Chelsea Flower Show
May 22-30th, 2007


May 29th, Tuesday Sissinghurst Castle Garden and Great Dixter Garden

After breakfast we proceed to the 16th Century mansion house Sissinghurst Castle Garden, once home to the writers Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West, and its stunning Gardens, perhaps the country’s most famous. ‘Profusion, even extravagance and exuberance within the confines of the utmost linear severity’ was Vita Sackville-West’s philosophy in creating the gardens, and this is still gloriously apparent.

Sissinghurst ... what can I say about this beautiful garden that Harold and Vita Sackville-West discovered and rescued. It occupies a very ancient site, somewhere around the middle Ages. There used to be a stone manor house surrounded by a moat - that was replaced by a mansion by the Baker family. In 1756 it was a prison camp and there was so much damage to the old building that at the end of the war two-thirds of it was demolished. Harold and Vita came along in 1930, fell in love with the place and it was five years before they even had water or electricity. What remains now of the original house is the Entrance, a long building dating from 1490. Originally a stable it is now called the Long Library mostly used for storing furniture from her family home and all the books she reviewed. The Tower is what Vita wanted ... this is where she would write, isolated and content and it remained her sanctum until she died at age 70. What we see now is a love story ... a story of a couple who have made this their home and turned their land into a series of gardens that draw oohs and aahs with each separate garden vista.

In the afternoon we visit Great Dixter, the home of Christopher Lloyd who sadly passed away last year. A must see for gardeners, you will not forget the series of gardens nor will you forget the differences in gardening styles of today’s visit. Great Dixter is a charming 15th century timber-framed manor house set in one of the most beautiful gardens in England. Records for the manor of Dixter go back to the 13th century but the core of the present house was built in 1464 by the Etchingham family. By the early 20th century the building was in a very poor state of repair but it was saved by Nathaniel Lloyd who bought the property in 1910. He commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to renovate and extend the medieval hall house between 1910 -14. Lloyd and Lutyens found a derelict 'Wealden House' that was about to be pulled down in the nearby village of Benenden. Lloyd bought the building and the timbers were carefully numbered and transported to Great Dixter. The house forms a superb backdrop to the garden laid out by Lutyens and the Lloyd family. Lutyens' input can be seen in the way the stone steps and paths are laid. Christopher Lloyd was a renowned garden writer and he used his flair and plants man’s knowledge to great effect at Great Dixter. He had a bold style and used strong shapes and colours to give interest throughout the year. The garden is divided into a number of ' outdoor rooms' by huge yew hedges and several red-tiled, timber- framed outbuildings.

After this wonderful day, we meet later on for our Farewell dinner at the hotel.

May 30th, Wednesday Our Day of Departure

Oh the memories we have and along with our newly made friends, we all left the tour somewhat saddened that it went by so quickly…but there is always next year and in 2008 we are heading off to Paris to take in the sights along with the Courson Flower Show and then Eurorail to London where we discover new gardens and Chelsea. I can hardly wait!






  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row