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 the world have been created. Several have graced the homes of famous people like Vita Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst, Anne Boleyn’s Hever Castle and Churchill’s Chartwell. 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 Lacey―an artist’s garden set in ravishing scenery; and, of course, Wisley, the home of the Royal Horticultural Society. Rose Garden, Wisley
Our base is the historic spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells where we stay at the Russell Hotel close to “The Pantiles”, a pillared pedestrian precinct by the Chalybeate spring, paved in 1700. It was very popular in Georgian times when Richard “Beau” Nash organised the seasonal entertainments.
The price of this tour is £1500. This covers B&B for five nights in double or twin bedded rooms but not evening meal; all transport; garden entrance and personal guiding through out.
We joined the second part of a ‘world’ cruise to miss winter―London to Sydney via New York, Panama Canal and Pacific Islands. But we will mostly remember the week before exploring a dozen signature gardens around Kent and Sussex with Flora Garden Tours.
― the Sherlocks from Victoria, Australia on the Kent and Sussex tour
Read a tourer’s review of this tour.
Three consecutive days [2 nights] may be selected from this tour for approximately half the price of the full tour.
Allowing time for everyone to reach the station or The Russell Hotel situated in the historic centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells, we shall leave at 10.30am to visit Hever Castle, the girlhood home of Anne Boleyn and remodelled by William Waldorf Aster in the early 1900s. He made a magnificent Italian garden, rose garden, herbaceous border and lake, all on a grand scale. The Castle and model historic building exhibition are well worth visiting too. After lunch we move on to Penshurst Place, a 14C house with beautiful gardens designed as large garden rooms. If there is time you should go round this very historic house and have tea. We return to the hotel about 5.30pm. Penshurst Place
At 9.30am we set off to visit Scotney Castle ―the most romantic of all the gardens―designed around a 14C moated castle. The estate used to belong to a famous garden writer, Edward Hussey, who left it to the National Trust and the Victorian house is now open to the public. After this we drive to Great Dixter taking in an early pub lunch en route. There may be time to visit a small private garden for tea. We shall be back at the Wells by 6.30pm.
Set off at 8.30 am with umbrellas and water-proofs to Hampton Ferry where we leave the car and take a splendid 15 minute boat trip down the Thames to near Hampton Court Palace. Providing the weather is reasonable, this is an excellent way to reach the Show and avoid the appalling traffic congestion. There is about a quarter of a mile's walk, crossing the large Thames bridge to reach the Flower Show which will be spectacular but exhausting. Alternatively any one who wishes may visit Hampton Court Palace instead for all or part of the day. The RHS hires part of the estate for the flower show but this is cordoned off from the Palace. We return by the same route to have tea at the Bell Inn at Hampton at about 4pm. We should arrive back at Tunbridge Wells by 6.30pm.
At 9am we meet a blue badge guide who will collect us from the Russell Hotel and take us on an hour’s tour of the historic centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells ending in the Pantiles where the car will pick us up and take us on to Pashley Manor garden where we have an early lunch. The old timbered house forms a backdrop for a lovely garden with modern statuary. In the afternoon we visit Sissinghurst Castle garden, one of the most famous English gardens made in the 1930s by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson. [See our description of this garden]. We return to the hotel about 6pm.
At 9am we set off to Wakehurst Place in Sussex run jointly by the National Trust and Kew Gardens’ “Place in the Country”, now the home of the Millenium Seed Bank. We shall lunch there and in the afternoon visit Nymans gardens in Sussex belonging to the National Trust. Here, beside the ruins of a burnt-out Tudor-style house, is the garden designed in the early part of the 20C by a well known plantsman, Ludwig Messel. We shall return to the hotel about 6pm.
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