Thursday 25 May 2017
We depart from our pick up points in central London and at London Heathrow airport and transfer to RHS Garden Wisley, which is where the Royal Horticultural Society shows the gardening public how it should be done. Here the highest standards of practical horticulture are deployed in the setting of a splendid old site rich in fine trees against a backdrop of other plants, all impeccably labelled.
Later we continue to our hoteI to the south of London. Dinner is served in the evening.
Friday 26 May 2017
After breakfast this morning we depart for our full-day visit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which holds a rare position as a great British tradition and an exciting source of inspiration and advice. One of the highlights of the show is the collection of over twenty full-sized show gardens. Inside the Great Marquee visitors have their senses ravished by the hundreds of floral displays, many of them incorporating new, rare and unusual plants. Other popular features here include flower arranging, floristry and garden design marquees, courtyard gardens, window boxes and hanging baskets.
Dinner is served back at our hotel in the evening.
Saturday 27 May 2017
This morning after breakfast, we visit the magnificently manicured gardens of Sissinghurst. This famous garden was created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson from 1930 onwards and became the most admired English Garden of its time. Few great gardens live up to their reputations so effortlessly as this. Sissinghurst is a large connoisseurs’ garden consisting of a series of small romantic areas enclosed by the surviving parts of an Elizabethan mansion. It never disappoints its visitors, it has the power of enchantment, but it is also an unending source of inspiration for all gardeners. Sissinghurst is surely as close to gardening perfection as you can get, and it continues to be one of the most copies flower gardens in the world.
We continue to another classic English Country Garden – Great Dixter. The distinguished garden writer Christopher Lloyd (who died in January 2006 at the aged of 84) was the genius behind Great Dixter, with its timbered 15th century house. Restored by Sir Edwin Lutyens who also planned the garden, Mr Lloyd has firmly put his lively stamp on it. A recent experiment involved installing a summer tropical garden rich in bold shapes and brilliant colours. No gardener could come to Great Dixter without making discoveries and rekindling a zest for gardening.
Dinner is served in the evening.
Sunday 28 May 2017
After breakfast we will check out of the hotel and make our way to the gardens of Wilton House, an impressive Palladian mansion near Salisbury. The 17th century garden by Isaac de Caus was removed in 1737 by the 'Architect Earl' of Pembroke to create a serpentine park with the first Palladian bridge. Sir William Chambers later designed a casino and eye-catcher in the park and Richard Westmacott designed an 'Italian garden' with a terrace and a parterrre in the 1820s. Today the water features and rose gardens create a tranquil haven beside the River Nadder.
In the afternoon we visit the famous landscape garden at Stourhead (NT). Temples, urns, a grotto and a wealth of trees all contribute to the special atmosphere of this celebrated landscape garden. It is, above all, a garden to walk in, following the serpentine path that borders the lake and exploring every detour that presents itself.
We continue to our hotel, the Walnut Tree in North Petherton, Somerset, where dinner is served in the evening.
Monday 29 May 2017
After breakfast we visit the Bishop’s Palace, a stunning mediaeval palace which has been home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for 800 years, having been founded in the early thirteenth century when Bishop Jocelin Trotman, the first Bishop to hold the title Bishop of Bath and Wells, received a crown licence to build a residence and deer park on land to the south of the Cathedral of St Andrew. You are welcome to look around the Bishop's private Chapel, explore the ruined Great Hall and meet the famous mute swans who live alongside the moat and ring a bell when they want food. There are also 14 acres of gardens to explore, including the beautiful well pools from which the city takes its name. There will be free time here to experience the city’s architecture, view its magnificent cathedral and have lunch (not included).
In the afternoon we visit Hestercombe, one of Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens’ greatest masterpieces. The garden is home to a round pool in a round walled garden filled with wintersweet and roses, a Dutch garden of lamb's ears, lavender and the most beautiful orangery of the 20th century. Everywhere there are details of design and planting from which any gardener can learn.
Dinner is served in the evening.
Tuesday 30 May 2017
After breakfast we depart for a visit to the gardens of lford Manor, near Bradford on Avon. This romantic award-winning Italian garden designed by Harold Peto contains a formal garden on old terraces embellished with his collection of classical statuary and architectural fragments. Steep flights of steps link the terraces with pools, fountains, loggias, colonnades, urns and figures.
In the afternoon we transfer to the historic city of Bath for some free time. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Bath has many of the finest architectural sights in Europe such as the Royal Crescent, the Circus and Pulteney Bridge. It houses a variety of museums and attractions including the Roman Baths, Jane Austen Centre and Thermae Bath Spa. You may wish to take the opportunity to do some shopping, visit a museum or experience the properties of the Thermae Bath Spa, where you can relax in two spectacular baths, fed by the natural thermal waters and refresh yourself in a series of aromatic steam rooms (not included).
We return to our hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.
Wednesday 31 May 2017
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and travel to Tyntesfield, near Bristol, a fine Victorian country house created by one of England's richest commoners, William Gibbs, who built his fortune on fertiliser. Spiralling turrets and pinnacles adorn the roof, ornate stone carvings and church-like windows complete the Gothic look, giving the feel of a mysterious, fairytale mansion. Beyond the grandeur that visitors of the Gibbs family would have seen, you will also discover a family home and the evidence of their changing fortunes. Terraced lawns give way to spacious parkland filled with hundreds of trees collected by the family, and a glorious walled kitchen garden beyond. The rolling Somerset hills in the distance create an atmospheric backdrop.
Following this, our final visit, we return to our drop-off points at London Heathrow airport and central London, where the group will disperse or make onward connections.