A new itinerary through Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire to see an astonishing selection of the world’s finest gardens. Highlight is RHS members’ Opening Day at the Chelsea Flower Show. Stay in London, Tunbridge Wells, Winchester and Richmond. You will be pampered all the way on this spring fling.
Our tour starts this afternoon with a walk down Sloane Street for ‘Chelsea in Bloom’. Meet up with your Ross Tour Leader, Colin Barlow, in the hotel foyer. Shops and squares are decorated with fresh flower displays. It’s an exciting prelude to opening day tomorrow of the Chelsea Flower Show. Pre-dinner drinks this evening in our hotel will allow us to get acquainted and Colin will give an introduction to our tour; followed by our Welcome Dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Special members tickets for Opening Day at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show. Enjoy multimillion-dollar show gardens and the smaller artisan gardens. Browse flower exhibits in the Great Pavilion and treat yourself in the shopping avenue! Late afternoon transfer to your hotel. Evening free.
The home and garden of Winston and Clementine Churchill for 40 years, Chartwell is our destination this morning. In its extraordinary setting, overlooking the Weald of Kent, Chartwell is now in the expert hands of the National Trust. Terraced gardens laid out by the Churchills overlook the lake and Walled Garden, built by Sir Winston himself. Walk through the walled garden, cut flower, vegetable and rose gardens, orchard, Butterfly Walk, Marlborough Terrace for a glimpse into the life and times of the Churchill family. The House itself is included in our visit; interiors remain much as they were when Churchill lived here, intimate and well preserved. After lunch travel to nearby Hever Castle that dates back 700 years, with a magnificent suite of gardens. Marshland was drained and gardens were made in 1904 when William Waldorf Astor set about restoring the castle to its former glory. Travel back to Tunbridge Wells.
Garden set within 81ha (200 acres) of woodland and parkland in Haywards Heath, West Sussex with magnificent views across the Ouse Valley viaduct. The garden has distinct ‘rooms’, each with its own unique style and character. Subtropical Round Dell, the Rose Garden, Italian Garden and Paradise Walk. Lunch included today.
Two influential gardens today! Sissinghurst, loved for its balance and harmony, garden rooms and inspired planting combinations; the result of the partnership between Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicolson. Cimb the tower for a fabulous view, and peep into Vita’s writing room. Explore each compartment of the garden, walk down to the Moat, herb garden and through to the new Delos Garden, a landscape of ruined stone fragments and Mediterranean plants, inspired by their visits to the Greek island. This garden has been re-created by Dan Pearson and opened in 2021 . Travel on to Christopher Lloyd’s Great Dixter, overwhelming and boisterous, and densely packed with plants. Now under the carefull stewardship of Fergus Garrett, who will give us his guided tour. Travel on to Tunbridge Wells, historic Spa town in Kent. Check in to Spa Hotel for the next four nights. Dinner is included this evening.
Travel into Sussex today to Nymans, originally the home of Ludwig Messel who bought the Estate in the Sussex High Weald in the 1890 to make a dream family home. Inspired by the magnificent wooded surroundings, he created a garden with plants collected from around the world. The house was partially destroyed by fire in 1947. The enclosed ruined Gothic styled Great Hall has recently been transformed into a small garden that includes many plants introduced to western horticulture by the Messel family and their gardeners, all grown in giant planters and pots. Lunch is included at Nymans before we travel back to Tunbridge Wells. Free afternoon.
We are heading to Winchester today with a visit to Wakehurst, the wild botanic garden managed by Kew Gardens. It’s home to the Millenium Seed Bank, the world’s largest store of seeds from wild plant species. In this ancient and beautiful landscape in the Sussex High Weald this diverse collection of plants from Britain and around the globe thrives within a tapestry of gardens, woodlands, meadows and wetlands. Knepp Estate is next, a brand new “rewilding” project. Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell have brought a failing farm back from financial ruin and in the process created habitat for wildlife. It’s a biodiverse Wilderness Area in the Low Weald of Sussex, one of the most exciting wildlife conservation projects in the UK, and indeed in Europe, bringing back nature; hope for the future. Beautiful and inspiring! Travel on through Sussex and Surrey into Hampshire to our hotel in Winchester for the next four nights.
We are travelling into the picturesque South Downs today to Uppark, built in 1690 with gardens designed by Humphrey Repton. First is a guided tour of the gardens, then lunch in the old Orangery. Afternoon tour through the State rooms of the house, filled with treasures. On our way back to Winchester we will stop at the ancient market town of Petersfield.
Mottisfont is highly regarded as one of the world’s finest rose gardens. The walled garden is home to the National Collection of pre-1900 old garden roses, which reach their peak in early summer. Lunch inlcuded today. These roses tend to flower just once a year, an extraordinary sight. Created by emminent rosarian, Graham Stuart Thomas in 1970, who selected old varieties that may otherwise have become extinct. Travel back to Winchester with the afternoon free. Option to attend Evensong in the exquisite Winchester Cathedral this evening.
Meet head Gardener, Matt Reese this morning at Malverleys, a private garden that has captured world interest and acclaim, thanks to his skill and dedication. Exquisite long borders, abundant Terrace Garden, shady Stumpery and prolific flower meadow; it’s a triumph! Travel on to Richmond and our Petersham Hotel.
Wisley, showpiece of the RHS with an impressive suite of gardens. Glasshouse with gardens designed by Tom Stuart-Smith and Piet Oudolf’s new perennial borders. The afternoon is free to either relax or go exploring in Richmond. Farewell dinner to share highlights and bid farewell as we head home or travel further.
Our tour ends at breakfast this morning. Check out of the hotel at your own convenience.
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