Kent & Cotswolds 15th May 2013

A very special tour including a full day at the Chelsea Flower Show on Members’ Day. This tour is designed as a brief introduction to the gardens in two of England’s loveliest counties, Kent and The Heart of England. There are flower-filled gardens, formal and informal, large and small, planned and wild, all bursting into riots of color and overloading the senses with fragrant smells and sights.

Going beyond the usual tourist route in our mini-coach, off the beaten track where those herded on impersonal big buses can’t go, we will introduce you to some local treasures as well as the major sites. Your multi-talented driver/guide will fill in each touring day as time will permit, with visits to some little local gems, participants in the National Gardens Scheme, gardens open for charity. We’ll see properties designed by some of the ‘Best of British,’ Gertrude Jekyll, ‘Capability’ Brown and maybe discover the next ‘Big Thing’ at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The highlight of our gardening adventure is sure to be an annual membership in the Royal Horticultural Society. The RHS is the premiere UK gardening organisation. Membership offers a host of benefits including a garden magazine full of gardening advice, discounted/complimentary entrances to dozens of gardens throughout the year and priority access to the RHS Flower Shows. Your tour package also includes a full day ticket to a member only day to the Chelsea Flower Show. This delightful tour is sure to please everyone, avid gardeners and beginners alike!

2013 Chelsea Flower Show dates are 21 – 25 May, 2013; 21 & 22 May RHS Member Only Days and 23 – 25 May public days.

Handpicked Experiences

Visit the acclaimed Chelsea Flower Show on Members’ Day; see Blenheim Palace and gardens; enjoy afternoon tea at the Orangery, Kew Gardens

Tour Inclusions

Transfer from London Heathrow Airport to Hotel
8 nights in 3 and 4 star hotels with private facilities
Breakfast daily
3 Dinners
Afternoon Tea at the Orangery, Kew Gardens
RHS Royal Horticultural Society 12-months Membership
Full Day Ticket Chelsea Flower Show on Members’ Day
All entrance fees to gardens and attractions while with your guide
24-hour Hop-on/off London Sightseeing Tour & Thames Cruise
Transport by mini-coach, maximum 14 passengers
Exclusive services of your driver/guide-companion
All taxes, tolls and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide  A very special tour including a full day at the Chelsea Flower Show on Members’ Day. This tour is designed as a brief introduction to the gardens in two of England’s loveliest counties, Kent and The Heart of England. There are flower-filled gardens, formal and informal, large and small, planned and wild, all bursting into riots of color and overloading the senses with fragrant smells and sights.

Going beyond the usual tourist route in our mini-coach, off the beaten track where those herded on impersonal big buses can’t go, we will introduce you to some local treasures as well as the major sites. Your multi-talented driver/guide will fill in each touring day as time will permit, with visits to some little local gems, participants in the National Gardens Scheme, gardens open for charity. We’ll see properties designed by some of the ‘Best of British,’ Gertrude Jekyll, ‘Capability’ Brown and maybe discover the next ‘Big Thing’ at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The highlight of our gardening adventure is sure to be an annual membership in the Royal Horticultural Society. The RHS is the premiere UK gardening organisation. Membership offers a host of benefits including a garden magazine full of gardening advice, discounted/complimentary entrances to dozens of gardens throughout the year and priority access to the RHS Flower Shows. Your tour package also includes a full day ticket to a member only day to the Chelsea Flower Show. This delightful tour is sure to please everyone, avid gardeners and beginners alike!

2013 Chelsea Flower Show dates are 21 – 25 May, 2013; 21 & 22 May RHS Member Only Days and 23 – 25 May public days.

Handpicked Experiences

Visit the acclaimed Chelsea Flower Show on Members’ Day; see Blenheim Palace and gardens; enjoy afternoon tea at the Orangery, Kew Gardens

Tour Inclusions

Transfer from London Heathrow Airport to Hotel
8 nights in 3 and 4 star hotels with private facilities
Breakfast daily
3 Dinners
Afternoon Tea at the Orangery, Kew Gardens
RHS Royal Horticultural Society 12-months Membership
Full Day Ticket Chelsea Flower Show on Members’ Day
All entrance fees to gardens and attractions while with your guide
24-hour Hop-on/off London Sightseeing Tour & Thames Cruise
Transport by mini-coach, maximum 14 passengers
Exclusive services of your driver/guide-companion
All taxes, tolls and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive London

Welcome to London! Today is free so you have the chance to relax or go sightseeing as you wish. Perhaps use your 24-hour Hop-on/off sightseeing ticket, the easiest way to see the main icons and get orientated in London. Hop off when you want then hop back on – a fun way to start your holiday! Don’t worry if you prefer to rest on arrival day – you can the ticket at any time during your stay in London after the tour.
Overnight: Regency Hotel, Rembrandt Hotel or similar.

Day 2

Kent, RHS Wisely & Penshurst Place

Your tour guide will meet you in the lobby of The Regency Hotel at approximately 09:00 this morning and we’ll begin our adventure with a garden that requires no introduction – the RHS Wisley is known the world over! We will spend ample time here, exploring the rock garden, alpine garden, wild garden, formal rose courtyards and all that this wonderful place has to offer. This afternoon, via the marvellously scenic countryside dotted with oast houses and sometimes blooming lavender fields, we’ll have a visit to Penshurst Place. Here, just one splendour is the 11-acre formal walled garden, with records dating back to 1346. Penshurst is one of the oldest gardens in private ownership and remains much as it was when constructed by Sir Henry Sidney in the Elizabethan era. Enroute to our accommodation, if we manage to have some additional time to fill, there is just a wealth of opportunity. This region of Kent is known to be “The Garden of England” for good reason!
Overnight: Kent/East Sussex. (B,D)

Day 3

Sissinghurst & Hole Park Gardens

Today, the fabulous Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicholson’s world famous garden will be our main visit. You’ll have plenty of time to explore this intimate and intricate garden and to visit those parts of her home open to the public. Here, we’ll find a Tudor tower complete with Vita’s workshop, a walled herb garden, mixed border gardens, an oast house museum, a white garden and a cottage garden. Certainly something to delight all interests! This afternoon we’ll see the gem Hole Park Gardens. Here, a 15 acre garden surrounded by open parklands, massed bluebells in season in the woodland walk, standard wisteria, orchids in flower meadow, yew hedges, large lawns and specimen trees. First opened in 1927, the gardens offer a walled garden, pools and mixed borders combined with bulbs, rhododendrons and azaleas.
Overnight: Kent/East Sussex. (B,D)

Day 4

RHS Private Gardens & Vann Gardens

Our morning is open for participant input in consultation with your guide – certainly spoilt for choice! Choose a visit to a small, local cottage or farm garden from the Yellow Book Gardens for Charity Scheme; there are rose and clematis walkways, rock gardens, sculpted yew hedges and ponds with water lilies all on offer. Some choices are traditional style, others unique and quirky. There are several RHS recommended properties along our route too. Whichever garden chosen, you should experience the personal touch of meeting the locals and perhaps a bit of sharing of gardening secrets! We’ll be making our way through the county of Surrey, the area that famed garden designer Gertrude Jekyll called home. By special appointment, a visit to a garden called “enchanting” by the Sunday Telegraph, Vann Gardens. Here in the 5-acre wonderland, we can explore the garden ‘rooms’ that boast a variety of styles, both formal and cottage including the water garden designed and planted by Gertrude Jekyll in 1911.
Overnight: Hungerford/Marlborough area, The Bear Hungerford or Castle and Ball Marlborough or similar. (B,D)

Day 5

Malmesbury, Abbey House Gardens, Coughton Court & Cotswolds

Our morning will take us to the historic town of Malmesbury and the labour of love created by ‘the naked gardeners’ Ian and Barbara Pollard, Abbey House Gardens. The 5 acre grounds of the town’s 16th Century Abbey has been transformed in recent years, a popular retreat bursting with a variety of colour – both flowers and the personalities of the designers! Famed gardener Alan Titchmarsh said about Abbey House, “The Wow factor is here in abundance!” We can meander our way north to a place that has been called “breathtaking” by the RHS. Coughton Court offers a wide variety of sections to delight many tastes – enjoy the bog garden, formal lawns and courtyard gardens, veggie garden and orchard plus the main centerpiece, the Walled Garden. The Cotswolds region is famous for honey-thatch cottage villages. Each is unique and pretty in its own right and there are many opportunities for a stop in a tea or antique shop as we wish and as time permits these few days. With our small vehicle, we can get to where the larger coaches can’t and avoid the commercialized ‘honey pots’ to discover the best of the local treasures. This region offers a fine selection of local gardens, definitely lovely and noteworthy!
Overnight: Stratford-Upon-Avon, Swan’s Nest Hotel or The Falcon or similar. (B)

Day 6

Stratford-upon-Avon, Hidcote Manor & Blenheim Palace

One main visit today is the gem Hidecote Manor Gardens. Created by horticulturist Lawrence Johnston, this garden consists of a series of small gardens within the whole, separated by walls and hedges of different species. It’s famed for rare shrubs, trees, herbaceous borders, and interesting plant species. Later, the incredible treasure house and garden estate Blenheim Palace, given to Winston Churchill’s ancestor John, 1st Duke of Marlborough. The superb collection here includes fine paintings, furniture, bronzes and the famous Marlborough Victories tapestries. In addition to the opulent palace itself, you’ll have ample time to wander the amazing gardens, designed in part by ‘Capability’ Brown. A trip to Blenheim Palace would certainly not be complete without visiting the Water Terraces, Rose Garden, Arboretum, Cascades or the Secret Garden. There’s a wonderful viewing tower and highly rated restaurant at the Royal Shakespeare Society, so worth a visit even if not attending a performance!
Overnight: Stratford-Upon-Avon, Swan’s Nest Hotel or The Falcon or similar. (B)

Day 7

Cotswold Villages, Waterberry Gardens & Afternoon Tea at Kew Gardens

Another morning we’re we are spoilt for choice! We will make our way via the Cotswolds villages as we wish, en-route to Waterperry Gardens on the edge of Oxfordshire. This is a magical place where you will be surrounded by beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers, classical borders, modern plantings, secret corners and long vistas. Waterperry has been called “a gardener’s garden” by a previous tour guest. Our finale of the day is a guided walk around one of the world’s top gardens. The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew is a lavish 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kew is home to the world’s largest collection of living plants, more than 30,000 different kinds! Kew Gardens originated as the exotic garden at Kew Park in 1759 and remains as a ‘must-see’ destination for garden lovers. We’ll experience the highlights of this wonderful property including the Alpine Gardens, Japanese gardens, The Great Pagoda and Treetop Walkway to name a few. Together, we’ll enjoy an Afternoon Tea in the Orangery at Kew Gardens. Later will make our way to our London hotel, arriving early evening. We’ve included Afternoon Tea in lieu of dinner tonight for the option to attend the theatre if you wish – contact Handpicked Holidays for reserved seating or theatre/dinner package.
Overnight: London, Regency Hotel or Rembrandt Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 8

RHS Members Only Day at the Chelsea Flower Show

Today is our grand finale, a full, Members Only day at the Chelsea Flower Show! One transfer will be provided from your London hotel to the show in the morning and one transfer back in the evening. You are welcomed to come and go from the show as you please using public transport. Your Member Day Chelsea ticket is valid from 8am – 8pm. This evening is open so you can enjoy the show until closing and/or have the option of attending the theatre.
Overnight: London, Regency Hotel or Rembrandt Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 9

Depart London

Your package includes breakfast at your hotel this morning then concludes. (B)

 

Dates and Prices

Tour Inclusions

Transfer from London Heathrow Airport to Hotel
8 nights in 3 and 4 star hotels with private facilities
Breakfast daily
3 Dinners
Afternoon Tea at the Orangery, Kew Gardens
RHS Royal Horticultural Society 12-months Membership
Full Day Ticket Chelsea Flower Show on Members’ Day
All entrance fees to gardens and attractions while with your guide
24-hour Hop-on/off London Sightseeing Tour & Thames Cruise
Transport by mini-coach, maximum 14 passengers
Exclusive services of your driver/guide-companion
All taxes, tolls and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide