Flora Garden Tours visits Sissinghurst, Hever Castle, Nymans, Great Dixter and Pashley Manor.
Between London and the South coast is rolling chalk downland and 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 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. The tours visit a selection of these and many other great and small gardens; Scotney Castle, Claremont — with the earliest original eighteenth century landscaped garden; Polesden Lacy, an artist’s garden set in ravishing scenery; and, of course, Wisley, the home of the Royal Horticultural Society. Polesden Lacey
This tour is based at the Russell Hotel near the historic Pantiles of Royal Tunbridge Wells.
Read a Flora tourer’s comments on a Romantic Gardens Tour.
My husband and I knew we would enjoy our visit to England’s great gardens, but you, Barbara, and your tour exceeded our highest expectations.
Because of your enthusiasm, your knowledge of plants and English history, and your kindness, we could not have asked for a more perfect guide for all those beautiful gardens we visited. I think the fact that our four-year-old daughter had as much fun as we did is a TRUE testimonial to your success.
My only wish is that we can join you for other Flora garden tours in the near future!
― Kim Schauer on the Romantic Gardens tour
Read a Flora traveller’s diary of a Romantic Gardens tour.
Members of the National Trust, The Royal Horticultural Society or the Royal Oak Foundation are eligible for a 5% discount on the advertised price of this tour.
Leaving The Russell Hotel at 10am we shall drive to collect members of the group arriving at Tunbridge Wells station [if you are one you may need to cross the bridge over the lines to the car park at the back of the station where we shall be waiting for you.] We shall all then drive to Hever Castle, the girlhood home of Anne Boleyn and remodeled 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. Don’t miss the delightful little Sunken Garden. After lunch we move on to Penshurst Place with beautiful gardens designed as large garden rooms. If there is time you should go round this very historic house dating from 14C, still occupied by the 16C family and have tea there. Penshurst Place
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 bus 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 a vegetable garden supplying our lunch salads and lots of modern sculptures. 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 the description of this garden in the Flora web pages].We return to the hotel about 6pm [See our description of this garden].
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 on times tickets. Leaving here at 12 noon we drive to Great Dixter taking in a quick pub lunch en route. We shall set off from there at 4pm to visit Hole Park, Rolvenden, a 16 acre garden belonging to Edward Barham where we have tea. We shall be back at the Wells by 7pm.
At 9am we set off to Wakehurst Place in Sussex run by Kew Gardens and known as “Kew in the Country”. There is also the Millenium Seed Bank which is very interesting. There is a fine Tudor mansion open on the ground floor and the Henry Price walled garden is exquisite; also be sure to look at the Japanese Irises in the stream garden. 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 followed by his sone Leonard. There are several plant varieties bearing theirnames.
At 9.30am we leave for Wisley the main Royal Horticultural Society garden. One could spend days in this splendid impeccably maintained garden. There are trial plots, greenhouses, display gardens -including some winners from Chelsea-, woods, lakes and a huge tropical glass house. We shall have lunch here and then at 2.30pm move on to Polesden Lacy where we have tea. This Georgian house belonging to the National Trust is set in the beautiful hilly scenery of the North Chalk Downs. It has a lovely formal rose garden as well as impressive herbaceous borders. The house, which is open, belonged to a well known society hostess of the ‘Edwardian period’ before the first world war, Mrs Margaret Greville. Apart from the hospitality she lavished her father’s fortune, made by refining and selling McEwans Export lager, on this house and it is really amazing. There is usually live traditional jazz playing on the lawn 2-4pm. We have tea here.
Those that wish and have their luggage with them can be driven to the station at Tunbridge Wells for about 6.30pm or you may stay at the Russell tonight but
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