- UK - England
- A simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place inspires the 100 year tradition of the Royal Horticultural Society’s world famous Chelsea Flower Show. Tour participants will experience this renowned show in addition to some of the most famous and beautiful traditional English gardens such as Wisley, Hidcote, Sissinghurst, Great Dixter, Munstead Wood and more.
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
- Carex Tours Chelsea Flower Show and English Gardens in Spring 2015 Download
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We’ve taken care of the details. Hotels, garden admissions, and most meals are included in the price of the tour.
Tour price: $3,165USD per person, double occupancy, +$600USD, single supplement
Tour price includes:
7 Nights, 4 star hotel accommodations.
Comfortable coach transport.
1 year membership to the Royal Horticultural Society. As RHS Members, we’ll be able to attend the Chelsea Flower show on a “Members Only” day.
Admission to all gardens.
All breakfasts (traditional English) and dinners.
Tips & gratuities
Friendly and knowledgeable professional tour guide.
The design and botanical expertise of your CarexTours host.
An $800USD deposit is due when you book your tour.
Final payment, in full, is due by April 30, 2015.