Early Summer Gardens in Flanders

17 – 22 June 2024

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Flanders was an important centre for the study of botany in the 16th century and – notably – many new fruit varieties were created there. To this day, the region continues to influence the practice of horticulture.

In this delightful early summer tour, we discover recently created private gardens, the renowned Arboretum Kalmthout and a castle garden restored by Dutch designer Mien Ruys.

Initially, we visit the Limburg district of East Flanders, staying in its capital, the small town of Hasselt. Our base is the stylish De Groene Hendrickx Hotel created from an old gin distillery in the wonderful Zwiefelmarkt, an area noted for its attractive half-timbered buildings.

We continue to the beautiful city of Ghent, a medieval and Renaissance trading centre that was developed over the centuries between three rivers and was formerly the stronghold of the counts of Flanders. Here, we stay at the well restored Hotel 1898 The Post. In addition to visits to fascinating private gardens, we enjoy a guided tour of Ghent, walking through its historic cobbled streets and crossing many picturesque canals.

We travel to Belgium by Eurostar train from London St Pancras and use a comfortable small coach for visits.

The group will have a maximum of 14 participants.


Morning departure to Brussels. On arrival we begin our tour with a visit to the private garden of landscape architect Alain Dor near Hasselt. This very personal garden has different themed rooms, clipped hedges and superb mature trees planted around the family house. Check in to the Hotel De Groene Hendrickx in the old centre of Hasselt for two nights. A short talk over an aperitif is followed by dinner together at a local canal-side restaurant.


Morning visits to two private gardens north of Hasselt in Limburg. The first, created around the Cluyssen family home on the edge of woodland, is richly planted in an exquisite series of sections, perfectly expressing the owners’ interest and passion. We go on to the country garden of landscape designers, Marc and Gaby, where well clipped hedges are an excellent backdrop to different garden rooms. Return to Hasselt at lunchtime. Our afternoon visit is to the town’s Japanese garden, donated by the city of Itami, and designed in traditional 17th century style by Takuyuki Inoue.
Dinner together in the hotel restaurant.


Depart with luggage to West Flanders for a guided visit of the Arboretum Kalmthout. Created in the 1860s, it was then developed and planted with extensive collections of trees by the De Belders family. Lunch in the garden café. Afternoon visit to a private garden designed by Dina Deferme, one of Belgium’s most noted garden designers using the backdrop of mature trees. Continue to the city of Ghent to check-in to Hotel 1898 The Post.
Dinner together in a local restaurant.


Morning visit to Kasteel van Oostkerke near Bruges. An historic polder site, the garden was
initially restored by Mien Ruys, who used additional perspectives and an axis to integrate the historic aspect of the garden with his introduction of mixed borders. We continue to a country garden laid out around an old Cistercian abbey property, with its romantic atmosphere and moat around the house, and stand of poplar trees. Lunch in a nearby village restaurant.
We continue to the private garden of Chris Ghyselen, a noted local landscape designer, where layers of themed sections have been created gradually over time in the setting of a wildflower meadow above the house. We enjoy delicious refreshments before returning to Ghent. Evening at leisure to explore this most attractive town.


Morning guided visit of the historic centre of Ghent before we set out for Domaine du Ooievaar near Kortrijk – a plant collector’s garden, where good design is also paramount. The red brick, traditional house is built around a formal central courtyard. Pleached limes enclose a parterre of box hedges with yew pyramids, where exuberant planting and vibrant perennials and grasses give colour and movement; an orchard and a more informal area lie beyond. We return to Ghent and enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant.


Morning departure to Brussels for the return journey by Eurostar to London St Pancras.
(Arrangements can be made at the hotel to extend your stay in Ghent over the weekend).

Hotel De Groene Hendrickx, Hasselt
Hotel 1898 The Post, Ghent
Activity Level

Mostly level paths in gardens, some steps. Nature and game drives in open Landcruisers.


£2,740 per person sharing

Supplement for single occupation of double room £690

What's included

All transport (train and minibus), ensuite accommodation. All delicious meals as indicated, all visits, guides and hotel tips.

What's NOT included

Alcoholic and soft drinks except the first evening aperitif and mineral water. Travel insurance to include full Covid cover and to be taken out on payment of the deposit. Driver’s tip.


The climate in June should be summery and warm with the possibility of occasional showers. Layered clothing is recommended, with a waterproof jacket in case of a shower and good shoes. Smart casual for the evening.

Meals included are shown as B breakfast, L lunch and D dinner.

Guests often meet for drinks before dinner (optional). Wifi is available in the hotel.