Our Italian Garden Tours are always in demand. Sometimes it is due to Monty Don’s Italian Garden programmes. The beautiful regions, local people and their gardens are fascinating and we also chose restaurants with seasonal, locally grown produce.
18 – 25 April 2017
Concentrating on the wealth of beautiful gardens around Lakes Como and Maggiore in Italy, and Switzerland to the north, this tour gives a balance between interesting botanic gardens and those of classic Renaissance and later Italian style. Sheltered by high Alps to the north, the sharply varied seasonal temperatures and the humidity of the lakes provide excellent growing conditions. The exuberant spring flowers are set against breathtaking scenery including many varieties of azalea, wisteria, cornus and magnolia – a spectacular yellow variety is particularly eye-catching.
We commence at the delightful, family-run Hotel Florence in the lakeside village of Bellagio, overlooking Lake Como and the mountains. We then transfer to the very comfortable Hotel Cannero on the quiet Maggiore lakeside, run by Signora Gallinotto and her family.
Beat Fischer, our Swiss botanist, will lead this tour. His knowledge of the region and its gardens and plants is recounted with great enthusiasm. Beat is now responsible for the Botanic Gardens in Berne.
This tour still remains one of our most popular Italian Garden Tours.
28 September – 05 October 2017
Springtime in Sicily – the mythic garden of Persephone – is abundant with colour and luminosity. We visit gardens in the east of the island, some created by the English in former times, others planted more recently, and add some cultural elements to the programme.
An island of great contrasts, Sicily has been invaded by the Greeks, Romans, Normans and Spaniards, who have all influenced its culture and character. The warm spring weather encourages luxuriant growth on terraced hillside gardens, the dramatic sweeping green hills of the interior have an abundance of wild flowers.
We stay at the most comfortable, welcoming Hotel Villa Belvedere, in the attractive town of Taormina perched high above the sea, and with a verdant garden. Superb views overlook the bay and Mount Etna. The island of Ortigia is our base for a few days in a beautiful historical part of Siracusa at the well-situated Grand Hotel.
01 – 06 May 2017 & 30 May – 04 June 2017
A magical tour of gardens, staying in the centre of Venice in the superb historical Hotel Palazzo Stern on the Grand Canal.
The history and beauty of the Veneto region, combined with the elegance of the formal gardens, provide the background to this tour. Gardens chosen complement their villa and have interesting structured design.
We discover the Brenta, where Venetians built their country houses in the seventeenth century, those near the rolling Euganean hills, and discover secret gardens around the canals and lagoon of Venice.
Our hotel is in the Dorsodoro district of Venice; overlooking the Grand Canal, the terrace is particularly delightful for breakfast or an aperitivo. The Ca’ Rezzonico museum, the Accademia and Peggy Guggenheim galleries are nearby. We use boats and walk on narrow paths, sometimes along canals, often discovering a lovely square. The tour will be led by Susan with Martina Boffelli, our Venetian guide.
Gardens of Provence is our featured French Garden Tour this year. The gardens are all privately owned and rarely visited; leading designers were involved in the creation of the gardens ingeniously planting amongst pencil cypress, olive trees and rows of lavender. Hotel La Mirande in Avignon is an exceptional hotel and a perfect base for us.
18 – 23 September 2017
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 Nicole de Vesian’s style including a visit to her personal garden La Louve. Farmhouse or mas gardens are featured around Les Alpilles restored by local designers. An impressive Land Art designed garden near Eygalières is a highlight.
Cypress trees, country roads lined with majestic plane trees, olive trees and vines, with the backdrop of craggy limestone hills or forested mountains are just part of the superb Provence landscape. The climate is a challenge with hot summers, the fierce Mistral blowing down the Rhone valley, lack of water, and even cold winters. The gardens are stunning.
We are based in Avignon in a most gracious, beautifully restored hotel just behind the Palais des Papes. Hotel La Mirande, originally built in the eighteenth century, is family owned and managed. Renowned for its gastronomic restaurant, seasonal local dishes are produced by the head chef, Jean-Claude Aubertin, and team.
The group consists of a maximum of 16 participants.
We visit South African gardens of the Cape in late October, their late springtime and a perfect escape from the oncoming winter in the northern hemisphere.
Mostly private gardens in stunning landscapes are enjoyed and of course Kirstenb. We add a few days in the hinterland to discover the wildlife and exceptional flora (fynbos) of the Little Karoo and the coast. An experience not to miss!
17 – 30 October 2017
The Western Cape garden tour combines well 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 and exceptional gardens. Some surround delightful Cape Dutch manor houses, others are extensive plant collectors’ gardens and some with contemporary design. Kirstenbosch garden is fascinating, with a vast collection of indigenous Cape plants and trees.
The Winelands town of Stellenbosch is our base to discover the fabulous private gardens of the Cape. Oude Werf Hotel is in the centre of Stellenbosch, a university town with beautiful Cape Dutch architecture. It has many street cafes, good shops and restaurants.
We leave for the coastal region to the superb private nature reserve lodge at Grootbos surrounded by a milkwood forest and rich coastal fynbos. There is a chance to whale watch in Gansbaai. In the remote Karoo hinterland we stay at the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve of 52,000 hectares. The reserve is involved in re-introducing and conserving wildlife eradicated over a century ago and the rich wild flora.
We use direct flights from London Heathrow to Cape Town.
Our group has a maximum of 14 participants. We use a small, comfortable coach.