On arrival at Heathrow airport, a private transfer will take you to our overnight hotel, the Macdonald Windsor Hotel. In the evening, join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.
Wednesday: Royal Chelsea Flower Show
Today we enjoy Member’s Day entry to the Royal Horticultural Society’s most sought-after event, the Chelsea Flower Show, held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Here we discover the finest in garden design, listen to superb expert advice and soak up the unique atmosphere of this world-famous floral extravaganza. The Great Pavilion is the centrepiece of the show, containing a wide-ranging mix of vibrant displays, while the Show Gardens illustrate the exceptional talent of a handful of carefully selected garden designers, delivering a broad range of design styles and themes.
Later we check into the Kimpton Fitzroy London Hotel, where we stay for the next two nights.
Thursday: Kew Gardens and Sky Garden
A springtime stroll is the order of the morning with a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Dating back to the early 18th century as a royal palace, Kew Gardens is now a globally renowned institution for plant-based research. Exploding with color and with no less than 50,000 plants, there are a range of different areas to explore including the Arboretum, the peaceful Japanese garden and the remarkable indoor rainforest climbing within the Palm House.
Later we have an early dinner at the very top of the Sky Garden, London’s highest public garden with spectacular views over the city. With stunning landscaped gardens, observation decks and delicious food, it’s a lovely place to spend an evening as the sun sets over the bustling capital.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Friday: RHS Garden Wisley and Chartwell
After checking out of the hotel we head to RHS Garden Wisley, the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship garden, gifted to the Society in 1903. Extending over 240 peaceful acres, from beautiful rose and demonstration gardens to tranquil tracts of woodland, Wisley offers a wealth of inspirational ideas on design, innovation and cultivation techniques. The state-of-the-art Glasshouse is divided into three main planting zones representing desert, tropical and temperate climates. We discover more during our exciting guided tour with one of the knowledgeable gardeners.
This afternoon we visit Chartwell, Sir Winston Churchill’s beloved home from 1924 to the time of his death. The house is still home to many of the great statesman’s personal and political mementos, including an amazing collection of gifts he received from other world leaders. We enjoy a guided tour of the property before discovering the idyllic gardens, which feature Churchill’s personal painting studio hidden in the grounds, the romantic Golden Rose Avenue, the special walled garden, the lakes and the pretty water features.
We then check into the Falstaff Hotel, where we stay for the next three nights.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Saturday: Sissinghurst Castle Garden and Godinton House and Gardens
An exclusive out-of-hours tour awaits at the spectacular Sissinghurst Castle Garden. Created in the 1930s by novelist Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson around the ruins of an Elizabethan manor house, these world-famous gardens are laid out as a series of individually planted ‘rooms’, including a fragrant Herb Garden and Rose Garden.
Our next stop is Godinton House, a unique Jacobean property incorporating a medieval hall and ornate carvings, where we enjoy a Ploughman’s lunch. This gem is a much-loved home where each room reflects the tastes of those who have lived here with an excellent collection of furniture, art, and curios. Outside, we take a guided tour of the tranquil gardens, surrounded by ancient parkland and sprinkled with herbaceous borders, ornamental trees and a lily pond plus enchanting Italian, Wild, Walled and Rose Gardens.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Sunday: Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, Derek Jarman’s Garden and Hole Park
Today we step back in time aboard the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, known as Kent’s Mainline in Miniature. Attracting crowds since 1927, the railway operates the world’s most complete collection of one-third full-sized steam locomotives and combines the sights and sounds of steam travel with the beautiful Kent countryside. We meander along from Hythe, through the famous and unique landscapes of Romney Marsh, to the otherworldly Dungeness, classified by the Met Office as the country’s only desert.
Here we visit Derek Jarman’s magical garden, featuring everything from clusters of sea kale to stone circles filled with poppies and more. The renowned film director and artist created his horticultural wonder on the shingle shores of Dungeness in a postmodern style, once musing that ‘paradise haunts gardens and some gardens are paradises. Mine is one of them. Others are like bad children, spoilt by their parents, over-watered and covered with noxious chemicals.’
Afterward we continue to Hole Park, a delightful private home situated in a picturesque parkland setting. For the past four generations, Hole Park has been owned by the Barham family and this afternoon we meet the current owner, are treated to lunch, explore the magnificent house and enjoy a guided tour of the garden with the Head Gardener. We admire the wide range of colours from beautiful blooms such as tulips, roses, clematis, wisteria, rhododendrons and azaleas, bursting with fragrance and set against the far-reaching views over the hills and woodland.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Monday: Lullingstone Castle & the World Garden and Savill Garden
After breakfast, we make our way to Lullingstone Castle for a guided tour. Recorded in the Domesday Book, it is one of the oldest family estates in England. The present manor house was built in 1497 and has been home to the same family ever since. Altered extensively in Queen Anne’s time, the house boasts fine state rooms and beautiful grounds, including a stunning 15-acre lake and the World Garden, home to thousands of rare plants collected from around the world by Tom Hart Dyke, the current heir, planted in their respective continents of origin. Incredibly, the ideas and plans for this garden were started during Tom’s nine-month kidnap ordeal in the early 2000s, a result of rare plant hunting in the Colombian jungle. There are plenty of unique species, including the world’s most dangerous plant, the hottest chilli and the rarest gum tree.
For our last visit we head to The Savill Garden, Britain’s finest ornamental garden in the heart of Windsor Great Park and an oasis of designed gardens and woodland. Created in the 1930s, acres upon acres of interconnected areas include the Hidden Gardens, Spring Wood, the Summer Gardens, the New Zealand Garden, Summer Wood and The Glades. The Rose Garden is an extra special addition, opened by Elizabeth II in 2010 and perfumed with the most beautiful rose-bed scents.
Later, we check back into the Macdonald Windsor Hotel, where we enjoy a farewell dinner together.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow Airport for your return flight home.
Please note: the order of excursions is subject to change and guided tours are subject to restrictions.
Email us today to reserve at BKennedy@Royal-oak.org or call 212-480-2889 ext. 203