The following itinerary describes a range of country houses, gardens and other sites which we plan to include. Some are accessible to the public, but others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches & evening meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal.
Oxford - 3 nights
Day 1: Thursday 25 June, London Heathrow Airport – Oxford
- Arrive London Heathrow Airport and transfer to Oxford
- Welcome Meeting
Participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight are scheduled to arrive into Heathrow Airport on 20 June. Upon arrival we transfer by private coach to Oxford, where we spend the next three nights. Those taking alternative flights should meet the group at the hotel in Oxford, or alternatively at the Heathrow Airport Arrivals Hall to join the coach transfer– please contact ASA to arrange a suitable meeting time. In the evening there will be a short Welcome Meeting at the hotel. (Overnight Oxford)
Day 2: Friday 26 June, Oxford – Banbury – Lower Wardington – Oxford
- Broughton Grange, Banbury
- Pettifers Garden, Lower Wardington
- Welcome Dinner at The Quod, Oxford
We begin our tour of contemporary gardens with a visit to Broughton Grange, which has received much attention since opening under the National Garden Scheme (NGS) in 2004. The gardens are set in 350 acres of parkland, farmland, and open meadow, with a style of planting that owes its origins to the Victorian era. The gardens’ development accelerated in 2001, when acclaimed landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith, who has been awarded eight RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medals including three Best in Show awards, was commissioned to transform a 6-acre field into a walled garden. This impressive new garden features three individually themed terraces and has been designed with consideration to the surrounding rural landscape. Broughton Grange now represents one of the most significant private contemporary gardens in Britain. Broughton Grange is the first of a selection of Tom Stuart-Smith gardens included in the tour. A ploughman’s lunch will be provided after our guided tour of the gardens.
After lunch, we explore the innovative Pettifers Gardens, where head gardener Polly Stevens will provide us with a guided tour. The tour will describe not only the interesting and surprising plant combinations, but also how this garden has undergone changes made by the owner and designer, the Honourable Mrs. Gina Price, since the early 1990s, when she began to design the garden. Combined with friendship and advice from Diany Binney at Kiftsgate Court Gardens, Pettifers has today developed a reputation as one of the must-see English country gardens. Adorned with herbaceous perennials, this garden is guaranteed to please in the peak of English summer. RHS judge and media personality James Alexander-Sinclair described the garden in Gardens Illustrated magazine as “undoubtedly one of the most exciting and delightful gardens in the country.”
Our dinner destination is the Quod Restaurant and Bar in Oxford. An ASA favourite, the Quod will be the perfect location for the group to formally sit down together for a welcome meal and compare notes from the day with tour leader and leading garden designer Jim Fogarty. (Overnight Oxford) BLD
Day 3: Saturday 27 June, Oxford – Bibury – Chipping Campden – Oxford
- Village of Bibury, the Cotswolds
- Hidcote Manor, Chipping Campden
- Kiftsgate Court Gardens, Chipping Campden
Our day commences with a drive through the Cotswolds visiting the village of Bibury, described by William Morris as “the most beautiful village in the Cotswolds.”
Later in the morning, we undertake a self-guided tour of the delightful National Trust property, Hidcote Manor. Hidcote is a significant garden, and one of England’s most influential gardens of the 20th century. It was designed in the English Arts and Craft style by Major Laurence Johnston as a series of garden rooms each with a different character and theme and each separated from each other by walls and hedges. We will explore how and why Hidcote remains as one of the world’s most influential gardens.
Located less than a kilometre away, we take a short walk to Kiftsgate Court Gardens, sometimes referred to as the ‘twin’ of Hidcote. After sitting down to lunch in the tearooms, we will hear the story of Kiftsgate’s three generations of women gardeners: Heather Muir, Diany Binny and Anne Chambers. Heather Muir created the gardens in the 1920’s. From the mid-50’s, Diany Binny continued to add to the garden by creating the semi-circular pool in the lower garden and redesigning the ‘white sunk garden.’ One of the finest accomplishments of its current owner, Anne Chambers, is the new ‘abstract modern’ water garden. (Overnight Oxford) BL
Bath - 3 nights
Day 4: Sunday 28 June, Oxford – Bruton – Bath
- Piet Oudolf designed garden and the ‘New Perennial Movement’
- Afternoon at leisure in Bath
Piet Oudolf is a Dutch garden designer who has been credited with leading the global wave of the ‘New Perennial Movement,’ a naturalistic artist-driven planting style that relies on swathes of perennial plants and ornamental grasses providing an ever-changing landscape through the seasons. One of his famous gardens includes ‘Oudolf Field’ – a large perennial meadow to the north of the farmyard and new gallery buildings. The garden bears some resemblance to a traditional English classic garden, but is softened by use of modern herbaceous borders, and swathes of perennials, which loosens the overall effect. There is also a mix of old and new architectural styles, with the site’s original buildings and the new gallery.
After lunch we drive to Bath. After checking to our hotel the afternoon will be at leisure. (Overnight Bath) BL
Day 5: Monday 29 June, Oxford – Througham – Highgrove – Bath
- Througham Court: private tour with Dr Christine Facer Hoffman (exclusive private visit)
- Highgrove House: Lunch & Guided tour of Gardens (subject to confirmation in 2020)
We depart Oxford early this morning and travel 77kms south to the county of Gloucestershire. Here, we visit Througham Court, a 17th-century Jacobean house with 6 acres of formal and informal gardens, and receive a private tour by the garden’s owner and designer, Dr Christine Facer Hoffman. Hoffman, scientist and landscape architect, describes her private garden as “a personal laboratory to experiment with new ideas, materials and planting combinations.” Developed since 2000, contemporary areas have been artfully embedded in the Cotswold architect Norman Jewson’s 1930’s Arts and Crafts masterpiece. Hoffman has stated that her contemporary ‘fragments’ are inspired by scientific discoveries and theories. She uses mathematical number sequences found in nature to create a symbolic and metaphorical narrative so that the gardens may be ‘read’ by the visitor. Througham Court has been described by The Sunday Times as “one of England’s most remarkable gardens” and has featured on Alan Titchmarsh’s Garden Secrets on BBC 2.
Mid-morning we make the short drive to Doughton village, where Highgrove House, the country home of Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, is located. The Prince purchased Highgrove in 1980, and has spent 30 years transforming its grounds into what have been acknowledged as some of the most brilliant and inventive gardens in the United Kingdom. “A series of interlinked areas, each with their own character and purpose, weave magically around the garden, with the house always visible in the distance. For the last 25 years the gardens and surrounding land have been managed to the organic and sustainable principles that His Royal Highness has for so long championed.” After lunch and our 2-hour guided tour of the gardens, we return to Oxford, where the evening is at leisure. (Overnight Bath) BL
Day 6: Tuesday 30 June, Bath – Brockhampton – Upton Bishop – Bath
- Brockhampton Cottage: the Private Garden of Peter & Ravida Clay (exclusive private visit)
- Grendon Court, Upton Bishop: the Private Garden of Mark & Kate Edwards (exclusive private visit)
Brockhampton Cottage, Designed by Tom Stuart-Smith, is located in Herefordshire atop a hill with a view to the south and west of unspoiled countryside. Owned by the visionary Peter Clay, who as a co-owner of the biggest gardening website in the UK (Crocus.co.uk) comes with pedigree in the British horticultural industry, the garden has been created in the modern romantic style with herbaceous borders set over a series of terraced spaces with wild flower meadows beyond. This beautifully designed & constructed garden blends into the distant views over the Herefordshire valleys and will not disappoint.
Just across the road is Grendon Court, a garden also designed by Tom Stuart-Smith. Created over two levels this garden comprises a mix of mass planted perennials combined with ornamental flowering grasses, providing a variety of texture and colour and year-round interest. Owner of Grendon Court, Kate Edwards, will put on a two-course lunch for us at her garden, and together with Peter Clay from Brockhampton Cottage, will explain to the group the fascinating story of how both gardens were created. (Overnight Bath) BL
Winchester - 3 nights
Day 7: Wednesday 1 July, Bath – Shaftesbury – West Amesbury – Winchester
- Shute House, Shaftesbury
- Moor Hatches, West Amesbury: home-made lunch at the Private Garden of Juliette Mead & Guy Leech (exclusive private visit)
This morning we tour south from Bath to visit the gardens of Shute House, originally designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe in the late 1960s. Thirty years later, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe was tempted out of retirement to revitalise the gardens for its new owners, in what would become his final project. The gardens include waterfalls, canals and rills that run through a series of atmospheric ‘rooms.’ Current owners John and Suzy Lewis continue to maintain the gardens. There is certainly a formal feel to Shute House gardens, but the inclusion of contemporary sculptures mixes an element of playfulness to the formality.
After a light lunch, we pay a visit to another of Tom Stuart-Smith’s creations, Moor Hatches. This is a contemporary family garden with a swimming pool that has been widely photographed and published. Access to Moor Hatches is provided by application only and it is a rare privilege to be welcomed into this garden. (Overnight Winchester) BL
Day 8: Thursday 2 July, Winchester – Upton Grey – Hook – Whitchurch – Winchester
- The Manor House Garden, Upton Grey
- Hortus Loci Nursery, Hook: private tour with Mark Straver
- West Green House Gardens, Hook: private tour with owner and designer Marylyn Abbott
- Bombay Distillery, Whitchurch
The Manor House garden was designed and planted in 1908 and 1909 by Gertrude Jekyll and is said to be the most accurately and fully restored of her gardens. Jeckyll (1843-1932) was an influential British garden designer often described as a premier influence in the world of garden design. Thanks to her association with the English architect, Edwin Lutyens, Jekyll was half of one of the most influential and historical partnerships of the Arts and Crafts movement. Jeckyll was one of the first to explore the use of colour and texture in planting designs that remains relevant today.
The garden at the Manor House consists of a formal garden with herbaceous borders in colours running from cool colours at either end to bright hot colours in the centre, a wild garden, a rose lawn, planted drystone walls, as well as bowling and tennis lawns. The house gardens are surrounded by a nuttery, kitchen garden, and orchard. The 15th century Manor House was altered by Ernest Newton in 1903-1905 for Charles Holme, founder of the leading Arts and Crafts magazine The Studio.
Later in the morning, we will visit Hortus Loci, a wholesale plant nursery that sources plants for high-profile landscape designers. Since starting in 2011, Hortus Loci have supplied plants to many gold medal gardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show & RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. The owner & director, Mark Straver will provide us with a personal tour and give some background to some of the challenges with supplying plants for RHS shows. Previously, as head buyer for Crocus, Mark was integral in sourcing the plants for the gold medal winning Australian Garden presented by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2011, designed by Jim Fogarty. With Hortus Loci, Mark sourced and supplied the plants for ‘Essence of Australia’ presented by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2014, designed by Jim Fogarty, that was awarded a gold medal and the Tudor Rose Award for Best in Show. The tour will be followed by a light lunch on site at the Hobo.co garden café.
West Green House Gardens, created by acclaimed garden designer and writer, Marylyn Abbott, is one of England’s finest manor house gardens, marrying neo-classical style with contemporary design. These are the creation of an Australian, Marylyn Abbott. The gardens are a personal creation based upon Marylyn’s early love of gardens, inculcated by her mother and grandmother when she was growing up in Australia (Marylyn masterminded the famous Australian garden, ‘Kennerton Green’). At West Green House she has reconciled her Australian gardening heritage, dominated by brilliant light, with England’s softer, more muted atmosphere. Marylyn is a prolific writer; her latest book The Resilient Garden, in keeping with her experience reconciling very different gardening environments, discusses a collection of plants that will acclimatise to both Mediterranean and cool temperate gardens. The garden includes a walled garden, a potager garden, perennial borders, the ‘Paradise Water Garden’ and the contemporary ‘Garden of the Five Bridges.’ With unfolding garden rooms opening up to more informal garden areas, the garden includes follies and touches of humour.
Our day will finish with a visit and tour of the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, where we will learn about the role that botanicals play in the process of making gin. In recent years, gin has undergone a revival of interest with a new generation keen to learn about the variety of herbs, spices and fruits used to make versions of this traditional drink. The award-winning sustainability measures in design and construction are at the heart of this state-of-the art distillery. (Overnight Winchester) BL
Day 9: Friday 3 July, Winchester – Bramdean – Farnham – Winchester
- Bramdean: Private Garden of Victoria Wakefield (exclusive private visit)
- Bury Court, Farnham: designed by Piet Oudolf & Christopher Bradley-Hole (subject to confirmation in 2020)
Bramdean House is a 5-acre plantsman’s garden famous for its herbaceous perennial borders. The formal gardens comprise a progression of three compartments laid out on rising ground and aligned on the north front of the house. A central doorway opens from the house with an axial grassed path that is flanked by the widely photographed deep herbaceous borders, planted in mirror image on either side of the path. Although traditional in style, we will explore the connection between traditional herbaceous English borders and the style of planting used in the natural style plantings of today’s more contemporary English gardens.
After morning tea at Bramdean, and a short drive north with South Downs National Park on our right, we arrive at The Barn at Bury Court for a guided tour. The gardens at Bury Court are contemporary in style and include gardens designed by Piet Oudolf & Christopher Bradley-Hole. The courtyard garden was created by owner John Coke in collaboration with Piet Oudolf and reflect Oudolf’s passion for the naturalistic style and feature ornamental grasses and hardy perennials.
The front garden at Bury Court was added later, and was designed by leading landscape minimalist Christopher Bradley-Hole. Bradley-Hole has won multiple gold medals at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, including Best in Show, and his designs work on mathematically harmonious proportions that often form the backbone to his gardens. Providing a contrast to the courtyard garden, this garden is designed around a formal grid pattern of rusted steel-edged beds and gravel paths. The garden is planted with swathes of tall grasses mixed with carefully selected flowering perennials to create a dream-like meadow feel. At its tranquil heart is a reflective pool and simple but innovative seating area. (Overnight Winchester) BL
Brighton - 2 nights
Day 10: Saturday 4 July, Winchester – Brighton and surrounds – Brighton
- Spend the morning with Andy Sturgeon, one of UK’s leading garden designers
- Explore Brighton including the famous Brighton ‘Lanes’
Today we will spend the morning with Andy Sturgeon who is one of the UK’s leading garden designers. He is a published author, journalist and broadcaster, and an active commentator in the international garden design sector. His modern designs are a fusion of traditional materials and contemporary styling which have become known for their timeless architectural qualities, innovative planting and sculptural characteristics. Andy has exhibited several times at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and has won seven gold medals at RHS Chelsea Flower Show as well as twice being awarded the coveted ‘Best in Show’ award. The Sunday Times and House and Garden Magazine place Andy in the Top Ten list of landscape designers in Britain. Andy Sturgeon & Jim Fogarty are both design directors of Garden Design Asia and have travelled together and exhibited extensively at international garden shows in Japan, Korea, Malaysia & Singapore.
In the afternoon we will have free time to explore the sites of Brighton. ‘The Lanes’ are a collection of narrow alleyways in in the city of Brighton famous for their many small shops that include antique & jewelry shops as well as cafes, restaurants and bars. (Overnight Brighton) B
Day 11: Sunday 5 July, Brighton – Northiam – Cranbrook– Brighton
- Great Dixter House and Gardens, Northiam
- Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Cranbrook
Today is a day of iconic English gardens. The Lloyd family developed Great Dixter early in the 20th century from an original design by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Today it is more famous for the plantings established by Christopher Lloyd documented in his many classic gardening books. The residence comprises a mid 15th-century hall house, typical of the Weald of Kent, to the south side of which a second, early 16th-century yeoman’s house was grafted. Lutyens enjoyed using local materials and retained farm buildings like oast houses, cowsheds, barns and outbuildings. Around these he designed his garden, featuring a sunken garden, topiary and yew hedges. Christopher Lloyd managed Great Dixter from the 1950s and was noted for his innovative approach and introduction of concepts like the mixed border and meadow garden, and his replacement of the rose garden with schemes using less fashionable plants like cannas and dahlias. We will investigate his full range of planting schemes. Although Lloyd is no longer present in the garden his gardener Fergus Garrett has achieved what some consider even better results in recent years. Great Dixter was chosen by Alan Titchmarsh as one of his 10 Best British Gardens and is widely acclaimed by plantsmen and women worldwide.
We next drive to Sissinghurst Castle Garden, one of England’s greatest garden delights. Sissinghurst was the garden of poet and writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson, journalist, MP and diplomat, and is possibly the most influential of all 20th-century gardens. Built around the remnants of an Elizabethan castle, of which the tower remains a central garden feature, the garden is divided into distinct spaces where a formality established by Nicolson is clothed by a romantic planting style pursued by Sackville-West. The garden retains its original charm and romance with such delights as its parterre, white garden, cottage garden, nut walk and orchard. We shall explore Sissinghurst’s many hidden corners, sumptuous planting combinations and the view from the top of the tower, always a good starting point for those who wish to understand the garden’s layout. In the late afternoon, we travel to Brighton. (Overnight Brighton) BL
Windsor - 3 nights
Day 12: Monday 6 July, Brighton – Henfield – Molesey – Windsor
- Sussex Prairie Garden, Henfield
- RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Molesey
Sussex Prairie Garden is a large 8 acre garden featuring swathes of herbaceous perennials. Opened in 2009, it is Britain’s largest “Prairie,” or “Naturalistic,” garden and is the work of the owners Paul & Pauline who enlisted help from family and friends to plant as many as 35,000 plants. Sussex Prairie features large groupings of each plant variety in muted colours that complement the surrounding landscape. Guests at Sussex Prairie will be provided with a picnic lunch as well as an explanation of what is meant by ‘naturalistic planting’ and advice for enthusiastic planters.
In the early afternoon we drive to Windsor to check into the Royal Windsor Hotel for the final two nights of the tour. During the afternoon, we will have time to rest as the exciting Royal Horticultural Society Hampton Court Palace Flower Show awaits us in East Molesey in Sussex. This is the largest of all the RHS shows and is said to be the largest garden show in the world. With more space than RHS Chelsea, RHS Hampton Court offers more interactive displays and has fast become one of the most enjoyable RHS shows for keen gardeners. We will visit the show on the exclusive Preview Evening from 5pm which will provide us with a sneak peak of one of England’s most loved events on the Garden calendar. Our tour leader, Jim Fogarty, having won Best in Show at RHS Hampton Court in 2014, will be able to provide expert commentary and give an insight into what it takes to exhibit at the world’s largest garden show. As well as meeting exhibitors and viewing show gardens & floral displays, we will see contemporary and highly expressive conceptual gardens and world gardens. Choose to dine at the Champagne & Seafood Restaurant or at the abundance of food courts and food trucks for something more relaxing. The Preview evening includes live music and entertainment with the culmination being the incredible musical fireworks finale in the twilight sky at 10pm. With Hampton Court Palace providing a spectacular backdrop, this will be a night to remember. (Overnight Windsor) BLD
Day 13: Tuesday 7 July, Windsor – Henley-on-Thames – White Waltham – Windsor
- Crockmore House, Henley-on-Thames: designed by Christopher Bradley-Hole (exclusive private visit)
- Waltham Place: designed by Henk Gerritsen
Christopher Bradley-Hole’s design at Crockmore House Garden was high on our list when planning this itinerary. The garden was constructed in 1999 and planted in 2000. Bradley-Hole, a master at creating contemporary landscapes, has cleverly used a series of curves that forms the basis of the design, extending the curves out as far as the fields using ornamental grasses to seamlessly blend with the landscape beyond. The garden has become immensely popular with photographers as well as students of Landscape Architecture and design worldwide. The Honourable Julia Crockmore, who owns this flamboyant, ambitious, and modern garden, will provide us with lunch, and will personally show us around the gardens. Ms Crockmore graduated from the Oxford College of Garden Design in 2005 with a post-graduate in residential landscape architecture.
Later in the afternoon, we are taken to Waltham Place, a biodynamic and organic farm that includes a series of walled gardens. As is always the case with biodynamic philosophy, the gardeners at Waltham place have worked with nature to produce the many different facets of the gardens. The gardens include a Japanese Garden, a Butterfly Garden, a Kitchen Garden, Friar’s Walk and much more. The Dutch garden designer Henk Gerritsen, renowned for the Priona gardens in the Netherlands, was commissioned in 1999 to transform the formal gardens using his principles of natural plantings reflecting his idea that nature is not symmetrical but irregular, free and whimsical. Driven to impress visitors with a garden free of fertilisers and pesticides, without the endless battle against weeds and predators, a need arose to find suitable plants robust enough. These he found via the celebrated garden designer and plants man Piet Oudolf. Many of the plants in the ornamental gardens at Waltham Place have been introduced through Piet Oudolf’s nursery in the Netherlands. (Overnight Windsor) BL
Day 14: Wednesday 8 July, Windsor – Bedmond– Windsor
- Serge Hill, Bedmond: Private Garden of Tom Stuart-Smith (exclusive private visit)
- The Barn, Bedmond: Private Garden of Tom Stuart-Smith (exclusive private visit)
- Farewell meal at local restaurant
The tour finishes with an exclusive visit to two of Tom Stuart-Smith’s very own private gardens, Serge Hill & The Barn. Both providing diverse examples of Stuart-Smith’s work, each of the gardens displays unique characteristics. Serge Hill is where Tom grew up and has been in Tom Stuart-Smith’s family since 1927, when his grandfather purchased the estate. This is a walled garden that began as mainly a vegetable growing area, but has now developed colourful rose borders with a variety of inspiring colour combinations in the planting. The Barn, in contrast, features naturalistic planting and was created by Tom and his wife Sue in the 1980s. Thanks to their tireless and creative work, the garden has grown from an ‘arable field’ into a fully mature garden, with incredible and inspiring displays of modern colour. (Overnight Windsor) BD
Day 15: Thursday 9 July, Depart Windsor
- Airport transfer for participants departing on the ASA ‘designated’ flight.
Our tour ends in Windsor. Passengers travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to the airport for the return flight to Australia. Alternatively, you may wish to extend your stay in the UK. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B