Beautifully British Flowers and Gardens
Britain boasts some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. Come with us to discover them - and the innovative flower shows that inspire them today
One of the greenest and prettiest regions of England, the West Country is home to several world-famous historic gardens and many beautiful towns and villages. The area is also home to some of the best flower farms in the UK, making it a must-visit destination for any visitor with an interest in flora and fauna. Our three-day tour combines visits to two of these farms, as well as some of the area's most prestigious sites.
Day One: Lacock Abbey and Stourhead
Photo by Nick Daly, courtesy of the National Trust
The informal gardens of Lacock Abbey are a year-round delight. Stroll under the shady canopy of the Woodland Garden, home to mature native and exotic trees, explore the colourful, mixed boarders of the walled Botanic Garden where William Henry Fox Talbot, the Abbey’s most famous resident, grew his botanical specimens and take a seat in the magnificent Rose Garden.
The charming village of Lacock has much to offer visitors too (many of whom may recognise it from screen appearances including Downton Abbey and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), from rows of pretty 18th century cottages, a medieval Tithe Barn and the grand manor house where William Fox Talbot took the world’s first photographic negative.
Lying in its own secluded valley, Stourhead is one of England’s greatest landscaped gardens. Devised as a classical Arcadian paradise centred around a lake, it is the vision of Henry ‘The Magnificent’ Hoare, one of a small group of 18th century gentlemen gardeners who used their extensive grounds to create a personal landscape. The magnificent planting is offset by fanciful buildings such as the Temple of Flora, the circular grotto and the Pantheon with its statues of classical gods.
Day Two: Pipley Flower Farm
The UK’s flower industry is thriving, thanks in large part to the growing numbers of boutique flower farms. On Day Two we visit the wonderful Pipley Flower Farm just outside Bristol for a guided tour of the farm with its owner, Liz Rawlings. Liz doesn't only grow beautiful, British flowers, she also offers a full floristry service and, having shown you the farm, she will teach you how to make your very own hand-tied bouquet using seasonal flowers. The day ends with a traditional English cream tea.
Day Three: Wells and Manor Farm Cottages
We begin Day Three in Wells, England’s smallest city. The morning is yours, so you are free to explore at your leisure but we recommend visiting both the magnificent medieval Cathedral and the Bishop's Palace.
Built between 1175 and 1490, the Cathedral is best known for the 300 statues that adorn the façade of its West Front, but it is also home to the Jesse Window, regarded as one of the best examples of 14th century stained glass in Europe, and the splendid 14th century Vicar’s Close where all 12 members of the Vicar’s Choral still live.
The moated medieval Bishop's Palace has been home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years. Walk through the gatehouse with its portcullis and drawbridge and into the tranquil Palace itself to see the ruins of the Great Hall and 14 acres of gardens.
After lunch at Wells Cathedral Cafe, we travel to Manor Farm Cottages in the heart of the Somerset countryside. This modern flower farm specialises in seasonal, British cut flowers and grows a wide variety of annual and perennial flowers and foliage.
Benefiting from the warmth of the Gulf Stream, Cornwall is home to some of the UK's most enchanting and intriguing gardens. Our four day tour takes you from the Victorian grandeur of Lanhydrock to the the sub-tropical island of St Michael's Mount.
Day One: Lanhydrock
Lanhydrock is a magnificent, late Victorian country house with an impressive garden and woodland estate. The house offers a glimpse into life both above and below stairs, while the garden offers herbaceous borders, a formal parterre and a series of higher gardens planted with camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons.
Day Two: Helford River Cruise, Glendurgan Gardens and Trebah Gardens
Image courtesy @Visit Cornwall
We begin the day with a cruise up the Helford River to Glendurgan Gardens. Having explored the three valleys that make up this magical garden - and found our way out of the 180 year old maze - we then move on to Trebah Gardens for the afternoon. Spreading across 26 acres, this sub-tropical garden has something to offer at whatever time of year you visit. Spring brings the rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias into flower, summer sees the giant gunnera burst into flower, while autumn and winter reveal the hydrangea valley and champion trees in all their glory.
Day Three: Truro and St. Michael's Mount or Penzance
Truro, Cornwall's only city, is dominated by the three spires of its Gothic Revival Cathedral. After a morning spent exploring the shopping, cultural and architectural delights of this small but vibrant city, we travel on to St Michael's Mount. A place of legend and myth that becomes an island twice a day as the tide washes over the causeway, St Michael's Mount is home to 30 islanders, a fairy tale castle and an extraordinary sub-tropical garden.
Alternatively, we can arrange to take you to Penzance with its palm trees and exotic gardens. Places of interest include the Penlee House Museum, home to a collection of works by the renowned Newlyn School of Artists, no.25 Chesel St, home to Maria Branwell, mother of Charlotte, Anne and Emily Bronte and the ancient Admiral Benbow Inn, made famous by its appearance in Treasure Island.
Day Four: depart Cornwall and visit to Hestercombe House
We break our journey home with a visit to Hestercombe House in Somerset. Made up of 50 acres of lakes, temples, tranquil woodlands and formal terraces, the garden spans three centuries of garden design - Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian. The Formal gardens designed by Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll are particularly impressive.
Discover the hidden histories of some of Britain's finest houses and gardens on this four day tour to the east of England.
Day One: Rushton Old Vicarage and Prosecco reception
Our tour begins with a visit to a magnificent private garden, Rushton Old Vicarage. Arranged as a series of 'rooms', the garden features a wide range of rare and unusual plants, as well as wild flower meadows and cutting gardens.
We have arranged a Prosecco reception and three course group dinner at the hotel in the evening.
Day Two: Raveningham Hall and Garden
Home to the Bacon family, the modern garden is largely the creation of the current owner's mother, Priscilla Lady Bacon who collected many rare species from around the world. Highlights include a walled kitchen garden, an arboretum, a rose garden and an unusual Time Garden, based around Sir Francis Bacon's essay based on the passage of time.
Day Three: Sandringham Hall and Garden and Hunstanton
Built in 1870 by the Prince and Princess of Wales, Sandringham is now the country retreat of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. The main ground floor rooms of the the Hall are open to the public, offering visitors a unique insight into the life of the Royals. There is also a museum containing curiosities such as a 1939 Merryweather fire engine and a clock used to time the Queen's racing pigeons, and an extensive garden filled with woodland walks, dramatic rockeries and grottoes.
We then move on to the charming Victorian seaside town of Hunstanton where you will have the opportunity to stroll along the seafront and pick up some souvenirs from the many gift shops.
Day Four: Helmingham Hall and Garden
Home to the Tollemache family since 1510, Helmingham Hall boasts a moat, deer park and grounds that include two rose gardens, a walled kitchen garden and several, exquisitely planted herbaceous borders.
Why not combine a tour to some of Britain's best gardens with a visit to one of the country's most exciting and innovative flower shows?
RHS Malvern Spring Festival
9th-12th May 2019
Set in the rolling Malvern Hills, this spring festival is even more quintessentially English than the Chelsea Flower Show. Come and discover magnificent show gardens, beautiful blooms and heritage crafts in the heart of the the English countryside.
RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
2nd - 7th July 2019
The magnificent 16th Century royal residence of Hampton Court Palace is the setting for the world's largest flower show. Come and discover such English delights as the Rose Marquee, as well extraordinary show gardens, talks and demonstrations.