Gardens of New Zealand with Helen Young

Gardens of New Zealand with Helen Young

 

Join garden writer Helen Young to explore the best of New Zealand’s springtime gardens, including the spectacular annual Taranaki Garden Festival.

New Zealand is a hidden gem of garden design, combining English landscape garden design with colonial heritage, indigenous flora and Māori reverence for the natural world.

Begin in Christchurch on the South Island and wander through Broadfield Garden and the elegant Ohinetahi. Visit Upton Oaks, Paripuma and Bankhouse near Blenheim and then cross the Cook Strait to the North Island to visit the annual Taranaki Garden Festival in New Plymouth, where scores of private gardens open their gates to visitors for just a few days in the year. Conclude in Auckland, with a visit to Ayrlies Garden, the ‘quintessential New Zealand garden’.

 

AT A GLANCE:

• In the Christchurch region, wander through the carefully structured Ohinetahi Garden and then visit Broadfield, which combines rhododendrons, lilies and daffodils with a forest of indigenous ferns and Kauri trees
• In New Plymouth, explore private gardens open only during the Taranaki Garden Festival, an annual showcase of more than 40 gardens, celebrity chef demonstrations and guided walks
• Visit the knot-garden of Upton Oaks in Blenheim, and the gardens of Barewood in Awatere, designed to complement a century-old homestead, and Ayrlies Garden in Auckland
• Enjoy the wine of New Zealand’s famed Marlborough region, one of the great Sauvignon Blanc producers of the world.

 

TOUR LEADER:

Horticulturist, garden writer, presenter and author, Helen Young has led more than 20 garden tours internationally and domestically. She is well known for her weekly columns in The Weekend Australian over the last 17 years, and as House and Garden magazine’s garden writer for more than 10 years. Sydneysiders know her as a long-term regular expert on ABC Sydney Radio’s Saturday morning gardening program, but she also runs her own successful horticulture business.

 

Friday 19 October 2018 / Arrive Christchurch

Suggested afternoon arrival in Christchurch. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements. In the evening join Helen and fellow garden lovers for a special welcome dinner. (D)

 

Sat 20 Nov / Christchurch

Today explore two outstanding gardens. First visit Broadfield New Zealand Landscape Garden, a 3.5 hectare showcase garden established in the 1990s. Many native plants are used formally and informally as are NZ-raised varieties of azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, maples, peonies and roses. It includes a Kauri forest with over 100 trees and scores of species of other forest trees, shrubs, climbers and ferns.
After lunch, visit Ohinetahi, a well-structured, carefully designed garden created by architect Sir Miles Warren which consists of a number of formal rooms, of differing style and character. The garden houses an important sculpture collection and a small art gallery. Hedges are used to shelter plants that would otherwise struggle in the high winds. Features include a herb potager, box-edged rose garden, herbaceous borders, a ‘Red Garden’, gazebo, rectangular pond, arched bridge and statues. There are spectacular views down to Lyttleton Harbour. Enjoy afternoon tea in the garden before returning to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
(BL)

 

Sun 21 Oct / Christchurch – Greymouth

Enjoy a morning to explore the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Founded in 1863 with the planting of an English oak tree, over the years natural wetlands and sand dunes have been transformed into an elegantly cultivated 21 hectare park with more than 10 different gardens framed by mature trees and expansive lawns, which are mostly contained within a loop of the Avon River.

After lunch in the gardens, depart Christchurch for a scenic drive over the Southern Alps to Greymouth. Drive across the Canterbury Plain and climb to more than 900 metres through Arthur’s Pass National Park before descending to Greymouth. In the late afternoon, arrive in Greymouth, known for its gold mining heritage and pounamu (New Zealand jade). (BLD)

 

Mon 22 Oct / Greymouth – Blenheim

Depart Greymouth and travel along the scenic West Coast, stopping to see the New Zealand fur seal colony at Cape Foulwind and the Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes.

Begin your exploration of the Marlborough area and its gardens with Bankhouse Garden, one of the highlights of the Wairau Valley. Meander through the lower level into a shaded gully that hosts rhododendrons and bog plants. Continue towards the house and onwards to the upper level garden terraces where you find rambling roses and a variety of drought-resistant plants. In the afternoon, arrive in Blenheim, our base for the next three nights. (BD)

 

Tue 23 Oct / Blenheim

After breakfast, visit Barewood Garden for a guided tour and lunch. Recognised as a ‘Garden of National Significance’, Barewood garden is designed to complement the 100-year-old homestead, and features formal allées of hawthorn and Malus, plantings of unusual trees and shrubs and a classic potager featuring espaliered fruit.

Continue to Paripuma Garden, with its unique collection of indigenous and rare plant species that have created a haven for wildlife on what was once a bare sandy paddock.

Depart for a visit to Allan Scott Wines, the family-owned winery established by Allan and Catherine Scott. Enjoy a wine tasting and free time in the European-style courtyard with its exceptional gardens and vistas over the vineyards beyond. (BL)

 

Wed 24 Oct / Blenheim

Begin with a visit to Huguette Michel’s Hortensia House. The Monet-inspired garden is informal in design and is loosely themed on blue and yellow, capturing an essence of serenity and reflecting the colours of the house. Huguette’s favourite shade of hydrangea is blue and these, along with lavenders, forget-me-nots, love-in-a-mists and other plants provide the blue tones throughout the garden. Yellow is provided by varieties of roses, pansies, daisies, aquilegias and gazanias.

Following a wine tasting and lunch at a local winery, visit Upton Oaks, the English-inspired garden of Dave and Sue Monahan developed around a restored 1911 Victorian villa. Brick walls, ponds, perennial borders and a 17th century style ‘knot-garden’ are divided into sections by colour. Upton Oaks is also recognised as a ‘Garden of National Significance’.
(BL)

 

Thu 25 Oct / Blenheim – Wellington

After breakfast, depart for Picton and enjoy the scenic crossing on the Interislander ferry to Wellington. The three-hour journey is considered one of the most spectacular cruises in the world. Arrive at the hotel in the early afternoon and enjoy some free time in Wellington. (BL)

 

Fri 26 Oct / Wellington

Begin with a walking orientation tour of the vibrant city of Wellington, nestled around the harbour and surrounded by natural scenery. See the famous ‘Beehive’ and Parliament Buildings and visit Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

Drive out of Wellington into the picturesque Ohariu Valley to Pepped Warbeck garden, another ‘Garden of Significance’. The garden consists of a majestic entrance and long curving drive, planted with Marlborough daisies and many different native trees and shrubs. Extensive lawns sweep down to the re-modelled bog garden which features five adjoining ponds planted with primulas, bog irises, hostas and gunnera.

After lunch, return to Wellington for a visit to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, a fascinating centre dedicated to art, history and Māori culture. Its Māori name translates as ‘The Treasure Chest’. (BL)

 

Sat 27 Oct / Wellington – New Plymouth

Depart Wellington for a leisurely drive to New Plymouth. En route, stop for lunch and a visit to Nicki and Clive Higgie’s garden, Paloma, near Wanganui. This exotic ‘Garden of National Significance’ is landscaped with plants from all over the world, and is presented as several distinct zones, including the Palm Garden, the Desert House, the Garden of Death, the Bamboo Forests, the Jardin Exotique, the Wedding Lawn and the two Arboreta. In the afternoon, continue to New Plymouth, our base for the next four nights. (BL)

 

Sun 28 – Tue 30 Oct / New Plymouth (Taranaki Garden Festivals)

New Plymouth is home to the annual ten-day PowerCo Taranaki Garden Festival (formerly the Taranaki Rhododendron & Garden Festival), which showcases some of New Zealand’s most stunning private and public gardens.

The 2018 festival features over 40 diverse and inspiring gardens, including many ‘Gardens of National Significance’, newly-added gardens and more than a dozen special events. Nearly all of the gardens are private gardens and are opened exclusively for the duration of the festival.

The festival includes a mixture of events, including house and garden tours, celebrity chef demonstrations, guided walks, workshops and a diverse garden speaker series.

During this period, another garden festival also takes place in Taranaki region – the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival. The Fringe Festival includes a selection of gardens from cottage gardens to native gardens, highly structured to informal gardens, and is presented with a distinctive laid-back Kiwi charm.

Helen and the festival organisers will curate a stimulating programme in both the PowerCo Taranaki Garden Festival and the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival, from the huge range of gardens and events on offer over the three days we will spend here.

In addition to its beautiful parks and gardens, the city of New Plymouth is known for its sunny climate and art galleries, while the conical shape of Mount Taranaki provides a dramatic backdrop to the city. Meanwhile, down at the waterfront are Puke Ariki, an integrated museum-library-heritage centre, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand’s first museum of contemporary art, and the Len Lye Centre, the country’s first museum devoted to a single artist. (B, L or D)

 

Wed 31 Oct / New Plymouth – Hamilton – Auckland

Depart New Plymouth for a leisurely day’s drive to Auckland. En route, stop in Hamilton to visit the Hamilton Garden. Often mistakenly referred to as a ‘botanic garden’, Hamilton Garden is rather a collection of themed gardens, exploring different civilisations and recreating historically important garden styles from around the world. In the afternoon, continue to Auckland. (BD)

 

Thu 01 Nov / Auckland

Spend the day in some of Auckland’s most interesting gardens. In the morning, visit Ayrlies, situated in the gently rolling country of east Auckland. This is one of New Zealand’s best-known gardens, characterised by sweeping lawns and informal but detailed plantings beside ponds and waterways. Then visit Eden Garden with its collections of perennials, vireyas, camellias, bromeliads and native New Zealand plants. Return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. In the evening, celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a special farewell dinner with Helen and fellow travellers. (BD)

 

Fri 02 Nov / Depart Auckland

Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements, including flights and post-tour accommodation. (B)

 

Note: At time of publication (April 2018), most but not all garden visits were confirmed. Private owners, in particular, are reluctant to commit more than two to three months prior to the visit. Therefore, while we undertake to operate the tour as published, there may be some changes to the itinerary.

Floralies Flower Show, Art, Tulips and the Seine River Cruise

Floralies Flower Show, Art, Tulips and the Seine River Cruise

Itinerary

 

Day 1. Arrive Amsterdam
Be met on arrival and transferred to your river ship for a Welcome Dinner at 6.30pm.
Seven Nights: aboard the luxurious river ship MS AmaStella (D)

Day 2. Amsterdam and Edam, Freedom of Choice
Today you have a choice of two touring options. Cruise through Amsterdam’s canals, then rejoin your ship and cruise to Volendam, a maze of fishermen’s houses built on poles with a unique open harbour. Others may choose to visit the gardens of Kasteel de Haar, a stunning late medieval castle and garden. After lunch enjoy a tour of Volendam Harbour before continuing to Edam for a walking tour of the Old Quarter. This evening there will be a very special lecture by Anna Pavord, author of The Tulip. (BLD)

Day 3. Arnhem, Freedom of Choice
This morning after breakfast, you will arrive into Arnhem where you will have a choice of two sightseeing activities. Your first option is to see the monument commemorating the Battle of Arnhem Bridge, made famous by the classic film A Bridge Too Far. You’ll also visit the Airborne Museum and learn more about the Battle of Arnhem, one of the major campaigns of World War II. Your second choice is a tour of the most stunning royal residence in Holland, Het Loo Palace, with lavishly furnished rooms and meticulously sculpted gardens. After your tour, return to the ship for lunch and cruise to Nijmegen where you can enjoy some free time. Enjoy scenic cruising this evening as you sail through the Netherlands en route to Belgium. (BLD)

Day 4. Antwerp, Freedom of Choice
On arrival in Antwerp, choose from a guided city tour or a tour taking you to sites associated with the famous Flemish Baroque artist, Peter Paul Rubens. You will also visit the Antwerp Cathedral, which houses two of Rubens’ most important works, The Elevation of the Cross and The Descent from the Cross. Enjoy the afternoon at your leisure to relax or take a Culinary Delights tour to sample waffles and chocolate. Alternatively, perhaps join an excursion to the beautiful city of Bruges with its stunning system of canals. During dinner, your ship will set out for the charming medieval city of Ghent. (BLD)

Day 5. Ghent, Freedom of Choice
Today you will have a choice of two touring options. The first option is to spend a full day to explore Floralies in Ghent. Floralies is the largest inside garden in the world with a surface area of 450,000 m² and exhibits more than 500,000 varieties of plants and flowers. Alternatively spend a half day at Floralies and then enjoy a visit to a beautiful private garden designed by Chris Gheyslen in the afternoon. (BD)

Day 6. Willemstad and Kinderdjik, Freedom of Choice
Cruise back to the Netherlands. This morning you may choose to visit the charming 400-year old town of Willemstad for a walking tour and private organ recital at the oldest Protestant church in the Netherlands. This afternoon, the touring options include a visit to Kinderdijk, a lovely region renowned for having the greatest concentration of windmills in the entire country. Another option is to take a day tour to Rotterdam and The Hague, visiting Westbroekpark with its superb rhododendrons and Delft’s Botanic Gardens. A third option is to visit the exhibition of the world-famous artist MC Escher, housed in the former Winter Palace of Queen Mother Emma of the Netherlands, and option four is to visit Mauritshaus, home of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. Tonight, enjoy a special onboard musical performance as the ship cruises to Schoonhoven. (BLD)

Day 7. Utrecht and Keukenhof Gardens
Cruise along the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal to Utretcht. Disembark and travel to Keukenhof Gardens, which encompasses over 70 acres of parkland. Relish the chance to admire the spectacular display of bulb flowers in bloom during a morning sightseeing excursion. Keukenhof also features several ponds, sculpture gardens, greenhouses and a windmill. Return to your ship for lunch. In the afternoon, enjoy an excursion to delightful Zaanse Schans, a small historic village just outside of Amsterdam. This evening enjoy a special Farewell Dinner whilst moored in Amsterdam. (BLD)

Day 8. Amsterdam Sightseeing
Disembark your ship early this morning to visit the world famous Aalsmeer Flower Markets. Afterwards we will visit a cut flower nursery to see some of the millions of flowers being grown for sale and export around the world. For lunch we will dine at De Kas, with its own greenhouses and garden near the restaurant, where they grow Mediterranean vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. This afternoon is free to explore Amsterdam, perhaps visit the newly renovated Rijksmusuem.
Stay: Amsterdam, Marriott Hotel or similar (BL)

Day 9. Amsterdam to Paris
Depart Amsterdam after breakfast and travel through the Dutch, Belgium and French countryside to Paris. Board our river ship for a Welcome Dinner.
Seven Nights: aboard the MS AmaLegro (BD)

Day 10. Vernon, Freedom of Choice
Spend the morning enjoying the scenery along the Seine as you cruise to the provincial town of Vernon. You will have free time to explore the town, and later, we visit Giverny and the home and gardens of Claude Monet. The artist lived here for more than four decades and immortalised his ponds and flower gardens in some of his most iconic paintings. Alternatively, you may choose to tour the palace and gardens of Chateau de Bizy. Inspired by Versailles, Chateau de Bizy was constructed as a royal chateau and is home to descendents of Emperor Napoleon. (BLD)

Day 11. Caudebec, Freedom of Choice
After a scenic morning cruise on the Seine, arrive in the old fishing village of Caudebec. You will have a choice of two tours. The first option is to visit Honfleur, a historic and picturesque port with pastel-coloured houses that was a favourite subject of artists such as Courbet, Boudin and Monet. As an alternative, choose the ‘Routes des Abbayes’ excursion spotlighting Normandy’s famous abbeys, more than 100 of which once covered this region. You will visit the ruined abbey in Jumièges as well as St. Wandrille, which is still a working monastery. Or you may wish to visit two gardens of major importance at Varengeville-sur-Mer, which is near Dieppe, Le Vasterival and Les Bois des Moutiers. (BLD)

Day 12. Normandy, Freedom of Choice
Today you may choose to visit the D-Day beaches and learn about the historic events of June 6, 1944. Another option is to visit Bayeaux, for a gardens and culture tour including a visit to the Bayeaux tapestry and visit Brecy garden, considered the most beautiful garden in Lower Normandy. A further option is to visit rural Normandy, which includes a visit to the Pays d’Auge famed for its apple orchards and the ‘Routes du Cidre’ the Cider Road. (BLD)

Day 13. Rouen Sightseeing
Enjoy a morning walk through this medieval city and see the imposing Notre Dame Cathedral, painted numerous times by Monet, and the square where Joan of Arc was martyred. Afterwards, you will have free time to explore Rouen, perhaps sampling some delicious cheeses. This afternoon you will have the opportunity to visit the spectacular garden Le Jardin Plume, just outside of Rouen, or Jane Webster’s Chateau Bosgouet. Afterwards enjoy scenic cruising on the Seine to Les Andelys. (BLD)

Day 14. Les Andelys
A stroll along the river in Les Andelys offers beautiful views of the Seine Valley’s dramatic white cliffs, centuries-old half-timbered houses, and the hilltop ruins of Château Gaillard. This former stronghold of Richard the Lionheart changed hands a number of times during the Hundred Years’ War. Athletically-inclined guests may enjoy hiking up to visit the ruins of this historic castle before we continue our cruise to Conflans. (BLD)

Day 15. Malmaison, Freedom of Choice
Today you have a choice of two excursions. Visit Château Malmaison, former home of Napoleon and Josephine, including the Château’s interior, gardens and museum. Alternatively, travel to Auvers-sur-Oise, a town famous for the Impressionist painters who lived there in the 19th century, such as Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro. Your Artists’ Walk tour will include many sites associated with their work, including the Auberge Ravoux, former home of Vincent van Gogh. The ship departs this afternoon for Paris, arriving in the early evening. (BLD)

Day 16. Paris, Disembark Ship
Depart the ship after breakfast this morning. (B)

Botanical Experts
Julie Prent and Dr Toby Musgrave, garden author and historian is your Botanical Guide. Special Guest Lecturer is Anna Pavord, Author of The Tulip.

This tour can be combined with:

· Mediterranean Landscapes Cruise (BTIN15)
· Morocco Art & Gardens (BTMOR10)

Cherry Blossoms in Japan and South Korea Cruise

Cherry Blossoms in Japan and South Korea Cruise

 

ITIINERARY

 

Day 1. Arrive Osaka
Arrive into Osaka Airport and be met and transferred to your hotel. This evening at 6.30pm, enjoy a Welcome Dinner where you’ll have the opportunity to meet your fellow Botanica travellers.
Stay: Osaka, Imperial Hotel or similar (D)

Day 2. Kyoto and Embark Ship
This morning depart Osaka to Kyoto where we will visit the rock garden masterpiece
of Ryoanji and Kinkakuji, a fine example of Muromachi period garden design. After lunch, transfer to the MS Caledonian Sky in Kobe. Enjoy a special dinner with the ship’s crew this evening, as we set sail for the port of Okayama.
Ten Nights: MS Caledonian Sky (BLD)

Day 3. Okayama, Koraku-en Garden and Kurashiki.
After breakfast this morning, we will visit Koraku-en Garden, one of Japan’s most significant gardens – the name meaning ‘garden of pleasure after’. Visit a classic teahouse, and experience a traditional tea ceremony. After a local lunch, continue to Kurashiki, where we explore the old merchant quarter and its fine 17th century wooden warehouses. The beautiful houses are painted white with traditional black tiles, and are situated along a canal lined with rows of majestic weeping willows. (BLD)

Day 4. Takamatsu and Ritsurin Park
Today tour the stunning city of Takamatsu on Shikoku, the smallest of the four main Japanese Islands. We will journey over the Seto-Ohashi Bridge and visit Ritsurin Park, a 350-year-old garden, famous for its magnificent spring colours. See the Chrysanthemum-Moon Pavilion, then visit Kinashi Bonsai Town. (BLD)

Day 5. Hiroshima and Miyajima
Arrive in Hiroshima to visit the compelling Peace Memorial Park. The park is dotted with memorials, including the cenotaph that contains the names of all the known victims of the A-bomb. Return to the ship for lunch, then continue to Miyajima. Considered one of Japan’s top scenic wonders, Miyajima provides a picture-postcard vista of the scarlet Torii Gate, the giant camphor wood gates at the entrance to the Shinto Shrine. We will go ashore to explore the World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Jinja Shrine, founded in the 6th century and dedicated to three sea goddesses. (BLD)

Day 6. Uwajima
Arrive in Uwajima, situated deep inside the saw-toothed coast of Uwajima Bay. The city of Uwajima is emerging as the nation’s largest pearl cultivation centre. Learn the process of implanting, harvesting, extracting and sorting pearls on a visit to a pearl farm. We will continue to Sakiiya Square or choose to visit Dairakuji Temple. (BLD)

Day 7. Nagasaki and Dejima Island
Arrive at Nagasaki, the second city destroyed by an A-bomb in World War II. Tour the Peace Memorial Park, Atomic Bomb Museum and Glover Garden. Continue to Dejima Island, built during the Edo Period to accommodate Portuguese Christian missionaries and prevent the propagation of their religion. It was also once the residential quarters of the Dutch, the only foreigners allowed to trade in Japan during the Sakoku isolation Period for 200 years, until Japan reopened to the world. (BLD)

Day 8. Pusan, South Korea
Embark on a full-day excursion to Kyongju, in South Korea, a World Heritage-listed site often described as the world’s finest open-air museum. As the ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty, Kyongju’s heritage dates back to the first millennium. As we stroll through some of the numerous excavated monuments, temples, tombs and pagodas, there will be time to explore the National Museum, with its exceptional collection of finely worked gold jewellery, metal weapons and distinctive pottery. At lunch, sample Korean delicacies and enjoy the spectacle of traditional dancers during a cultural performance. (BLD)

Day 9. Hagi
Japan’s revolution began here in Jokamachi’s old Samurai residential quarter, where we will tour a Samurai’s home. We will also visit the historic Daisho Temple, the resting place of the two first Mori daimyo a family of powerful and territorial pre-modern Japanese lords and all of the even-numbered daimyo. This traditional temple is located on Mount Mison, considered a holy mountain, on the island of Itsukushima. Inside, you will find a flame that is said to have been burning for some 1,200 years. We will also take time to explore Hagi, one of Japan’s most beautiful castle towns, where you can explore the old streets and see the Hagi Castle ruins, Shizuki Park and the Tokoji Temple. (BLD)

Day 10. Matsue and Yuushien Garden
Known as the ‘Town of Water’, Matsue, is on the shores of a scenic lake and a large lagoon. Here, you’ll visit a number of cultural attractions including Matsue Castle. Known as the ‘Black Castle’, it is one of only a few wooden Medieval castles that remain in Japan today. Admire the structure’s complexity from the outside, as it stands gracefully, watching over the city, and take the opportunity to explore the interior, which affords magnificent views of Lake Shinji. This afternoon, we will visit the stunning Yuushien Garden, a traditional flower garden full of colour and blossom, famous for ginseng and peonies. (BLD)

Day 11. Kanazawa and Kenroku-en Garden
Kanazawa is a thriving centre of the arts, long known for its lacquer-ware, outstanding collectible pottery of the Kutani style, gold-leaf workmanship and delicate hand-painting of silk for kimonos and Noh theatre dramas. The winding cobblestone streets have a quaint photogenic charm. Around each bend is a traditional house, museum, art gallery, craft shop, Samurai residence and even a Geisha house to explore. The fascinating open-air market displays a vast variety of items from flowers to fish to local handicrafts. Next we visit the Kanazawa Castle ruins, which is one of Japan’s premier highlights, and the famed Kenroku-en Garden, is ranked among the country’s top gardens. (BLD)

Day 12. Kanazawa and Tokyo
Disembark the ship this morning and take the Bullet Train to Tokyo. On arrival, enjoy an afternoon sightseeing tour of Tokyo. We then transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay and Farewell Dinner.
Stay: Tokyo, New Otani Hotel or similar (BLD)

Day 13. Depart Tokyo.
After breakfast this morning, you will be transferred to the airport by shuttle bus for your flight home. (B)

Japanese Cherry Blossoms
Embark on a stylish voyage of horticultural discovery and explore this fascinating region, aboard this Botanica cruise. In the heart of cherry blossom season, Botanica guests will be enchanted by the sight of the beautiful and richly symbolic sakura flower in full bloom. Venture along the historic shores of Japan and South Korea on this incredible botanical journey. The cherry blossom heralds the start of spring and the delicate blossom only stays on the trees for two weeks. This time of year is highly revered by the Japanese, who celebrate with festivals and events.

US Mansions and Gardens of the Hudson River and Canadian Lakes Cruise in Fall

US Mansions and Gardens of the Hudson River and Canadian Lakes Cruise in Fall

ITINERARY

Day 1. Arrive Washington
Be met at the airport and join your fellow travellers for dinner at 6.30pm.
Two Nights: Washington DC, Fairmont Hotel or similar (D)

Day 2. 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 Hillwood Estate. (BD)

Day 3. Virginia and Wilmington
Travel through southern Pennsylvania and explore an Amish farm house. Visit Chanticleer, one of the great gardens of the region.
Two Nights: Wilmington, Du Pont Hotel or similar (BD)

Day 4. Brandywine Valley
Spend the morning at Longwood Gardens. With 20 outdoor display gardens, as well as lakes, meadows and forest walks, there is plenty to explore. This afternoon visit Winterthur Garden, home of Henry Du Pont. (BD)

Day 5. New York City
Depart Wilmington for New York City where you will board your ship. 15 day BTUS15 travellers join this evening in time for dinner at 6.30pm. This afternoon visit the walkway garden designed by James Corner of Field Operations in conjunction with Piet Oudolf, the Highline.
Fourteen Nights: aboard the comfortable MV Grande Mariner (BD)

Day 6. New York City and Kykuit
Visit the famed New York Botanical Gardens, boasting one of the world’s greatest collections of flora. Its 250 acres include some of the most beautiful natural terrain. It houses the nation’s largest Victorian-era glasshouse, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Next stop is Kykuit, a Hudson Valley landmark and home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. See the Rockefeller private art collection and magnificent expansive garden terraces, garden ornaments and many fountains, as well as spectacular views of the Hudson Valley. Your day culminates with a cocktail party atop the deck of your ship as you bid farewell to New York City. Enjoy the unparalleled views of the harbour, the illuminated Statue of Liberty and the iconic city skyline. (BLD)

Day 7. Roosevelt Estate and Gardens, Poughkeepsie
A short cruise takes you from Bear Mountain to West Point, located in the heart of the Hudson River Valley. This morning choose to visit either the West Point Military Academy campus, including its gothic revival style chapel. Alternatively visit Boscobel with its colonial architecture or Stonecrop with its magnificent garden. Heading north on the Hudson River you will stop in Poughkeepsie. Here choose to visit either historic Hyde Park, including a visit to Springwood, the estate of Franklin D. Roosevelt, America’s only four-term president. Alternatively visit the Vanderbilt Mansion, a National Historic site. You are sure to enjoy its 211 acres of parkland that boast centuries old tree plantings and stunning Hudson River and Catskill Mountain views. (BLD)

Day 8. The Mount, Naumkeag Mansion and Gardens
Arrive in Troy, known for its unparalleled Victorian architecture and abundant Tiffany windows as seen in such films as Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence. Here, witness the unique feat of lowering the ship’s pilot house as we prepare to travel under the low bridges of the Erie Canal. A visit to The Mount is sure to be a fascinating one 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. She was an established author of fiction, architecture and gardens. Later visit Naumkeag Mansion and gardens and experience a quintessential country estate of the Gilded Age. Marvel at this rare Berkshire cottage, its magnificent gardens and the incredible panoramic view. (BLD)

Day 9. Troy, Erie Canal Lock 11 and Amsterdam
Today your river ship will pass through Lock 11 of the Erie Canal to Amsterdam. (BLD)

Day 10. Amsterdam and Sylvan Beach
Today you will enjoy a full day on the Erie Canal taking in the unspoiled beauty of the surrounding countryside. During the day, you may choose to visit Cooperstown and meet the ship later in the day at Sylvan Beach. Located in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, Cooperstown is best known as the ‘Birthplace of Baseball’ and is home to the renowned Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Choose to visit Fenimore Art Museum or Farmers Museum. Tonight in Sylvan Beach, on the shores of shimmering Oneida Lake, a local performer will entertain and pay tribute to the history and music of the Erie Canal. (BLD)

Day 11. Sylvan Beach and Oswego Canal
Cruise along the Oswego Canal to Oswego on the shores of magnificent Lake Ontario. You may choose to take a local shuttle on a panoramic loop around this charming area and view some of the highlights. (BLD)

Day 12. Boldt Castle and Garden, Thousand Islands and Alexander Bay
Cruise to Clayton. Visit the Antique Boat Museum and the majestic Boldt Castle and gardens where you will learn of the touching story behind its creation. Enjoy scenic cruising through the beautiful Thousand Islands, a favourite holiday destination. (BLD)

Day 13. Alexander Bay, Dark Island and Ogdensburg
Visit tiny Dark Island in Chippewa Bay and tour Singer Castle. Afterwards, journey on to Ogdensburg where you might like to visit the Frederic Remington Art Museum. BLD

Day 14. St. Lawrence Seaway
Crossing into Canada, you will cruise the St. Lawrence Seaway, a system of locks, canals, and channels dotted with waterfront communities, scenic islands, and amazing wildlife habitats. (BLD)

Day 15. Québec City
Today you will take a tour of the private garden of La Seigneurie de I’ile d’Orleans. Afterwards, a sightseeing tour will introduce you to the highlights of the beautiful city of Québec. (BLD)

Day 16. Rimouski and Les Jardins de Metis
Cruise north along the St. Lawrence River passing the beautiful Saguenay River en route to Rimouski. Be sure to look out for whales as this is one of the world’s best locales for whale watching. A private visit and guided tour of Les Jardins de Metis also known as Reford Gardens is sure to be a fascinating one. The unique garden is bold and innovative, yet traditional. Few gardens have been built in such difficult and harsh conditions as the Québec climate; it is a story of triumph. (BLD)

Day 17. Saguenay River and St. Lawrence River
Cruise to the breathtaking Saguenay River, boarded by dramatic cliffs which create some of Canada’s most stunning natural scenery. You then cruise south on the St. Lawrence River to your next destination, Montréal. (BLD)

Day 18. Montréal
Arrive in Montréal this afternoon and embark on a city highlights tour. Then, enjoy a guided tour of the world famous Jardin Botanique de Montréal located in the Olympic Park. Here, marvel at over 20,000 species of plants as you explore the 31 gardens which have been planted over 75 hectares. (BLD)

Day 19. Depart Montréal
Disembark in Montréal and transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)

The MV Grande Mariner
The Grande Mariner is designed to travel where larger ships can’t. The retractable pilot house allows it to slip gently beneath low bridges and transit narrow locks and rivers. It is like sailing on a friend’s yacht but with the comfort and safety of an American crew and friendly staff. From the lounge area enjoy 180° panoramas of pristine environments and small towns. Dining is casual, with an open seating policy. Cabins are air-conditioned and comfortable with either slide windows or portholes. Whilst the ship can accommodate 96 people, Botanica will only be taking 75, making this a very relaxing experience.

Unforgettable Fall Colours
During our US and Canadian journey, you’ll explore elaborate mansions and thoughtfully landscaped estates. The diverse range of gardens we visit will inspire, motivate and challenge you in your own horticultural endeavours. Styles vary from formal to casual, intimate to grand, but all with something different to offer. It’s a truly special experience to visit this region in the Fall. The striking hues and vibrancy of the foliage, as well as the tantalising seasonal produce, is sure to make your trip memorable. This is an incredible journey, unique to Botanica, and not to be missed.

Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo

Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo

 

Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo is a premium 5 star hotel located in uptown Mejiro in the heart of Tokyo. The hotel is a 3-minute taxi ride or a 10-minute walk from Edogawabashi Station on the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho line.

The hotel has 260 rooms, 36 banquet halls and 12 restaurants.

The gardens have many historical artefacts, such as the three-storey pagoda, a sacred tree reputed to be more than 500 years old and many statues, lanterns and shrines.

The gardens are beautiful in all four seasons.

Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo
10-8, Sekiguchi 2-chome, Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo,
112-8680, Japan

Tel: +81 3 3943-1111
Fax: +81 3 3943-2300
Email: info@hotel-chinzanso.com

British Isles, Castles, Gardens, History and Birdlife Cruise

British Isles, Castles, Gardens, History and Birdlife Cruise

 

ITINERARY

 

Day 1. Arrive Edinburgh and Embark Ship
On arrival in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to the port of Leith. Board the MS Hebridean Sky after 4.00pm, your home for the next 10 nights. After settling in to your suite, enjoy a Welcome Dinner this evening.
Ten Nights: the MS Hebridean Sky (D)

Day 2. 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, a 16th-century castle that’s famous for its splendid landscaped grounds and gardens. Return to your ship for lunch before enjoying an afternoon visit to Pitmedden Garden. (BLD)

Day 3. Inverewe Gardens
Today your ship will drop anchor and you’ll enjoy a Zodiac ride to one of Scotland’s premier gardens, Inverewe. This botanical garden in the north-west Highlands, presents an amazing collection of exotic trees and shrubs that are sheltered by well-positioned windbreaks of native pine. After a tour, return by Zodiac to your ship and set off during lunch across The Minch and past the Isle of Skye. (BLD)

Day 4. Isle of Mull, Duart Castle, Isle of Iona
Freedom of Choice. After breakfast, set off to the Isle of Mull where you have two touring options. The first option is to visit a quaint private garden and the second option is Duart Castle, a 13th century clifftop castle set in the Millennium Wood. Later cruise to the Isle of Iona, a place of tranquility where more than 40 Scottish Kings, as well as Kings from Ireland, France and Norway are buried. After exploring Iona Abbey, perhaps take a short walk to the Bay at the Back of the Ocean – named because the next westward stop is North America. BLD

Day 5. Isle of Gigha, Achamore House and Gardens and Isle of Jura
This morning visit the beautiful Isle of Gigha. Privately owned by its 120 inhabitants, the landscape consists of heather-covered hills, deserted sandy beaches, clear green seas and just the one single-lane road, which meanders between quaint cottages and farms. Here, you’ll enjoy time to wander 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. Returning to your ship for lunch, you’ll then cruise to the Isle of Jura, where you’ll enjoy the opportunity to visit the 200 year-old single malt Scotch whisky distillery. (BLD)

Day 6. Belfast and Mount Stewart, Freedom of Choice.
This morning enjoy a sightseeing tour of Belfast. This afternoon you can choose from two options, either the Titanic Exhibition or Mount Stewart, an 18th century house and garden in County Down. Planted in the 1920s by Lady Londonderry, the gardens today are owned by The National Trust and are of significant international importance. Here, a series of outdoor ‘rooms’ and vibrant parterres contain many rare plants that thrive in the mild climate of the Ards Peninsula. Enjoy time to explore the gardens as well as the opulent house, which boasts a fascinating heritage and contains world-famous artefacts and artwork. Then return to your ship for dinner. (BLD)

Day 7. Portmeirion and Bodnant Garden, Freedom of Choice
This morning you’ll cruise into Holyhead to spend a full day exploring this spectacular part of Wales. Visit Portmeirion, an extraordinary Mediterranean-style village designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975. Choose from a tour of the village and its gardens or the gardens of nearby Plas Brondanw, the family home of Williams-Ellis. Afterwards 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. Stroll through the Upper Garden, with its terraces and informal lawns, then continue into the Dell, the wild garden of the lower section formed by the valley of the River Hiraethlyn. Afterwards, return to your ship for dinner. (BLD)

Day 8. Dublin, Freedom of Choice
Your ship will arrive in Dublin Bay this morning and enter the mouth of the River Liffey. From here, you have a choice of three activities. First option is to travel by coach into the Wicklow Mountains and visit the gardens of Powerscourt, with its charming walled garden, striking terraces, fine statuary, varied trees, carefully designed walking paths and more. Then travel to Mount Usher, a lovely romantic garden on the banks of the River Vartry. Second option is to visit the private garden of botanical author, Helen Dillon and Mt Usher Garden. The third option is to visit Helen Dillon’s garden then enjoy a sightseeing tour of Dublin. (BD)

Day 9. Waterford, Freedom of Choice
Your ship will arrive in Waterford on Ireland’s south eastern 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. Later, select from two touring options. First option is to travel to Kilkenny, one of Ireland’s most historic and attractive cities, and visit Kilkenny Castle and the design centre before returning to Waterford. The second option is to remain in County Waterford for a visit to Lismore Castle, which features the oldest continually cultivated gardens in Ireland, followed by a tour of the world-famous Waterford Crystal Factory. (BLD)

Day 10. Isles of Scilly and Tresco
Today will see you cruising amid the beautiful Isles of Scilly, an archipelago off Great Britain’s south western 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. You’ll have the opportunity to go for a relaxing stroll along the traffic-free lanes 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. Back on board for lunch and afternoon tea before a special Farewell Dinner. (BLD)

Day 11. Portsmouth and Arrive London
After breakfast this morning, you’ll disembark the MS Hebridean Sky in the English waterfront city of Portsmouth. From here, you’ll be transferred by coach to London, arriving at Heathrow Airport at around 12.30pm or the St James Court Hotel which is in Central London at around 1.30pm. (B)

Birdlife of the British Isles
While taking in the spectacular coastal scenery of the British Isles, you’ll be joined by an ornithologist, who will share their expertise on the many species of birds that call the British Isles home. This is the season when they are at their most prolific.

Small Ship Cruising with Botanica
As you uncover the delights of the British Isles, you’ll enjoy a truly intimate and unique small ship cruising experience aboard the MS Hebridean Sky. Experience great hospitality from the moment you step on board and relax, knowing you only have to unpack once before unwinding in your spacious home-away-from-home. While taking in the spectacular coastal scenery of the British Isles, you’ll be joined by expert onboard lecturers, including a dedicated ornithologist, who will share their expertise on the many species of birds that call the British Isles home, as well as history and garden lectures.

Monty DonSpecial Guest Speaker – Monty Don
Garden author, journalist and presenter, Monty Don will join your cruise where he will conduct an informative lecture.

This tour can be combined with other Botanica tours:

· Loire Valley & Chelsea Flower Show (BTLVC9)
· British Isles & Cornwall (BTBNCC15)
· London & Chelsea Flower Show (BTCFS5)

Cherry Blossoms in Japan & South Korea Cruise

ITIINERARY

 

Day 1. Arrive Osaka
Arrive into Osaka Airport and be met and transferred to your hotel. This evening at 6.30pm, enjoy a Welcome Dinner where you’ll have the opportunity to meet your fellow Botanica travellers.
Stay: Osaka, Imperial Hotel or similar (D)

Day 2. Kyoto and Embark Ship
This morning depart Osaka to Kyoto where we will visit the rock garden masterpiece
of Ryoanji and Kinkakuji, a fine example of Muromachi period garden design. After lunch, transfer to the MS Caledonian Sky in Kobe. Enjoy a special dinner with the ship’s crew this evening, as we set sail for the port of Okayama.
Ten Nights: MS Caledonian Sky (BLD)

Day 3. Okayama, Koraku-en Garden and Kurashiki.
After breakfast this morning, we will visit Koraku-en Garden, one of Japan’s most significant gardens – the name meaning ‘garden of pleasure after’. Visit a classic teahouse, and experience a traditional tea ceremony. After a local lunch, continue to Kurashiki, where we explore the old merchant quarter and its fine 17th century wooden warehouses. The beautiful houses are painted white with traditional black tiles, and are situated along a canal lined with rows of majestic weeping willows. (BLD)

Day 4. Takamatsu and Ritsurin Park
Today tour the stunning city of Takamatsu on Shikoku, the smallest of the four main Japanese Islands. We will journey over the Seto-Ohashi Bridge and visit Ritsurin Park, a 350-year-old garden, famous for its magnificent spring colours. See the Chrysanthemum-Moon Pavilion, then visit Kinashi Bonsai Town. (BLD)

Day 5. Hiroshima and Miyajima
Arrive in Hiroshima to visit the compelling Peace Memorial Park. The park is dotted with memorials, including the cenotaph that contains the names of all the known victims of the A-bomb. Return to the ship for lunch, then continue to Miyajima. Considered one of Japan’s top scenic wonders, Miyajima provides a picture-postcard vista of the scarlet Torii Gate, the giant camphor wood gates at the entrance to the Shinto Shrine. We will go ashore to explore the World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Jinja Shrine, founded in the 6th century and dedicated to three sea goddesses. (BLD)

Day 6. Uwajima
Arrive in Uwajima, situated deep inside the saw-toothed coast of Uwajima Bay. The city of Uwajima is emerging as the nation’s largest pearl cultivation centre. Learn the process of implanting, harvesting, extracting and sorting pearls on a visit to a pearl farm. We will continue to Sakiiya Square or choose to visit Dairakuji Temple. (BLD)

Day 7. Nagasaki and Dejima Island
Arrive at Nagasaki, the second city destroyed by an A-bomb in World War II. Tour the Peace Memorial Park, Atomic Bomb Museum and Glover Garden. Continue to Dejima Island, built during the Edo Period to accommodate Portuguese Christian missionaries and prevent the propagation of their religion. It was also once the residential quarters of the Dutch, the only foreigners allowed to trade in Japan during the Sakoku isolation Period for 200 years, until Japan reopened to the world. (BLD)

Day 8. Pusan, South Korea
Embark on a full-day excursion to Kyongju, in South Korea, a World Heritage-listed site often described as the world’s finest open-air museum. As the ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty, Kyongju’s heritage dates back to the first millennium. As we stroll through some of the numerous excavated monuments, temples, tombs and pagodas, there will be time to explore the National Museum, with its exceptional collection of finely worked gold jewellery, metal weapons and distinctive pottery. At lunch, sample Korean delicacies and enjoy the spectacle of traditional dancers during a cultural performance. (BLD)

Day 9. Hagi
Japan’s revolution began here in Jokamachi’s old Samurai residential quarter, where we will tour a Samurai’s home. We will also visit the historic Daisho Temple, the resting place of the two first Mori daimyo a family of powerful and territorial pre-modern Japanese lords and all of the even-numbered daimyo. This traditional temple is located on Mount Mison, considered a holy mountain, on the island of Itsukushima. Inside, you will find a flame that is said to have been burning for some 1,200 years. We will also take time to explore Hagi, one of Japan’s most beautiful castle towns, where you can explore the old streets and see the Hagi Castle ruins, Shizuki Park and the Tokoji Temple. (BLD)

Day 10. Matsue and Yuushien Garden
Known as the ‘Town of Water’, Matsue, is on the shores of a scenic lake and a large lagoon. Here, you’ll visit a number of cultural attractions including Matsue Castle. Known as the ‘Black Castle’, it is one of only a few wooden Medieval castles that remain in Japan today. Admire the structure’s complexity from the outside, as it stands gracefully, watching over the city, and take the opportunity to explore the interior, which affords magnificent views of Lake Shinji. This afternoon, we will visit the stunning Yuushien Garden, a traditional flower garden full of colour and blossom, famous for ginseng and peonies. (BLD)

Day 11. Kanazawa and Kenroku-en Garden
Kanazawa is a thriving centre of the arts, long known for its lacquer-ware, outstanding collectible pottery of the Kutani style, gold-leaf workmanship and delicate hand-painting of silk for kimonos and Noh theatre dramas. The winding cobblestone streets have a quaint photogenic charm. Around each bend is a traditional house, museum, art gallery, craft shop, Samurai residence and even a Geisha house to explore. The fascinating open-air market displays a vast variety of items from flowers to fish to local handicrafts. Next we visit the Kanazawa Castle ruins, which is one of Japan’s premier highlights, and the famed Kenroku-en Garden, is ranked among the country’s top gardens. (BLD)

Day 12. Kanazawa and Tokyo
Disembark the ship this morning and take the Bullet Train to Tokyo. On arrival, enjoy an afternoon sightseeing tour of Tokyo. We then transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay and Farewell Dinner.
Stay: Tokyo, New Otani Hotel or similar (BLD)

Day 13. Depart Tokyo.
After breakfast this morning, you will be transferred to the airport by shuttle bus for your flight home. (B)

Japanese Cherry Blossoms
Embark on a stylish voyage of horticultural discovery and explore this fascinating region, aboard this Botanica cruise. In the heart of cherry blossom season, Botanica guests will be enchanted by the sight of the beautiful and richly symbolic sakura flower in full bloom. Venture along the historic shores of Japan and South Korea on this incredible botanical journey. The cherry blossom heralds the start of spring and the delicate blossom only stays on the trees for two weeks. This time of year is highly revered by the Japanese, who celebrate with festivals and events.

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