam locomotive and carriages at the museum. Lunch is included.
Check in to our hotel. Relax before our welcome dinner tonight at Gip’s Restaurant in Clifford House, one of Toowoomba’s beautiful old buildings.
Accommodation: Platinum International Motel, Toowoomba

DAY 2
Friday 18 September 2015
Toowoomba (B/L/D)

A day of exploring the prize-winning private gardens opening for the Carnival. First in Toowoomba then in nearby Highfields where we get into the spirit of rural Queensland life. Lunch and afternoon tea are included here.
Back to Toowoomba for sunset drinks at Laurel Bank Park then dinner tonight at Angelo’s House.
Accommodation: Platinum International Motel, Toowoomba

DAY 3
Saturday 19 September 2015
Toowoomba (B/L/D)

First up this morning is a stroll through tranquil Ju Raku En Japanese Garden. Morning tea will be served in one of the pavilions.
We delve into the legend of Cobb and Co at the Queensland Museum, when four young Americans started a stagecoach company in 1854, like those in the US to service new towns opening up in the goldfields and to transport passengers and mail between Castlemaine and Melbourne. Cobb & Co coaches operated for 70 years in every mainland colony of Australia as well as New Zealand, South Africa and Japan.
Time now to cheer on the floats on the Grand Parade which winds its way through the city to Queens Park. Floral floats, street theatre and carnival characters make this parade a must see event.
Dinner included tonight.
Accommodation: Platinum International Motel, Toowoomba

DAY 4
Sunday 20 September 2015
Toowoomba (B/L/D)

Enjoy a private garden visit this morning then we discover the origin of ‘Dad and Dave’ another historic highlight this morning when we discover and the golden age of radio at Nobby Village.
Visit the memorial of Sister Elizabeth Kenny, who received world recognition for her revolutionary treatment of polio victims in the early to mid-twentieth century.
We’ll have lunch in Rudd’s Pub and admire the memorabilia on the walls of its pioneering past. Visit a country acreage garden and then a wine tasting at Preston Peak Winery.
Farewell Dinner at Weis Restaurant will finish a perfect day.
Accommodation: Platinum International Motel, Toowoomba

DAY 5
Monday 21 September 2015
Toowoomba – Brisbane – Home (B)

Our last day and we’re off to Brisbane to catch our plane home. But first we’ll stop at Laidley Pioneer Village to see the old school, the post office, the old goal, the church and the buggy shed buggy shed and get a picture of rural life in Queensland from the early 1800s. Next stop is lunch at Spicers Hiddenvale, a luxury retreat in the Lockyer Valley just an hour from Brisbane and the airport for our flight home.

 

Southdown Cottages, Bowral

Southdown Cottages, Bowral

 

1. Southdown Cottage

Southdown Cottage is located in the grounds of historic Southdown in Burradoo/Bowral – an original Southern Highlands property dating back to 1857.

The Cottage, adjacent to the majestic original homestead, was built in 1864 as a caretaker’s residence for the then large property.

In the middle of last century it was used as a bunkhouse for the children of city gentry visiting the famous Southdown Riding School which operated on the property for some 40 years, as well as a guest house for the homestead.

The cottage accommodation has been extended and refurbished as a fully self-contained English Story Book style cottage.

The interior is decorated in country cottage style with special ambience for up to 4 guests. Upstairs has a quaint queen bedroom/ensuite overlooking the gardens. The downstairs bedroom/ensuite has 2 x king single beds (rate applies for different bed configuration on request – check with operator) . There is a fully equipped kitchenette, dining and sitting area with wood fire (in winter) overlooking the bay tree garden and long pond garden.Full linen and a complementary basket breakfast for 2 days is supplied.

Relax in the park-like 6 acres of gardens. There are secluded areas where you can sit and enjoy.

Not suitable for the elderly or infirm.

Sorry no pets.

 

2. Devon Cottage

Devon Cottage is located in the 6 acre grounds of historic “Southdown” at Burradoo/Bowral- an original Southern Highlands property dating back to 1857.

A very private self-contained accommodation with a uniquely decorated interior in a sylvan setting of trees, hedges, parterres and garden rooms. A romantic hideaway for 2 and only a few minutes from Bowral’s many restaurants, cafes and boutiques.

The cottage, originally a fruit pickers’ hut (c.1880) was reconstructed on site and an extra storey added, using recycled timbers and materials. The final appearance resembles an old cottage from Devon or Cornwall – hence ‘Devon Cottage’ – set in English style gardens. The original slab & tin walls are complemented by an eclectic collection of country style Victorian furniture and bric a brac to provide a rustic interior.

Upstairs has a queen bedroom/TV lounge area with windows overlooking the gardens and ponds. Downstairs has cosy living area with lounge, dining corner and a wood fire (in winter). An old fashioned kitchenette provides all cooking facilities. The period bathroom has a hip bath with shower over and there is an enclosed verandah sitting room.

Full linen and a 2 day complementary basket breakfast are provided.

Curl up with a book or sit and enjoy the 6 acre park-like estate, where the seasons offer displays of colour.

Devon Cottage is accommodation for 2 people.
Not suitable for children or the elderly or infirm.
Sorry no pets.

 

3. Southdown Stable

Southdown Stable is located in the grounds of historic Southdown, was the original horse stables of the Burradoo estate near Bowral (built 1857). The building was used as a stable during the estate’s long history as a riding school.

The Stable has been lovingly converted into a very cosy and attractive self-contained cottage for 2-3 guests just 3 minutes’ from Bowral CBD.

Decorated and appointed in a “between the wars” (1920s) decor, Southdown Stable invites you to unwind into the slower pace of times now past.

Southdown Stable has a queen bedroom, a king single bed in the open plan area, shower bathroom and an open plan sitting/dining/lounge/kitchenette with a rustic ambience. A wood fire (in winter), gas heating and reverse cycle air-conditioning, and all the necessary modern facilities blend with the artefacts and domestic utilities of the period to make for a most memorable accommodation stay. Southdown Stable offers a very special self-contained accommodation experience in the authentic recreation of a romantic earlier time.

Full linen and an initial 2 day complementary basket breakfast is provided.

The 6 acre historic garden beckons you to enjoy and offers total relaxation. You can take a 15 minute stroll into Bowral for restaurants or shopping.

Sorry, no pets.

 

4. Devon Long Barn

Devon Long Barn is converted rural barn at the end of a cypress drive, set within the 6 acre of the historic 1857 “Southdown” Burradoo/Bowral estate. Here old trees and new gardens are blended into tranquil and timeless ‘rooms’.

The self-contained accommodation has a king bedroom – lounge/dining room, fully equipped kitchen, modern bathroom with free standing bath and large walk-in shower. A mix of antique and contemporary furnishings and facilities provides self-catered private luxury accommodation for 2 people. The accommodation invites you to just soak in the bath or curl up with a glass of wine and a book or magazine.

You are invited to sit in the garden on the many seats provided and enjoy the tranquil vistas where the seasons bring displays of many changes and colour. Enjoy the huge 150 year old trees, massed bulb plantings, cherry walk, parterre, sweeping lawns and ponds . Wander among the old hedges, cottage, rose, orchard, vegetable and herbaceous gardens.

This iconic estate is just 3 minutes’ drive from the many cafes and restaurants of Bowral, and 15 minutes from the many vineyards, antique shops, surrounding villages and National Parks.

Full linen and a 2 day complementary basket breakfast are provided.

Sorry no pets.

Redbrow Garden and Guesthouse, Murrumbateman

Redbrow Garden and Guesthouse, Murrumbateman

 

Located 20 minutes drive from north Canberra, and close to many acclaimed wineries and gourmet restaurants, Redbrow Garden is an ideal retreat for discerning Australian and international visitors to the Canberra region.

Our every aim is to ensure your comfort and enjoyment while you share the delights of Redbrow Garden and the local area with us.

Redbrow Garden is a 20 minute drive through scenic farmland to Australia’s national icons including the National Museum, Australian War Memorial and the National Gallery. It can also simply be the place for you to relax, rejuvenate and unwind. Take an early morning bushwalk to hear the songsters of the Australian bush, pick in season berries and fruit from the extensive garden or float silently amongst the reeds on the nearby lagoon. Lounge lazily with a good book in a garden nook, or converse with the farm’s inquisitive alpacas, Pedro and Amigo, or the dozen “Redbrow Girls” who provide your eggs each day.

We have four spacious, individual lakeside ensuite rooms. Designated by one of the common bird species in the garden and tastefully decorated with views of the garden’s thriving wetland habitat, all rooms have a large en suite with double showers and toiletries and are air conditioned/heated.

A room bar fridge is stocked with complimentary drinks. There is also a separate guest lounge with a TV, fridge, crockery, cutlery, microwave, electric frypan, electric wok and rice cooker.

The 3 bedroom self contained self contained Guesthouse is privately attached to the main homestead and has:

  • 2 bedrooms each with 2 single beds
  • A Master bedroom with a king bed, space for additional beds if needed in adjoining room
  • Large lounge area with enclosed fireplace
  • New fully equipped kitchen
  • Bathroom (2 additional toilets available nearby)
  • Parking at the rear entrance of the guesthouse.

Plentiful breakfast provisions are included in your tariff and include a selection of cereals, fruit, fruit juice, fresh eggs from the “Redbrow Girls”, bacon and sausages, teas, coffee and milo, a bread selection and condiments (including home made jams) plus a freshly baked item daily.

The Boomerangs at Johanna

The Boomerangs at Johanna

 

The Boomerangs at Johanna is Great Ocean Road luxury accommodation which is quintessentially Australian. Three award winning boomerang shaped cottages, each with 2 bedrooms, offer guests a truly memorable experience. Set within three acres of magical, landscaped gardens they provide guests with sensational, forest, valley and ocean views. Very quiet and very private. Architecturally designed, the cottages blend with the natural surroundings. Birdlife is prolific and privacy is assured. There is nothing like this in the rest of Australia.

This is an accommodation experience a little out of the ordinary. Come down and put your feet up and take in the spectacular views. Do nothing, go for walks on the beach, visit some of our local attractions, have a BBQ, dine out at a local restaurant or have a massage in the comfort of your own cottage. Free Wifi is available so you can stay in touch if need be. We recommend a stay of at least 2 nights. Anything less will disappoint. The Boomerangs is wheelchair accessible accommodation.

Located in the Great Otway National Park and midway along the Great Ocean Road on the Great Ocean Walk, The Boomerangs at Johanna are perfectly positioned to enable customers to take full advantage of all that the Otways and the Great Ocean Road have to offer. The Great Ocean Walk weaves its way along this rugged and beautiful Victorian coastline in Australia for 91 spectacular kilometres. Base yourself at The Boomerangs to explore sections or all of this incredible walk. Recover each evening in luxury accommodation and ready yourself for the following day’s activity.

Temperate rainforests and waterfalls, exquisite walks, deserted beaches, the 12 Apostles, the Otway Fly and the Cape Otway Lightstation are all just a short drive away. At home in the cottages – let nature reveal herself to you! Of course, natural attractions are not all that’s on offer down here. There are some great towns nearby which have some fantastic cafes and restaurants and shops of all description. Lavers Hill, which is just a few minutes away has numerous cafes where you can get a great cooked breakfast and superb coffee.

Chorleywood B&B, Burradoo

Chorleywood B&B, Burradoo

 

Chorleywood B&B in Burradoo in the NSW Southern Highlands features a spacious, detached, private cottage with its own entrance.

The cottage contains a double bed (or twins), ensuite bathroom, with fluffy towels and all linen supplied.

Cool in summer, and cosily heated for those colder evenings, relax in comfortable lounges and enjoy TV, music, or reading magazines and books.

A fully equipped kitchen, with stove, fridge, microwave and all utensils, allows you to make your own meals during your stay.

Of course, at Chorleywood a generous breakfast hamper is provided with country fresh provisions to start your day: cereals, breads, ham, eggs, tomatoes, milk, plunger coffee and a range of teas.

Burradoo, established about one and a quarter centuries ago, is today an elegant residential area adjacent to Bowral, in the centre of the Southern Highlands.

Long favoured as a country retreat by generations of city folk, Burradoo’s leafy streets and lanes, grand houses, and magnificent gardens have their own very special attraction for the modern visitor.

Bowral, with its many cafes and excellent restaurants is just a fifteen minute walk away.

However, our guests often prefer to cook in the kitchen, serve a gourmet take-away and relax and dine in the cottage, or if you prefer – in the main house’s elegant dining room nearby.

Or better still, feel free to join your host Sue Hawick pottering around in the garden, or just spend some time in quiet reflection on one of the many benches and seats among the beautiful garden beds and trees and watch the abundant native birdlife.

A morning or evening stroll around the nearby picturesque streets of Burradoo is a local custom you will not be able to resist.

Sue will be happy to offer information about local attractions, and can help organise intineraries for sightseeing, golf, bushwalking, shopping, and assist with transport – to and from the train station, or while you are enjoying your getaway in the Highlands. Or, if you choose, offer a private and quiet environment for you to enjoy during your stay.

– Outstanding garden

– Internet Available

– Close to winery

– Close to restaurant

– No smoking on property

Gardeners’ and Gourmets’ Delight Tour of Norfolk Island

 Itinerary

 

Day one – Friday 10th October – Guests arrive from Sydney at approximately 12:40pm and are shuttled to their accommodation at the Hibiscus Aloha. The afternoon is free before we are collected from our accommodation for a ‘Welcome to Norfolk Island’ sunset gourmet BBQ at BedRock.

 

Day two – Saturday 11th October – At 9am we are picked up from our accommodation for a 3-hour tour of many of the islands sights looking at the fascinating history of Norfolk Island across all of its major periods of settlement. At 1pm we arrive at the cliff-top estate of Forrester Court for an indulgent high tea on the lawns overlooking the turquoise South Pacific. The evening is free for you to discover some of the islands many dining choices.

 

Day three – Sunday 12th October – Today is free until 2:45 pm for relaxing and doing your own thing. After being collected from our accommodation we arrive at 3pm at Music Valley gardens and farm. Here we’ll be shown around by the garden owner, Jane, looking at the sustainable garden and assisting in harvesting some produce for tonight’s dinner. We’ll depart Music Valley late afternoon before returning at 5.30pm for a sustainable island dinner.

 

Day four – Monday 13th October – Today we enjoy one of the highlights of the tour the annual Norfolk Island Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Show from 12pm after a morning of free time. Explore this small yet diverse and fascinating show before we are collected from our accommodation at 5:45pm for dinner at one of Norfolk’s finest eateries Hilli Restaurant.

 

Day five – Tuesday 14th October – Today a truly unique Norfolk Island experience – the Mastering Taste Chef School and Garden Tour. We visit the gardens where Hilli Restaurant grows much of its own produce using many sustainable principles and are given a tour by the gardener before we adjourn to the luxury kitchens on the property for a ‘master class’ with Hilli’s head chef. After we prepare lunch under chefs expert guidance it’s time to sit and enjoy our delicious work.

The remainder of the afternoon is free for you to relax and this evening is the optional but must-do local experience – a cliff-top sunset ‘fish-fry’.

 

Day six – Wednesday 15th October – Today we have a very special and exclusive experience. We’ll be picked up from our accommodation before touring the gardens that won awards in the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Show Garden Competition of which Adam was a guest judge. We’ll have lunch at the lovely Golden Orb Café & Bookshop before resuming our garden tour.

This evening is free but a dinner at Norfolk Island’s exceptional Dino’s Restaurant is highly recommended.

 

Day seven – Thursday 16th October – Today we experience a range of Norfolk Islands boutique gourmet and just plain yummy experiences visiting the islands coffee plantation, Sweeties chocolate shop and Christian Brothers cheeses with a light lunch in the middle.

This evening we are collected at 5:45pm for our farewell dinner at Norfolk Islands exquisite Norfolk Blue restaurant.

 

Day eight – Friday 17th October – Time this morning for some last minute shopping or relaxing before transferring to the airport at 11:45 prior to our departure from the island at 1:50pm.

 

British Isles, Castles, Gardens, History and Birdlife Cruise

11 Days (10 nights) – London to Edinburgh

Day 1. Arrive London and Embark Ship

On arrival, you will be met at the airport and transferred to Portsmouth (12.30 pm from the pre-cruise hotel or 1.00 pm from Victoria Coach Terminal) to board the MS Island Sky, your floating home for the next 10 nights.
Stay: Ten Nights: Aboard the luxurious small ship, the MS Island Sky
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Dinner

Day 2. Isles of Scilly and Tresco

Today you will cruise amid the beautiful Isles of Scilly, an idyllic archipelago off Great Britain’s southwestern tip. Disembark on the Island of Tresco, considered by many to be the most attractive of the islands. It is leased by the Dorrien-Smith family, who have created a wonderful 40-acre sub-tropical garden near their Tresco Abbey home. Here, enjoy a guided tour of the magnificent gardens, now internationally known as one of the finest examples of sub-tropical flora and fauna in the Northern Hemisphere. During your time here, you’ll also have the opportunity to go for a relaxing stroll along the traffic-free lanes of the island, and wander along one of the lovely white-sand beaches where the sea colour has more in common with the Aegean than the North Atlantic. This evening, enjoy a delicious dinner.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 3. Dunmore East, Freedom of Choice Touring

Your ship will arrive this evening at the picturesque fishing village of Dunmore East in County Waterford on Ireland’s southeastern coast. From here, you’ll travel to Mount Congreve Gardens, a vast and visually inspiring woodland garden set on the banks of the River Suir. Measuring around 70 acres, this privately-owned property features a four-acre walled garden. Later, choose from two touring options. You might like to drive to Kilkenny, one of Ireland’s most historic and attractive cities, where you will tour the Kilkenny Castle and design centre. Or, perhaps remain in County Waterford and visit Lismore Castle, which features the oldest continually cultivated gardens in Ireland, followed by a tour of the world-famous Waterford Crystal Factory.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 4. Dublin, Freedom of Choice Touring

Arrive in Dublin Bay and enter the mouth of the River Liffey. From here, you have a choice of activities. Perhaps travel by coach into Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains and visit the gardens of Powerscourt and Mount Usher, or perhaps visit the private garden of botanical author, Helen Dillon and Mt Usher, or enjoy time at leisure to explore Dublin.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Dinner

Day 5. Welsh Gardens, Freedom of Choice Touring

This morning after breakfast, you’ll cruise to the Welsh Coast. Here, choose from a tour of Portmeirion village and its gardens, or perhaps visit the gardens of nearby Plas Brondanw, the family home of Clough Williams-Ellis. Then drive through the famous Snowdonia region to Bodnant Garden, one of the most beautiful gardens in the United Kingdom. Spanning some 80 acres, the garden is set above the River Conwy and offers views to the Snowdonia range. Spend the afternoon strolling through the upper garden with its terraces and informal lawns, then continue into the wild garden of the lower section, formed by the valley of the River Hiraethlyn. In the evening, you will return to your ship for dinner back on board.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 6. Belfast and Mount Stewart

Disembark your luxurious small ship in Belfast and enjoy a sightseeing city tour. Later, visit Mount Stewart, an 18th-century house and garden in County Down, Northern Ireland. Planted in the 1920s by Lady Londonderry, the beautiful gardens today are owned by The National Trust and are of significant international importance.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 7. Isle of Jura, Isle of Gigha, Achamore House and Gardens

Cruise to the Isle of Jura, where you’ll have the option to visit a 200-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery or perhaps enjoy a walk. This afternoon, cruise to the Isle of Gigha. Privately owned by its 120 inhabitants, the island landscape consists of heather-covered hills, deserted sandy beaches, clear green seas and just one single-lane road. Here, wander through the gardens of Achamore House. Laid out by Sir James Horlick from 1944, this stunning garden boasts a wonderful collection of azaleas, rhododendrons and exotic plants.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 8. Isle of Iona, Isle of Mull and Duart Castle

Cruise to the Isle of Iona, a place of tranquillity and natural beauty, where more than 40 Scottish Kings, as well as Kings from Ireland, France and Norway are buried. Explore the elaborate and well-preserved Iona Abbey, and perhaps take a short walk to the Bay at the Back of the Ocean. Next, we set off to the Isle of Mull and Tobermory for a visit to Duart Castle, a 13th-century clifftop castle surrounded by the Millennium Wood – a superb collection of indigenous trees and shrubs planted in the year 2000.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 9. Inverewe Gardens

Today you’ll cruise past the Isle of Skye and The Minch. Afterwards, your ship will drop anchor and you’ll enjoy a zodiac ride to one of Scotland’s premier gardens, Inverewe. Set on the coast among the north-west Scottish Highlands and widely regarded as one of the most beautiful gardens of the region, this botanical garden presents an amazing collection of exotic trees and shrubs that are sheltered by well-positioned windbreaks of native pine. Wander through the incredible gardens, covering some 49 acres, where you have the opportunity to take in the natural beauty of over 2,500 exotic plants and flowers.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 10. Aberdeen and Crathes Castle

Cruising along Scotland’s east coast, over the waters of the North Sea, today you’ll arrive at Aberdeen. Disembark and travel by coach through Royal Deeside, the picturesque valley of the River Dee. Absorb the lovely scenery as you head to Crathes Castle. This magical 16th-century castle is renowned for its 240 hectares of incredible landscaped grounds and formal gardens. Here, take in the cinematic Scottish countryside as you explore the garden and surrounding woodlands. Back on board, enjoy an afternoon at sea before a special Farewell Dinner this evening.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 11. Disembark Ship and Depart Edinburgh

After breakfast, disembark the MS Island Sky in Edinburgh.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast

 

Glorious Gardens of New Zealand’s South Island

Join Lynne Walker, on a personal tour to New Zealand to visit her favourite gardens. Visiting the best of the South Island’s gardens ranging from grand and historic gardens to special private gardens not normally open to the public, Lynne will introduce you to her fabulous selection of private and well-known gardens and some passionate gardeners as well. See spectacular and dramatic scenery, castles and wineries, visit artisans and galleries and, along the way, enjoy delicious regional food and wine.

Tour Highlights:

 The grandeur and history of some of NZ’s oldest gardens, including gardens of national and international significance
 The garden city of Christchurch and the historic French settlement of Akaroa
 Gardens and wineries in the Marlborough region
 Overnight stays in unique accommodation
 Luxuriant woodland gardens tucked under the Southern Alps
 The dramatic scenery of Mackenzie Country and Mount Cook
 Lunch at Riverstone Kitchen and Fleurs Place – two of the best restaurants in NZ
 Special access to private gardens
 The heritage university city of Dunedin, Larnach Castle and a flourishing South Sea Island garden
 The turquoise lakes of Wanaka and Queenstown

 

Day 1 Depart Australia Sat 15 Nov
Meet your Tour Leader, Lynne Walker at Sydney International Airport and depart for Christchurch, gateway to the South Island. Arrive mid-afternoon with time to freshen up before a Welcome Dinner and overview of the program. This is a city in the process of rebuilding itself and we will be staying beside one of its most enduring and unchanged features – the gently winding Avon River lined with grassy banks of poplars and weeping willows.
Overnight: Chateau on the Park Meals: In-flight & D

Day 2 Christchurch Sun 16 Nov
After breakfast depart on an orientation tour of Christchurch, known as ‘The Garden City’. We take a guided tour of the world-class Botanic Gardens taking in the flora, fauna and history of the gardens, as well as a trip on the Christchurch Gondola to lunch with spectacular views of the city, mountains, lake and harbour. After lunch visit a private garden of international significance on the shores of Lyttleton Harbour.
Overnight: Chateau on the Park Meals: BL

Day 3 Christchurch – Akaroa Mon 17 Nov
Today we leave Christchurch for the Banks Peninsula and the charming early French settlement of Akaroa. En route we’ll visit three very memorable and very different gardens. Lunch at a spectacular English-style country garden stylishly designed by its owner, one New Zealand’s foremost plantswomen. Later we’ll visit a spectacular historic garden for a private guided tour of the gardens which date back 118 years and provide an insight into why and how Victorians grew certain kinds of plants. Afterwards continue to the charming and historic village of Akaroa.
Overnight: Akaroa Village Inn Meals: BL

Day 4 Akaroa Tues 18 Nov
After breakfast in a waterfront café we’ll spend the day visiting three private gardens all in the same street in Akaroa. Our first garden is a private garden with large lawns, rose garden, pathways, arbours and pond nestled amongst mature native and English trees. The second garden, in contrast, is a historic Akaroa house surrounded by an exuberant and quirky sculpture mosaic garden and gallery, certain to make you smile. Our third garden is a luxuriant cottage garden featuring old roses and lavenders surrounding a picturesque cottage originally built in the 1850’s. Return to the harbour for an optional dolphin cruise – highly recommended – and dinner on the waterfront.
Overnight: Akaroa Village Inn Meals: BL

Day 5 Akaroa – Hanmer Springs Wed 19 Nov
Our first garden today is an idyllic garden with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, where native plants are combined with a diverse array of non-native plants to create a truly New Zealand ambience. Then we travel north west into a stunning alpine garden in the foothills of the Southern Alps with sculptures and a clever use of water. Lunch will be provided by our charming hostess. We then travel north to the historic spa centre of Hanmer Springs to stay at the magnificent Heritage Hotel
Overnight: Heritage Hotel, Hanmer Springs Meals: BLD

Day 6 Hanmer Springs – Renwick Thu 20 Nov
Morning free to relax and enjoy Hanmer Springs (great shopping with fine NZ products). Leave after lunch for the drive north to Renwick near Blenheim in the wine region of Marlborough. The journey takes us via Springs Junction and Murchison with an afternoon tea stop at Lake Rotoiti. Dinner after booking in at our hotel in the heart of the vineyards. Overnight: Marlborough Vintners Hotel, Renwick Meals: BD

Day 7 Renwick Fri 21 Nov
The three gardens today are all very different and are located in the Renwick Valley, home of some of NZ’s most famous wineries. The first garden is Hortensia, a specialist garden where masses of colour co-ordinated flowers in hazy pastels of blue and yellow are planted along the banks of a spectacular stream. Close by is another romantic garden, this time much more formal with an exquisite 17th century-style knot garden with box hedged colour-themed beds as well as a productive vegetable garden with espaliered fruit trees on brick walls and a small olive grove. Lunch at one of Marlborough’s top outdoor vineyard restaurants and later visit another remarkable garden informally created on several levels and planted with great skill and ingenuity by its owner.
Overnight: Marlborough Vintners Hotel, Renwick Meals: BL

Day 8 Renwick – Kaikoura Sat 22 Nov
Another day visiting gorgeous gardens as we travel south to Kaikoura – one inland and one coastal. “For plant connoisseurs this is a garden made in heaven overflowing with unusual and special plants. Here you will find the very best of herbaceous perennials and shrubs”. So says NZ Garden Writer Judith Petheram, of our first garden today. After time for lunch at the spectacular seaside café, The Store at Kekerungu, visit a remarkable coastal garden that’s been planned on classical French lines. Features include a high brick wall enclosing a canal garden leading to a formal box-edged rose garden. All this along with magnificent coastal views. Continue on to Kaikoura.
Overnight: Anchor Inn, Kaikoura Meals: B

Day 9 Kaikoura – Windwhistle Sun 23 Nov
Today is a day of roses and history commencing with a visit to a hillside garden paradise with the largest collection of old roses in New Zealand, owned by one of NZ’s foremost rose authorities. Then visit the property of one of the most famous Canterbury families; a garden renowned for its trees and rhododendrons as well as its many historic outbuildings which give an insight into the lives of early settlers in the 19th century. After lunch travel to one of the South Island’s oldest homes and gardens formerly the home of one of New Zealand’s significant democratic reformers and still in his family. The garden has magnificent ancient trees and the extensive woodland underneath has mass planting of bulbs, perennials and herbaceous plants.
Overnight: Terrace Downs Resort, Windwhistle Meals: BLD

Day 10 Windwhistle – Ashburton Mon 24 Nov
Leaving Windwhistle travel to the base of the Southern Alps, to a beautiful garden featuring a haha, rhododendrons, dogwoods, lush perennial borders, sweeping lawns and an exceptional tree and shrub collection. Stop for lunch at another outstanding country farm garden en route and at Ashburton visit one of the most renowned gardens in New Zealand, planned from the start unlike most gardens.
Overnight: Mainstay Hotel, Ashburton Meals: BLD

Day 11 Ashburton – Mount Cook Tue 25 Nov
Today, before heading westwards to Mount Cook visit two of the more significant historic stations in coastal South Canterbury. The first one has been in the same family for generations and celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. Original farm buildings and an old wooden church are complemented by seven hectares of sweeping lawns, old trees, woodland planting, boxed borders adding colour and interest and a small hand-dug lake. Continue to another historic house and garden nearby for lunch and a stroll. Afterwards travel through Mackenzie Country to Mount Cook with a stop at the Church of Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo. Built as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie Country, the Church of the Good Shepherd is an enduring landmark amongst the natural beauty of the lake and mountains.
Overnight: The Hermitage, Mt Cook Meals: BLD

Day 12 Aoraki Mount Cook Wed 26 Nov
Today is a completely garden-free day to relax. Outdoor activities include a Glacier Explorers Boat Tour to the Tasman Glacier – highly recommended – or gentle walks around the resort. Worth a visit is the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre; a fascinating museum and display of the great mountaineer and humanitarian.
Overnight: The Hermitage, Mt Cook Meals: B

Day 13 Mount Cook – Oamaru Thu 27 Nov
Leaving Mount Cook we head east to Oamaru visiting a specialist alpine garden en route. Stop for a special lunch at Riverstone Kitchen where the slogan is ‘buy local, think seasonal and eat well’ and afterwards inspect the extensive kitchen gardens tended by the chef’s energetic mother Dot. Continue to Oamaru, former home of author Janet Frame. Architecturally rich, Omaru’s heritage can be seen in many public buildings in the town centre. Oamaru is also home to a wonderful collection of artisans, including master trug maker Bill Blair, located in the Victorian precinct adjacent to the harbour.
Overnight: Hotel Byrdone, Oamaru Meals: BLD

Day 14 Oamaru – Dunedin Fri 28 Nov

Today we head south to Dunedin visiting a hilltop garden with spectacular plantings overlooking the Waianakarua river valley. After a lunch stop at famous Fleur’s Place, a rustic portside café continue to Dunedin where a late afternoon Monarch Harbour Cruise is planned to see the best of the Otago Peninsula’s wildlife – albatross, penguins and ocean birds. Later check in to Larnach Castle, our home for the night. Larnach Castle has a garden of international significance and the owner, a dedicated plantswoman, and longtime member of the Dendrology Society has created a haven for garden types from all over the world, including a spectacular South Seas garden. Dinner in the castle.
Overnight: Larnach Castle Meals: BLD

Day 15 Dunedin Sat 29 Nov

After a scenic tour of Dunedin, tour historic Olveston, a grand Jacobean-style home that showcases the exquisite skills of 19th century craftsmen and displays the priceless treasures and artifacts collected by the Theomin family. Later visit the stunning Dunedin Botanic Gardens which have just celebrated their 150th anniversary. Lunch will be available at the distinctive kiosk restaurant.
Overnight: Mercure Dunedin Meals: BL

Day 16 Dunedin – Wanaka Sun 30 Nov
Depart and visit a large country garden with hundreds of heritage roses on the outskirts of Dunedin. Afterwards travel west through the dramatic Lord of The Rings type landscape to the lakeside township of Wanaka with a lunch stop along the way. Evening free for dinner
Overnight: Edgewater Resort Meals: BL

Day 17 Wanaka – Tarras – Wanaka Mon 1 Dec
Visit the small farming settlement of Tarras and see some delightful family- owned private gardens including a large cottage garden plus a stunning modern garden high on a hillside and finally lunch in the lovely garden of a high country station which has been owned by the same family for over 100 years. Return to Wanaka free time before dinner in a restaurant by Lake Wanaka.
Overnight: Edgewater Resort Meals: BL

Day 18 Wanaka – Queenstown Tue 2 Dec
Depart for Queenstown and travel via two stunning high country farm gardens on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Lunch stop at the rustic Cardrona Pub, one of the oldest hotels in the country, then continue on to Queenstown with its magnificent backdrop of the snow-capped Southern Alps. Free afternoon to relax, shop or take a trip on the historic steamship – TSS Earnslaw, affectionately known as the ‘Lady of the Lake’.
Overnight: Novotel, Queenstown Meals: BD

Day 19 Queenstown Wed 3 Dec
Our last day includes a visit to a lavender farm and a stroll through Arrowtown’s old 1860s gold-mining village for lunch. Conclude the tour with a visit to an extraordinary and imaginative private garden where much thought has gone into ensuring seasonal colour reflects the surrounding mountainous landscape. Farewell Dinner this evening.
Overnight: Novotel, Queenstown Meals: BD

Day 20 Queenstown – Sydney Thurs 4 Dec
Depart Queenstown for the return flight to Australia.

Glorious Gardens of New Zealand's South Island

Join Lynne Walker, on a personal tour to New Zealand to visit her favourite gardens. Visiting the best of the South Island’s gardens ranging from grand and historic gardens to special private gardens not normally open to the public, Lynne will introduce you to her fabulous selection of private and well-known gardens and some passionate gardeners as well. See spectacular and dramatic scenery, castles and wineries, visit artisans and galleries and, along the way, enjoy delicious regional food and wine.

Tour Highlights:

 The grandeur and history of some of NZ’s oldest gardens, including gardens of national and international significance
 The garden city of Christchurch and the historic French settlement of Akaroa
 Gardens and wineries in the Marlborough region
 Overnight stays in unique accommodation
 Luxuriant woodland gardens tucked under the Southern Alps
 The dramatic scenery of Mackenzie Country and Mount Cook
 Lunch at Riverstone Kitchen and Fleurs Place – two of the best restaurants in NZ
 Special access to private gardens
 The heritage university city of Dunedin, Larnach Castle and a flourishing South Sea Island garden
 The turquoise lakes of Wanaka and Queenstown

 

Day 1 Depart Australia Sat 15 Nov
Meet your Tour Leader, Lynne Walker at Sydney International Airport and depart for Christchurch, gateway to the South Island. Arrive mid-afternoon with time to freshen up before a Welcome Dinner and overview of the program. This is a city in the process of rebuilding itself and we will be staying beside one of its most enduring and unchanged features – the gently winding Avon River lined with grassy banks of poplars and weeping willows.
Overnight: Chateau on the Park Meals: In-flight & D

Day 2 Christchurch Sun 16 Nov
After breakfast depart on an orientation tour of Christchurch, known as ‘The Garden City’. We take a guided tour of the world-class Botanic Gardens taking in the flora, fauna and history of the gardens, as well as a trip on the Christchurch Gondola to lunch with spectacular views of the city, mountains, lake and harbour. After lunch visit a private garden of international significance on the shores of Lyttleton Harbour.
Overnight: Chateau on the Park Meals: BL

Day 3 Christchurch – Akaroa Mon 17 Nov
Today we leave Christchurch for the Banks Peninsula and the charming early French settlement of Akaroa. En route we’ll visit three very memorable and very different gardens. Lunch at a spectacular English-style country garden stylishly designed by its owner, one New Zealand’s foremost plantswomen. Later we’ll visit a spectacular historic garden for a private guided tour of the gardens which date back 118 years and provide an insight into why and how Victorians grew certain kinds of plants. Afterwards continue to the charming and historic village of Akaroa.
Overnight: Akaroa Village Inn Meals: BL

Day 4 Akaroa Tues 18 Nov
After breakfast in a waterfront café we’ll spend the day visiting three private gardens all in the same street in Akaroa. Our first garden is a private garden with large lawns, rose garden, pathways, arbours and pond nestled amongst mature native and English trees. The second garden, in contrast, is a historic Akaroa house surrounded by an exuberant and quirky sculpture mosaic garden and gallery, certain to make you smile. Our third garden is a luxuriant cottage garden featuring old roses and lavenders surrounding a picturesque cottage originally built in the 1850’s. Return to the harbour for an optional dolphin cruise – highly recommended – and dinner on the waterfront.
Overnight: Akaroa Village Inn Meals: BL

Day 5 Akaroa – Hanmer Springs Wed 19 Nov
Our first garden today is an idyllic garden with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, where native plants are combined with a diverse array of non-native plants to create a truly New Zealand ambience. Then we travel north west into a stunning alpine garden in the foothills of the Southern Alps with sculptures and a clever use of water. Lunch will be provided by our charming hostess. We then travel north to the historic spa centre of Hanmer Springs to stay at the magnificent Heritage Hotel
Overnight: Heritage Hotel, Hanmer Springs Meals: BLD

Day 6 Hanmer Springs – Renwick Thu 20 Nov
Morning free to relax and enjoy Hanmer Springs (great shopping with fine NZ products). Leave after lunch for the drive north to Renwick near Blenheim in the wine region of Marlborough. The journey takes us via Springs Junction and Murchison with an afternoon tea stop at Lake Rotoiti. Dinner after booking in at our hotel in the heart of the vineyards. Overnight: Marlborough Vintners Hotel, Renwick Meals: BD

Day 7 Renwick Fri 21 Nov
The three gardens today are all very different and are located in the Renwick Valley, home of some of NZ’s most famous wineries. The first garden is Hortensia, a specialist garden where masses of colour co-ordinated flowers in hazy pastels of blue and yellow are planted along the banks of a spectacular stream. Close by is another romantic garden, this time much more formal with an exquisite 17th century-style knot garden with box hedged colour-themed beds as well as a productive vegetable garden with espaliered fruit trees on brick walls and a small olive grove. Lunch at one of Marlborough’s top outdoor vineyard restaurants and later visit another remarkable garden informally created on several levels and planted with great skill and ingenuity by its owner.
Overnight: Marlborough Vintners Hotel, Renwick Meals: BL

Day 8 Renwick – Kaikoura Sat 22 Nov
Another day visiting gorgeous gardens as we travel south to Kaikoura – one inland and one coastal. “For plant connoisseurs this is a garden made in heaven overflowing with unusual and special plants. Here you will find the very best of herbaceous perennials and shrubs”. So says NZ Garden Writer Judith Petheram, of our first garden today. After time for lunch at the spectacular seaside café, The Store at Kekerungu, visit a remarkable coastal garden that’s been planned on classical French lines. Features include a high brick wall enclosing a canal garden leading to a formal box-edged rose garden. All this along with magnificent coastal views. Continue on to Kaikoura.
Overnight: Anchor Inn, Kaikoura Meals: B

Day 9 Kaikoura – Windwhistle Sun 23 Nov
Today is a day of roses and history commencing with a visit to a hillside garden paradise with the largest collection of old roses in New Zealand, owned by one of NZ’s foremost rose authorities. Then visit the property of one of the most famous Canterbury families; a garden renowned for its trees and rhododendrons as well as its many historic outbuildings which give an insight into the lives of early settlers in the 19th century. After lunch travel to one of the South Island’s oldest homes and gardens formerly the home of one of New Zealand’s significant democratic reformers and still in his family. The garden has magnificent ancient trees and the extensive woodland underneath has mass planting of bulbs, perennials and herbaceous plants.
Overnight: Terrace Downs Resort, Windwhistle Meals: BLD

Day 10 Windwhistle – Ashburton Mon 24 Nov
Leaving Windwhistle travel to the base of the Southern Alps, to a beautiful garden featuring a haha, rhododendrons, dogwoods, lush perennial borders, sweeping lawns and an exceptional tree and shrub collection. Stop for lunch at another outstanding country farm garden en route and at Ashburton visit one of the most renowned gardens in New Zealand, planned from the start unlike most gardens.
Overnight: Mainstay Hotel, Ashburton Meals: BLD

Day 11 Ashburton – Mount Cook Tue 25 Nov
Today, before heading westwards to Mount Cook visit two of the more significant historic stations in coastal South Canterbury. The first one has been in the same family for generations and celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. Original farm buildings and an old wooden church are complemented by seven hectares of sweeping lawns, old trees, woodland planting, boxed borders adding colour and interest and a small hand-dug lake. Continue to another historic house and garden nearby for lunch and a stroll. Afterwards travel through Mackenzie Country to Mount Cook with a stop at the Church of Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo. Built as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie Country, the Church of the Good Shepherd is an enduring landmark amongst the natural beauty of the lake and mountains.
Overnight: The Hermitage, Mt Cook Meals: BLD

Day 12 Aoraki Mount Cook Wed 26 Nov
Today is a completely garden-free day to relax. Outdoor activities include a Glacier Explorers Boat Tour to the Tasman Glacier – highly recommended – or gentle walks around the resort. Worth a visit is the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre; a fascinating museum and display of the great mountaineer and humanitarian.
Overnight: The Hermitage, Mt Cook Meals: B

Day 13 Mount Cook – Oamaru Thu 27 Nov
Leaving Mount Cook we head east to Oamaru visiting a specialist alpine garden en route. Stop for a special lunch at Riverstone Kitchen where the slogan is ‘buy local, think seasonal and eat well’ and afterwards inspect the extensive kitchen gardens tended by the chef’s energetic mother Dot. Continue to Oamaru, former home of author Janet Frame. Architecturally rich, Omaru’s heritage can be seen in many public buildings in the town centre. Oamaru is also home to a wonderful collection of artisans, including master trug maker Bill Blair, located in the Victorian precinct adjacent to the harbour.
Overnight: Hotel Byrdone, Oamaru Meals: BLD

Day 14 Oamaru – Dunedin Fri 28 Nov

Today we head south to Dunedin visiting a hilltop garden with spectacular plantings overlooking the Waianakarua river valley. After a lunch stop at famous Fleur’s Place, a rustic portside café continue to Dunedin where a late afternoon Monarch Harbour Cruise is planned to see the best of the Otago Peninsula’s wildlife – albatross, penguins and ocean birds. Later check in to Larnach Castle, our home for the night. Larnach Castle has a garden of international significance and the owner, a dedicated plantswoman, and longtime member of the Dendrology Society has created a haven for garden types from all over the world, including a spectacular South Seas garden. Dinner in the castle.
Overnight: Larnach Castle Meals: BLD

Day 15 Dunedin Sat 29 Nov

After a scenic tour of Dunedin, tour historic Olveston, a grand Jacobean-style home that showcases the exquisite skills of 19th century craftsmen and displays the priceless treasures and artifacts collected by the Theomin family. Later visit the stunning Dunedin Botanic Gardens which have just celebrated their 150th anniversary. Lunch will be available at the distinctive kiosk restaurant.
Overnight: Mercure Dunedin Meals: BL

Day 16 Dunedin – Wanaka Sun 30 Nov
Depart and visit a large country garden with hundreds of heritage roses on the outskirts of Dunedin. Afterwards travel west through the dramatic Lord of The Rings type landscape to the lakeside township of Wanaka with a lunch stop along the way. Evening free for dinner
Overnight: Edgewater Resort Meals: BL

Day 17 Wanaka – Tarras – Wanaka Mon 1 Dec
Visit the small farming settlement of Tarras and see some delightful family- owned private gardens including a large cottage garden plus a stunning modern garden high on a hillside and finally lunch in the lovely garden of a high country station which has been owned by the same family for over 100 years. Return to Wanaka free time before dinner in a restaurant by Lake Wanaka.
Overnight: Edgewater Resort Meals: BL

Day 18 Wanaka – Queenstown Tue 2 Dec
Depart for Queenstown and travel via two stunning high country farm gardens on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Lunch stop at the rustic Cardrona Pub, one of the oldest hotels in the country, then continue on to Queenstown with its magnificent backdrop of the snow-capped Southern Alps. Free afternoon to relax, shop or take a trip on the historic steamship – TSS Earnslaw, affectionately known as the ‘Lady of the Lake’.
Overnight: Novotel, Queenstown Meals: BD

Day 19 Queenstown Wed 3 Dec
Our last day includes a visit to a lavender farm and a stroll through Arrowtown’s old 1860s gold-mining village for lunch. Conclude the tour with a visit to an extraordinary and imaginative private garden where much thought has gone into ensuring seasonal colour reflects the surrounding mountainous landscape. Farewell Dinner this evening.
Overnight: Novotel, Queenstown Meals: BD

Day 20 Queenstown – Sydney Thurs 4 Dec
Depart Queenstown for the return flight to Australia.

Natural Landscapes and Gardens of New Zealand

Day 1: Tuesday 11 November, Arrive Auckland

The tour begins in Auckland. Those travelling on the designated flight will transfer by private coach to the hotel. In the evening we will enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Auckland) D

Day 2: Wednesday 12 November, Day excursion to the West Coast & Waitakere Ranges Regional Park
• Hynds garden, Piha, with landscape designer Trish Bartleet

This morning we depart by coach for the Arataki Visitor Information Centre, situated within Auckland’s largest regional park, Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. The Centre’s decks offer breathtaking panoramic views extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Inside, displays explain the history, flora and fauna of the region, accompanied by some beautifully carved Maori guardian posts.

We next journey to the wild and rugged West Coast. In Piha, landscape designer Trish Bartleet will show us one of her favourite gardens, Hynds Garden. Its contemporary design uses weathered steel and rocks to enhance the landscape and plantings that are predominantly native. The garden is not very large but is intensively planted and the spaces around the house are so designed to extend the illusion of broad boundaries. The house itself has been featured in numerous magazines, having won the New Zealand Institute of Architects Resene New Zealand Awards for Architecture in 2005. It enjoys a spectacular panoramic view over Piha Beach and the Tasman Sea.

After enjoying a ‘kiwi-style’ picnic lunch at Piha, we drive to Karekare to visit a magnificent rugged West Coast beach. You will have a chance to stroll through a glade of centuries-old, gnarled pohutukawa trees and along its unique black, iron, sands and enjoy the fresh ocean breeze. The sea here has marvellous surf, some of the most consistently grand breakers in the world; the sea is seldom calm.
We travel back to Auckland through the Waitakere Ranges and the Cascades Kauri Park, where we pause for another walk through an area of untouched rainforest containing mature 1,000 year-old Kauri trees. Millions of years of physical isolation has led to the evolution of New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna; 70% of its native plants are found nowhere else in the world. Our local guide will explain the native species as we walk amongst the park’s famous Kauri trees and giant tree ferns, observing its distinctive native birds. (Overnight Auckland) BL

Day 3: Thursday 13 November, Auckland – Warkworth – Coatesville – Auckland
• Brick Bay Sculpture Trail
• Omaio Garden
• Woodbridge Gardens
• Mincher Garden

Today we drive an hour north of Auckland to the Tekaku Peninsula, where we visit the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail, a 2km route through a remarkable landscape of towering trees and plants, and abundant bird-life, built to showcase up to 30 pieces of contemporary sculpture by established and emerging artists.

Nearby, we visit Omaio Garden, owned by Liz Morrow, the Executive Officer of the New Zealand Garden Trust. ‘Omaio’ is the Maori word for ‘place of peace, quiet and tranquility’. Much of the planting in this garden is native, but it also incorporates other features such as a vegetable garden and an orchard. Liz will introduce her garden and will host our lunch.

On our way back to Auckland we stop at Coatesville where we visit Woodbridge Gardens. These are owned by Christine and Tony Peek who in 1991 began to transform bare 8 acre farmland into a space of plants, trees and flowers. The garden, which incorporates both native and imported flora, as well as water features, is renowned for its glorious vistas and it spring plantings which should be at their finest at the time of our visit.

We also visit Mincher, a semi-formal garden established (1995) on the site of market gardens. A white horse chesnut-lined driveway leads to the garden and ponds surrounding a Neo-Georgian family home. Within a framework of mature trees backed by native bush, Angela Spooner has established herbaceous borders, a formal parterre and a shrubbery with topiarised acmenas. Her favourite species include roses, daylilies and three varieties of ilex or holly. They form hedging as well as stand-alone specimens. A silver birch copse is under-planted with bluebells and daffodils. These provide early spring colour, augmented by daffodils around the cottage garden and ornamental cherries in the spring garden. (Overnight Auckland) BL

Day 4: Friday 14 November, Auckland – Whitford – Epsom – Auckland
• Ayrlies, Whitford
• Auckland Botanic Gardens
• Epsom Residence (Architect Ron Sang’s private residence; garden by Ted Smyth (TBC 2014)

This morning we visit one of New Zealand’s premier gardens, Ayrlies, located just outside Auckland in Whitford. Ayrlies covers nearly 5 hectares, with ponds, waterfalls, spacious lawns, mature trees, beyond which it offers constant glimpses of the sea. Traditional rose and shrubbery borders counterpoint tropical gullies, native outcrops, and arid gardens of succulents, all set amid stonewalls, summerhouses and many restful seating areas.

We return to the city to visit the Auckland Botanic Gardens. These gardens boast over 10,000 plants from around the world – a remarkable number for a garden that only opened to the public in 1982. Since then, the Auckland Botanic Gardens has been the recipient of numerous awards, particularly in the areas of conservation and education. After our visit, there will be time at leisure to allow you eat and appetising light lunch at the Gardens’ excellent Cafe Miko.
We next travel south of Auckland to visit architect Ron Sang’s private residence and garden at Epsom (subject to confirmation). The extraordinary ultra-modern house that Ron designed for himself is surrounded by a lush garden designed by noted New Zealand landscape architect, Ted Smyth. The house features a startling pool courtyard from which the lush plantings may be viewed through vast sheets of glass. Ron, who has a very fine art collection, has collaborated with Ted, arguably New Zealand’s most internationally renowned garden designer, since 1963. After viewing this powerful combination of fine garden and contemporary house architecture, we return to Auckland. (Overnight Auckland) B

Day 5: Saturday 15 November, Auckland – Hamilton – New Plymouth
• Hamilton Gardens
• Evening lecture: The Geology of New Plymouth

We drive south today, descending from Auckland to the Waikato Plain and thence to Hamilton, a city of with beautiful and extensive Botanical Gardens. After exploring the Chinese Scholars Garden, the Japanese Garden of Contemplation, the Italian Renaissance Garden, the English Flower Garden and more, we continue south to New Plymouth.

On arrival, we shall transfer to our waterfront hotel located at the centre of New Plymouth. This evening we meet our local host, Ross Eden, who will present a lecture on the unique geology of New Plymouth, whose volcano, Mount Taranaki (Mount Egmont) has created a distinctive microclimate, and inspired a number of Maori legends. Ross has over 25 years of mountaineering experience and has a wealth of knowledge on the New Plymouth area, having established over 20 new rock routes on Mt Taranaki and written three guidebooks on climbing within the region. (Overnight New Plymouth) B

Day 6: Sunday 16 November, New Plymouth Area
• Guided walk of Egmont National Park
• Pukekura Park

We spend this morning in the company of Ross Eden who will lead us on a walk along the slopes of Mt Taranaki to observe a progression of plant species and learn about the distinctive vegetation of this stunning natural park. We first drive to the North Egmont Te Wai Whaikato Visitors Centre, located in a historic camp house that housed a local regiment during the 1860 Taranaki Land Wars before being relocated to its present site, 960 metres above sea level. From here we walk along the “Veronica Loop Track” which climbs to approximately 1100 metres before descending again. The vegetation begins at lower altitudes with dwarf kamahi and montane totara that give way to tree daisy and leatherwood as we ascend. Along the track various mosses and ferns grow among turpentine, broom and tutu. We will also see orisia and tutukiwi (hooded orchids) that bloom in late spring.

Note: for those preferring a less strenuous walk, there is the option to follow one of the easier loop walks departing from the Visitor Centre and to enjoy some refreshments at the café while waiting for your fellow group members to return.

In the afternoon we shall visit one of New Zealand’s garden highlights, Pukekura Park, one of the country’s premier botanical gardens, once a treeless, swampy valley in 1876. The visionary Robert Clinton Hughes assured the passing of New Zealand’s Botanical Gardens Bill that enabled the park to be founded. In 1878 the main lake was formed, followed in 1884 by ‘Poets Bridge’, built from the winnings of a horse race. A bandstand (1888) and, to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, a drinking fountain was unveiled (1897). The park was named ‘Pukekura’ in 1907, the name taken from the stream that runs through it. A fernery followed in 1928 and a waterfall in 1970. Pukekura Park’s Fernery and Display Houses offer stunning and inviting visual experiences all year round they are heated in winter, offering a sumptuous array of colour and texture. We shall visit the garden with the Park’s curator. (Overnight New Plymouth) B

Day 7: Monday 17 November, New Plymouth Area
• Pukeiti
• Oakley Garden, Manaia

The New Plymouth region is dominated both visually and ecologically by Mount Taranaki. The mountain is one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world, rising 2,518 metres out of the surrounding plain, a mere ten-minute drive from the coastline. Mount Egmont National Park, which embraces both Mt Taranaki and the older, heavily eroded sister volcanoes in the nearby Kaitake Range, also features lush temperate rainforests. Over 50 rivers and streams flow down from the mountain and the whole region has an utterly unique botany. It contains a wide variety of vegetation, from sub-tropical semi-coastal forest in the Kaitake ranges to sub-alpine herb fields at an altitude of 1800 metres on the main cone. We shall explore the exceptional challenges and opportunities that this unique has to presented garden designers.

The jewel in the region’s crown is Pukeiti, New Zealand’s premier rhododendron garden, where over 10,000 rhododendrons and azaleas bloom within the magnificent rainforest covering the lower slopes of Mount Taranaki. The garden was established to regenerate an area that had once been logged; it was replanted with rimu and other podocarps. It is very large, with many tracks winding through the rainforest. Careful pest control has protected the garden, which now boasts a large number of native birds (eg tui, bellbird, pigeon, fantail, waxeye, cuckoo and whitehead). Mountain streams provide habitat for rare and endangered native fish. Special care has been taken to provide a colourful variety of flowerings throughout the year. In November the garden is alive with colour. Herbaceous plantings, alpines, primulas, hostas and thousands of bulbs dominate the garden until the giant Himalayan lilies flower in December. We shall lunch at Pukeiti’s Gatehouse Café.

After lunch we drive along the coast to Manaia, to the garden of Guy and Jenny Oakley. Jenny’s love of gardening, informed by a formal education in landscape design & horticulture, is expressed palpably in this large family garden. Although only 2km from the coast, this well established shelter provides a haven from the elements, with garden rooms linked by hedge-lined paths. Features include cottage style plantings, early flowering roses, a vegetable potager and stunning hanging baskets. (Overnight New Plymouth) BL

Day 8: Tuesday 18 November, New Plymouth – Wellington – Blenheim
• Puke Ariki Museum, New Plymouth
• Allan Scott Winery, Blenheim

This morning we shall make a short visit to the Puke Ariki museum with its fascinating exhibits displaying the natural history of this region, and how it has shaped the history and culture of the New Plymouth area. This ground-breaking knowledge centre combines a library, museum, research and visitor information centre.

We shall next transfer to New Plymouth Airport to fly to Wellington and transfer to our flight to Blenheim on the South Island. From our base in Blenheim we shall explore the beautiful landscapes of the Marlborough region, at the northeast corner of New Zealand’s South Island. This region is blessed with the more hours of sunshine than any other in New Zealand, and as a result it is here that we find both magnificent gardens and a vast number of vineyards, for which the area is famous. After disembarking, we shall drive to Allan Scott Winery for a wine tasting and refreshments, before proceeding to our hotel. (Overnight Blenheim) B

Day 9: Wednesday 19 November, Marlborough Region
• London Hill Garden
• Winterhome Garden
• Barewood Garden

Our first visit today is to London Hill, where Dennis and Barbara Burkhart have established a fine garden since 1998. Overlooking Lake Elterwater, London Hill Gardens enjoys magnificent views of Ben More and Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku. A lookout above the homestead also provides magnificent views. Exposed each year to the full range of climates, the garden reveals how havens can exist in the harshest environments. Here, beds of roses, lavender and catmint have been developed amidst old, well- established trees.

We will also visit the Winterhome garden at Kekerengu. Positioned on a cliff with dramatic views over the Pacific Ocean, Winterhome is renowned for its powerful design combining the classic cross axes with plantings of trees, shrubs and perennials. The garden features a rose garden with formal box edging, an orchard and a canal garden.
After lunch at Winterhome’s The Store café, considered one of the best eateries in the Malborough region, we will drive through the Awatere Valley to Barewood Garden. Owned by Joe and Carolyn Ferraby, this garden surrounds a rambling old homestead. Wisteria and old-fashioned roses frame its wide verandahs and mature trees surround its garden. Colourful mixed borders, a summer house, a formal potager, a pond with carefully tended water plants and sweeping lawns all combine to make this one of the premier gardens of the region.(Overnight Blenheim) BL

Day 10: Thursday 20 November, Marlborough Region
• Upton Oaks Garden
• Hortensia Garden
• Lunch at ‘La Verandah’ Restaurant
• Moritaki Garden

Today we continue to explore the Marlborough region. We start our day with a visit to Upton Oaks Garden, a beautifully restored romantic garden outside Blenheim. Upton’s showpiece is a knot garden in the style of the 17th century, where box hedges encase beds filled with colourful flowers.

Hortensia Garden, the next stop on our program, is the creation of artist Huguette Michel, whose French origins are expressed in the Impressionist inspiration of this lovely garden. We then break for lunch at ‘La Verandah’ Restaurant. This fine restaurant, located in a huge Victorian villa, is part of Huguette’s husband George Michel’s wine estate.
Peter and Andrea Forrest’s Moritaki Garden, situated at the foot of Withers Hills, is the third beautiful garden on today’s program. Dedicated solely to New Zealand natives, it nevertheless was designed by a Japanese gardener to express the traditional Japanese design principles of a water garden, in which a waterfall, stream and pond express the place of water in nature. (Overnight Blenheim) BL

Day 11: Friday 21 November, Blenheim – Punakaiki – Greymouth

Today we drive across the Marlborough Region to Greymouth on the west coast. This is one of the most sparsely populated areas of New Zealand. With the Tasman Sea to the west and the Southern Alps to the east, we will drive through a series of beautiful National Parks to the seaside town of Greymouth where we shall spend the night. We drive through the Mount Richmond Forest Park and the Nelson Lakes and Victoria National Parks to the west coast of the island. We follow the ‘Coast Road’, one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world. One of the scenic stops we make during the day will be at Punakaiki where the famous Pancake Rocks are located. These are limestone formations that began forming 30 million years ago, when lime-rich fragments of dead marine creatures were deposited on the seabed, then overlaid by weaker layers of soft mud and clay. The result is a fascinating rock formation that gives the appearance of vertical stacks of thin rocks. (Overnight Greymouth) BLD

Day 12: Saturday 22 November, Greymouth – Fox Glacier – Lake Moeraki
• Fox Glacier Lookout
• Evening rainforest walk, Lake Moeraki

As we continue our journey south we encounter classic west coast river- and forest scenery, rushing water, impressive bridges and tiny, picturesque towns. Hokitika was first settled in 1860 after the discovery of gold on the west coast. Composed of lovely old buildings, it still has the feel of a frontier town. The road south from Hokitika travels through farmland that constantly threatens to revert to wilderness; the beauty of the region’s rivers is raw and primeval.

Continuing south we arrive at Fox Glacier. Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier was named after an early New Zealand Prime Minister, William Fox. At 13kms, Fox Glacier is the longest of the awe-inspiring New Zealand West Coast glaciers. At its head, soaring peaks of over 3,000m dominate the horizon. This mighty moving river of ice falls 2,600 metres, on its journey from the base of the Southern Alps to the West Coast. New Zealand’s West Coast glaciers are unique and probably the most accessible glaciers in the world, as they terminate amongst temperate rainforest just 250m above sea level. So special is this mountain environment, that it forms part of the South Westland World Heritage Area.

We continue south to Lake Moeraki (meaning “to sleep or dream by day” in Maori) in the South Westland, where we spend the night at the peaceful lakeside Wilderness Lodge. It is surrounded by untouched rainforest with stunning views of the snow-capped Southern Alps. Owned by teacher Anne Saunders and biologist Dr. Gerry McSweeney, the lodge was set up to help protect the rainforests and share this extraordinary natural setting with visitors.
This evening we will be treated to a fine meal of whitebait from the river, seafood from the coast, game from the forest and fresh seasonal produce, while enjoying the peaceful view from the lodge’s Riverside Restaurant. The owners will then accompany the group on a short easy after-dinner walk to discover the rainforest at night and see its glow-worms and Morepork owls, as well as the Southern Cross and Milky Way. (Overnight Lake Moeraki Wildnerness Lodge) BLD

Day 13: Sunday 23 November, Lake Moeraki
• Guided walk – freshwater life of Lake Moeraki
• Guided walk – rainforest jungle & Fiordland Crested Penguins on Robinson Crusoe Beach
• Afternoon at leisure

For those who wish, today will begin before breakfast with a short excursion in which a nature guide will introduce to you the freshwater life of Lake Moeraki. You’ll see shrimps, snails, small fish and plankton that are the building blocks of life in the lake. A short walk through the rainforest and you’ll feed a colony of tame giant long finned eels.
After breakfast back at the lodge, there will be a guided walk through the rainforest jungle to the Tasman seacoast, where you’ll encounter Fiordland Crested Penguins on Robinson Crusoe beach. You will pass through a jungle-like temperate rainforest with forest bird life, vines, tree ferns and orchids. You’ll see giant kahikatea, rimu and silver beech. We reach Robinson Crusoe Beach and sit and watch from close up small numbers of Tawaki (Fiordland Crested Penguin) crossing to and from the sea to their rainforest breeding areas and chicks. Note: subject to numbers, there will be a less arduous alternative walk, which is moderately strenuous.

After our morning walk we shall have a reviving lunch of soup of the day, fresh foccacia bread, salads and a selection of meats at the lodge. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. (Overnight Lake Moeraki Wildnerness Lodge) BLD

Day 14: Monday 24 November, Lake Moreaki – Wanaka – Arrowtown – Queenstown
• Stuarts Garden, Wanaka
• Arrowtown (historic village)

This morning we depart Lake Moreaki for Queenstown. After a short drive along the coast, we arrive at a long one-lane bridge and cross over the Haast River into the settlement of Haast. Haast was once a construction camp for the Ministry of Works and it’s a town with a touch of the Wild West. We then leave the coast and drive past waterfalls and river scenery and climb up the Haast river valley to Haast Pass. The road snakes through the Aspiring National Park, and the vegetation becomes sparser as we travel inland. We shall then skirt the beautiful Wanaka and Hawea lakes to the lakeside town of Wanaka, where we will stop for lunch. We shall also visit Stuarts Garden, developed around the swiftly flowing Bullock Creek which is host to a number of tame trout. The creek edge has been planted with hostas, Japanese and Siberian irises, ferns, peltiphyllum and rodgersias. Rhododendrons flourish in the habitat and are at their best in early November. The garden also boasts hellebores, primu las, meconopsis, fritillarias, paeonies and deciduous azaleas and ornamental flowering trees. Woodland walks leadup to a secluded area with a gazebo and a tunnel house with tomatoes in season, special alpines and other treasures planted in troughs outside. Behind a 100 year old cottage, is a potager backed by climbing roses and beside it a blue and white border of old fashioned flowers which complements the blue and white exterior. Another potager shaped like the sun’s rays, nestles in front. A rock garden leads down to a shade house which contains connoisseur plants.

In the afternoon we skirt the Shotover River, Lake Dunstan and the Clutha River to Queenstown. We will stop at historic Arrowtown, is a New Zealand gold rush town that faces the challenges of increased tourist visitation, development pressure and a desire to retain an historic character. Philip Blakely, a local Landscape Architect very dedicated to the well-being of Arrowtown, will help you explore this enchanting township this afternoon. Philip has worked in Arrowtown for many years and is well aware of these contrasting pressures. Through his own experiences and a presentation from the local National Trust over afternoon tea, Philip will reveal the philosophies that have directed recent works in the town and then lead a fascinating walking tour that not only highlights the excellent work that has been completed but also reveals something of the harsh conditions in which the gold-miners, especially those from China worked, by leading the group to the historic Chinese settlement at A rrowtown. (Overnight Queenstown) B

Day 15: Tuesday 25 November, Queenstown
• Routeburn Track &?Paradise Trust with Landscape Architect, Philip Blakely
• Blanket Bay Lodge with with Landscape Architect, Paddy Baxter

Today’s tour with Philip will assist you in understanding something of the location of Queenstown and help you to realise why this has become a place of pilgrimage for walkers, skiers and those who simply love the natural world. Following a drive through breath-taking scenery when Philip will discuss the challenges facing land owners and managers in this area, including the invasion of the land by Gorse and Pines, you will visit the Information Centre at the commencement of the world renowned Routeburn Track. Paths here are well constructed and easy walking and participants won’t have to walk far to enjoy the beauty of the Nothofagus forest with its associated avifauna. Birds here are fearless and you may be surprised to find them pecking at your boots. While binoculars aren’t essential, by having a pair with you you will be rewarded by viewing a wealth of local birds, many of them uncommon elsewhere.
Returning along the Routeburn Road you will re-cross the delta of the Dart River and head further up its valley to Paradise, a nineteenth century property now managed by the Paradise Trust. The scenery here is breath-taking and short walks will open up further scintillating views of snow clad peaks. The name ‘Paradise’ needs to be reserved for very special locations and it could not be more fittingly bestowed than in this case. A picnic lunch gives time to really appreciate and explore the property, its history and its scenery. We will also be met by our second guest Landscape Architect, Paddy Baxter.

Paddy is renowned in Queenstown for his dynamic approach to Landscape Design. He has worked on many of the most important sites in the queenstown area and revels in sharing his stories about his work with visitors. He is a most engaging host. Your first visit with Paddy will be to the exclusive hotel at Blanket Bay, booked out in its entirety by Bill Gates for Christmas 2012 and located on a prime position overlooking Lake Wakatipu. The hotel developer has recently begun a housing development in the surrounding hills and Paddy is involved as the Landscape Architect so exploration of recent garden work not only allows you to get a sense of New Zealand garden design at its best but also appreciate a new series of views.

Back in Queenstown the evening is at leisure. You might like to enjoy a visit to the Botanic Gardens directly behind your hotel before heading off for dinner (own expense). (Overnight Queenstown) BL

Day 16: Wednesday 26 November, Queenstown
• Millbrook Resort, Hills Golf Course and lunch with Paddy Baxter
• Remarkables Ski Area & Chard Farm Vineyard with Philip Blakely

Millbrook Resort, a few miles to the north-east of Queenstown is a beautifully planned golfing resort with which Paddy Baxter has been involved since its inception. His work here involves both broad scale and small scale, and while the contrast is significant, it proves Paddy’s ability as a designer. Gardens around individual homes are beautifully detailed and planted to compliment the cluster housing of the architecture.

Golf courses abound in this country but the Hills Golf Course is special. Built as a private course with family homes through it, this course has been used for major championships and not only provides for golf but also accomodates a sculpture park. Note especially the roof garden on the club-house that makes it fit so effectively in the landscape.
The rural land between Queenstown and arrowtown has been subject to considerable development pressure but clear planning guidelines have maintained its rural character. Paddy lives here and will explain the key issues to you on your way to lunch at his home. Views here are fabulous but so too the hospitality in a New Zealand family home.
Your last two visits this afternoon are contrasts but remind us of significant aspects of the economy of southern New Zealand. Accommodating skiing in New Zealand’s pristine mountain ranges has required considerable skill. Paddy has been involved in this as an ecologist, restoring the landscapes following the implementation of engineering works involved in water storage, sewerage treatment and construction works. Get ready to be chilled at the high altitudes in The Remarkables Ski Area but it is worth it to see a completely different aspect of a Landscape Architect’s work.
Finally, Chard Farm Vineyard allows you to enjoy a tasting of New Zealand wine in a charming location and with colourful gardens all around you. For younger participants the opportunity to bungee jump at Kawarau Bridge a short distance away is always available but for the majority the pleasure of a relaxing garden visit with Philip and the opportunity to appreciate the plants that will tolerate the cold winters of this part of the country will hold far greater appeal. (Overnight Queenstown) BL

Day 17: Thursday 27 November, Queenstown – Te Anau – Milford Sound
• Milford Sound Cruise

This morning we journey along the edge of Lake Wakatipu, through Kingston and Mossburn, to Te Anau, the hub of New Zealand’s fiordland region and the entry point to the Fiordland National Park. Along the way, we shall pass trout fishing rivers and high country scenery, and the small towns of Mossburn and Lumsden. From Te Anau we continue along the Eglington Valley to the Mirror Lakes, before following the “Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain”, past Cascade Creek and Lake Gunn to The Divide. We drive through the Hollyford Valley to the Homer Tunnel, a man-made tunnel cut out of the rock wall, to emerge into the Cleddau Valley, and on to Milford Sound.

This road is one of New Zealand’s most extraordinary. The first part crosses relatively mild farmland, but then we’ll ease into beech forest near the entrance to the Fiordland National Park. The rough-hewn Homer Tunnel brings us into Milford Sound, an amazing twenty-two kilometre long fiord dominated by Mitre Peak (1,692 m). Just after 4.00 pm we depart for our overnight cruise of Milford Sound on board The Milford Mariner, which offers accommodation in private cabins with en-suite bathrooms. On this luxury vessel, we shall cruise the full length of this spectacular fiord to the Tasman Sea before anchoring for the night in sheltered Harrison Cove. As The Fiordland National Park was made a World Heritage Area by the United Nations in 1986, it will not be possible for us to step on land. You may, however, wish to go exploring with the ship’s nature guide in the tender craft and kayaks or simply relax on deck. (Overnight Cruise on Milford Mariner) BD

Day 18: Friday 28 November, Milford Sound – Te Anau – Queenstown
• Afternoon at leisure in Queenstown

We disembark this morning and return to Queenstown, where the remainder of the day is at leisure. You may wish to take the opportunity to visit the beautiful Queenstown Botanic Gardens. In the evening we gather for a farewell dinner at one of Queenstown’s fine local restaurant. (Overnight Queenstown) BD

Day 19: Saturday 29 November, Depart Queenstown

Our tour finishes in Queenstown. Those travelling on the designated flight will be transferred to Queenstown airport for their flight home to Australia.

Discover Delicious Réunion Island!

Réunion, exotic and primal, offers breathtaking contrasts, from the dramatic natural amphitheatres of the three cirques (Mafate, Salazie and Cilaos) to the stark, smoldering lunar landscape of the Plaine des Sables. Add an active volcano, lush tropical forests and 17km of white or black sandy beaches and Réunion gives the visitor the extraordinary.

But it is the people of Réunion who add a living soul to this intense island. A plethora of ethic groups (Creole, French, African, Malagasy, Chinese and Indian) live together in harmony, contributing rich and varied cultural traditions. This results in a cuisine that is unique and exotic. Eating is a favourite activity in Réunion and the fertile island provides a variety of local ingredients, including turmeric, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla.

Join us as we explore the exotic flavours, spices and tastes of Réunion!

 

Full itinerary

THURSDAY 16 OCTOBER

FLIGHT JOHANNESBURG – REUNION

You will arrange to be at Johannesburg International Airport for your flight to Reunion approximately 2 hours before departure for you flight to Reunion. (4hrs). On arrival you will be met by our ground operators who will assist you and transfer you from the airport to the Diana Dea Lodge 4* where you will overnight for 3 nights on a Dinner bed and breakfast basis.

THURSDAY 17 OCTOBER

ST DENIS AND EAST COAST

09h – After breakfast you will be transported by bus to St. Denis, the Capital of Reunion, where you will be taken on a city tour of the Capital as well as a Visit of the Museum Histoire Naturelle and the Jardin D’etat

The Jardin de l’État, formerly known as the Jardin du Roy, is a historic botanical garden on the island of Réunion, found in the capital Saint-Denis.

Planted with trees and spices taken from outside the island by Pierre Poivre, the garden is home to a natural history museum opened in August 1855. The garden was built from 1767 to 1773.

The garden’s golden era came at the beginning of the 19th century, when its plants were tended to by famous botanists such as Joseph Hubert, Nicolas Bréon and Jean-Michel-Claude Richard. At that time the garden housed 2000 species. 7000 of its plants were distributed to the islanders in 1825 as part of a scheme to improve the colonial agriculture.

Today, the garden’s main entrance faces the historic Rue de Paris. In the garden itself a bust of Pierre Poivre and a Wallace fountain.

Lunch will be at your own expense in St Denis. You will be taken to a Patisseries or Saladrie where you will be able to choose a light lunch. Budget approximately euro 10 for a Sandwich and a juice or bottled water or coffee.

14h00 – From there you will proceed to St. Andre, to a Vanilla Plantation,. Here you will see a traditional vanilla processing factory as well as being able to sample some of the products.

16h00 – You will then be taken to the Sucre de Bois Rouge for a tour of approximately 45 minutes . Connected to the Bois-Rouge factory, one of the islands two sugar refineries, Distillerie de Savanna lets visitors in on the secrets of making rum. This visit takes visitors through the magical transformation of the cane into sugar and introduces visitors to the preparation of the great rums, fermentation processes and the mysteries of ageing in the cellars of Savanna Distillery. Finally the tasting at Tafia & Galabé shop : the charm of Réunion flavours.

You will then return to the Diana Dea Lodge 4* where you will overnight on a dinner bed and breakfast basis.

SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER

VISIT SALAZIE AND HELLBOURG

09H00 – After breakfast you will be taken on a full day excursion to the Cirque of Selazie. Cirques are natural amphitheaters and Salazie is the most beautiful of the 3 and the wettest. Resting against the Piton des Neiges and drained by the Rieviere du Mat and its tributaries, Selazie is the largest and the greenest, with hundreds of waterfalls cascading down its walls. Hell-Bourge village is well known for its pretty houses and flowery Gardens. You will visit the Kafé La Gregue in Hellbourg as well as the Mare a poule d’eau. You will take part in a small hike learning about the history of the coffee Bourbon Pointu, visit of a coffee plantation, a plantation of chouchou, orchards and peach trees. Here you will experience the unique preparation of a Creole meal cooked on a wood fire and lunch served on banana leaves.

In the afternoon you will return to your hotel where you will overnight on a Dinner bed and breakfast basis.

SUNDAY 19 OCTOBER

THE WILD SOUTH -LAVA TUNNELS AND GARDEN OF SPICES

After breakfast you will depart to the Wild South where you will be taken on an excursion to visit the Lava Tunnels

Accompanied by qualified potholing guides, the more curious among you will be able to venture into the belly of the volcano for an easy trip to discover the scenery underground.

With the ‘full’ outing you can complete the full length of the tunnel which is 1.2km long, for a total of 3h30underground. The tour begins with an informative look at the landscape and creation of the Piton de la Fournaise, starting with 2004’s ‘lava flow of the century.’ After that, it’s down into the heart of the volcano for a visit to see the beautiful formations arising from the cooling of lava as the flow rate dropped during the late eruptive phase.

Lunch will be at own expense . Budget about euro 10

After lunch you will visit the Spice and Fragrance Garden, where you will discover some endemic species. A guide with perfect knowledge of the garden and its history will take you around where past and present meet.

Here you will discover over 1,500 species of scented, spice and medicinal plants, examples of fine cabinetwork, ornaments, and much more…

This was a private garden opened to the public since 1989. It provides visitors with a glimpse of the many gifts nature has bestowed upon La Réunion, flora and fauna alike. Scented plants such as geraniums, vetiver and Ylang-Ylang, spices plants such as clove trees, cardamom and vanilla, ferns, orchids, palm trees and fruit trees. The Jardin des Parfums et des Epices is located in Mare Longue, on an 800-year-old lava flow in the midst of the forest. Guided visits last around 1½ hours and includes sampling of seasonal fruits at end of visit.

You will also be taken to the Domaine du Café to Grille. In this garden of 4 ha located in Saint-Pierre, travel back in time as you learn about the important crops which shaped the history of Reunion, from today to the first plant which has colonised the island. The visit starts with the discovery of exotic plants (colourful shrubs, rock area, scented-tiare plants area, frangipani tree, ylang ylang, jasmine, fransciceas… blooming all year) which will delight visitors with many fragrances. Then, we follow with “the game of lianas” (alamanda, devil’s claw, “garlic creeper”, gold cup ( with coconut flavored), passionflower…

It is in a cool blossoming undergrowth that one discovers species introduced by man (Anthuriums, orchid hybrids, placed on calabashes trees, bauhinias, cinnamon, trees dophins). Then we arrive to the palm grove, in harmony with orchids flower beds, followed by a small bamboo grove which is the Zen area of the garden.

Finish with some tasting of the very best coffees at the La Savanne bar.

 

MONDAY 20 OCTOBER

CILAOS

Overlooked by the piton de Neiges (3.071 m) Cilaos is the driest and sunniest of all the Cirques. Up until 1932 the only way to get up to Cilaos was by foot or sedan chair, carried over a very narrow path. The only path that leads to the heart of the caldera is in itself quite spectacular. The Road “with 420 hairpin bends” Although there Is no real wine making tradition in Reunion, Cilaos is the small exception . You will be taken to visit a small Winery as well as a visit of the Ilet (hamlet) Cordes , the village of lentils. A picnic lunch will be provided.

Cilaos is also known for its thermal spa and mineral water, its wine, lentils and handicraft (House of Embroidery, sculpting and copper engraving)

In the afternoon you will return to your hotel Palm Hotel 4* where you will overnight for 1 night on a Dinner bed and breakfast bases.

TUESDAY 21 OCTOBER

THE VOLCANO

Altitude: 2360 metres

Temperatures: 3 to 21°C

What to wear: good shoes, rainwear, hat, pullover, sunscreen cream

Head off to the Piton de la Fournaise for an unforgettable hike. This volcano is one of the most active in the world and yet accessible to everyone. As you gradually approach the volcano, the scenery slowly changes until it looks like you’re on the moon. The descent down into the area around the summit begins at Pas de Bellecombe. The conical summit

looms majestically above this natural arena. The footpath leading up to the final ascent to the crater (2.631 m) is marked with white paint on the rocks. The lunar atmosphere of the Plaine des Sables was also created by the volcano, and is in stark contrast with the steep cliffs of basalt on the wild coast down in the South. The successive lava flows down to the ocean have made them truly unique.

Lunch will be at own expense. Budget about euro 10

After lunch you will visit the Volcano’s House. This modern, interactive museum, conception shows us the tempestuous life of volcanoes, and the geologic formation of the island.

Return to the hotel around 17h00

Overnight at the Palm hotel 4* on a Dinner bed and breakfast basis.

 

WEDNESDAY 22 OCTOBER

ST.GILLES

You will have the morning with a leisurely breakfast. You will then be taken to La Petite Ile where you will take part in a cooking course at a local guesthouse

After you have partaken of your cooked lunch you will be taken to the Conservatoire Botanique de Mascarin. The Conservatoire botanique was established in 1986 as the Conservatoire et Jardin Botanique de Mascarin on farmland belonging to the family of the Marquis Antoine Sosthène Armand de Châteauvieux, at an elevation of 500 meters on the leeward side of La Réunion. In 1993 it was given its current name as it became one of France’s eight Conservatoires Botaniques Nationaux. In 1996 its mission changed focus from conservation within its gardens, and the cultivation and the propagation of rare and threatened plants endemic to La Réunion, to a primary emphasis on management and monitoring of species in their natural habitats.

Overnight Hotel St Alexes on a Dinner bed and breakfast basis.

THURSDAY 23 OCTOBER

ST GILLES

At leisure for the full day. Those that wish may wish to book a day of Golf, a spa treatment, or a helicopter flight over the island. This has to be booked and settled directly.

Overnight on a dinner bed and breakfast basis.

FRIDAY 24 OCTOBER.

MAIDO – GERANIUM DISTILLERY – ST PAUL MARKET & GARDEN OF EDEN

After breakfast you will be taken to visit the Geranium Destillery Via the Maido. Maido is situated in Petite France and is also the gateway to one of the most spectacular views of the Cirque Mafate, the most inaccessible of the cirques. In Petite France there are a number of flower farms that distil their own essence. These farms concentrate of the production of geraniums and their oil for the world’s perfume industry.

On the return from Petite France you will stop off at the market of St. Paul where you will see local produce and arts and crafts on display. The market is only open on a Friday. Lunch will be at own expense. Budget about euro 10.

After lunch you will be taken to visit the Garden of Eden. Visitors to this “English-style” landscaped tropical and ethnobotanical garden in the heart of Saint-Gilles-les-Bains are taken on a guided walk through the 2.5 hectares of grounds, which are planted with some 700 species, spices and tropical fragrances.

A leisurely stroll through the midst of bamboos, aquatic plants, the geranium collection, blue flowers, stream of dreams, plants used for dyeing, aphrodisiac plants, plants sacred to Hinduism, sea of bulrushes, and more besides.

Overnight at the hotel St. Alexis on a dinner bed and breakfast basis.

 

SATURDAY 25 OCTOBER.

ST GILLES AT LEISURE

You have the day at leisure to relax and enjoy your surroundings, play around of golf, spa treatments etc. lunch at own expense

In the late afternoon you will be taken on a sunset cruise with a cocktail

Overnight hotel St. Alexis 4* on a dinner bed and breakfast basis.

 

SUNDAY 26 OCTOBER

FLIGHT REUNION – JOHANNESBURG

Early morning transfer to the airport for flight back to Johannesburg.

 

Gardens in Spanish Culture: from the Alhambra to Gaudí

The following itinerary describes a range of museums, patios, carmenes, cigarrales, pazos 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 2015. 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.

Day 1: Tuesday 5 May, Arrive Santiago de Compostela
* Parador de Santiago de Compostela
* Welcome Drinks, Introduction & Evening Meal

Our tour commences in the region of Galicia in the north-west of Spain. Nothing could be more different from the arid mesetas and warm south of Spain, bathed in brilliant clear blue skies, than the misty, verdant north. This region has a high rainfall but at the same time is warmed by Gulf Stream, and so supports an extremely rich flora. The Galicians have a very distinct ethnicity and culture linked to the peoples of Wales and Brittany. They also speak their own dialect, akin to Portuguese, and have unique social customs and practices; for example, traditionally all property passes through the female line. The great country houses of this region are called pazos, which is a local variant upon the Latin palatium (palace). These beautiful old ancestral country houses have some of the richest gardens in Spain, most of which are devoted to the cultivation of the camellias.

Upon arrival at Santiago de Compostela airport participants taking the designated flight will transfer by private coach to our hotel, which must be one of the most fascinating in the world, located in the centre of the elegant old granite city of Santiago de Compostela. The Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella built the Hostal dos Reis Católicos as a Royal Hospital in 1499 in order to give shelter and lodgings to pilgrims who had walked the ‘Camino de Santiago’. It is believed to be the oldest continuously functioning hotel in the world. The hotel has been restored in accordance with the most modern techniques, but with respect for its original cloisters, Gothic patios, carved jambs, ashlars, etc. To highlight the ancient ambience more than six hundred paintings decorate the rooms and galleries. The royal chapel has been transformed into an auditorium for concerts and exhibitions. Restoration work was completed in 1954 and ever since the Hostal dos Reis Católicos has been considered a grand luxury hotel. Tonight we enjoy pre-dinner drinks followed by an evening meal together in the hotel’s splendid dining room. (Overnight Santiago de Compostela) D

Day 2: Wednesday 6 May, Santiago de Compostela – Vilagarcía de Arousa – Cambados – Santiago de Compostela
* Pazo de Rubiáns, Vilagarcía de Arousa
* Wine tasting & light tapas lunch at Pazo de Fefiñáns, Cambados
* Cathedral of St. James, Santiago de Compostela

Pazo de San Lorenzo de Trasouto, Santiago de Compostela
Today we travel south to the Pontevedra region and commence our exploration of the fascinating pazos of Galicia. We first visit the Pazo de Rubiáns, sited on an estuary, surrounded by vineyards and woodland. The pazo’s origins date back to the twelfth century, but the garden we see today was begun in 1764. The forty hectare garden contains over a hundred species of flowers. The ‘frog pond’, with it’s associated pergola and grapevine bower date from the gardens earliest period, but it was in the 1850’s that the first camellias were planted. In 1930 the Marchioness of Aranda designed and planted a geometric garden devoted to camellias which has won numerous prizes.

Our next visit is to the Pazo de Fefiñáns at Cambados, a lovely old town whose former wealth is reflected in the large number of fine old palaces that line its streets. Unlike other pazos we will visit in Galicia, the Pazo de Fefiñáns is an urban palace, not a country house. Its two main façades occupy two sides of a wonderful square at the north end of Cambados. These façades, enlived by the escutcheons of local aristocrats, constitute a particularly fine example of Galician Baroque architecture. Our visit to this urban pazo has a purpose. The Pazo de Fefiñáns is important for its cellars, where we shall taste the famous local Rias Baixas wine and enjoy a light tapas lunch of local delicacies.

After enjoying this garden and tapas lunch we return to Santiago de Compostela. Santiago de Compostela gained great symbolic significance in the Middle Ages as the shrine city of St. James, who along with Mark and Peter are the only Apostles buried in Europe. It is highly unlikely that James the Greater, about whom little is known from the Gospels (except his name), is actually buried here, but as patron saint of Spain he performed an important role in the growth of the Christian so-called reconquista of Iberia from the Muslims. The present city is mainly built in a fascinating Baroque style, unique to Galicia. It is a granite city in which the soft grey of this stone is given colour by the moss that grows on it, for Santiago is a wet, misty city. At Santiago’s centre, on the great square in which our parador is also located, is the famous Cathedral of St. James.

We shall spend the afternoon visiting the vast Romanesque shrine of St. James, the great pilgrim church that was the ultimate goal of medieval pilgrims who had walked across France and Spain on the ‘Camino de Santiago’. The present cathedral (completed 1211) is built upon an earlier shrine of 899 AD. Construction began before 1105 and the choir and transept were completed in 1112. A clock tower was added in 1325 and the bell tower and cloister around 1521. The building later gained a Baroque façade that forms an extraordinary stage set, heightening the drama of visiting its famous saint. The cathedral complex with its myriad chapels is a treasure house of sculpture and painting, precious silver work and glass from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. Large numbers of pilgrims still visit this shrine, second only to that of St Peter’s in Rome. Like pilgrims, you may wish to walk up through the catafalque above the high altar and place your arms around the brilliantly coloured bust of the saint. Attached to the cathedral is a fine museum in which are displayed many of its treasures and a number of parts of the medieval building such as the first stone coro (choir).

Our final visit for today is to the Pazo de San Lorenzo de Trasouto, a striking suburban house that was originally a thirteenth century monastery. In the fifteenth century it became the property of the Count of Altamira, but then reverted to a Franciscan religious house before it came back into possession of the Altamira, and the Dukes of Soma. The garden is located in the cloister, and has box hedges that are four hundred years old and nearly two metres high! Ancient wisterias hang “like soft curtains” from the cloister arches.

This evening we dine together again at the parador’s restaurant. (Overnight Santiago de Compostela) BLD

Day 3: Thursday 7 May, Santiago de Compostela – Barcelona
* Pazo de Oca
* Flight VY1675 Santiago de Compostela – Barcelona (15:00-16:35)

Orientation Walk, Barcelona (Las Ramblas, Plaça Reial, exterior Palau Güell)
This morning we travel through a region watered by the River Ulla, an area of great interest due to its scenery, vegetation and old monuments. The silhouette of Pico Sacro, Galicia’s most beautiful peak, dominates this landscape. Our visit for this morning is arguably one of the finest private houses and gardens in all Spain; it is certainly the greatest Galician pazo. This is the Pazo de Oca, a grand eighteenth century Galician house with a contemporaneous garden. Although it is a great heritage garden, its current owner, the Duke of Serbe, and his head gardener, Manuel Conde Ares, nevertheless are constantly innovating. They have, for example, added a magnificent maze, based upon that of Canterbury Cathedral. The garden is organised around an axis made up of a series of canals and two large water tanks. The water tanks are on two levels and between them is a granite water pipe from which water gushes into the lower pool. The waterways are flanked by battlements and marvelous stands of hydrangeas and within each is a sculpture of a ship planted with trees. The upper ship, with sweet orange trees, symbolises trade, and the lower ship, with bitter oranges and lemons, purgatory. The plantings around about are typical of the nineteenth century; there are, for example, eucalypts, magnolias and cryptomeria. This garden represents a fine orchestration of grand old trees, moving waters, moss-covered stone works, and colourful flowers.

After visiting the Pazo de Oca we drive to Santiago airport to take our flight to Barcelona. On arrival in this great Catalan city, we transfer to our Barcelona hotel. The evening we shall take a short orientation walk within the vicinity of our hotel in the historic core and stroll down the famous Las Ramblas to see its fabulous performance art. Between 1885 and 1889, Gaudí designed and built an urban palace for Eusebi Güell in Nou de la Rambla, a street in central Barcelona. We shall study its façade, in white stone, which uses parabolic arches for the entrance. The sinuous forged iron bars and the eighteen chimneys which crown the building are of particular interest. The rest of the evening is at leisure and you may wish to sample some of the delicious tapas available nearby. (Overnight Barcelona) B

Day 4: Friday 8 May, Barcelona
* Parc Güell
* La Sagrada Familia
* Masa Milá (La Pedrera)
* Passeig de Gracia and Casa Batlló (exterior)
* Time at leisure
* Evening Concert at the Palau de la Música Catalana (to be confirmed)

Today we tour Barcelona in order to visit a number of buildings designed by the city’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí’s work grew out of Barcelona’s strong commercial and bourgeois tradition of civic pride, expressed in the late nineteenth century in an ambitious project of urban expansion known as the Eixample. Gaudí was heavily involved in designing buildings for the city centre and for the new outer suburbs of Barcelona. His buildings re-interpreted traditional Catalan emblems such as St. George, the patron saint of Catalonia, and wove them into Gaudí’s own daring and idiosyncratic version of the Gothic revival style. St. George, his spear and the dragon appear in multiple forms in Gaudí’s work, from Casa Milá’s chimneys constructed in the form of medieval knights to his undulating multi-coloured tiled roofs which evoke the twisting torso of the dragon.

We shall visit Gaudí’s huge church, the Sagrada Familia, a building he considered to be his finest work and for which he designed unique parabolic arches. We shall also see Gaudí residences at the heart of Barcelona near the great boulevard known as the Ramblas, including the Casa Milá, also known as ‘La Pedrera’, with its undulating roof and strange chimneys, which now contains an important display of the architect’s work, and the brightly coloured Casa Batlló, whose roof takes the form of the spine of a dragon. In Barcelona’s suburbs we shall visit Gaudí’s Parc Güell. This extraordinary mix of terraced garden and eccentric architecture was a failed attempt to create an exclusive garden suburb overlooking the city of Barcelona. The project was sponsored by the Güell family of bankers, after whom it was named. Within the park stand an eclectic range of buildings, grand terraces, garden sculptures and vaulted halls covered with Gaudí’s colourful ceramic mosaics, made from discarded shards from a ceramics factory.

Tonight we hope to attend a performance at the Palau de la Musica Catalana, a concert hall built between 1905 and 1908 by another modernista, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, as a headquarters for the Orfeó Català. The building, funded by popular donations, constitutes a symbolic and sentimental heritage of an entire city that identifies with its history. (Overnight Barcelona) B

Day 5: Saturday 9 May, Barcelona – Palafrugell – Tossa de Mar – Lloret de Mar – Barcelona
* Cap Roig Botanical Gardens, Palafrugell
* Tossa de Mar
* Santa Clotilde Gardens, Lloret de Mar

Today we drive north to view gardens on the scenic Costa Brava. Our first stop is at the Cap Roig Botanical Gardens in Palafrugell, which occupies what was once a bare, steep headland jutting into the Mediterranean. Like Santa Clotilde Garden in Lloret de Mar, this garden is a verdant oasis inflecting the rugged coastline, which here also is glimpsed through a screen of great trees. The garden is composed of terraces enclosed by high hedges and shaded by tall pines planted when the garden was begun 1924.

We next drive south to the seaside town of Tossa de Mar, whose emblematic walled Vila Vella or Old Town is the sole remaining fortified medieval town on the Catalan coast. Tossa de Mar is a charming place with narrow cobbled streets lined with numerous restaurants serving local specialties. Here we shall have some time at leisure for lunch.

Our last visit today is to the Santa Clotilde gardens at Lloret de Mar, a verdant classical garden that looks out on, and at the same time ‘disciplines’, the rugged coastline. It was the creation of the Marquis de Roviralta who, assisted by the landscape gardener Nicolás Rubió I Tuduri and the architect Domingo Carlas, created the garden from an old orchard in the 1920s. The centrepiece of the garden is a great stairway with ivy-covered rises. It, like the rest of the garden, is shaded by huge Italian cypresses, Monterey Cypresses and stone pines that at times allow tantalizing glimpses of the magnificent coastline. The stairway descends from the villa to the sea, directing the visitor downward. Along the way there are bronze sculptures of mermaids that spout a fine mist of water over guests. The staircase is complemented by formal garden elements such as structured terraces and classical sculptures. There is evergreen foliage of box, oleander and viburnum, complimented, in summer, by the colours of hydrangeas, roses, clivia, and agapanthus. The play upon the senses is completed by the fragrances of Japanese pittosporum and aromatic pine needles. This garden is an extremely dramatic and somewhat dreamlike composition that could be compared to the great coastal gardens of Cap Ferrat on the Côte d’Azur. After visiting Santa Clotilde, we return to Barcelona where the evening will be at leisure. (Overnight Barcelona) B

Day 6: Sunday 10 May, Barcelona
* Fundació Joan Miró
* Mies Van der Rohe Pavilion
* Lunch at ‘Montiel Espaigastronòmic’ Restaurant
* Afternoon at leisure

Today we begin with a visit to the Miró Foundation, which holds major late works by the artist. We also visit the Barcelona Pavilion, located on Montjuïc hill overlooking Barcelona’s harbour. The Pavilion was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as the German National Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition. Built from glass, steel and different kinds of marble, the Pavilion was conceived to accommodate the official reception presided over by King Alphonso XIII of Spain along with the German authorities.

This morning’s program concludes with a lunch at ‘Montiel Espaigastronòmic’, a small restaurant located near to the Picasso Museum, providing an artistic atmosphere with excellent traditional Spanish cuisine. The rest of the day will be at leisure to explore the medieval city, or you may wish to visit Barcelona’s Maritime Museum, housed in the original grand buildings in which the Catalan fleet was constructed. (Overnight Barcelona) BL

Day 7: Monday 11 May, Barcelona – Seville
* Flight VY2252 Barcelona – Seville (10:20-11:55)
* Cathedral and Giralda of Seville

This morning, we transfer to Barcelona airport to take our flight to Seville. On arrival, a private coach will drive us to our hotel ideally located just 250 metres from Seville’s Cathedral.

Seville gained great importance and prosperity when the twelfth century Almohad dynasty of North African berbers made it the capital of Muslim Spain (al Andalus); and again in the sixteenth century, when it acted as the entrepôt for silver and tobacco from South America. Its major monuments and most important works of art date from these periods and from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the royal family of Castile wrested the province from the Muslims. Seville therefore boasts fine Muslim, Gothic, Mudéjar (‘Mudéjar’ is the term which denotes buildings built for Christians by Muslim craftsmen) and Baroque monuments. In the seventeenth 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. In the nineteenth century, Seville became a prime setting for Northern European Romantic novels and operas. Its role as a picturesque setting in Romantic literature, art and music was encouraged by the popularity of Murillo’s paintings of street urchins, its famous bullfights, and the magnificence of its celebrations during Holy Week. Just after Holy Week, the city celebrates the colourful Feria de Abril, a popular festival begun in the nineteenth century, which includes horse riding (wealthy landowners ride through the feria grounds decked out in resplendent costumes), music and the dancing of the ‘Sevillana’ and ‘Seguidilla’.

This afternoon, 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 of the mosque and courtyard 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 used now as a thoroughfare, the courtyard would once have provided a quiet shady place for the study of the Qu’ran; plantings would have been more diverse at that time. The cathedral boasts one of Spain’s greatest retablos mayores, a massive gilt wood retable occupying the whole of the chancel wall. It also contains a number of major medieval, Renaissance and Baroque art works 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, thus giving the cathedral tower its modern name, ‘Giralda’. (Overnight Seville) B

Day 8: Tuesday 12 May, Seville
* Casa de Pilatos
* Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de las Bellas Artes)

Unlike their Parisian counterparts in the aristocratic district, the Marais, Seville’s noble palaces are usually found, not in grand 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, almost secret, paradises embedded in, but contrasting dramatically to, the noisy dirty city outside the walls.

We first visit a Sevillian mansion of the late-fifteenth and sixteenth century, 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 marvelous 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 at the Plaza del Museo and is an example of Andalucian mannerism of the 17th century, 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 museums of fine arts in Spain. The museum’s impressive collection of Spanish art 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

Day 9: Wednesday 13 May, Seville
* Morning at leisure
* Alcázar
* Santa Cruz Quarter
* Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes

The morning is at leisure and you may wish to explore the lovely María Luisa Park designed by french landscape architect Jean-Claude Forestier for the Ibero-American Exposition which opened in 1929.

Our first visit this morning is to 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 fourteenth 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 this 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 sixteenth 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, at the time of the Almohads, as a typical Islamic ‘paradise’ garden, and although little remains of the original because of successive replantings by monarchs after Pedro the Cruel (especially in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries), nevertheless much of the Mudéjar architecture (pavilions), the lovely discrete walled gardens near the palace, and the ubiquitous pretty 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 then take a walk through the Santa Cruz quarter, Seville’s medieval ghetto. Despite its tiny streets, this precinct grew in popularity in the sixteenth and seventeenth 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 seventeenth 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. (Overnight Seville) B

Day 10: Thursday 14 May, Seville – Córdoba
* Moratalla Garden
* 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. 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 nineteenth century English landscape garden but has been transformed over the last hundred and fifty years, not least by 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 Dali, 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 fifteenth 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 remains of Muslim dwellings built before the end of the eleventh century. Even if houses are 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 and prizes are given to the best exhibits. Many of the previous prize-winners are in the San Basilio district of the city near the hotel. (Overnight Córdoba) BL

Day 11: Friday 15 May, Córdoba
* Synagogue, Córdoba
* 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 shall 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 centre 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’s 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 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 a simile of 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, whose 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 (ninth century) and, although the present gardens are from the nineteenth- and twentieth 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 Andalucian 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

Day 12: Saturday 16 May, Córdoba – Ronda
* Bullring, Ronda
* Puente Nuevo, Ronda
* Colegiata Santa María la Mayor, Ronda
* Casa del Rey Moro, Ronda

This morning we depart early for the magnificent Andalucian ‘white town’ of Ronda, dramatically sited on sheer cliffs above a deep ravine, with grand panoramic views framed by mountains. The early nineteenth 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, or 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 eighteenth 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 shall visit the Casa del Rey Moro, the Moorish King’s House. The present eighteenth century palace purportedly occupies the site of a palace of one of the petty 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 nineteenth 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 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 Montjuich 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. We shall also visit the Colegiata, a church built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries on the site of the original Friday Mosque.

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

Day 13: Sunday 17 May, Ronda – Málaga – Granada
* Alcuzcuz – private garden of Mr. & Mrs. Parladé, San Pedro de Alcántara (To be confirmed in 2015)
* Historical-Botanical Garden La Concepción, Málaga

Today we drive south to the Costa del Sol on the Mediterranean coast to visit Alcuzcuz, the private garden of interior designer Jaime Parladé and his wife, Janetta. The garden has been in Jaime’s family for more than a hundred and fifty years, and there are many old trees: pines, rubber trees, orange, lemon, carob, palms and olives. Heavily influenced by English landscape gardener Gerald Huggan, especially in the introduction of a large number of species from Kenya, it has nevertheless evolved with the owner’s tastes. Jaime finds himself more drawn to the diverse colours and shapes of leaves rather than bright flowers.

We next drive through the hills above the Mediterranean coast and make a visit to 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 last Muslim kingdom of Spain, 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 the last Muslim kingdom, and check into our hotel in the centre of town. (Overnight Granada) BL

Day 14: Monday 18 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 filled 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, 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 Alcazabar, 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 15: Tuesday 19 May, Granada
* Corral del Carbón
* Capilla Real
* Cathedral
* 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 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. We then 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

Day 16: Wednesday 20 May, Granada – Toledo
* Cathedral of Toledo
* Santo Tomé Church
* Museo El Greco

Today we drive north, past 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 Tajus or Tajo, is another Spanish city with a multi-layered past. Inhabited at least from Roman times onwards, Toledo or Toletum was a provincial town until the Visigothic period when it became an important ecclesiastical centre, and in the mid-sixth century AD, the Visigothic capital. Visigothic Toledo was dominated by its castle, and although it is long gone, the Alcázar, its successor, still stands on the same 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 eleventh century Toledo, like so many other cities, became the seat of a Ta’ifa 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, 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 medieval character, whilst the narrow twisting streets of the old city and its absence of open squares and public spaces perpetuate Muslim and Mudéjar urban-planning.

Despite Toledo’s strong tradition of cultural eclecticism, the growth in Castilian Catholic militancy and exclusivity in the fifteenth and sixteenth 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 mid-fifteenth 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 sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a pious aristocracy emerged in the city numbering many mystics among its ranks. Many aristocrats, influenced by the Counter-Reformation’s emphasis on good works, spent vast amounts of money on 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 like Burgos and León, but richer than either of these in its architecture and the works of art which it houses. The construction of the cathedral began two centuries after Toledo’s capture by Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085, during which time the Christians worshipped in the re-dedicated great mosque of the city. In the fourteenth 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 to the Church of Santo Tomé that houses El Greco’s famous The Burial of Count Orgaz. (Overnight Toledo) B

Day 17: Thursday 21 May, Toledo
* El Tránsito
* Santa Maria la Blanca
* San Juan de los Reyes Monastery
* Palacio de Galiana: visit and tapas lunch
* 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 thirteenth century building which bears a strong similarity to contemporary Almohad architecture further south, whilst El Tránsito is a fourteenth 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 cataloguing 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 galley slaves rescued from the Muslims by Christian charity; 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 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 Tajo command stunning views of the medieval walled city and there can be found a number of 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, between rustic and conventional. 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, crowded streets of the old city. They were often used as places in which to recuperate from sickness. They also invariably commanded magnificent 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, Cypress is used as a sculptural element; the garden has a strict formality that gives it an ascetic feel.

Following a tapas lunch in this splendid setting, we next meet Maria Marañon, 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 discover 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. (Overnight Toledo) BL

Day 18: Friday 22 May, Toledo – Pago de San Clemente – Trujillo – Jarandilla de la Vera
* Charo’s private garden, Pago de San Clemente
* Private garden of Olga Mayans & buffet lunch, Trujillo
* Exploring Trujillo’s rich heritage

From Toledo in Castile, we head to the western frontier region of Extramadura, famous for its conquistadors like Francisco Pizarro who conquered much of South America. Our first visit is to a private garden located in Pago de San Clemente, 15kms outside Trujillo, in an area of undulating hillsides where traditionally the well-off noble Trujillanos had their olive groves and vines producing oil and wine for their own consumption. Charo, the owner, is a very keen gardener, who has worked very hard to create a romantic and rustic oasis amongst the groves.

In the very centre of Trujillo, Pizarro’s home town, Eduardo Mencos’ close friend Olga Mayans will welcome us to visit her beautiful garden built around the ruins of the medieval city’s old castle. Our visit will include a light tapas lunch hosted by Olga and her son 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), and of course the walled old town.

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 its fortune properties. We shall dine at the Parador’s restaurant which offers a delightful selection of Extremaduran cuisine. (Overnight Jarandilla de la Vera) BLD

Day 19: Saturday 23 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, Jarandilla de la Vera

We spend the morning exploring Monfragüe National Park, a UNESCO listed Biosphere Reserve. Accompanied by 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 Eurasian Black Vulture, a large population of Griffon Vulture, and several pairs of Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle and Bonelli’s Eagle. During our tour we shall also be able to 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.

Today we are joined by leading Spanish landscape designer, filmmaker and photographer Eduardo Mencos and his wife, journalist and designer Anneli Bojstad. Eduardo has become one of ASA’s most important hosts in Spain, and has shown generosity in opening up his family’s gardens to our group members, including his 30-hectare country farm ‘La Lancha’, which we shall visit this afternoon. On the grounds of ‘La Lancha’, Eduardo has carried out the 18th century concept of an ‘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 and enjoy another meal at the Parador’s restaurant. (Overnight Jarandilla de la Vera) BLD

Day 20: Sunday 24 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 c. walls, whilst inside, the small fortified palaces of its late medieval inhabitants show 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, the co-patron saint of Spain, lived for 27 years in the 16th c. It was here that she experienced the spiritual ecstasies that she described in language whose vividness 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, the walled enclosure dates back to the Middle Ages. In addition to its obvious defensive function, the wall controlled the entrance of provisions and merchandise, and also isolated the city, guarding it against the potential outbreak of a plague or epidemic. It is shaped like an irregular rectangle, with crenellated towers and round turrets. It has nine gates that 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 shall then visit the Garden of San Segundo, owned by good friend of Eduardo Mencos, Juan Martínez de las Rivas. 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 the 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. The plan of San Segundo’s garden has kept Winthuysen’s legacy. His design drew inspiration from secluded monastery gardens and Islamic gardens; the lovely small house is seen as an adjunct to the garden, 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

Day 21: Monday 25 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

We spend the morning exploring Segovia, a site settled since Roman times. During the early Islamic period, Segovia stood in the marches between the Kingdom of Asturias and Umayyad Córdoba and may have been temporarily deserted. In the tenth century, the Umayyad caliphs constructed a frontier fortress in the town that subsequently became part of the Ta’ifa kingdom of Toledo. Segovia became Castilian after the fall of Toledo. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the Muslim fortress was rebuilt as a Christian castle and in the sixteenth century, a Gothic cathedral with unusual Classical domes was constructed. Segovia’s Roman aqueduct, a remarkable dry-stone structure, was partially destroyed in medieval times and rebuilt by Isabella of Castile in the fifteenth 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. Sofia 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. (Overnight Madrid) BLD

Day 22: Tuesday 26 May, Madrid – Guadalajara – Madrid
* Patrick Blanc’s Vertical Garden, CaixaForum, Madrid
* Prado Museum
* Private gardens and 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 key collections of which are the works of Hieronymous 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 king’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 look at the strange mix of realism and fantastic distortion which makes up 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 lunch. (Overnight Madrid) BL

Day 23: Wednesday 27 May, Madrid
* Morning lecture by sculptor and landscape designer Álvaro de la Rosa ‘Water Features in Contemporary Spanish Gardens’
* Landscape Design Projects by Álvaro de la Rosa
* Terraza de los Laureles’, Royal Botanical Gardens by Fernando Caruncho
* The Studio of Fernando Caruncho incl. a lecture by Fernando Caruncho and buffet lunch
* Garden of the Dukes of Alburquerque designed by Fernando Caruncho

This morning we meet the award-winning sculptor and landscape designer Álvaro de la Rosa. Following a talk on ‘Water Features in Contemporary Spanish Gardens’, Álvaro will show us an example 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 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.

This afternoon we visit the studio of Fernando Caruncho – a wonderful way to conclude our study of the history of Spanish garden design! Following a buffet lunch, Fernando will discuss his work and show us various models of his gardens. We shall then view his studio’s garden and the private garden he designed for the Dukes of Alburquerque. (Overnight Madrid) BL

Day 24: Thursday 28 May, tour ends, Madrid
Our tour ends today in Madrid. Participants travelling on the designated flight out of Madrid will be transferred to Madrid airport.

Mansions & Gardens of the Canadian Lakes & Hudson River in Fall

Day 1. Montréal

Today arrive in Montréal, often referred to as “the Paris of North America”. This evening, enjoy a special Welcome Dinner.

Fourteen Nights: RV Grande Mariner. (D)

 

Day 2. Saguenay River

Breathtaking views abound today as you cruise the Saguenay River, boarded by dramatic cliffs which create some of Canada’s most stunning natural scenery. The Saguenay is noted for its majestic fjords and stunning wildlife, including a variety of whales, seals and birds. Be sure to be on the lookout for whales as this passageway is one of the world’s best locales for whale watching, attracting belugas, right whales and even the elusive blue whale. (BLD)

 

Day 3. Rimouski and Reford Gardens

Start the day with a private visit and guided tour of Les Jardins de Metis, also known as the Reford Gardens. These gardens are full of character, boldness and innovation, yet traditional. You will come to appreciate its uniqueness as you learn of the difficulties in creating a garden in such difficult and harsh conditions as the Quebec climate. Cruise south along the St. Lawrence River to your next port of call, Quebec City. (BLD)

 

Day 4. Quebec City Sightseeing

With its distinctly French culture, Quebec is considered by many to be the most romantic city in North America. Browse the shops and restaurants along the cobblestone streets of the Old Town. This morning you have the option to choose one of two impressive garden tours; the Jardin Botanique Roger-Van den Hende or a private tour of La Seigneurie de I’ile d’orleans. Later, a tour introduces you to the charms and highlights of Quebec City. Tonight, a local pianist entertains you on board. (BLD)

 

Day 5. Montréal and Jardin Botanique

Arrive in Montréal and embark on a city highlights tour, followed by a guided tour of the world famous Jardin Botanique de Montréal, located in the Olympic Park. Marvel at the gardens’ 20,000 different plant species in 31 specialised gardens. (BLD)

 

Day 6. Ogdensburg

Cruising south into the United States, travel the St. Lawrence Seaway, the gateway from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes. The Seaway is a system of locks, canals, and scenic channels dotted with waterfront communities, scenic islands, and amazing wildlife habitats. (BLD)

 

Day 7. Ogdensburg, Thousand Islands, Singer and Boldt Castle

Cruise through the splendour and beauty of the Thousand Islands region, stopping to visit tiny Dark Island in Chippewa Bay and tour the stately and elegant Singer Castle. Built as a private home in 1905, the mansion was used for rum-running during Prohibition. Then cruise to Alexander Bay and visit Boldt Castle and Gardens, built for the wife of a hotel mogul but abandoned due to tragedy. (BLD)

 

Day 8. Oswego and Sylvan Beach

This morning you may choose to take a local shuttle on a panoramic loop around this charming area of Oswego and view some of the highlights such as the H. Lee White Museum, the Richardson-Bates House Museum or Fort Ontario. Your cruise continues along the Oswego Canal on your way to Sylvan Beach, located on the shores of shimmering Oneida Lake. (BLD)

 

Day 9. Sylvan Beach and Amsterdam

Enjoy a full day on the Erie Canal’s calm blue water and unspoiled surrounding countryside. Perhaps visit Cooperstown and meet the ship later in the day at Amsterdam. Located in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, Cooperstown is home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Farmers Museum and the Fenimore Art Museum. (BLD)

 

Day 10. Amsterdam, Troy, Naumkeag Mansion and The Mount

Today you have the option to continue cruising on the Erie Canal or you can travel through the lovely countryside to visit Naumkeag Mansion and Gardens. Experience this quintessential country estate of the Gilded Age; marvel at this rare Birkshire “Cottage”, with its magnificent gardens and panoramic views. Next, visit The Mount, sure to be a fascinating visit of historical significance, especially for those interested in women’s history. It is a turn-of-the-century home that Edith Wharton designed and built herself. Arrive in Troy, known for its unparalleled Victorian architecture and abundant Tiffany windows as seen in such films as Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Age of Innocence’. (BLD)

 

Day 11. Troy, Poughkeepsie and Springwood

Heading south on the Hudson River you will stop in Poughkeepsie and enjoy a tour of Hyde Park, including a visit to Springwood, the estate of Franklin D. Roosevelt, America’s only four term president. Next visit the Vanderbilt Mansion, a National Historic Site. (BLD)

 

Day 12. West Point and New York City

Cruise to West Point, located in the heart of breathtaking Hudson River Valley. Tour beautiful West Point Military Academy campus with its Gothic Revival-style chapel. Later today, arrive in New York City and enjoy the unparalleled views of the harbour, the Statue of Liberty and the magnificent city skyline. (BLD)

 

Day 13. New York City Sightseeing

After a leisurely breakfast, start your morning with a visit to the famed New York Botanical Gardens, a national historic landmark, boasting one of the world’s greatest collections of flora. Its 250 acres include some of the most beautiful natural terrain, including dramatic rock outcroppings, rolling hills, waterfalls and ponds. It also houses the nation’s largest Victorian-era glasshouse, the magnificent Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Afterwards, a visit to Kykuit is sure to be amazing. This preeminent Hudson Valley landmark is home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. (BLD)

 

Day 14. New York City

Today is free to explore New York City at your leisure. You may choose to visit some of the many galleries or museums of the city or perhaps indulge in some shopping at many world renowned stores. Tonight gather with your fellow travellers atop the deck of your ship for a farewell cocktail party. (BLD)

 

Day 15. New York City and Wilmington.

Depart New York City to Wilmington where we visit Winterthur, home of Henry du Pont.

Two Nights: 5-star hotel in Wilmington, Dupont Hotel. (BD)

 

Day 16. Brandywine Valley

This morning we visit Bartram’s Garden, the oldest surviving Botanic Garden of North America. Spend the afternoon at the Longwood Gardens. With 20 outdoor display gardens, as well as lakes, meadows and forest walks, there is plenty to explore. (BD)

 

Day 17. Virginia and Washington

Travel through southern Pennsylvania and explore an Amish farm house. Afterwards, we will visit the extraordinary Meadowbrook Farm.

Two Nights: Washington DC, Marriott Wardman Hotel (BD)

 

Day 18. Washington and Mt. Vernon

See the sights of Washington including the White House. Visit Mt Vernon, the former home of America’s first ‘gardening President’, George Washington, and Arlington Cemetery. (BD)

 

Day 19. Depart Washington

Your tour concludes after breakfast this morning with a transfer to the airport. (B)

Garden Cruise to New Zealand

ITINERARY

Day 1 Friday November 21, 2014 Sydney departure 
This afternoon we board the Holland America Oosterdam on this fantastic garden cruise to New Zealand. Be up on deck as we cruise Sydney Harbour and out through Sydney Heads.

Day 2 Saturday November 22, 2014 At sea
The morning will be free to explore the ship. In the afternoon we will have Garden Trivial Pursuit, dividing the group into teams to compete in answering garden questions. This is a great way to meet your fellow group members and there will be prizes for the winners.

Day 3 Sunday November 23, 2014 At sea 
We have a free day at sea today to enjoy the many facilities and activities aboard the ship. In the afternoon, Helen Young will give a talk on her career in horticulture and the media, and answer any questions you might have.

Day 4 Monday November 24, 2014 Milford Sound 
Nothing can prepare you for the majesty of Milford Sound, star of Fjordlands National Park. New vistas mesmerise at each turn, towering Mitre Peak, rising 1692metres above the sound, plunging waterfalls, bottlenose and dusky dolphins, fur seals and fjordland crested penguins are among the wonders in this place of outstanding natural beauty.

Day 5 Tuesday November 25, 2014 Dunedin 
Arriving at Port Chambers this morning, we’ll be met by our private coach to travel into the city of Dunedin. Originally founded by Scottish settlers and known as the Edinburgh of the South, it features beautifully preserved buildings overlooking parklands. We’ll visit the Glenfalloch Woodland Garden, situated in a fertile coastal valley above the harbour. Originally developed by Philip Brady in 1917, it has a collection of superb European trees from 1872, underplanted with azaleas and rhododendrons. Fuchsias and native ferns grow luxuriantly beside Russell Creek. Returning to Dunedin, we visit the historic Jacobeanstyle Olveston House, containing a treasure trove of art and antiques, set in an acre of garden.

Day 6 Wednesday November 26, 2014 Akaroa 
Today we call into the pretty village of Akaroa. Originally founded by the French, it is now a delightful town that still retains the ambience of France. We visit Grehan Lea, built in the 1850s and once the mill manager’s house, surrounded by a luxuriant cottage garden. At Potter’s Croft, we explore three acres of private country garden next to a gently flowing stream. There are roses everywhere, mixed with lush lawns, trees, wisteria and scented white Azores jasmine. Lastly, we visit the sculpture and mosaic art garden at Linton, built in 1880 and once the bank manager’s house. There are surprises everywhere in this garden, filled with marvellous plants among whimsical and flamboyant mosaic installations created by artist and horticulturist Josie Martin.

Day 7 Thursday November 27, 2014 Picton 
This morning we arrive in Picton, located in one of the sunniest parts of New Zealand, the top of the South Island, it is a quaint port town nestled deep in the Marlborough Sounds. We travel to the nearby town of Blenheim to visit Upton Oaks. Surrounding a 100-year-old Victorian homestead, this renowned garden comprises a series of rooms contained within a formal framework of hedges and walls. It has been recognised as a Garden of National Significance. Also designated a Garden of National Significance is Winterhome, which features bold, classical French lines and magnificent views of the sea. Sue and Richard McFarlane are well known for their gorgeous garden with its walled canal garden, formal parterres, pools, woodland and avenues.

Day 8 Friday November 28, 2014 Wellington 
Arriving in Wellington, the nation’s capital, we enjoy a private sightseeing tour of the main city sights, including the Houses of Parliament, known locally as “the Beehive”. At Mount Victoria, there are breathtaking, 360-degree views of the city, and we also visit the Wellington Botanic Garden, famous for its rose garden and begonia house. In the afternoon we travel to Masterton, where we experience a very different garden, Assisi. It is in a stunning location on the side of a hill, with wonderful views over the Wairarapa landscape from the architect-designed house. The dynamic owners made a decision to concentrate on natives to suit the climate, and have planted hundreds of grasses, flaxes, renga lilies and cabbage trees.

Day 9 Saturday November 29, 2014 Napier 
Today we visit the unique city of Napier in the Hawke’s Bay area. During our city tour, our driver-guide will provide in-depth information about the art deco architecture of the city. In February 1931, a large earthquake levelled almost all the buildings of Napier and raised the seabed by 2.5 metres, so the town was rebuilt in this popular 1930s style. We’ll see the National Tobacco building and many shops and houses that are fine examples. We continue with a visit to Trelinnoe Park, one of New Zealand’s finest woodland gardens. Under the shelter of large trees, a vast array of exotic and native species thrive. Plants from the Himalayan high mountains, and from semi-tropical areas of Mexico and Brazil, are grown in this extensive plantsman’s garden.

Day 10 Sunday November 30, 2014 Tauranga (Rotorua) 
We dock in Tauranga and travel to Rotorua to visit two gardens today. The 12ha Tikiteret garden, developed since 1987, incorporates a natural stream, established trees and bog plants including hostas, iris and primulas. Bridges cross the stream, which is lined with a collection of Japanese maples and cherry trees, while azaleas and rhododendrons cover the slopes beyond. We travel on to visit Classic Roses, a rose and perennial garden, which will be full of colour and fragrance. The owners will guide us around their garden as well as providing information on the care of roses.

Day 11 Monday December 1, 2014 Auckland 
Auckland is the largest city and commercial centre of New Zealand. Our morning tour of this harbour city takes in the main sights, including the Harbour Bridge, which spans the beautiful Waitemata Harbour, and Mount Eden, for a panoramic view. At Ayrlies Garden, created from 1964 by Beverley and Malcolm McConnell, gardening is an art form. Covering 4.5ha, it is one of New Zealand’s finest and best-known gardens, incorporating three large ponds, cascading waterfalls, a rose garden, rockery, meadow garden and the stimulating “Lurid Border”. There’s also an adjoining 14ha wetlands reserve. This is a superb seasonal garden to which you will want to return.

Day 12 Tuesday December 2, 2014 Waitangi, Bay of Islands 
Our final stop is the spectacular Bay of Islands, one of the most historic areas in New Zealand and comprising of 150 scenic islands. We will have a sightseeing tour to Waitangi, including the Treaty House where the Treaty between settlers and Maoris was signed in 1840. In the Treaty Grounds, as well as stands of historic native trees, there is a small semi-formal garden planted to suit the period. Don’t miss seeing one of the world’s largest carved war canoes.

Day 13 Wednesday December 3, 2014 Tasman Sea
Today we will enjoy a relaxing day at sea. You may choose to attend an informative lecture, have a swim in the pool, indulge yourself at the day spa or just enjoy a book in a comfy deckchair.

Day 14 Thursday December 4, 2014 At sea 
Today you are free to enjoy some of the many activities available aboard Holland America Oosterdam. In the afternoon, Helen will host a trivia quiz based on our travels and experiences, to round off our journey.

Day 15 Friday December 5, 2014 Sydney, Australia 
This morning we arrive in Sydney. After breakfast we will disembark and the cruise will conclude.

Gardens and Historic Houses of Tasmania

Unfortunately this tour isn’t on this year but for a guide to all Tasmania’s finest gardens, see our Garden Travel Guide to Tasmania

 

Friday November 14, 2014 Launceston 
Tour members will meet in Launceston. This evening we will have a welcome dinner to meet Angus Stewart and Tino Carnevale.

Saturday November 15, 2014 Launceston 
Today we explore historic Woolmers Estate, home to the National Rose Garden of Australia. Covering two hectares, the garden provides visitors with a unique journey through the evolution of the rose. The garden is home to all the recognized rose families. We will also see the Heritage Vegetable Garden which houses heirloom vegetables and fruits, not commonly found today. We travel nearby to visit the historic gardens of Brickendon. First settled in 1825 by William Archer, it has been owned and farmed by the same family for over one hundred and eighty years.

Sunday November 16, 2014 Launceston 
This morning we travel to Highview garden nursery, stopping on the way at Ledgerwood to see the carved trees. This garden has two acres of well-designed cool climate planting. Later we travel to Clarendon, one of Australia’s great Georgian houses. It was completed in 1838 for wealthy wool grower and merchant James Cox. The house and gardens have been restored to their original condition. We return to Launceston for an evening at leisure.

Monday November 17, 2014 Launceston 
The morning is free for individual activities. In the afternoon we visit Panshanger, an elegant house and garden in the Greek revival style. The long entrance avenue and surrounding parkland are heavily wooded. A finely worked nineteenth-century iron gate opens to a flower garden full of roses. There is a unique pigeon tower positioned to be seen from the house terrace.

Tuesday November 18, 2014 Burnie 
Today we travel just out of Launceston to visit Entally House, the first National Trust house in Australia. Built in 1820 by Thomas Reibey, the house has an elegant garden set in forty-five hectares. We continue to Deloraine where we see interesting sculptures and art galleries. We visit Wychwood Garden and nursery designed with fluid lines and sensuous curves. Borders full of perennials, old and new species roses and grasses are found within these boundaries. There is also a productive fruit and vegetable garden and a heritage apple orchard.

Wednesday November 19, 2014 Burnie 
Today we travel to Stanley, stopping on the way to visit Table Cape Lighthouse. We continue to visit Allendale gardens, which has six acres of superb garden rooms. We travel to the Tarkine to visit Dismal Swamp a large sinkhole with unique vegetation. We have time to walk the counter levered walkways. Later we visit Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden. Its unique design makes it one of Australia’s major rhododendron gardens. We will see over 22,000 rhododendrons and other select plants set among 11 hectares with a series of “countries” from which the wild rhododendrons originate, within authentic built environments.

Thursday November 20, 2014 Cradle Mountain 
Today we travel to the Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park, an integral part of Tasmania’s World Heritage area. The region is characterised by rugged peaks and a wide range of glacial formations including glacial lakes, moraine boulders, scooped valleys and waterfalls. On arrival at Cradle Mountain we will visit beautiful Dove Lake and Waldheim.

Friday November 21, 2014 Hobart
Today we travel to Hobart, stopping on the journey at Ross, renowned for its convict-built bridge. We visit Prospect Villa and Gardens in Hamilton. This romantic, colour-blended garden is abundantly planted in a classic design and will become one of your favourites.

Saturday November 22, 2014 Hobart 
This morning we will have time to visit the famous Salamanca market. After this visit we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of Hobart including a visit to the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens. We explore the many historic plant collections and the large number of significant trees.

Sunday November 23, 2014 Hobart 
In the morning we visit Crawleighwood Garden. This wonderful two hectare garden nursery is nestled in the picturesque hills at Nicholls Rivulet near Cygnet in the beautiful Huon Valley. The garden features lush rhododendron woodland and rainforest with myrtles, rare and unusual plants, a wide variety of deciduous trees including maples, meandering paths, stone walls and a Gondwanan arboretum. We continue to the top of Mt Wellington for spectacular views of Hobart. Over the last sixteen years Wilmar Bouman and Matthew Ryan have recreated the garden of the century old property Corinda. Many of the old trees have been relocated. Hedges have been grown to create rooms and in some cases double hedges have been grown. Other hedges have been sculptured to form Tasmanian animals. Within the rooms many different plants are grown to create a wonderful effect.

Monday November 24, 2014 Hobart 
Today is free for individual activity. Perhaps visit MONA Art Gallery.

Tuesday November 25, 2014 Hobart 
We walk to Constitution Dock today to board the boat to sail to Peppermint Bay. The coach will meet us at Peppermint Bay to drive through the apple growing area of the Apple Isle. We visit Anna-Maria and Bob Magnus, who are plant collectors: interesting perennials are grown for the nursery industry and the cut flower market. Set in three acres, the garden includes one of the finest borders of David Austen roses to be seen in Australia. The garden is full of fruit trees and berry fruit many espaliered to save space. Bob will press fresh juice for the group on his charming wooden press. This afternoon we travel to the Huon Valley to visit Eggs & Bacon Bay Cottage. The charming cottage sits on 0.2 hectares on the edge of the Huon River, a peaceful spot just up from Eggs and Bacon Bay, about an hour south of Hobart. Looking out across a magnificent sea of colour, it’s impossible to believe that there was no garden here at all when Anne Le Ferve moved in just before the Christmas of 2000. This evening we will have a farewell dinner to celebrate the enjoyable time we have had in Tasmania.

Wednesday November 26, 2014 Departure

Western Australian Wildflowers

DAY 1
Tuesday 9 September 2014
Home – Perth (D)

Meet your tour leader, Angus Stewart at Sydney Airport for the flight to Perth. Check in to the 5-star Duxton Hotel, which is located right in the centre of town. We’ll enjoy a welcome dinner in the hotel tonight. Welcome dinner tonight in your hotel.
Accommodation: Duxton Hotel, Perth

DAY 2
Wednesday 10 September 2014
Perth – Hyden (B/D)

We travel from Perth into the Swan Valley and get a fascinating introduction to Australia’s indigenous flora at John Forrest National Park and Wheatbelt Botanic Garden. Then it’s on to Hyden for an overnight stay.
Accommodation: Wave Rock Motel, Hyden

DAY 3
Thursday 11 September 2014
Hyden – Hopetoun (B/L)

This morning we’ll stand under the crest of a giant wave of rock! Over the last 2,700 million years the grey and red granite of Wave Rock has been formed into the shape of a cresting wave, 15m high. It’s a spectacular sight. Then it’s a spectacle of a different sort as we travel on to the southern coast through the wildflower hot spot of the Stirling Range National Park. We’ll see Bluff Knoll, Western Australia’s tallest mountain, and beautiful spring flowers around Lake Grace. We arrive in Hopetoun late in the afternoon, and settle in for a two-night stay.
Accommodation: Hopetoun Motel, Hopetoun

DAY 4
Friday 12 September 2014
Fitzgerald River National Park (B/L)

Ancient ranges, rocky hills, river valleys, estuaries and large inlets make for beautiful scenery – and a plethora of rare wildflowers. We’ll have a local expert to guide us around the area. After a picnic lunch, we’ll head to Ravensthorpe Range, home to the exquisite salmon gum and more spectacular wildflowers.
Accommodation: Hopetoun Motel, Hopetoun

DAY 5
Saturday 13 September 2014
Hopetoun – Albany (B/L)

We’ll search for melaleuca, conostylis, hakea, Qualup Bells, kangaroo paws and others, and picnic in their midst as we skirt the edge of the Fitzgerald River National Park.
Accommodation: Dog Rock Motel, Albany

DAY 6
Sunday 14 September 2014
Albany (B/L)

We’ll spend the day exploring Albany, with a visit to Whale World. This is on the site of Australia’s last whaling station, Cheynes Beach Whaling Station, which was decommissioned in 1978. We’ll also see Torndirrup National Park, on the peninsula that shelters Albany from the Great Southern Ocean. The park boasts some of the Rainbow Coast’s most extraordinary natural features.
Accommodation: Dog Rock Motel, Albany

DAY 7
Monday 15 September 2014
Mt. Barker (B/L)

We’ll explore the incredible Mount Barker region today. The rugged peaks, towering forests and lush rolling granite flats of the Stirling Range and Porongurup National Parks are some of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. There are more than 1500 species of plants in the Stirling Ranges alone and more than 80 of them are endemic, including the famous mountain bells (Darwinias). Hundreds of orchid species grow in this area and we’ll also keep an eye out for some of the 148 bird species that call this part of the world home, including electric blue fairy wrens, brilliant parrots and majestic wedge-tailed eagles.
The area is also Great Southern Wine Country, one of the largest of Australia’s wine regions, and we’ll have a chance to taste the local product with a lunch at Gilbert’s Winery.
Accommodation: Dog Rock Motel, Albany

DAY 8
Tuesday 16 September 2014
Albany to Pemberton (B/L/D)

Take a walk through the treetops this morning on a spectacular lightweight bridge through the forest canopy of the Valley of the Giants. These giants are Karri trees, a species of eucalyptus. Karri is one of the tallest trees in the world and it is only found in the south west of Australia.
We’ll picnic in Peaceful Bay, home to the world’s only endemic stand of red flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia) and more than 40 species of native orchids! Then it’s on to Pemberton, which is nestled in a quiet valley surrounded by towering old growth karri, jarrah and marri forests. You’ll have an opportunity to climb the 60-metre-high Gloucester Tree, which was once used as a fire watchtower! 
Accommodation: 
Pemberton Hotel, Pemberton

DAY 9
Wednesday 17 September 2014
Pemberton – Yallingup (B)

Augusta, on the lee side of Cape Leeuwin, is Australia’s most south-western town. Large numbers of humpback, southern right, and pygmy blue whales migrate through these waters from late May to October each year. The best vantage point on land is the historic lighthouse on the tip of Cape Leeuwin. And that’sFrom here we’ll look not just for whales, but at the area’s spectacular coastline, and at the the intersection of two of the planet’s great oceans – the Indian and Southern Oceans.
Accommodation: Seashells, Yallingup

DAY 10
Thursday 18 September 2014
Margaret River (B/L)

It has been just 40 years since the first vines were planted in the Margaret River region, but is already recognised as one of the world’s great wine regions. There are 200 vineyards and 90 wineries located here: we’ve chosen Hayshed Hill for a tasting and lunch.
Accommodation: Seashells, Yallingup

DAY 11
Friday 19 September 2014
Margaret River (B)

Nglili Cave is one of the best and most accessible caves in the South West. It features galleries of amazing stalactites and stalagmites as well as other formations. We’ll take a guided tour and then walk to the top of Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse for stunning views of the coastline. Fingers crossed for whales too. 
Accommodation: 
Seashells, Yallingup

Day 12
Saturday 20 September 2014
Yallingup – Perth (B)

First stop today is Busselton, where the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere stretches 1.8 kms across Geographe Bay. We will take the train to the Underwater Observatory 8m below the surface to see a world of vividly coloured corals, sponges, fish and invertebrates. Then it’s on to Perth and back to the Duxton Hotel.
Accommodation: Duxton Hotel, Perth

DAY 13
Sunday 21 September 2014
Perth (B/D)

It’s festival time in Perth’s famous Kings Park. From its humble beginnings as a five-day event in 1965, the festival has blossomed into a program of floral displays, music performances, exhibitions, workshops and guided walks that runs for the entire month. The Park at festival time is a fitting spot to finish our tour. The 400-hectare Botanic Garden boasts more than 1,700 native species – and there are more growing in glasshouses. After exploring, we have a free afternoon to relax and freshen up for our Farewell Dinner this evening in the hotel. 
Accommodation: 
Duxton Hotel, Perth

DAY 14
Monday 22 September 2014
Perth – Home (B)

Transfer to Perth airport for flights home.

Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show, & Ballarat

Day 1 Saturday March 22, 2014 Ballarat 
On arrival at Melbourne Airport we will be met by our private coach and drive to Ballarat. A welcome dinner is included this evening for tour members to get to know one another. Deryn Thorpe will outline the activities and program of the tour.

Day 2 Sunday March 23, 2014 Ballarat 
This morning we visit Ballarat Botanical Gardens, which covers an area of forty hectares divided into three distinct zones. The Botanical Gardens started in 1858 with a central area preserving the “Gardenesque” style of the Victorian pleasure garden. Located on the western shore of picturesque Lake Wendouree, a highlight of the gardens are greenhouses full of spectacular begonias. We enjoy a free afternoon in Ballarat. Perhaps take a stroll to enjoy the lavish gold rush architecture or visit the Ballarat Art Gallery, Australia’s finest regional gallery. History buffs can explore, a village set back in the Ballarat gold rush of the 1850s with gold mines, theatres, diggings, craftspeople and costumed street performers. Those that choose can have dinner there and stay for Sovereign Hill’s multimillion dollar Blood on the Southern Cross light show which tells the story of the Eureka stockade. Deryn will meet those wishing to dine with the group.

Day 3 Monday March 24, 2014 Ballarat 
This morning our garden visit is to Stonefields, Paul Bangay’s spectacular garden developed using knowledge gained during 20 years designing gardens. This garden will be a highlight of our tour and includes stone paths that meander through garden rooms that open out to a spectacular country view. We travel to Daylesford for free time for lunch. Daylesford has an amazing array of boutique and unique shops. In the afternoon we visit the Tangled Maze and Mistydowns Nursery. We will have a tour of the gardens with a gardener. Tangled Maze is an unusual maze made up of thousands of climbing plants many with flowers covering its two meter high walls. There are mystery trails and puzzles. We will have time to browse in the nursery stocked with heritage roses, peonies and unusual perennials. We will return to Ballarat for an evening at leisure.

Day 4 Tuesday March 25, 2014 Melbourne 
This morning we return to Melbourne for a sightseeing tour with a local guide. Experience the beautiful architecture of famous landmarks including the Melbourne Town Hall, St Pauls Cathedral, Victorian Parliament, Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, the Tennis Centre and Dockland where we see Etihad Stadium. We also see the MCG and the Shrine of Remembrance in the corner of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. We finish at Queen Victoria Market for lunch at your expense. This historic landmark, is a tourist attraction and an institution for Melbournians. Open since 1878 it spreads over seven hectares. There will be time for lunch or shopping. The afternoon is free. Perhaps visit the National Gallery of Victoria or Spencer St Direct Factory Outlet. The tour manager will suggest restaurants for those not going to the theatre. We will organise tickets for a show at tour members’ expense when we know what shows are in the theatre.

Day 5 Wednesday March 26, 2014 Melbourne 
Today we visit the 19th Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, the biggest and best show of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. Floral displays fill the world heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and the surrounding Carlton Gardens. Surrounding the buildings are landscape displays created by some of Australia’s most talented landscape designers. The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, is ranked in the top five flower shows in the world. While keen gardeners will want to spend all day at the show others may also take time to visit the adjacent Melbourne Museum. Tonight is a free night to explore Melbourne as you wish.

Day 6 Thursday March 27, 2014 Melbourne 
Today we travel through the picturesque countryside on the Mornington Peninsula to visit some of the best gardens in Australia. The region is also known for its beautiful coastline, wineries and food. We first visit the Australian Garden at Cranbourne, a spectacular landscape which has a dramatic red sand garden, rock pool waterways, Eucalypt walk and five exhibition gardens. We continue to Heronswood gardens, home of Diggers Seeds. We will have lunch at the Fork to Fork restaurant, where the vegetables and fruits served are heirloom selections picked straight from the gardens. This is followed by a tour of Diggers, who have Australia’s largest range of heirloom vegetables, cottage and fruit plants for sale. We continue to the Garden Vineyard, recently featured in Monte Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens. We return to Melbourne and Deryn will meet those wishing to dine with group to recommend a restaurant.

Day 7 Friday March 28, 2014 Melbourne 
Today we travel to the Dandenong Ranges to visit two of Deryn’s favourite gardens. We first visit Cloudehill where a maze of stone walls and jewel like garden rooms are set within woodlands of historic cool climate trees. We will have an included lunch here as the food is as good as the gorgeous views. This afternoon we travel to Olinda, the garden of Phillip Johnson. Phillip’s spectacular design for Flemings Nurseries won Best Garden in Show at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2013. His home garden is just as striking and has a sustainable billabong that doubles as a chemical free swimming pool. Beautifully positioned walkways meander through the garden where it is hard to see where the bush ends and the garden, which features many indigenous plants, begins. We return to Melbourne for a farewell dinner on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. The historic tram will drive us around the city where we can admire Melbourne’s quaint streets while enjoying a fine meal with drinks included.

Day 8 Saturday March 29, 2014 Departure
The morning is free for individual activity. We travel to the airport in the early afternoon for a flight home and the tour concludes.

Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show, & Ballarat

Day 1 Saturday March 22, 2014 Ballarat 
On arrival at Melbourne Airport we will be met by our private coach and drive to Ballarat. A welcome dinner is included this evening for tour members to get to know one another. Deryn Thorpe will outline the activities and program of the tour.

Day 2 Sunday March 23, 2014 Ballarat 
This morning we visit Ballarat Botanical Gardens, which covers an area of forty hectares divided into three distinct zones. The Botanical Gardens started in 1858 with a central area preserving the “Gardenesque” style of the Victorian pleasure garden. Located on the western shore of picturesque Lake Wendouree, a highlight of the gardens are greenhouses full of spectacular begonias. We enjoy a free afternoon in Ballarat. Perhaps take a stroll to enjoy the lavish gold rush architecture or visit the Ballarat Art Gallery, Australia’s finest regional gallery. History buffs can explore, a village set back in the Ballarat gold rush of the 1850s with gold mines, theatres, diggings, craftspeople and costumed street performers. Those that choose can have dinner there and stay for Sovereign Hill’s multimillion dollar Blood on the Southern Cross light show which tells the story of the Eureka stockade. Deryn will meet those wishing to dine with the group.

Day 3 Monday March 24, 2014 Ballarat 
This morning our garden visit is to Stonefields, Paul Bangay’s spectacular garden developed using knowledge gained during 20 years designing gardens. This garden will be a highlight of our tour and includes stone paths that meander through garden rooms that open out to a spectacular country view. We travel to Daylesford for free time for lunch. Daylesford has an amazing array of boutique and unique shops. In the afternoon we visit the Tangled Maze and Mistydowns Nursery. We will have a tour of the gardens with a gardener. Tangled Maze is an unusual maze made up of thousands of climbing plants many with flowers covering its two meter high walls. There are mystery trails and puzzles. We will have time to browse in the nursery stocked with heritage roses, peonies and unusual perennials. We will return to Ballarat for an evening at leisure.

Day 4 Tuesday March 25, 2014 Melbourne 
This morning we return to Melbourne for a sightseeing tour with a local guide. Experience the beautiful architecture of famous landmarks including the Melbourne Town Hall, St Pauls Cathedral, Victorian Parliament, Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, the Tennis Centre and Dockland where we see Etihad Stadium. We also see the MCG and the Shrine of Remembrance in the corner of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. We finish at Queen Victoria Market for lunch at your expense. This historic landmark, is a tourist attraction and an institution for Melbournians. Open since 1878 it spreads over seven hectares. There will be time for lunch or shopping. The afternoon is free. Perhaps visit the National Gallery of Victoria or Spencer St Direct Factory Outlet. The tour manager will suggest restaurants for those not going to the theatre. We will organise tickets for a show at tour members’ expense when we know what shows are in the theatre.

Day 5 Wednesday March 26, 2014 Melbourne 
Today we visit the 19th Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, the biggest and best show of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. Floral displays fill the world heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and the surrounding Carlton Gardens. Surrounding the buildings are landscape displays created by some of Australia’s most talented landscape designers. The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, is ranked in the top five flower shows in the world. While keen gardeners will want to spend all day at the show others may also take time to visit the adjacent Melbourne Museum. Tonight is a free night to explore Melbourne as you wish.

Day 6 Thursday March 27, 2014 Melbourne 
Today we travel through the picturesque countryside on the Mornington Peninsula to visit some of the best gardens in Australia. The region is also known for its beautiful coastline, wineries and food. We first visit the Australian Garden at Cranbourne, a spectacular landscape which has a dramatic red sand garden, rock pool waterways, Eucalypt walk and five exhibition gardens. We continue to Heronswood gardens, home of Diggers Seeds. We will have lunch at the Fork to Fork restaurant, where the vegetables and fruits served are heirloom selections picked straight from the gardens. This is followed by a tour of Diggers, who have Australia’s largest range of heirloom vegetables, cottage and fruit plants for sale. We continue to the Garden Vineyard, recently featured in Monte Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens. We return to Melbourne and Deryn will meet those wishing to dine with group to recommend a restaurant.

Day 7 Friday March 28, 2014 Melbourne 
Today we travel to the Dandenong Ranges to visit two of Deryn’s favourite gardens. We first visit Cloudehill where a maze of stone walls and jewel like garden rooms are set within woodlands of historic cool climate trees. We will have an included lunch here as the food is as good as the gorgeous views. This afternoon we travel to Olinda, the garden of Phillip Johnson. Phillip’s spectacular design for Flemings Nurseries won Best Garden in Show at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2013. His home garden is just as striking and has a sustainable billabong that doubles as a chemical free swimming pool. Beautifully positioned walkways meander through the garden where it is hard to see where the bush ends and the garden, which features many indigenous plants, begins. We return to Melbourne for a farewell dinner on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. The historic tram will drive us around the city where we can admire Melbourne’s quaint streets while enjoying a fine meal with drinks included.

Day 8 Saturday March 29, 2014 Departure
The morning is free for individual activity. We travel to the airport in the early afternoon for a flight home and the tour concludes.

Garden tour to England, Italy and France

ITINERARY

DAY 1 Tuesday 20 May, 2014 Depart Australia 
Today we board our Emirates Airlines over-night flight to London.

DAY 2 Wednesday 21 May, 2014 London 
We arrive in London about noon. On arrival we will be transferred to our hotel by private coach. To begin our exploration of this fascinating and historic city, we meet our London blue badge guide for a comprehensive tour of the main sights. We will see Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, The Strand, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London before being transferred to our hotel.

DAY 3 Thursday 22 May, 2014 London
The highlight of our time in London will be an escorted visit to the famous Chelsea Flower Show. Chelsea is the main event in the English horticultural calendar and boasts amazing displays of the world’s best flowers and plants. You will see fabulous show gardens specially created by leading designers, some of them Australian. Deryn will ensure that you get the most from this wonderful show. We return to our hotel early afternoon, with an optional drop off at Harrods for those who would like to have time to shop. Tonight we will enjoy a welcome dinner to get to know Derryn Thorpe and other tour members.

DAY 4 Friday 23 May, 2014 London 
This morning will be at leisure. In the afternoon we visit the Royal Horticultural Garden, Wisley. The RHS was given Wisley Estate in trust by Sir Thomas Hanbury in 1903. Trials of flowers, vegetables and fruit were expanded at Wisley and they continue to be one of the principal objects of the garden. Several Chelsea Flower Show prize winning gardens are displayed in the grounds.

DAY 5 Saturday 24 May, 2014 Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany 
This morning we are transferred to London’s Heathrow airport for our flight to Rome. Upon arrival we are met by our coach for the trip to the Tuscan village of Bagno Vignoni, where we will spend the next four nights. This small Orcia River Valley village has long been a favourite among travellers seeking solitude in a beautiful location. We will stay at a small family owned 15th-century hotel, built by Rossellino as a summerhouse for Pope Pius II, who enjoyed the advantage of the nearby hot mineral springs. Tour members will enjoy delicious Tuscan dinners each night during our stay at Bagno Vignoni.

DAY 6 Sunday 25 May, 2014 Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany 
This morning we travel south to visit Parco dei Mostri. This garden is unique. Made up of astonishing gigantic sculptures, many of them hewn from the rock on the wooded hillside you will be amazed. Are they autobiographical, literary, historical or philosophical? The scholars don’t know. This afternoon we visit the magnificent gardens of Villa Lante near Viterbo. This is a perfect Renaissance garden in which murmuring water, flashing fountains, shade and sunlight alternate under vast plane trees. The garden, organized on four levels along a main axis, emphasized by fountains, has perfect symmetry.

DAY 7 Monday 26 May, 2014 Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany 
This morning we visit Villa Cetinale, built in the 15th century by the Chigi family, bankers and money lenders for popes and English kings. Additions to the original house and garden were carried out by Carlo Fontana, who was a pupil of Bernini. In the gardens are wonderful statues and the Romitorio, a hermitage where monks lived until near the end of the 19th century. Lord Lambton bought Villa Cetinale from the Chigi family in 1977 and since then the gardens have been immaculately restored and enriched. This afternoon we visit the wonderful medieval city of Siena, best known for the famous Palio horse race held in the magnificent Piazza del Campo. Siena is also home to the oldest bank in the world, a spectacular town hall and majestic cathedral. A local guide will introduce us to the major sights of the city, including the Piazza del Campo with its splendid civic tower and the enormous, partially completed Duomo.

DAY 8 Tuesday 27 May, 2014 Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany 
Today will be free for independent activity. Why not have a spa in the hotels “wellness centre”. You will enjoy a relaxing day in this picturesque Tuscan village.

DAY 9 Wednesday 28 May, 2014 Florence 
We drive through the gorgeous Tuscan countryside to Florence this morning. In the afternoon we have a walking tour of Florence. During our walking tour we see the Piazza del Duomo, one of the largest cathedrals in the Christian world. Together with Brunelleschi’s wonderful dome, we see the Campanile and the Baptistry. We also wander through the Piazza della Signoria, which contains the Loggia della Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio and nearby, the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River.

DAY 10 Thursday 29 May, 2014 Florence 
This morning we visit Villa Le Balze, an early masterpiece of English architect Cecil Pinsent, who designed a Renaissance-style villa set in just over one hectare of garden. The garden was created in 1914 on a very steep site overlooking spectacular views of Florence. To the sides of the house are enclosed formal garden rooms. The lemon garden next to the house has four box-edged grass enclosures surrounding a circular pool. The formal gardens give way to a bosco and olive groves. We continue our travel to explore Villa Gamberaia, set in classic olive-grove country. Restored to its 16th-century splendour, the garden is small but idyllic. The main terrace is laid out with parterres de broderie and the water gardens are reminiscent of Persian reflecting pools.

DAY 11 Friday 30 May 2014 Florence
This morning is free for individual activity. In the afternoon we visit Villa della Petraia a Medici. Bought in 1544 by Cosimo de’Medici he gave it to his fifth son Ferdinando. On the upper terraces, simple square compartments were lined with dwarf fruit trees, highly prized in Renaissance gardens. In 1864 Florence was adopted as the temporary capital of Italy. Petraia became the royal residence of Emanuele II of Savoy. The garden was changed to Emanuel II’s taste. Curving flower beds in 19th-century style were designed to surround the fountain.

DAY 12 Saturday 31 May, 2014 Como
This morning, we travel to the Italian Lakes district, staying for the next four nights at Como on the edge of beautiful Lake Como.

DAY 13 Sunday 1 June, 2014 Como 
Today our coach takes us to Lake Maggiore. We travel by boat to Isola Bella, the most spectacular of the Borromean Islands. The magnificent villa is surrounded by one of the most dramatic 17th-century gardens in Italy, with 10 terraces rising like a ship’s prow in the reflecting waters of the lake. Masses of roses and perfumed plants set among superb statues and fountains make this a garden to remember. We also visit the nearby island Isola Madre. This very different garden has lush sub-tropical planting of ornamental trees and shrubs, including a fine swamp cypress and palms.

DAY 14 Monday 2 June, 2014 Como
This morning will be free to relax, shop in Como or take a ferry ride on Lake Como to view the spectacular scenery and fabulous lakeside villas. In the afternoon Deryn will guide us on a visit to the gardens of Villa Melzi. The semi-classical villa stands on the shores of the lake, among gardens studded with an eclectic mix of sculptures, from Egyptian to Roman. We will have time to explore the town of Bellagio, nominated as one of the most beautiful villages in the world.

DAY 15 Tuesday 3 June 2014 Como
A scenic trip along the west shore of Lake Como brings us to the picturesque village of Tremezzo and Villa Carlotta. This elegant 18th-century villa has its own landing place on Lake Como with beautiful views over the lake. It was given as a wedding present to Carlotta, Duchess of Saxe-Meningen, who, with her husband, created the landscaped gardens and began the botanical collection. Around the house, an 18th-century formal layout has lemon arbours on the terraces, tall camellia hedges and flowerbeds. We continue on to one of the jewels of the lake, Villa del Balbianello, located on its own small island. Steep steps covered with flowers lead from the landing to the gorgeous gardens and villa, chosen as the romantic setting for the movie “A Month on the Lake”. Ancient pollarded plane trees are a feature of this enchanting garden.

DAY 16 Wednesday 4 June, 2014 Nice 
Today we travel from Como to Nice, on the French Riviera. We check into our hotel in Nice late afternoon.

DAY 17 Thursday 5 June 2014 Nice 
This morning we enjoy a sightseeing tour with a local guide of the main sights of the French Riviera. We will explore the narrow picturesque streets of Nice and drive along the Corniche Road. We have spectacular views of the ocean and cliffs on our way to Monte Carlo, famous for its casino and royal family. This afternoon Deryn will lead the group on our visit to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. The garden was laid out at the beginning of the 20th century by Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild, a member of the wealthy Rothschild family. The garden has been developed as a series of compartments representing different architectural and planting styles. The garden is the ultimate in manicured French exotic style.

DAY 18 Friday 6 June 2014 Nice 
This morning we cross the Italian border to visit La Mortola, founded in 1864, it has become the flagship of Riviera gardens. Rows of terraces have been established to display the plants collected from all over the world by Thomas and Daniel Hanbury. We will have time for lunch in the elegant town of Menton before visiting Clos du Peyronnet. This estate is the last garden of Menton that has remained the property of the same family since 1915. The current owner, William Waterfield, is specifically interested in botany and collects tropical species, particularly bulb plants from South Africa. The landscaping of the garden Clos du Peyronnet is quite exceptional. It combines colours and movements through a play of water staircases, formed by successive ponds, the last step of which is the Mediterranean. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner to celebrate our tour.

DAY 19 Saturday 7 June 2014 Departure 
This morning we will have free time for individual exploration of Nice. In the afternoon we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Australia.

DAY 20 Sunday 8 June 2014 In flight

DAY 21 Monday 9 June 2014 Arrival Australia
Tour members arrive early morning back in Australia. The tour concludes.

Garden Tour of France and England

DAY 1 Sunday May 4, 2014 Departure 
Our holiday begins with an Emirates Airlines flight to Nice.

DAY 2 Monday May 5, 2014 French Riviera 
We arrive in Nice early afternoon, where we are met by a private coach and transferred to our hotel in the gorgeous village of Villefranche-sur-Mer, just along the coast from Nice. Helen and the tour manager will help you settle in and the rest of the day is free for relaxation and individual exploration.

DAY 3 Tuesday May 6, 2014 French Riviera 
This morning we enjoy a sightseeing tour, with a local guide, of the main sights of the French Riviera. After exploring the narrow picturesque streets of Nice, the capital of the Cote d’Azur, we’ll drive along the Grand Corniche, with its spectacular views of the ocean and cliffs, on our way to Monte Carlo, famous for its casino and Monaco’s royal family. In the afternoon, we’ll visit Le Jardin Exotique d’Eze, perched on a high outcrop with the most magnificent views overlooking the sea. This garden, with its wonderful and varied collection of succulents, offers a unique experience, and the little town of Eze is fascinating. This evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner to meet Helen Young. D

DAY 4 Wednesday May 7, 2014 French Riviera 
Our first visit today is to the private garden of Clos du Peyronnet, set on a hillside overlooking the blue Mediterranean. It is the work of three generations of the Waterfield family, starting in the early 1900s, and is still the home of William Waterfield. Laid out in the Arts and Crafts style, it takes advantage of the warm climate to nurture exotic plants such as South African bulbs and unusual fruit trees. A delightful stairway of successive water pools ends at the sea. In the afternoon Helen will lead the group on a visit to the superb Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. The garden was laid out at the beginning of the 20th century by Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild, a member of the wealthy Rothschild family. Seven gardens laid out around the pink, Venetian-style villa represent a voyage around the world – French, Spanish, Florentine, Japanese and so on – and are furnished with the ‘spoils’ of her travels. The sea views are wonderful and the interiors of the villa are simply beautiful.

DAY 5 Thursday May 8, 2014 Aix-en-Provence
We depart the French Riviera this morning and travel to Chateau Val Joanis for lunch and a wine tasting. This 19th century-style garden was created by Mrs Cecile Chancel from 1978, together with landscape architect Tobbie Loup de Viane. Terraces designed to resemble a French potager garden of the 18th century, combine both ornamental and productive plants. The first terrace mixes vegetables and flowers, the second features roses and the third has ornamental shrubs and fruit trees. A long pergola, submerged in roses and trumpet creeper, runs the full length, while hectares of olives and grapes create the perfect Provencal setting. We continue our journey to Aix-en-Provence. Those wishing to dine together can meet in the lobby where the tour manager will suggest restaurants for dinner.

DAY 6 Friday May 9, 2014 Aix-en-Provence
This morning we have a sightseeing tour of Aix-en-Provence, the old capital of Provence. We tour the Old Town, with its evocative 18th and 19th-century squares, many of them with gorgeous fountains in their centre. We will also see sites associated with the postimpressionist artist, Paul Cezanne, who hailed from the town. This afternoon will be free for individual exploration.

DAY 7 Saturday May 10, 2014 Aix-en-Provence 
We travel this morning to Jardin de la Noria, a modern, private garden designed by noted French designers, Arnaud Maurieres and Eric Ossart. The owners, Mr and Mrs Deparis, commissioned them to transform a hectare of level orchard in the grounds of their farmhouse, called Mas de Licon. The remains of an old noria, or water wheel, determined the hub of the new garden, influenced by the spirit of Islamic paradise gardens. The garden has an oasis-like quality with lush plantings, scented flowers, pools and rills. This is a garden that encourages visitors to wander slowly and sit to enjoy the sculptures and surrender to the delights of the sound of the water, the perfume and colour of the garden. We will have a lunch stop in the attractive medieval city of Uzes. There will be time to browse around the wonderful Saturday market, where you will find a wealth of food and craft items. In the afternoon, we visit the private garden of Les Confines, owned for many years by contemporary landscape designer Dominique Lafourcade. It is famous worldwide for its long, narrow rill, flanked by olive trees in massive terracotta pots, and extensive clipped hedges and topiary. This Italianate garden encompasses many rooms, each with its own character. Its most recent addition is an African room, inspired by Mrs Deparis’ travels there.

DAY 8 Sunday May 11, 2014 Albi 
Today our coach takes us to Albi, stopping on the way to visit the interesting, medieval fortified town of Carcassonne. The outcrop on which it is built, was the main communication route between the Mediterranean and Toulouse. The town of Albi is the birthplace of Toulouse-Lautrec and sits in a beautiful position on the river Tarn. Albi is known for its rosy-red bricks, made from distinctively coloured local clay and used for building everything from bridges spanning the Tarn to private houses and the grand cathedral. The tour manager will meet the group in the lobby to suggest restaurants for dinner.

DAY 9 Monday May 12, 2014 Albi
This morning we will enjoy a city tour with a local guide, seeing the vast St Cecilia’s Cathedral, which dates from 1282, the medieval streets, the busy markets, and we will tour the outstanding Musee Toulouse-Lautrec. From the museum we get a wonderful view over a parterre garden and the river Tarn. This afternoon will be free to explore Albi at your own pace.

DAY 10 Tuesday May 13, 2014 Sarlat la Caneda 
We head north today, driving through the beautiful rolling French countryside to the Dordogne region to stay in Sarlat la Caneda for four nights. The town has all the characteristics of a well-preserved market town of the time of the Ancien Regime. Its narrow medieval streets, gothic and renaissance buildings add to the ambience. The tour manager will recommend local restaurants to soak up a little atmosphere and experience the regional delicacies.

DAY 11 Wednesday May 14, 2014 Sarlat la Caneda 
We start the day with a guided walking tour of this fascinating town, which grew up around the Benedictine abbey founded in the middle of the 9th century. Sarlat reached its peak during the 13th and 14th centuries. There are houses full of charm all over the town, many with attractive courtyards, including Maison de la Boetie, one of the finest renaissance buildings of 1525. The town is host to many interesting fairs and markets and, as Wednesday is the town’s regular market day, you will be able to enjoy it. In the afternoon we travel east to visit the superb Manoir d’Eyrignac. The manor house dates from the 17th century and the elaborate formal garden, originally 18th century, was comprehensively recreated in the 1960s. Elaborate topiary and hedging frame a sequence of rooms and passages that lead to the house. Near the house is a stylised French parterre with sweeping curves of clipped box and soaring Italian cypresses. We return to the hotel late afternoon. Those wishing to dine together tonight can meet in the lobby.

DAY 12 Thursday May 15, 2014 Sarlat la Caneda 
Today is a free day for you to relax and enjoy Sarlat at your own pace.

DAY 13 Friday May 16, 2014 Sarlat la Caneda
Our first visit today is to Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire, at Terrasson, a unique creation that recounts the history of gardens since Roman times in 13 different gardens. Highlights include a green amphitheatre with lovely views over the town, a rose garden of more than 2000 roses, and a fountain walk of many water jets, which spray between trees creating a garden of water. In the afternoon we will travel east to visit the extraordinary Les Jardins de Marqueyssac. On a bastion overlooking the Dordogne River, they have stunning views and present topiary as you have never seen it before. Known as the Italian Garden in Perigord, they feature clipped box cypress and rosemary in wonderful, organic shapes.

DAY 14 Saturday May 17, 2014 Bordeaux 
We travel today through the French countryside to the delightful small town of Saint -Emilion, where we have free time. We continue on to visit Chateau de Vayres. Situated on the banks of the Dordogne River, it dates from the 13th, 14th and 17th centuries. A double flight of steps leads down to the formal French gardens, dotted with impressive clipped yew cones and hedges. Located along the side of the chateau is a medieval-inspired flower garden. Late afternoon we will check into our Bordeaux hotel for a two-night stay. Those wishing to dine together can meet in the lobby, where the tour manager will suggest nearby restaurants.

DAY 15 Sunday May 18, 2014 Bordeaux 
This morning we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of Bordeaux. Vieux Bordeaux is the 18th century Old Town that has recently been restored, including buildings used for wine storage, along the river Garonne. We will see the Grand Theatre, one of the finest in France, and the elegant Place du Parlement, where houses have ground floor arcades and a balcony running the whole length of the façade. We also see the Esplanade des Quinconces laid out in the early 19th century. Travelling north of Bordeaux along the Gironde River, where the famed red wines of this region are produced, we visit a winery for a tasting. Helen will fly to London this evening to attend Media Day on Monday, at the Chelsea Flower Show, and obtain a sneak preview of the show gardens to guide us personally on our Thursday visit.

DAY 16 Monday May 19, 2014 London 
The morning will be free to explore Bordeaux, before we travel to the airport in the afternoon to fly to London. On arrival we will be met by our private coach to transfer the group to our London hotel. Helen and the tour manager will suggest local restaurants for dinner and familiarise you with the area, as well as suggesting places to visit in London.

DAY 17 Tuesday May 20, 2014 London 
This morning we meet our London Blue Badge guide for a tour of the main sights of exciting London, such as Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, The Strand, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. The afternoon and evening will be free for you to enjoy London’s many attractions as you choose.

DAY 18 Wednesday May 21, 2014 London
Today we visit Capel Manor Gardens, with 30 acres and more than 60 gardens and landscapes to explore, surrounding a Georgian manor house. It contains some previous gold-medal winning show gardens from Chelsea, including The Australian Garden from 2011, as well as a 17th-century walled garden, Italianate maze, vegetable plots and plant collections of scented pelargoniums and salvias. Capel Manor College is an esteemed horticultural college. Just nearby, we visit Myddelton House Gardens, home of noted gardener, author and artist Edward Bowles, from his birth in 1865 to his death in 1954. On eight acres, it includes a kitchen garden, Victorian conservatory, a lake and a section of unusual plants called the Lunatic Asylum.

DAY 19 Thursday May 22, 2014 London 
The highlight of our time in London is our visit with Helen to the famous Chelsea Flower Show. It is the main event in the English horticultural calendar and boasts fine displays of flowers, plants, trees and amazing display gardens. For gardeners, it is the experience of a lifetime and a highlight of our garden tour. Helen will ensure you get the most from your time here. We will have a farewell dinner this evening to say good-bye to our new friends. D

DAY 20 Friday May 23, 2014 Departure
We will have free time for last minute shopping and sight-seeing until our departure early afternoon, visiting the private garden of Mr and Mrs Raworth on the way to the airport, and enjoying afternoon tea there. This is a true collectors’ garden, with some rare and unusual plants. Among its many features, cleverly designed in a small space, are hedges of yew, box and hornbeam, which enclose various rooms, a formal knot garden and a sunken Mediterranean garden, full of interesting small plants. At the rear, an emerald grass carpet is flanked by flower borders and backed by old trees, set in a private park. From here, we travel to Heathrow airport for our return flight to Australia.

DAY 21 Saturday May 24, 2014 In flight

DAY 22 Sunday May 25, 2014 Arrival 
The group arrives in Australia and tour arrangements conclude.

England, France and Spain, with Chelsea Flower Show

DAY 1 Tuesday May 20, 2014 Depart Australia
Today we board our Singapore Airlines flight to London.

DAY 2 Wednesday May 21, 2014 London, England
Today we arrive in London, where we will spend the next three nights. To begin our exploration of this fascinating and historic city, we meet our London Blue Badge guide for a comprehensive tour of the main sights. We will see Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, The Strand, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, before being transferred to our hotel. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure in this exciting city. Our tour manager will meet those wishing to dine with the group to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner.

DAY 3 Thursday May 22, 2014 London, England
The highlight of our time in London will be an escorted visit to the famous Chelsea Flower Show. Chelsea is the main event in the English horticultural calendar and boasts amazing displays of the world’s best flowers and plants. You will see fabulous show gardens, specially created by leading designers. Angus will ensure that you get the most from this wonderful show. We return to our hotel early afternoon, with an optional drop off at Harrods. This evening, we will have an included dinner, so group members can get to know Angus Stewart and each other.

DAY 4 Friday May 23, 2014 London, England 
This morning we visit Hampton Court Palace and Garden. The Palace is an interesting place to study the activities of British monarchs from Henry VIII onwards. The garden is most famous for its Great Vine, planted in 1768, which still produces hundreds of Black Hamburg grapes each year. The Pond Gardens offer a magnificent display of bedding plants. The newly restored Privy Garden of William III is a spectacular example of the baroque, with parterres, cut work, clipped yews and spring and summer displays of 17thcentury plants. This afternoon will be at leisure. In the evening, you may like to take in a show in London’s theatre district.

DAY 5 Saturday May 24, 2014 Canterbury, England 
We travel to Kent today. Known for its apple orchards and hop oast houses, the county is very lush. We visit the house and gardens at Great Dixter. One of the best-known gardens in Britain surrounds a thatched 15th-century manor house. The sunken garden was designed and constructed by Christopher Lloyd, a noted plants man, gardener and writer, who lived and gardened here all his life, composing a series of gardens, including fine topiary and a magnificent mixed long border. This garden is a true gem. We continue to bustling Canterbury, where we check-in to our hotel and the remainder of the afternoon will be free for individual activity.

DAY 6 Sunday May 25, 2014 Canterbury, England 
Today we visit two of the finest gardens in England. We first visit Scotney Castle Garden. The formal garden overlooks a quarry garden, while the grounds of the old castle enclose a rose garden. The lakeside planting adds an air of informality. Evergreens and deciduous trees provide structure, while many shrubs and flowering plants ensure something is in bloom at every season. This afternoon we visit the renowned garden at Sissinghurst Castle, created by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson. This romantic garden is one of the outstanding gardens of the world. Angus will make sure that you get the most out of this inspiring place. We return to Canterbury. The tour manager will meet those wishing to dine with the group, in the lobby.

DAY 7 Monday May 26, 2014 Paris, France 
We travel to Paris by Eurostar this morning. On arrival, we are met by a private coach and transferred to our hotel. After time to refresh, we have a sightseeing tour of the romantic city of Paris with a local guide. Highlights include the Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Tuileries and a drive along the Champs-Élysée to the Arc de Triomphe. Those wishing to dine together, can meet in the lobby where the tour manager will suggest good value restaurants for dinner.

DAY 8 Tuesday May 27, 2014 Paris, France 
This morning we visit Claude Monet’s famous house and garden at Giverny. The garden, with its ponds and water lilies and Japanese bridge, appear in many of the artist’s paintings. Another section of the garden has a more formal layout, featuring espaliered apples and pears and abundant plantings of roses, irises, spring bulbs, poppies and more. It has been magnificently restored and gives a vivid impression of Monet’s inspiration. Angus will make sure that we get the most out of this garden. The remainder of the afternoon and evening will be for your own exploration.

DAY 9 Wednesday May 28, 2014 Paris, France 
This morning we will visit a mystery private garden. In the afternoon, we visit Jardins Jardin at the Tuileries, which is dedicated to the art of living in the garden and outdoor design. We will see a range of innovative and intriguing garden designs. The tour manager will suggest nearby restaurants for dinner.

DAY 10 Thursday May 29, 2014 Amboise, France 
Today we journey south-west to Amboise in the scenic Loire Valley, stopping along the way to visit Chateau Vaux le Vicomte. Angus will lead us around this baroque garden, which was the first great work by Andre Le Notre, who went on to design the Versaille gardens. Organised on a central axis, the gardens stretch for 3km and include elaborate parterres, ornate fountains, ponds, topiaries and statues. Chateau Amboise is located in the town where Charles VIII was born. The attractive, hilly quarter is enclosed by the chateau, cathedral and river. The tour manager will recommend nearby restaurants that offer good food and value.

DAY 11 Friday May 30, 2014 Amboise, France 
Today we travel through the Loire Valley to visit the Festival des Jardins de Chaumont sur Loire. Jean-Paul Pigeat established the festival in 1992, with the aim of introducing the public to imaginative and innovative new design. The 30 show gardens are in leaf -shaped enclosures, hedged by beech or hornbeam. In the afternoon, we visit the fabulous 16th-century Chateau Villandry. The gorgeous formal garden has been terraced into three levels, displaying hedges and motifs of box, fine yew topiaries and flowers in season. The lowest level is the potager, which elevates vegetable growing to a fine art. We will return to Amboise for an evening at leisure.

DAY 12 Saturday May 31, 2014 Amboise, France 
The morning is free for you to explore the charms of Amboise. The afternoon’s treat is a visit to Chateau de Chenonceau, spanning the River Cher, which reflects the castle’s unique beauty. Known as the Ladies’ Castle, its design and charm are a result of six important women throughout its history. Two large formal gardens and extensive woodland surround this fairytale chateau. The remainder of the afternoon will be free for individual exploration.

DAY 13 Sunday June 1, 2014 Clermont-Ferrand, France
This morning we travel to Clermont-Ferrand, one of the oldest cities in France. Upon arrival we will take a tour of the Old Town, where we will find medieval and romanesque masterpieces, gothic and renaissance private mansions, great gothic sanctuaries like the cathedral. This evening the tour manager will suggest restaurants for the evening meal.

DAY 14 Monday June 2, 2014 Avignon, France 
We travel south-east through the beautiful French countryside to Avignon today. We will stop at an interesting French town for lunch during the journey. The tour manager will suggest a good local restaurant for dinner.

DAY 15 Tuesday June 3, 2014 Avignon, France 
This morning we have a sightseeing tour of Avignon with a local guide. We will see the Palace of the Popes, which was the seat of the popes from 1309 until 1377 and the Place de l’Horloge, an attractive square shaded by plane trees. We see the theatre and town hall located in this square. This afternoon will be free to explore Avignon. The tour manager will suggest restaurants for the evening meal.

DAY 16 Wednesday June 4, 2014 Avignon, France
This morning we visit Jardin de la Noria for a guided tour. Jardin de la Noria is a private garden designed by noted French designers, Arnaud Maurieres and Eric Ossart. The owners, Mr and Mrs Deparis, commissioned them to transform a hectare of level orchard in the grounds of their farmhouse, called Mas de Licon. The remains of an old noria, or water wheel, determined the hub of the new garden, influenced by the spirit of Islamic paradise gardens. We will have free time for lunch in the attractive medieval city of Uzes. In the afternoon, we visit the Bambouseraie, a unique bamboo forest. The garden was started by Eugene Mazel in the middle of the 19th century. There is a surprisingly wide variety of bamboo, with coloured stems, glaucous green, emerald, yellow and black are among the interesting species.

DAY 17 Thursday June 5, 2014 Barcelona, Spain
Today we drive around the Mediterranean coast to Barcelona, capital of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain. It has a population close to two million people and is the most cosmopolitan of all Spanish cities. It is a Mediterranean metropolis, a major port, a centre for modern art and a city that lives life to the full. The tour manager will recommend a good restaurant this evening to enable you to soak up a little of the atmosphere of this historic city.

DAY 18 Friday June 6, 2014 Barcelona, Spain 
This morning we have a city tour with a local guide. We will see the historic cathedral and the beautiful streets of the Gothic Quarter. We visit the modernist Eixample district and see examples of Gaudi’s stunning architecture, including the famous Sagrada Familia. We will visit Parc Guell, which combines architectural and landscape features with mature and natural-looking plantings. Among them is the grand iron-balustrade entrance, with its mosaic tile work on the walls and the imposing staircase dragon. Angus will make sure that you get the most out of this unique garden. This afternoon will be free for individual exploration.

DAY 19 Saturday June 7, 2014 Barcelona, Spain
This morning we travel north to the Costa Brava to visit the Jardi Botanic Marimurtra, which was created by Karl Faust. He created several different gardens to house the plants he collected from all over the world. Marimurtra is now divided into tropical, temperate and Mediterranean garden areas. In the afternoon, we will travel to visit Santa Clotilde, a large property built on the site of an old vineyard. It is an italianate garden in the renaissance style, where the symmetry of paths, planting and interesting focal points define the garden. This evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner to say goodbye to our new friends.

DAY 20 Sunday June 8, 2014 Barcelona, Spain 
This morning we are transferred to Barcelona airport where we will board our plane to fly to Australia.

DAY 21 Monday June 9, 2014 Australia 
Tour members arrive back in Australia. The tour concludes.

Garden tour to England, Switzerland and Italy

DAY 1 Saturday May 17, 2014 In flight     We depart Australia on our flight to London.

DAY 2 Sunday May 18, 2014 Stratford-upon-Avon     On arrival at Heathrow airport this morning we travel north to the Cotswolds. We first visit Bourton House, an inspiring garden offering an alternative to a traditional country house garden. The geometric potager is a particular delight. Well-kept lawns, quiet gardens, a knot garden and the Cotswolds stone walls are set off by herbaceous borders. In the afternoon we visit Sezincote. We travel along a long dark avenue to enter the property, where surprisingly we see an English country house built in the Mogul style of Rajasthan architecture. The cool and elegant curving Orangery frames the Persian garden of Paradise in the south which has been laid out with canals and Irish yews. Streams and pools are lined with great clumps of bog plants. We continue to the hotel for check in and the remainder of the afternoon will be at leisure.

DAY 3 Monday May 19, 2014 Stratford-upon-Avon      We travel west to beautiful Gloucestershire today. This morning we will visit Broughton Castle. Set in the most romantic of settings, Broughton Castle is a fairytale, moated castle, surrounded in its turn by open parkland, grazed by sheep and cattle. The walled Ladies’ Garden, where box-edged fleur-de-lys beds are filled with floribunda and climbing roses that cascade down the walls is a particular delight. The garden was laid out by Lady Algernon Gordon Lennox who rented the castle in the 1880s. The two magnificent west and east facing borders in front of the battlemented walls are planted in subtle shades of blues, yellows and whites for one and reds, mauves and blues for the other. Everywhere there is a profusion of old-fashioned roses. The afternoon will be at leisure. We will enjoy a welcome dinner this evening to formally meet Tony Fawcett and other tour members. D

DAY 4 Tuesday May 20, 2014 Stratford-upon-Avon     This morning we will visit Pettifers Garden. The garden was designed by the Hon. Mrs Price and has taken some 15 years to create. This mature garden is a plantsman’s garden. The elegant pattern made in the paths shows the care that has gone into the creation of the garden. The borders are deep and varied. The Botticelli meadow at the bottom of the garden, alongside two crocus lawns, looks beautiful in Spring. We travel to Banbury where we will have time for lunch. We continue our journey to visit Rousham House. Before William Kent’s design of 1738 was effectively frozen in time it was described by Alexander Pope as “the prettiest place for water-falls, jets and ponds enclosed with beautiful scenes of green and hanging wood that ever I saw”. The enchanting setting and the use Kent made of it creates a powerful impression on every visitor. We return to Stratford-upon-Avon for an evening of exploration.

DAY 5 Wednesday May 21, 2014 London     Today we will visit two of the finest gardens in England. We first visit Hidcote, one of the most notable gardens in the world. It was created by self-taught gardener Lawrence Johnson in the early part of the 20th century, with a fabulous sense of design and great planting skills, using mainly 19th-century varieties. After lunch at leisure at Hidcote, we travel the short distance to Kiftsgate Court. This garden is full of colour and scent. The magnificent old species of roses are the glory of the garden. We continue to London. Upon arrival in exciting London, the tour manager will meet those wishing to dine with the group in the lobby, to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner.

DAY 6 Thursday May 22, 2014 London     The highlight of our time in London will be an escorted visit to the famous Chelsea Flower Show. Chelsea is the main event in the English horticultural calendar and boasts fine displays of flowers, plants, trees and interesting garden layouts. Tony Fawcett will ensure that you explore all areas of this wonderful show. Early afternoon we enjoy a sightseeing tour escorted by a local guide. Some of the great sights include Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster, St Paul’s Cathedral, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. The rest of the day will be free for independent activity.

DAY 7 Friday May 23, 2014 London     This morning we will have free time for individual exploration. In the afternoon, we visit Mr and Mrs Raworth’s garden in West London. This is a true collector’s garden, with some rare and unusual plants. Among its many striking features are impressive hedges of privet, yew, box and hornbeam, which enclose various rooms and a new formal knot garden. Entering through a sunken Mediterranean garden, it is full of interesting small plants. The visitor passes by a rose-covered pergola to an emerald grass carpet, flanked by flower borders and backed by old trees set in a private park. This garden is a highlight, and will become one of your favourites.

DAY 8 Saturday May 24, 2014 Venice     This morning we enjoy free time before flying to Venice, early afternoon. On arrival we will be transferred to the island of Venice in a motor launch. The tour manager will meet in the lobby those wishing to dine with the group this evening.

DAY 9 Sunday May 25, 2014 Venice     This morning we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of Venice with a local guide. We visit St Mark’s Square, see the Grand Canal, St Mark’s Cathedral and the Doge’s Palace. In the afternoon we will catch a vaporetto to enjoy afternoon tea and visit the gardens of the Hotel Cipriani. The hotel is noted for its spectacular gardens and waterfront terraces. There are two 15th-century buildings connected to the Hotel Cipriani through an ancient courtyard and flowered passage-way, with magnificent views overlooking the lagoon and St. Mark’s square.

DAY 10 Monday May 26, 2014 Venice     This morning will be spent exploring some of the beautiful hidden gardens of Venice. We meet our guides, members of the Venice Garden Club, who will provide entry to some very special and beautiful private gardens. This afternoon is free for individual activity. Perhaps enjoy a ride on a gondola on one of the many canals or explore the Doge’s Palace or one of the beautiful churches.

DAY 11 Tuesday May 27, 2014 Ascona     We depart Venice to travel to Verona, the setting for the play Romeo and Juliet, where we stop for lunch at leisure. We continue to Ascona, a very picturesque town situated on Lake Maggiore in Switzerland, where we stay four nights. The old section of the town has many small and attractive winding streets.

DAY 12 Wednesday May 28, 2014 Ascona     This morning we will visit Villa Carlotta, on the west shore of Lake Como. This elegant 18th-century villa has its own landing place on Lake Como and beautiful views over the lake. It was given as a wedding present to Carlotta, Duchess of Saxe-Meningen, who with her husband, created the landscape garden and began the botanical collection. Around the house an 18th-century formal layout has lemon arbours on the terraces, tall camellia hedges and flower beds to suit the architecture. This afternoon, we visit Villa Balbienello, located on a small island in Lake Como. Steep steps covered with flowers lead from the landing to the garden and villa. The villa perches high above Lake Como and is a fine illustration of neo-classical blending of the picturesque landscape with architecture. The tour manager will meet in the lobby those wishing to dine with the group.

DAY 13 Thursday May 29, 2014 Ascona     We will have a free morning to explore Ascona, perhaps enjoy a ferry ride on Lake Maggiore. In the afternoon we visit Isole di San Pancrazio on Lake Maggiore. This botanical garden designed by Baroness Antoinette de Saint-Leger is comprised of 1600 different plant species. During the four decades she gardened on the island she made it into her personal paradise.

DAY 14 Friday May 30, 2014 Ascona     This morning we will drive to the beautiful town of Stresa. We go by boat to Isola Bella, the most spectacular of the Borromean Islands. The magnificent villa is surrounded by one of the most dramatic 17th-century gardens in Italy, with 10 terraces rising like a ship’s prow in the reflecting waters of the lake. Masses of roses and perfumed plants set among superb statues and fountains make this a garden to remember. We visit the nearby island Isola Madre. This very different garden has lush sub-tropical planting of ornamental trees and shrubs including a swamp cypress, which was blown down in a storm in 2010 and has been salvaged with cables securing it at the cost of thousands of euros. Around the edge of the garden there is a very interesting botanical walk.

DAY 15 Saturday May 31, 2014 Siena     This morning we travel south to Siena. We will stop on our journey to explore Villa Gamberaia, set in classic olive-grove country. Restored to its 16th-century splendour, the garden is small but idyllic. The main terrace is laid out with parterres de broderie and the water gardens are reminiscent of Persian reflecting pools. We continue to Siena, where the tour manager will show tour members good value restaurants for dinner.

DAY 16 Sunday June 1, 2014 Siena     This morning a local guide will introduce us to the major sights of the city, including the the magnificent Piazza del Campo renown for the famous Palio horse race held in the Campo and its splendid civic tower and the enormous, partially completed Duoma. Siena is also home to the oldest bank in the world. This afternoon will be free for individual exploration.

DAY 17 Monday June 2, 2014 Siena     This morning we will visit Villa Cetinale, built in the 15th century by the Chigi family, bankers and money lenders for Popes and English kings. Additions to the original house and garden were carried out by Carlo Fontana, who was a pupil of Bernini. In the gardens are wonderful statues and the Romitorio, a hermitage where monks lived until near the end of the 19th century. To the north of the villa is the Holy Wood, which has wide green rides and footpaths and statues of hermits, saints and chapels with frescoes representing the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin. Lord Lambton bought Vila Cetinale from the Chigi family in 1977 and since then the gardens have been immaculately restored and enriched. Lord Lampton died eight years ago. In the afternoon we visit Roseto Botanico “Carla Fineschi” at Cavriglia. With more than 6500 different roses, it is the largest private collection in the world. Like a living museum, it presents roses historically and botanically, in a lovely setting.

DAY 18 Tuesday June 3, 2014 Rome     We depart Siena this morning and travel to Rome. We will visit the magnificent gardens of Villa Lante near Viterbo on the journey. This is a perfect Renaissance garden in which murmuring water, flashing fountains, shade and sunlight alternate under vast plane trees. We arrive in Rome late afternoon, where we stay for two nights.

DAY 19 Wednesday June 4, 2014 Rome     This morning we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of the eternal city of Rome. Highlights include the Coliseum, the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica before we walk through the old town to see the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, one of the few perfectly preserved ancient Roman buildings. We travel south this afternoon to visit the unique Giardino e Rovine di Ninfa. The ruins of Ninfa, a medieval town, were transformed into a garden from the 1920s by the Caetani family. Clear streams and waterfalls punctuate these romantic gardens, which contain an international collection of plants and magnificent trees. Climbing roses, wisteria and clematis scramble across ruined walls, and flowering shrubs revel in the fertile woodland conditions. This is a very special garden, often voted a favourite on our tours. We will enjoy a farewell dinner to celebrate our wonderful time together. D

DAY 20 Thursday June 5, 2014 Departure     We will have free time this morning in Rome before travelling to the airport for our flight early afternoon.

DAY 21 Friday June 6, 2014 In flight

DAY 22 Saturday June 7, 2014 Australia     We arrive in Australia early morning and tour arrangements conclude.

 

Baltic and St Petersburg Cruise

  • DAY 1 Saturday 5 July, 2014 Depart Australia 
  • DAY 2 Sunday 6 July, 2014 Amsterdam 
  • Arrive at Amsterdam airport then visit Paleis Het Loo, which features a wonderful sunken garden, clipped arbours, extensive parterres, gilded statues and elaborate water features, then a visit to the garden of Piet Oudolf, extraordinary plantsman and landscape designer.
  • DAY 3 Monday 7 July, 2014 Amsterdam
  • City tour and leisure time to explore
  • DAY 4 Tuesday 8 July, 2014 Celebrity Constellation 
  • Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam’s botanic garden then we board the Celebrity Constellation.
  • DAY 5 Wednesday 9 July, 2014 At sea
  • DAY 6 Thursday 10 July, 2014 Warnemunde, Germany 
  • Explore Warnemunde’s pleasant waterfront, then we travel on to Schwerin Castle, one of Europe’s foremost examples of historic architecture and dramatic 19th century garden.
  • DAY 7 Friday 11 July, 2014 At sea 
  • DAY 8 Saturday 12 July, 2014 Tallinn, Estonia 
  • Guided tour of the medieval city of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, with its cobblestone streets and gingerbread-style houses, including Toompea (the old town), the Viru Gate, Raekoja Plats and the sixth Garden Design Festival.
  • DAY 9 Sunday 13 July, 2014 St Petersburg, Russia 
  • We explore beautiful St Petersburg, visiting the oldest part of the city: SS Peter and Paul Cathedral and fortress, the world famous Hermitage Palace, with its wonderful art collection and see the city’s most famous theatre, the Mariinsky.
  • DAY 10 Monday 14 July, 2014 St Petersburg, Russia
  • We travel to Petrovorets, the summer house of Peter the Great, who wanted the gardens to surpass the gardens at Versailles. The centrepiece is the Grand Cascade and Water Avenue. We continue the day with a visit to the Imperial Palace at Tsarskoe Selo; the Catherine Palace.
  • DAY 11 Tuesday 15 July, 2014 Helsinki, Finland 
  • We have a sightseeing tour of Helsinki, the capital of Finland, including the Sibelius Monument and the unusual underground Temppeliaukiojn Church.
  • DAY 12 Wednesday 16 July, 2014 Stockholm, Sweden 
  • Stockholm, capital of Sweden is surrounded by clear water and unspoiled countryside. Later we travel to Drottningholms Slottsparken, the most impressive of Stockholm’s palaces. The extensive baroque garden was laid out in the 1690s for Queen Hedvig Eleonora.
  • DAY 13 Thursday 17 July, 2014 At sea 
  • DAY 14 Friday 18 July, 2014 Copenhagen, Denmark 
  • From Copenhagen our private coach takes us on a guided tour of the city, including the Amalienborg Palace, Radhus, (city hall), Kongens Nytorv, the Royal Theatre and Charlottenborg, a 17th-century Dutch baroque palace. We then travel north to visit the author Karen Blixen’s Manor House and garden.
  • DAY 15 Saturday 19 July, 2014 At sea
  • DAY 16 Sunday 20 July, 2014 Paris 
  • Disembark in Amsterdam and travel south to Paris, ‘the city of light’ by coach. On the journey we will stop in Villers-Bretonneux to visit the Australian War Memorial, a very moving experience.
  • DAY 17 Monday 21 July, 2014 Paris
  • We have a sightseeing tour of Paris seeing the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Élysées, the Seine, Notre Dame and the other major sights of Paris. After lunch, we visit to Claude Monet’s famous house and beautiful garden at Giverny. This garden, with its ponds, water lilies and its Japanese bridge, appears in many of the artist’s paintings.
  • DAY 18 Tuesday 22 July, 2014 Paris 
  • This morning we will visit a mystery private garden. This afternoon will be free so you can enjoy Paris at leisure.
  • DAY 19 Wednesday 23 July, 2014 Depart
  • Transfer from our hotel to the airport for the flight back to Australia.
  • DAY 20 Thursday 24 July, 2014 Australia 
  • Arrive in Australia and the tour concludes.