Wednesday 3 May 2017
We depart from London, Reading, Swindon and Bristol stopping en route for lunch at Pengethley Garden Centre (not included). We will then travel to our first visit - Sir Roy Strong’s Garden The Laskett. The garden was created not long after Sir Roy and his late wife Julia Trevelyan Oman married in 1973. They created a garden of sentiment; memories of people, places and events. There is a Rosemary bush that belonged to Julia’s nanny and an area dedicated to their cats. The garden was very much divided into "his" and "hers" areas with Julia taking care of the kitchen garden and Roy with the architectural elements and the formal enclosures.
Following our visit we continue our journey into Herefordshire and our base for the next three nights, the comfortable Three Counties Hotel, Hereford. Situated in over 3 acres of garden the hotel provides a peaceful haven. All rooms are en-suite with TV, hairdryers and tea and coffee making facilities.
Dinner is served in the evening.
Thursday 4 May 2017
After breakfast, we begin today with a visit to Montpelier Cottage, the private garden of well-known garden designer and writer Noel Kingsbury. Noel will lead us on a guided tour of his lush and exuberant one acre garden which features trial beds where English cottage style meets German parks and American prairie, with a naturalistic approach to planting evident throughout. There is a wide range of perennials, plus ponds, a vegetable garden and fruit. A further three acres includes a hay meadow habitat and an unusual wild flower-rich wet meadow.
In the afternoon we continue to Westonbury Mill Water Garden. Entering the main part of the garden over the Mill Pool you come to the Bog Garden, rich in water-loving plants. Paths cross the bog allowing a good view of individual plants. From the Bog Garden you may wander in any of several directions, visiting the Big Pond flanked by giant irises and rushes, the Cairn Garden, where boardwalks take you over a maze of small channels and luxuriant growth, or the Lily Pond and the blue `Monet' Bridge. The garden is home to a number of delightful follies, hand-built by the owner, including a unique, water-powered Giant Cuckoo Clock! Lunch is available here on arrival (not included).
Dinner is served back at our hotel in the evening.
Friday 5 May 2017
Today following breakfast we begin by travelling to the gardens at Hampton Court Castle, a 15th century castle surrounded by 1000 acres of stunning parkland, pasture and woodlands with the River Lugg running alongside. The gardens were only recently completed and are one of the most ambitious garden creations of our time. Original Victorian garden walls enclose stunning new flower gardens divided by canals, island pavilions and pleached avenues. The kitchen garden is an ornamental garden of fruit and vegetables, supplying produce to the Orangery Restaurant for its seasonal menu. There is a maze of a thousand yews with a Gothic tower at its centre - climb to the top for a panoramic view of the gardens or descend underground to a tunnel that leads to a waterfall in the sunken garden. Beautiful herbaceous borders stretch out from a one hundred and fifty year old wisteria tunnel that leads to vast lawns and ancient trees beside the castle. Beyond the lawns are riverside and woodland walks.
Our second visit today takes us to Stockton Bury Gardens at Kimbolton. A true plantsman’s garden, this four-acre site is divided into different areas by brick and stone walls and yew hedges. Thoughtfully laid out and beautifully cared for, it contains a wealth of unusual clematis, shrubs, climbers and herbaceous plants. The Dingle was created from an old quarry with clumps of marginal plants fringing the water’s edge. Many cultivars of peonies, pulmonarias, lilacs and viburnums with rare and beautiful plants appear round many corners. Many of the more unusual plants are for sale and are well-labelled, a good size and reasonably priced.
This afternoon we will return to Hereford where you may wish to visit Hereford Cathedral and Gardens (entrances not included). Here you have an opportunity to see the Mappa Mundi - an outstanding treasure of the medieval age which reveals how 13th century scholars interpreted the world in spiritual and geographical terms (entry not included). The map is undated but bears the name of "Richard de Haldingham e de Lafford", whom some historians have identified as Richard de Bello, Prebendary of Lafford in the diocese of Lincoln during the late 13th century. Together with evidence interpreted from the content of the map, a date of around 1290 is considered reliable. As part of this exhibition you can also see the world’s largest surviving Chained Library, with over 1500 books dating from the 8th to the 19th centuries. We return to our hotel where dinner is served in the evening.
Saturday 6 May 2017
This morning following breakfast we must sadly check-out of our hotel. Our final visit will be to Misarden Park, near Stroud. Originally designed in the 17th century, the gardens were redeveloped in the 20th century by Sir Edwin Lutyens in his famous Edwardian style. Herbaceous borders, topiary, shrubs, grass terraces and the newly planted rill and lavender-and-hebe parterre are all contained within a walled garden. The manor house’s elevated position allows for scenic views over the five golden valleys of Stroud.
Following our visit we will return to our original departure points.