19 days
British Isles
Level 3 - Moderate

Small Group Tour of British Gardens

An 18-day small group tour of British gardens. This tour  includes opening day of the Chatsworth Royal Horticultural show on day 6 of the itinerary.

For the last few years, Odyssey has offered a tour to the Chelsea flower show and surrounding areas. The Chatsworth RHS show and the high level of interest in gardens and garden design  resulted in Odyssey offering  this small group tour of British gardens for you to enjoy.

About the Tour

Commencing in Edinburgh, the small group tour of British gardens visits 33 locations across Scotland, England and Wales. At each location you meet with some of the best horticultural and garden design guides in Britain. During your visit you have the opportunity to have them share their stories of the history of gardens from Capability Brown to contemporary garden design today.

As with many of Odyssey’s tours. the small group tour of British Gardens will provide the traveller at the conclusion of the tour with a overview of more than 3 centuries of garden design in Britain.

The itinerary for the British Gardens small group tour

Small group tour of British gardens commences with 3 nights in Edinburgh, followed by Alnwick, then Buxton,  as our base for four nights then  onto Chester,  followed by Stratford Upon Avon, Oxford, three nights and finally London, for  four nights.

On the small group tour of British gardens we have chosen the best gardens across UK. The majority of those visited are today under the stewardship of the National Trust. The gardens selected are recognised by commentators  and recognised all over the world as the best to visit. During your  tour you visit and learn about  the work of Capability Brown, Humpry Repton and Gertrude Jekyll. The tour moves from  grand  landscape designs to the finesse of planting achieved by the Nicholson's at Sissinghurst.

Britain is famous all over the world for its gardens, many of them have an historic background.  This  small group tour has been designed for gardens lovers.  You will experience during your visits many different gardens types. You get to enjoy talks about the gardens with local guides or often with talks with the head gardener or the equivalent : some of the gardens are contemporary in design, others are more classical, baroque or Italian style each with a unique history.

The small group tour of British gardens is just one of 10 garden tours offered each year by Odyssey Travellers to Europe. This small group tour is for the senior or mature couple or solo traveller to enjoy.

If you'd like to learn more about touring Great Britain, read our blog post here!

For more images of the kinds of gardens we will visit, please click here.  For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

Visit more than 30 gardens and parks with specialist local guides on this tour
Spend a day at Wisley RHS gardens
Experience the sights and delights of the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show
Take in the remarkable baroque garden at Powis Castle, the last word in formal horticultural style.
Visit Humpry Repton, Capability Brown & Gertrude Jekyll gardens and landscapes

Overview: Arrive in Edinburgh and make own way to hotel. Program leader welcome and introduction with group dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight Haymarket Hotel or similar

Overview: Today with a specialist local guide with the tour  for the day we visit and learn about  3 unique gardens in and around Edinburgh including the Royal Botanic gardens, Dirleton Castle and gardens and Holyrood park and Arthurs seat.

Accommodation: Overnight Haymarket Hotel or similar

Overview: Today with a specialist local guide with the tour  for the day we visit and learn about  3 unique gardens in and around Edinburgh including  Edinburgh Royal Castle, Scone Palace and Glamis Castle

Accommodation: Overnight  Haymarket Hotel or similar

Overview: Transfer to Cartington. The group visits  Craigside House and gardens before travelling on to Alnwick. In the afternoon the tour has a short lecture on the work of Capability Brown at Alnwick castle  and visits the acclaimed contemporary  Poison Garden in the grounds of the castle.

Group Dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight  White Swan Hotel or similar

Overview: From Alnwick the tour travels to Buxton for four nights.

The tour pauses at Visits Northumberliandia – largest open air sculpture featuring the work of Charles Jencks with “The lady of the North” Our local guide discusses the design and approach to designing and completing this significant piece of landscape sculpture. This is a 45 acre reclaimation project completed at the turn of this century.

This afternoon the tour visit Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden.

Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for over 400 years, until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Group Dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight  White Swan Hotel or similar

Overview: A full day at the opening day of Chatsworth Royal Horticultural Show.

Accommodation: Overnight  White Swan Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we visit with a local guide Blakewell gardens and Haddon Manor.

Haddon Manor has been described as “the most complete and most interesting medieval house of its period in England. Our specialist guide will share more of this story with you during your visit.

In late afternoon the tour joins the gardner of Shugborough gardens for a talk and walk through the estate of this acclaimed garden.

Accommodation: Overnight White Swan Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we visit with local guides the Yorkshire sculptural park. This is an open-air gallery showing work by British and international artists, including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Regarded as a leading international centre for modern and contemporary art.

This afternoon the tour visits Renishaw Hall for a guided Hall tour with garden and museum. Renishaw Hall Gardens are Italian in design and were laid out over 100 years ago by Sir George Sitwell. The garden is divided into ‘rooms’ with yew hedges, flanked with classical statues. These ‘rooms’ have been filled with an impressive collection of plants. The garden is set in acres of parkland with lakeside and nature walks alongside English herbaceous borders and ornamental ponds.

Accommodation: Overnight  White Swan Hotel or similar

Overview: Ness botanical gardens and then the Bodnant Gardens.

Bondant gardens is famous for its Labrnum arch, but the Rhodendron collection and four national collections make this garden an interesting stop on the tour.

Group Dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight  BW Hallmark Hotel Chester Westminster or similar

Overview: Visit Powis Castle and Gardens and then the afternoon the tour visits Hidcote manor.

The garden at Powis has survived the 18th century reaction against the formality of earlier garden design, and Powis is thus one of the few places in Britain where a true Baroque garden may still be fully appreciated. It seems the terraces were hewn from the rock in the early 1670s under the direction of Frenchman Adrian Duvall of Rouen, although William Winde may also have been involved, up until his death in 1722. The concept for formal or terraces was introduced into northern Europe from the gardens of 16th century Italy.
Hidcote is a famous Arts and Crafts garden, made c1905. Lawrence Johnston was a keen plantsman with a strong sense of artistic composition. Yew, holly and beech hedges are used to define a series of garden rooms. One room is occupied only by a circular raised pool. Others have a character deriving from their inspired planting. The standard of building craftsmanship is high and the number of plants which have the name ‘Hidcote’ point to Johnston’s expertise.

Group Dinner.

Overview: Visit Oxford University Botanic Gardens and then Blenheim palace.

The University of Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in Great Britain and one of the oldest scientific gardens in the world. The garden was founded in 1621 as a physic garden growing plants for medicinal research. Today it contains over 8,000 different plant species on 1.8 hectares (4½ acres). It is one of the most diverse yet compact collections of plants in the world and includes representatives from over 90% of the higher plant families.

Blenheim Palace is a monumental country house situated in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England. It is the principal residence of the dukes of Marlborough, and the only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. The palace, one of England’s largest houses, was built between 1705 and circa 1722. Blenheim Palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.[2]

Designed in the rare, and short-lived, English Baroque style, architectural appreciation of the palace is as divided today as it was in the 1720s.[3] It is unique in its combined usage as a family home, mausoleum and national monument. The palace is also notable as the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill.

The gardens and grounds where set out by Capability Brown after Vanburgh and other designers have followed over time to set out this palimpsest landscape of today.

Group Dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight  Royal Oxford Hotel or similar

Overview: Visit Ascott Historic Gardens and then Waddesdon manor

Ascott House was originally a farm house, built in the reign of James I and known as “Ascott Hall”. Leopold de Rothschild, who transformed it over the following decades into the substantial, but informal, country house it is today.

Nearby is Waddesdon manor which the tour visits in the afternoon. This house and garden is the second Rothschild property visited today.

Accommodation: Overnight  Royal Oxford Hotel or similar

Overview: Today the tour commences with a tour of  Stowe.

The Landscape Garden at Stowe was created in three main phases, showing the development of garden design in 18th-century England (this is the only garden where all three designers worked):
From 1711 to c.1735 Charles Bridgeman was the garden designer[29] and John Vanbrugh the architect.
In 1731 William Kent. Kent’s architectural work was in the newly fashionable Palladian style.
In 1741, Capability Brown was appointed head gardener[33]. He worked with Gibbs until 1749 and with Kent until the latter’s death in 1748. Brown departed in the autumn of 1751 to start his independent career as a garden designer[34].

Stowe are today a significant example of the English garden style.

Afternoon at your leisure.

Accommodation: Overnight  Royal Oxford Hotel or similar

Overview: Today the tour visits  Wrest Park for a talk on English houses and Capability Brown.

Group Dinner.

Accommodation: Overnight  London Lodge Hotel or similar

Overview: Wisley RHS garden tour in the morning. Wisley is now a large and diverse garden. In addition to numerous formal and informal decorative gardens, several glasshouses and an extensive arboretum, it includes small scale “model gardens” which are intended to show visitors what they can achieve in their own gardens, and a trials field where new cultivars are assessed.

Afternoon free.

Accommodation: Overnight  London Lodge Hotel or similar

Overview: Today the group visits Edenbridge.

At Leylands gardens we meet Roger Platts. Roger Platts is a leading garden designer in the UK.

Roger Platt has established an enviable reputation for award winning design inspirational consultancy and advice and uncompromising standards in gardening. Working in Kent, Surrey, Sussex and throughout the UK, a naturalistic style combines generous planting and traditional concepts to create the classic English country garden.
This afternoon we visit nearby Hever castle set in 125 acres of glorious grounds at Hever Castle. Marvel at the Pompeiian wall and classical statuary in the Italian Garden; admire the giant topiary chess set and inhale the fragrance of over 4,000 rose bushes in the quintessential English Rose Garden. The Loggia, overlooking the 38-acre lake, is the perfect spot to relax before exploring the many cascades, grottoes and fountains. A stroll through the Tudor Garden, Blue Corner or Rhododendron Walk, provide colour and interest throughout the year. Wander further afield and enjoy Sunday Walk and Church Gill Walk that follow the course of a stream through peaceful woodland or Anne Boleyn’s Walk, with its impressive collection of trees planted more than 100 years ago.

Accommodation: Overnight  London Lodge Hotel or similar

Overview: Today  on the last day we travel out to Sissinghurst castle A Gertrude Jekyll inspired English garden. Our local guide will discuss with us the planting concept of Gertrude Jekyll and the work or Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicolson in creating the garden set out before you today.

In the afternoon we visit Bayham Old abbey. This landscape was set out by Humpry Repton who was famous for his red books.

Farewell dinner in London.

Accommodation: Overnight  London Lodge Hotel or similar

Overview: Tour concludes after breakfast.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 17 nights accommodation.
  • Meals as indicated on the itinerary.
  • All field trips and associated entry fees as per the itinerary.
  • All travel is in modern, air-conditioned coaches.
  • Services of a tour leader for the duration of tour.
  • Gratuities and necessary tips.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • International airfares.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.

Gardens of Britain map

Small Group Tour of British Gardens
British garden castle moat
Britain garden with small canal
Oxford High Street England
British library interior
Garden britain autumn sunset
Britain gardens flowers

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