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Explore classic English gardens with Christine Walkden
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HRH The Prince of Wales is well known for his love of gardening, and championing the delights of the picturesque English countryside. His own country home, Highgrove House, is a beautiful retreat set in the idyllic green hills of the Cotswolds, and on this tour you'll have a rare opportunity to see it for yourself.
You'll also visit the impressive Arts and Crafts-inspired grounds of Hidcote Manor in the company of Christine Walkden, The One Show's resident gardening expert. She'll show you around the property, pointing out the delightful features of each of the garden's distinctive outdoor 'rooms' and give a private talk with a Q&A.
At Highgrove House, you'll see how Prince Charles completely redeveloped the gardens after buying the property in 1980, creating a horticultural haven in the heart of Gloucestershire. He's surrounded the grand country home with scented wisteria, honeysuckle, jasmine and thyme, and planted an experimental wildflower meadow of around 32 different varieties of endangered native plants, such as yellow rattle and common spotted orchid.
Other excursions will include Rodmarton Manor and its eight-acre garden, the Knot Garden at Cerney House and the spectacular Tom Stuart-Smith-designed Broughton Grange. Sezincote's 'Hindu' garden, inspired by Humphry Repton, and Batsford Arboretum, round out the green-fingered itinerary.
Reasons to book
Meet Christine Walkden
Highgrove House tour
Beautiful hotel base
- Three nights' accommodation at the Oxford Witney hotel
- Exclusive talk and Q&A from Christine Walkden
- Tour of Hidcote Manor with Christine Walkden
- Three breakfasts and three dinners
- Excursions to Highgrove House, Rodmarton Manor, Sezincote, Broughton Grange, Cerney and Batsford Arboretum
Day1Visit to Cerney HouseCerney House, United Kingdom
We depart from our pick-ups points in London, Reading, Swindon and Bristol and head for our first visit, Cerney House Gardens. The centre of the garden space is a Victorian walled garden with a working kitchen garden, a herb garden, woodland and a wildflower bank. A pair of wrought iron gates in an acorn design wide grass paths and herbaceous borders leading to a Victorian gazebo. One of the most popular areas is the Knot Garden, with old roses trailing on a trellis and a laburnum arch leading to a scented garden along with four quince trees. The main borders at Cerney House are themed in a yellow colour in the centre, with gravelled paths lined by hyssop and lavender leading to the walls where old roses and climbing plants thrive. A guided tour and refreshments are included here.
We continue to our comfortable hotel in the Cotswolds. All rooms have private facilities. Dinner is served in the evening.
Day2Highgrove and RodmartonHighgrove House, United Kingdom
After breakfast this morning we will transfer to Highgrove, the country home of HRH the Prince of Wales. This will be a rare opportunity to see these fascinating gardens which of course are cultivated using wholly organic methods. Since buying the property in 1980 His Royal Highness sought the advice of a friend, Lady Salisbury, who was an experienced organic gardener well-known for her work at Cranbourne and at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. She and the Prince laid out parts of the garden with scented plants: wisteria, honeysuckle, jasmine, holboellia, lillies and thyme were chosen to surround the house. On the advice of Miriam Rothschild, another gardening expert, the Prince created an experimental wild flower meadow which already boasts around 32 different varieties of endangered native plants including ox-eye daisies, yellow rattle, common spotted orchid, meadow crane's bill and ragged robin. Every year the Prince takes on a new project to take his garden in new directions, such as his walled kitchen garden or the arboretum. Vegetable varieties loved by the Prince are grown such as Charlotte potatoes and Happil strawberries, leeks, spring cabbage, brussel sprouts and carrots. A wide variety of apples are grown from trees next to the Orchard Room, along with others gathered from the Walled Garden, including Formosa Nonpareil, Golden Knot, Cornish Aromatic and Lady's Delight.
In the afternoon we will enjoy a visit to the house and gardens of Rodmarton Manor, between Tetbury and Cirencester. This is an 'Arts and Crafts' house with a fine eight-acre garden comprising a series of 'outdoor rooms' each with its own distinctive character. The architect Ernest Barnsley started Rodmarton in 1909 and it became a shrine to the Cotswolds crafts movement. The grey gabled house has an intricate garden of lively atmosphere, formal in spirit but with a cottage-garden feel to it. The eight-acre Cotswold garden was originally designed as a series of outdoor rooms and is still the same today, which each part of the garden having different characters ranging from alpines in troughs, bigger plants in the rockery, lawns, a large kitchen garden and white borders, to the magnificent herbaceous borders which are constantly being re-planted and improved. There are superb vistas throughout and plenty of places to sit and admire the surroundings.
We return to the hotel in time for dinner.
Day3Hidcote and BroughtonHidcote Manor, United Kingdom
This morning, following breakfast, we visit the gardens of Hidcote Manor, near Chipping Campden. Although among the best known gardens in Britain, Hidcote Manor still has the power to startle. It was begun before World War I by an American, Major Lawrence Johnston, who devised a type of garden that many think of as quintessentially English. It is a garden built up of separate rooms, each connected to the rest but often with blazing contrasts, laid out in a disciplined setting. Everywhere something enticing is glimpsed through an opening, across a pool or framed by a gate.
Exclusive event: We will be joined here by gardener, horticulturalist and broadcaster Christine Walkden, who will accompany us as we tour the garden.
This afternoon we continue to garden at Broughton Grange. This spectacular garden is set amongst 25 acres of woodland, formal and informal gardens in an attractive Oxfordshire setting. The centre-piece is a large terraced walled garden designed by multiple Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winner Tom Stuart-Smith in 2001, who has skilfully used his vision to blend the gardens into the surrounding countryside. Good early displays of bulbs are followed by outstanding herbaceous planting in the summer. An introductory talk by a member of the gardening team and refreshments are included here.
We return to our hotel where dinner is served in the evening. Afterwards Christine Walkden will give us a talk on her experiences as a gardener and presenter and host a Question & Answer session.
Day4Batsford Arboretum and SezincoteBatsford Arboretum, United Kingdom
This morning after breakfast we check out of the hotel. Our first visit today is to Batsford Arboretum and Nursery, which contains over 1500 trees with species from all over the world. The collections cover a wide range of plants particularly from the Far East with a good collection of Acer (Maples), Bamboo, Magnolias, Prunus, Quercus (Oaks) and Sorbus. The landscaping includes rockeries, streams and waterfalls, a lake, statues and a hermits cave. Lunch is available here (not included)
Our final visit is to the house and gardens of Sezincote, a unique Indian-style house with an eastern 'Hindu' garden. The project was inspired by Humphry Repton and led to his 1808 book Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton. Repton favoured the style partly for its novelty and partly because neither the Grecian nor the Gothic styles, then popular, were associated with palaces. Sezincote has a temple with a figure of the goddess Souriya, a bronze serpent, Brahmin bulls, a mushroom-shaped fountain, a conservatory with minarets and an unusual curved orangery. Graham Stuart Thomas advised on the planting design. Thomas Daniell, famous as a painter of Indian scenery, designed the Indian Bridge and the Indian Temple. Repton is associated with the project but the only evidence for his professional involvement is some mention of Sezincote in his writing and a sketch for the South Garden. A guided tour of the house in included followed by time to explore the gardens.
Following our visit we will return to our original pick-up points with arrival due in the early evening.
Oxford Witney Hotel
A stylish and modern Hotel in Witney
Just a short walk from the historic centre of the town, Oxford Witney Hotel offers great accommodation at a great value. Its close proximity to Oxford, Burford, and the Cotswolds makes it the ideal base for travelling throughout Oxfordshire, while elegant en-suite bedrooms are perfect for a tranquil night's rest at the end of the day.
Enjoy a delicious meal in the contemporary Brasserie restaurant or maybe a light snack and refreshing drink in the bar and lounge. There is a wide range of leisure facilities available, including a heated swimming pool, spa bath, steam room, and sauna.