Susan Worner Tours

2020 Programme

Our 2020 programme offers specialist destinations featuring outstanding gardens and exhilarating natural history tours with a superb range of guided tailor-made itineraries in Namibia and Botswana.

Garden Tours

Our chosen destinations are Italy, France and Morocco. Tours to France are by rail and we offer a new programme to the hills north of Lyon. The tour to Morocco has been extended to include more in-depth visits of the gardens of Taroudant. We discover an eclectic range of well-designed gardens notable for their admirable structure and unusual plants. A real bonus is to meet the owners or head gardeners of private gardens to discuss their ideas and work. Touches of culture are added to our itineraries with visits to sites of historic interest. We are well known for our choice of charming hotels, mouth-watering menus and meticulous attention to detail.

  1. Morocco – Gardens of Marrakech & The Atlas Mountains

    21 – 29 March 2020

    Morocco is a country of contrasts: The buzz of the medina and exotic souks in Marrakech, hidden gardens, long views to the mountains and warm, hospitable people happy to share their history over a glass of mint tea.

    Our first hotel is near Taroudant, south of the Atlas Mountains: Dar al Hossoun is a riad guest house with an amazing garden designed by Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières, well-known French garden architects and designers. We discover a good selection of private gardens nearby and visit the beautiful villa and estate of the late Chilean artist Claudio Bravo...


  1. Morocco – Gardens of Marrakech, Taroudant and The Atlas Mountains

    30 March – 07 April 2020

    Morocco is a country of contrasts: the buzz of the medina and exotic souks in Marrakech, hidden gardens, long views to the mountains and warm, hospitable people happy to share their history over a glass of mint tea.

    The properties visited offer a balance between intimate courtyard gardens with vibrant plants, colourful tiles and splashing water, and country gardens known as jnane (gardens of paradise) with an emphasis on orchards and decorative plantings of herbs. We also discover a number of newly created gardens have emerged recently...


  1. Italian Lakes – Spring Gardens around Lakes Como and Maggiore

    21 – 28 April 2020

    Concentrating on the wealth of beautiful gardens around Lakes Como and Maggiore, the tour offers a balance between interesting botanic gardens and those of classic Renaissance and later Italian style. The exuberant spring flowers are set against breath-taking scenery with many varieties of azalea, wisteria, cornus, and magnolia – a spectacular yellow variety is particularly eye-catching. At the northern end of Lake Maggiore we cross into Switzerland to visit the impressive Eisenhut Botanical Garden and Nursery. An insubric climate, acid soil and sunny cold winters enable the rich variety of plants found in the region to thrive...


  1. Secret Gardens of Venice and the Veneto

    04 – 09 May 2020

    A magical tour of gardens, staying in the centre of Venice in the superb, historic Hotel Palazzo Stern on the Grand Canal. Delightful gardens are hidden behind high walls on the Canal, on the Giudecca or down small canals on the islands in the extensive lagoon. We discover the special variety of artichoke grown on the island of Sant’Erasmo while enjoying a day on a ‘Bragozzo’ boat in the lagoon.

    The history and beauty of the Veneto region are complemented by the elegance of the formal gardens in Venice. We have chosen country gardens that harmonise with their villas and feature interesting structured designs. We discover the Brenta Canal where Venetians built their country houses in the seventeenth century, going on to Padua to visit the exceptionally beautiful University Botanical Garden, the oldest of its kind in Europe...


  1. Provence – Private Gardens of Leading Designers based in Hotel La Mirande, Avignon

    01 – 06 June 2020

    A particularly good selection of private gardens in Provence created by leading local landscape designers has been chosen for this tour. Those in the Luberon are influenced by the late Nicole de Vésian, who created her personal garden, La Louve, in Bonnieux. We visit an impressive Land Art garden near Eygalières at the foot of Les Alpilles designed by Alain David Idoux, a pupil of de Vésian. In addition we discover gardens created by Dominique Lafourcade, an influential designer from St Rémy de Provence.


  1. Paris – Chateaux and Historic Gardens and modern designers influence

    08 – 13 June 2020

    Our tour to Paris in June is well timed to see the gardens at their best. We combine a number of them in the capital with fascinating gardens of châteaux in the surrounding countryside, adding elements of the influence of modern designers such as Patrick Blanc – renowned for his vertical garden – and Gilles Clément’s prairie-style designs. Roses will be a feature, notably the exuberant and profuse displays at Jardins de Bagatelle.

    We stay in a charming, small hotel in the 7ème district near the Eiffel Tower and the River Seine. We enjoy dinner in the rooftop restaurant of the Musée du Quai de Branly - and hopefully the sunset will be perfect...


  1. Lyonnaise Region – Gardens in the Hills North of Lyon

    15 – 20 June 2020

    The rolling hills north of Lyon are notable for their exuberant private gardens set against a backdrop of woodland and rows of vines. Attractive villages are interspersed with well-known names, as this is Beaujolais country. The region is renowned for rose gardens and we have selected a number to visit. Among the highlights of our tour are the Botanical Garden in Lyon and the restored garden at Château de Cormatin.

    Our hotel, Château de Pizay, also has a beautiful garden with chequer-board clipped yews and well-planted borders; it is surrounded by the château’s wine estate. The hotel is welcoming and comfortable, and it features an excellent restaurant.


  1. Tuscany – Gardens of Florence, Pienza & Lucca

    01 – 08 September 2020

    September is a delightful season to visit Tuscany. We stay initially in the vibrant city of Florence with its art treasures, churches and markets; from there we visit beautiful secluded gardens on hillsides planted with olive trees. Situated a few minutes from the Duomo, our comfortable, welcoming hotel, Il Guelfo Bianco, is a perfect base. A former palazzo or grand town house dating from the 16th century, the hotel has been well restored and retains its frescoed ceilings and architectural features.

    We then move to Pienza, south of Siena, to visit the iconic garden La Foce created by Iris Origo and the designer Cecil Pinsent. Our hotel is situated next to a gateway in the medieval walls of the town...


  1. Normandy – Gardens of Upper Normandy and Picardy

    12 – 17 September 2020

    Upper Normandy has a wealth of remarkable gardens on the coast where the climate is mild and the soil is acid. Inland country gardens, set amongst apple orchards, rolling hills and forests, are inspirational. Of the gardens we visit, some are contemporary while others are walled potager gardens; all feature a rich variety of trees and plants arranged with great panache. They also share notably enthusiastic owners. We travel to France by Eurostar to Lille, going on to visit a fascinating private garden in Picardy before arriving in Upper Normandy.

    Our hotel is charming, comfortable and well placed in the countryside near Dieppe. Le Clos Masure is an original half-timbered Norman farmhouse and has been beautifully restored by its owners who are most welcoming...


  1. Portugal – Gardens of Lisbon, Sintra and the Douro Valley

    20 – 26 September 2020

    Our tour of formal gardens around Lisbon and Sintra – which has its own microclimate - offers contrasting landscapes, styles and vegetation. Historically, the arrival of the Moors brought remarkable garden architecture and species to Portugal, with properties enclosed by high walls and the introduction of colourful tiles, pools and citrus trees. In Lisbon the major development of gardens came later, in the eighteenth century, although the city suffered significant damage in the great earthquake of 1755. The gardens around Sintra were laid out in the following century, when natural landscape design was fashionable. We end our tour with visits in the Douro Valley in the north, surrounded by rolling hills covered with rows of vines.

Natural History Tours 

Our 2020 programme features tours to Namibia and Botswana to discover remarkable landscapes, wildlife, flora and geology. For accommodation, we have selected small, exceptional lodges offering privileged access to remote, unspoilt regions rich in wildlife.

In South Africa we visit spectacular gardens set in the extraordinary landscape of the Western Cape. We then move on to a stunning nature reserve in the Little Karoo with its wealth of wildlife and flora, ending the tour at the coast where we discover endemic fynbos (wild flowers).

  1. South Africa – The Western Cape – Exceptional Gardens and Private Reserves

    03 - 16 November 2020

    Our Western Cape tour combines beautiful gardens in springtime with the flora and wildlife in the spectacular hinterland of the Little Karoo and the mountainous coastline.
    The region has a Mediterranean climate, abundant sources of water, mostly acid soil and above all a rich indigenous flora. We visit exceptional gardens, of which some surround delightful Cape Dutch manor houses, while others are extensive plant collectors’ gardens, and yet others feature contemporary designs. Among the highlights are Kirstenbosch gardens, with a remarkable collection of indigenous plants laid out in a stunning location at the foot of the Table Mountain Range; and the recently created Babylonstoren, spectacular in both design and concept.


  1. Namibia – Safari on the Skeleton Coast – Twyfelfontein – Palmwag
    – Landscapes, Geology, Wildlife and Flora

    16 – 28 November 2020

    Namibia is a fascinating country with richly diverse landscapes, geology, wildlife, and flora including endemic species such as the extraordinary Welwitschia mirabilis plant, one of the country’s national symbols. The Skeleton Coast is the focus of our journey to the northwest - a vast, remote region – with the highlight two days based at Shipwreck Camp in an isolated coastal wilderness. Here we have a unique chance to explore the dramatic ocean shore with seal colonies and shipwrecks, and to discover desert-adapted wildlife and flora.

Numbers

We set a high priority on keeping groups to a comfortable size.

Garden tours have a maximum of 16 participants. Our specialist natural history and safari groups in Botswana and Namibia have a maximum of 10 and are accompanied by our experienced local guide.

In addition, tailor-made itineraries to Namibia and Botswana are offered for a minimum of 2 and up to 8 people, also accompanied by our expert guide, and cover 12 – 14 days. On request, we will adapt the programme to incorporate your particular interests.