Susan Worner Tours

Garden Tours

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.

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

    17 – 24 April 2018

    Concentrating on the wealth of beautiful gardens around Lakes Como and Maggiore, this tour gives 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 nursery. An insubric climate, acid soil and sunny cold winters encourages the rich variety of plants found in the region

    The first few days are spent on Lake Como at the delightful, family-run Hotel Florence in the lakeside village of Bellagio, overlooking the beautiful lake and snow-capped mountains. We then transfer to the very comfortable Hotel Cannero on the beautiful Maggiore lakeside, run by Signora Gallinotto and her family to a very high standard.

    Beat Fischer, our Swiss botanist, leads the tour with his usual enthusiasm. Beat has been curator of the University botanic gardens in Berne and has led tours for us for some years.

    Our group will have a maximum of nineteen participants. Travel between gardens is minimal and we use lake boats extensively and a minibus.

  2. Secret Gardens of Venice and the Veneto

    10 – 15 May 2018

    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.

  3. Tuscany – Gardens from Florence to Siena and Lucca

    03 - 12 September 2018

    The Medici created gardens in Florence and the surrounding hills in the 16th century with grottoes, statues, boschetti and waterworks. In later times, gardens were designed in conjunction with the villa to create a harmonious perspective, and terraces were much favoured.

    The early 20th century marked the revival of the Italian formal garden. This rich heritage offers a fascinating programme of gardens for our tour. Mostly private, they form a good balance encompassing the different periods.

    Our appreciation of these outstanding Tuscan gardens is complemented by wine tasting, and by a visit to Impruneta where terracotta pots were first made for the della Robbia, Renaissance masters of the art of enamelling the material.

    September is a delightful season to visit the region. We stay initially in the vibrant city of Florence with its art treasures, churches and markets. Our comfortable, welcoming hotel situated a few minutes from the duomo is a perfect base. A former palazzo, or grand town house, dating from the 16th century and now well restored, it retains its frescoed ceilings and architectural features.

    We then move to Pienza, south of Siena, and finally on to the walled medieval city of Lucca.


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.

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

    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.

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

    19 – 24 September 2018

    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 who created her personal garden, La Louve, in Bonnieux. An impressive Land Art garden near Eygalieres at the foot of Les Alpilles was designed by Alain David Idoux, a pupil of de Vesian

    In addition we discover gardens created by Dominique Lafourcade, an influential designer from St Remy de Provence.

    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 and his team.

     

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!

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

    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.

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

    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.