Tours of Gardens in England 2020
Flora Garden Tours guide you to the finest gardens in Britain. As well as
the famous English stately homes and gardens the tours visit
lesser known but lovely ones, some
rarely open to the public. The tour director and leader is
Dr Barbara Sommerville,
of international repute who has a deep interest in the history of
gardening, landscape and architecture.
Lily pond and house, Wisley
Spring in the Lake District and Yorkshire Tour April 2020
Flora Garden tours are pleased to offer a unique
opportunity to visit the Harrogate Spring Flower Show on
their Yorkshire tour. This is one of the most popular events
for those interested in the Great Gardens of England. It
takes place in the historic Spa town of Harrogate renowned
by the Victorians and 20C invalids for the large range of
chemically different spring waters arising from the complex
local geology. It is also the home of the famous Betty’s Tea
Shops. On the first day of the Yorkshire tour we visit both
of these, the tea shop and the Harrogate Spring Flower Show.
The second day of the Yorkshire Tours we visit Harlow
Carr Gardens founded in 1946 by the Northern Horticultural
Society as a botanical garden to grow plants suited to the
cooler conditions of the north of England and in the
afternoon we visit one of the best known and most extensive
monastic ruins, Fountains Abbey. There is a huge bonus here
for lovers of Great Gardens in England because adjoining the
ruins are the Studley Royal Water Gardens complete with
lakes, classical monuments and sculptures and all surounded
by wooded hillsides. All was granted UNESCO World Heritage
Status in 1986.
On the third day we visit Ripon Cathedral founded by St.
Wilfred in the mid 7th century whose crypt still exists
under the 12C church. It has later famous carved misericords
depicting folk-law and rural scenes such as a mermaid
combing her hair and a fox making off with a goose. We spend
the afternoon at Newby Hall; certainly one of the best
Yorkshire gardens in an adyllic position beside the River
Ure and its 17C grade 1 listed house designed by Christopher
Wren is open too.
On the fourth day we move West into the Pennine Hills,
the ‘back-bone’ of England to visit a private garden and
then lunch at idyllic Bolton Abbey. This is the end of the
Yorkshire Tour so those only doing that part will be driven
back to Harrogate while the rest of us will continue west on
the Lake District Tours to visit Levens Hall in Cumbria.
This unique garden has the only 17C yew topiary in England
to escape the English Landscape movement in garden design
when the Tudor knot gardens were torn out and replaced with
psuedo-natural parkland. The Yew bushes are still trimmed to
their original shape but are enormous. The family have lived
in this superb Elizabethan house since 1590 and it is one of
the finest stately homes in South Cumbria. Its medieval pele
tower was built for protection from Scottish raiders because
the country border was further south then. From here we
cross the largest of the lakes, Windermere, by the Bowness
car ferry and on the other side are quite close to the
village of Hawkshead where we are staying at the 17C Queens
Head Inn. We shall be joined here or perhaps at Levens by
the people taking the Lake District tours.
On the 5th day of the combined tour and the 1st of the
Lake District tour, we visit Stagshaw Gardens overlooking
Lake Windermere. The damp mild climate here allows some
exotic trees to thrive on this steep hillside. We then reach
Holhird Gardens run by the Lakeland Horticultural Society.
There will be plenty of colour set on a steep slope with a
backdrop of Lake Windermere and the Langdale Pikes which
might have snow on their tops. We shall have a light lunch
at an interesting private garden and return to Hawkshead.
On the 6th/2nd day there will be time to explore the
village of Hawkshead . You might look in at the Church,
which has interesting documentation about woolen shrouds.
Other places are the Beatrix Potter gallery with some of the
original tiny water colour painings which illustrated Beatrx
Potter’s little books and the Grammar school which
Wordsworth attended living at Ann Tyson’s cottage nearby.
There are a lot of gift and out-door clothing shops as well.
At 11.30am we drive north to William and Dorothy Wordworth’s
house, Rydall Mount, where there is a good garden high up
overlooking Rydal Water. Next door is 16C Rydal Hall which
has a famous formal garden designed by Thomas Mawson
[1861-1933]. We lunch there and have tea in Grassmere
On the last day of the tours we drive south calling in at
Beatrix Potter’s Cottage at High Sawrey and on to Holker
Hall, the home of Lord and Lady Cavendish. This stunning
garden has elements of the formal, the Italinate and
informal plantings of old Rhododendrons. It also holds the
National Collection of Styracaceae and is the home of the
Great Holker Lime. At 7.9 meters in girth it is one of
“Britain’s 50 Great Trees”.
Dates and Prices
Single supplement for all tours £29 per person per night
I am operating a little differently this year. I am
accepting booking forms now but not wanting a 10% deposit
paid until February 2020. This is to ensure that I have
enough recruits to run a viable tour and, should I not have,
I can cancel the tour then. The tours were very well
recruited last year so I expect most of them will run.
Spring in the Lake District and Yorkshire Garden Tour 2020
A 7 day tour, Friday 24th to
Thursday 30th April 2020
(Harrogate Spring Flower Show runs Thursday 23 – Sunday 26 April 2020)
The price of this tour is £1620, which includes a visit to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show.
(Arrive Thursday 23rd)
Newby Hall gardens
This tour begins at
The Studley Hotel
In Yorkshire we visit one of the finest of English gardens
at Newby Hall near Ripon as well as smaller gardens like the
late Sybil Spencer’s renowned Adel garden.
The English Lakes are renowned for their scenery, glorious at all
times of year but spectacular in the spring and autumn. Rhododendrons
thrive on the rocky outcrops and in the shade of ancient
trees. Clematis montana and wisteria festoon the stone cottages.
Alternatively, you may come for
just the first three and a half
days for a tour of
Harrogate Spring Flower Show and Yorkshire
Gardens (£750) or join us on the last
four days for a tour of Lake
District gardens (£920).
Wiltshire and Somerset Garden Tour 2020
A 5 day tour, Monday 8th to
Friday 12th June 2020
(Chatsworth Flower Show runs Thursday 11 – Sunday 14 June 2020)
The price of this tour is £1350.Stourhead
This guided garden tour starts and finishes in Bath and stays at
quaint old village near Wells. Bath is easily accessible by
fast trains from London Paddington to Bath Spa station.
The tour will begin with coffee in the elegant Georgian
Spa pump room followed by a visit to the Royal Crescent and
gardens in Somerset open on Sunday afternoons for the
National Garden Scheme [NGS].
Romantic Gardens of Kent, Sussex and Surrey Garden Tour 2020
A 5 day tour, Wednesday 24th to
Sunday 28th June 2020
(Gardeners World Live runs Thursday 18 – Sunday 21 June 2020)
(Harlow Carr Flower Show runs Friday 19 – Sunday 21 June 2020)
The price of this tour is £1200.
Between London and the South coast are the chalk hills of
the North and the South Downs and in between these two
ranges is the fertile clay of the ‘Weald’, where some of the
most romantic gardens in England, even the world have been created.
Several have graced the homes of famous people like Vita
Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst and Anne Boleyn’s Hever Castle.
Others, such as Nymans and Great
Dixter, are the creation of famous gardeners. We also visit
the award winning garden at Pashley Manor. This tour visits
a selection of these and many other great and small gardens:
the most romantic Scotney Castle, Polesden Lacy―an
artist’s garden set in ravishing scenery; and, of course,
Wisley, the home of the Royal Horticultural Society.
tours will be run in response to a group of at least four
people applying and will take place at times to suit this
group. There will be space for others to join a tour once
it is guaranteed to run.
The itinerary of each tour may be adjusted to suit the
Flora tours stay in small hotels and guest houses which we
have used before or checked out carefully.
They are reasonably close to the tour gardens to reduce the
time spent travelling.
Usually a tour will be based in just one place because
people seem to prefer this.
Although not a high star rating our hotels are clean,
comfortable and above all friendly, which fits the Flora
This aspect also helps Flora offer very competitive tour
Usually there are a variety of eating places close by or, if
this is not the case, the hotel provides an evening meal as
part of the tour package.
The prices quoted are for two people sharing a double or
twin bedded room.
Single occupants will have to pay a supplement of £29
per person per night.
Flora’s regular tours are driven by our tried and tested
chauffeurs usually in an 8 seater vehicle or a minibus,
These people are now old friends and very loyal.
Some of them are keen gardeners and often join the garden
We experienced the gardens and houses of the Cotswolds
at all levels: the grand, the intimate and the fun’s fancy.
This was all made possible by Barbara’s flexibility and wonderful
connections with the locals from drivers to land owners.
― A.L. from Cambridge Massachusetts USA on the Cotswold tour
In addition to the scheduled tours mentioned above
Flora Garden Tours
offers two special services:
Any of the scheduled tours may be run on other dates for groups
of four or more people;
Tours to other British gardens, or tours
centred on special interest themes can be arranged on
a tailor-made basis. Such tours can incorporate castles
and stately homes, as well as gardens: see, for example,
Yorkshire and Northumberland.
Special interest themes include
Garden Design and Garden History,
Tours for Gardeners,
Flower Arrangers and Artists,
Mediaeval Architecture and English History
Prehistoric and Archaeological
Please make your requests: Flora Garden Tours will be happy to
Your guidance was inspirational! Gardens, gardens, gardens is your
motto. I loved the small cottage gardens and have wonderful visual
― D.C. from Alaska USA on a special tour of Yorkshire and Cumbria