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English Garden Tour: What time of year, and what tour group do you recommend?


Jan 4th, 1999, 08:45 PM
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English Garden Tour: What time of year, and what tour group do you recommend?

My sister and I (from California) want to go to England to look at gardens, starting with Sissinghurst, and other wonderful attractions. Our questions are:

When should we go in 1999? We can get a flight that would give us from May 27-June 7....is this too early?

Since neither of us is completely comfortable driving in England, we're resigned to taking a tour (not our usual m.o). Is there an operator specializing in small tours? We have about 8 days to travel...which gardens would you recommend? This is one of those dreams of a lifetime, and we'd like to do it right. Thanks!
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Jan 5th, 1999, 10:44 AM
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Oh, I wish I could go with you! English gardens are my dream trip, too. Jim and I twice have customized trips entirely around English and Welsh gardens (plus London for theatre) and these have been the best trips of our lives. A few tips and suggestions based on our experiences.

Everyone has a list of their fave English gardens so here's mine:

Kiftsgate Court -- near Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds
Great Dixter -- near Rye in East Sussex (and just down the road from Sissinghurst); this is Christopher Lloyd's justly famous and magnificent garden!
Powis Castle -- near Welshpool in mid-Wales
Sissinghurst -- near Cranbrook in Kent
Hidcote Manor -- near Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds (and just across the lane from Kiftsgate)
Wisley -- the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens near Woking in Surrey. Easy 30-minute train-ride from London.
Beth Chatto Gardens near Colchester
Bodnant Garden in Wales

Lovely country house hotels featuring significant gardens of their own:
Gravetye Manor near East Grinstead in West Sussex, only 50 minutes from London's Victoria station. This is the former home of William Robinson, the Father of English Gardening (he taught Gertrude Jekyl)
Middlethorpe Hall in York -- lovely hotel, gorgeous gardens and grounds
Llangoed Hall near Hay-on-Wye in Wales

English Garden Tour Specialists:
Coopersmith's England: 415.669.1914 Check out the web site at http://www.coopersmiths.com/
British Connection -- Annabella Firth Hutton, 1166 Oxford Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30306, 404 378 5265, [email protected]
Alastair Sawday's Tours -- 800.367.0303
Expo Garden Tours -- 800.448.2685
Garden Adventures Limited -- 610.444.6161

In London, the Garden History Museum (across the Thames and next door to Lambeth Palace is a must! Also in London, the Chelsea Physic Garden is worthwhile and a welcome respite from the urban hubbub.

The dates you mention are great for seen English gardens in the late Spring. The gardens are gorgeous anytime between mid-April and the end of September. The later in the summer, the better the weather. Roses are best in June/July.

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Jan 5th, 1999, 10:52 AM
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To add a small bit to Kat's terrific answer.........on your computer look up English+garden+tours.....Chelsea+flower+show...... Royal+horticultural+society and British Tourist Authority. May and June would be wonderful times, but I would certainly go during the Chelsea Flower Show....unbelievably beautiful.
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Jan 7th, 1999, 11:18 AM
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It occurs to me I forgot to mention Kew Gardens -- probably that's because, even though it may be one of the most famous horticultural sites in the U.K., I was bored silly there. And, tea in the Orangerie was dreadful.
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Jan 7th, 1999, 12:49 PM
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I was in England in September which was not a great time for the gardens, but I was surprised to see much was still in bloom. We loved the formal gardens at Hampton Court, with its famous maze and gumdrop shaped trees. And also the grounds at Blenheim which is not far from Oxford.
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