Saturday 20th May
Our tour starts at the 4 star Carlton Mitre Hotel, situated on the banks of the River Thames. Make your own way to the hotel or join our early morning transfer from London Heathrow airport. Our hotel is located immediately opposite Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII’s majestic Royal Palace. This is our first visit of the tour. We will have time to explore the State Apartments, Tudor kitchen, formal gardens, and grounds. This evening join your tour director and the rest of the group before sitting down together for dinner.
Sunday 21st May
This morning we enjoy a driven sight-seeing tour of London, incorporating all the key sights such as Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament and the River Thames.
We stop at The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew for lunch (independent) and an afternoon visit. Kew Botanic Gardens cover more than 130 hectares of landscapes and gardens, and is recognised as a World Heritage Site. We return to the hotel for dinner.
Monday 22nd May
Today we visit Wisley Garden, the home of the Royal Horticultural Society. Full of ideas and information, the garden delights and inspires in any season of the year. Part of the garden is always at its best. We enjoy a guided tour of the gardens so you’ll be sure to see the very best of these impressive gardens. The shop offers as large a collection of books on gardening as anywhere in the world. We stay for lunch (independent) at Wisley then return to our hotel for dinner.
Tuesday 23rd May
Tuesday is the prestigious first members-only day of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a highlight every time this world class show is in our itinerary. You will see magnificent floral displays, extraordinary show gardens, garden tools and products, a host of garden structures and artefacts by world famous names at this classic event close to London’s fashionable shopping. On leaving the show, we make our way to Kent and check into the Tudor Park Marriott Hotel for four nights. Dinner in the hotel.
Wednesday 24th May
Our day begins with a private visit to Great Comp, an enormous achievement by two people who had retired in 1957 from a busy London life. This is an informal garden against a background of deciduous woodland with an apron of lawn. The gardens are now cared for by curator, William Dyson, the UK’s leading Salvia expert. At lunchtime, we stop in Royal Tunbridge Wells to explore this glorious Georgian Spa town.
We continue to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII. Marvel at this double-moated castle and its garden, with a 35 acre lake, fountains, and magnificent original Roman and Italian Renaissance statuary. Dinner in the hotel.
Thursday 25th May
Our first visit today is a private ‘pre-opening’ tour of Great Dixter House and Garden, a cottage garden on a grand scale. In 1910 the English architect Edwin Lutyens restored the house and designed the gardens. The well known gardening writer and lecturer Christopher Lloyd who further developed the garden until his passing in 2006, liked to tease the followers of garden fashion with bold experimentation.
We continue onto the ancient Cinque Port of Rye, one of the prettiest medieval towns in Britain for lunch (independent).
In the afternoon we explore Godinton House and Gardens, a superb ancient estate with splendid formal gardens. Both the Jacobean house and gardens have been lovingly restored. We enjoy a guided garden tour with the delightful head gardener.
This evening we head to the magnificent Leeds Castle – “the loveliest castle in the world”. We’ll enjoy pre-dinner drinks in the Library before moving into the Castle’s Great Hall for a private banquet.
Friday 26th May
We start the day with a private ‘pre-opening’ guided tour of Sissinghurst Castle, a romantic garden created around a slender brick-built castle tower, this is always one of our most enjoyed visits. Its designer Vita Sackville-West’s own words describe the garden: “Profusion, even extravagance and exuberance within the confines of the utmost linear severity”.
We continue onto Pashley Manor, an immaculate garden with emphasis on colour and form around a Tudor house with 18th-century additions. After free time for lunch we enjoy an introductory talk and time to explore the gardens. Dinner in the hotel.
Saturday 27th May
We check out of our hotel and before leaving Kent, we enjoy a particularly special, exclusive visit to the beautiful private gardens at Long Barn, the first home of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson – where they ‘served their gardening apprenticeship’.
We then make two coach drop-offs; the first in central London and the second at Heathrow Airport. We can advise on departure planning.
NB: This tour include one year’s membership to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)
TOUR PRICING: Prices are per person based on twin/double room share, with single supplements show separately. Prices are payable in £GBP. For clients travelling from USA, our tours can be booked through our travel partners and paid in $USD.