England’s Finest Gardens & Chelsea Flower Show 2010
May 25th – June 2nd, 2010


Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

On our last day after breakfast we head out on a full day excursion to Sissinghurst and Great Dixter in the Weald of Kent, where some of the most romantic gardens have been created and a truly fitting end to our England’s Finest Gardens tour. I never tire of watching my tour guests see these gardens for the first time. They are both so different.

Sissinghurst - One of the world's most celebrated gardens!

Sissinghurst's garden was created in the 1930s by Vita Sackville-West, poet and gardening writer, and her husband Harold Nicolson, author and diplomat. Sackville-West was a writer on the fringes of the Bloomsbury group who found her greatest popularity in the weekly columns she contributed as gardening correspondent of The Observer, which incidentally – for she never touted it – made her own garden famous. Sissinghurst's garden is one of the best-loved in the whole of the United Kingdom, drawing visitors from all over the world. The garden itself is designed as a series of "rooms", each with a different character of colour and/or theme, divided by high clipped hedges and pink brick walls. The gardens are set off by a tall tower of pale pink brick which captivated Vita when she first saw Sissinghurst; she wrote some 20 books in the Tower room and it remained her sanctum until her death age 70. If you want, you can climb the curved staircase and see what her writing room looked like as they have kept it to look as though she had just stepped out of the office to go look at a new plant or welcome a visitor.

Great Dixter

‘Melding antiquity and nature with the delicate controlling touch of man.’ Tony Sissons

Great Dixter's internationally renowned garden was created by one of Britain's most celebrated 20th century gardeners, Christopher Lloyd, the gardening writer and television personality known as "Christo", who died four years ago. The 57-acre estate, with its Grade I-listed, medieval timber-framed house, was bought by his father, Nathaniel Lloyd, in 1910, at which time it had virtually no garden whatsoever. The younger Lloyd transformed it into one of the most profusely planted sites in the land, its flower beds and borders complemented by ornamental hedges, an orchard and a wildflower meadow.

The future of Great Dixter, the medieval estate which has come to epitomize the English country garden, is to be guaranteed now by a multimillion-pound lottery award aimed at conserving one of the country's most remarkable displays of flowers and plants. The East Sussex grounds have been earmarked for a £4m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which will go towards a £7m project to secure its floral treasures for the nation.

I can still see Christopher walking along one of the pathways in his bright green shirt and carrying a huge trug with his little dachshunds following close by. You will enjoy going through his house and seeing his office. It was never open while he was alive because he was usually in there writing.

Tonight, we enjoyed a Farewell 3 course dinner together at our hotel, so those who are leaving early in the morning, will have time to pack. I share with you some of the comments that came back from our tour guests this year and invite you to visit www.gardeningtours.com to see our tour for 2011…Paris and London Chelsea – you can’t get much better than these two cities for contrasts…hope to see you! and for the rest of the comments on this tour and others, just look under testimonials on the site.

‘Donna, just got my photos back from the garden tour! What great memories!! There were so many nice people on the tour. As far as on overall joyful thought........ As a very busy gardener I don't think I ever really stop take in everything around me. This week was one in which I could stop and smell the roses for the whole week!! The tour had so many beautiful views and lovely sights that I could sit and appreciate each and everyone, and then look forward to the next day’s beautiful gardens. You did a fabulous job, so many nice touches, the right number of free days with garden days. What a fabulous week to be a gardener! Donna, thanks for the memories!!’ Mark, 2010 Chelsea

‘I knew before the tour that I would see amazing gardens, but it was far better than anything my imagination had come up with. At the end of each day my "eyes were full", I had to download them for the next day. I am thankful that I had started using my treadmill a few months before the tour in order to get in shape for the walking I did. Thanks Donna for all the work you did for me. Hopefully I'll be able to tour at least once a year with you.’ Allison, 2010 Chelsea

‘When you said pack light, you were correct. I really enjoyed seeing how growing conditions of plant varieties we grow in N.J. differ in the U.K. Loved meeting new people, making new friends. The itinerary was marvelous, stupendous! This was the first tour I had ever been on and what a glorious first experience, thank you!’ Sandy, 2010 Chelsea

‘Hi Donna I really was happy with all aspects of the tour. Although it's hard to choose a highlight, I guess for me it would be Sissinghurst. Over the years I have read about that garden and have always planned to see it one day.I was afraid that it might not live up to all my expectations but it was all that I thought it would be and more. It was magical and I have to return sometime with Brian.Many thanks for a wonderful over-all experience.’ Dianne, 2010 Chelsea



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