HORTUS GOES TO THE SOUTHERN NETHERLANDS
The more we look for excellent gardens in Europe the more we find. This is a new destination for Hortus, travelling to see the gardens of Zuid-Holland, Zeeland and Noord-Brabant, three regions in the far south-west of the Netherlands whose inhabitants historically were either at sea or keeping the sea away from home & hearth. Zeeland particularly suffered major losses in the 1953 flood, a disaster that initiated the Delta Project, which complex network of dykes, dams and sea walls was completed in 1986. Five major rivers reach the sea creating a complex delta of islands as well as leaving rich mineral deposits that help to make extremely good earth for gardens and horticulture. We visit a nursery in the heartlands of Boskoop and another near the Belgian border called In Goede Aarde ‘In Good Earth’. Even our hotel has gardens of the highest standards. Staying at Hotel Villa Augustus is a unique experience: a quirky, upmarket hotel whose success has initiated a riverside rejuvenation project in Dordrecht. Views from the hotel lead the eye to fast-flowing water and intricate, highly productive vegetable gardens supplying the restaurant and wonderful shop of surprises. The restaurant in the old pump room serves good, innovative Dutch food.
Day 1: Monday 10 September
Depart at 11:30 from London City Airport on flight BA4477, arriving in Rotterdam Airport at 13:20. Transferring by coach to Hotel Villa Augustus, we start with tea and a talk on the hotel gardens with time to settle in before eating together at the hotel.
Day 2: Tuesday 11 September
The Villa Augustus restoration and conversion was undertaken by three partners, two of whom live at Landgoed Dordwijk on the outskirts of Dordrecht. We have been invited to visit the walled kitchen garden featuring heritage fruit and vegetable varieties and to take a short walk in the private landscape gardens
designed by Zocher Jr. in the 19th century. We then travel to Boskoop where David Wheeler’s fellow Royal Horticultural Society Hydrangea committee colleague, Cor van Gelderen, invites us to view his family’s nursery and woody plant collections, after which we are invited to lunch and to take a short boat trip before viewing the small museum and garden that explains the rich horticultural heritage of the region, home of the Dutch nursery trade for hundreds of years. We then return to the hotel for a free evening, either to dine at Villa Augustus or take a taxi into the historic centre of Dordrecht.
Day 3: Wednesday 12 September
Today we head for Zeeland and the far south west of the country to meet Frans & Franny Geijsels at their small garden and nursery, ‘In Goede Aarde’ (In Good Earth). Franny tends the gardens and Frans propagates and designs. They have a great reputation in this region for selling high quality plants along with very sound advice on cultivation. There follows some free time in the historic small town of Veere on the edge of a lagoon separated from the North Sea in 1961 by the Delta Works. Vlackeland means flatland- although as flat as a pancake, the next garden is better likened an artist’s pallette. Madelien van Hasselt has given her plants their freedom, the only obvious structure provided by parallel crushed shell pathways and high windbreaks planted by surrounding fruit farmers. Madelien, as gardener and custodian of the liberally planted borders, keeps a bright and creative eye on all that creeps and seeds and tries to smother. In the small village of Nisse, just next to the great church and tree-ringed green, is a very stylish small private garden. We then return to Villa Augustus where we dine together.
Day 4: Thursday 13 September
Brabant is a region divided: Noord-Brabant is in the Netherlands and here we find three contrasting private gardens. First we meet Albert Tielens and his wife Marjan (Tielens & Tielens) who have managed to weave three businesses in and around their beautiful garden. Albert is the designer and gardener and has a passion for structure: hedges, pleaching, topiary and finely structured borders create fifteen compartments, many linked by water. Amongst other things, Marjan runs a stylish shop selling everything from handbags to wooden cows. We are given a traditional Dutch lunch before visiting De Jorissenhoeve, a Dutch farmhouse and garden inspired by childhood memories of sweet smelling blossoms. Return to Dordrecht with time to change before dining out at a good fish restaurant in the old town.
Day 5: Friday 14 September
There is a leisurely start this morning with time to pack before we travel north to the Voorlinden Museum near Den Haag on the coast. Lunch is included in the Lutyensesque manor house with time to view this new, privately owned modern art gallery. The beautiful light-filled rooms look out on gardens designed by Piet Oudolf that softly lead your eye away to the surrounding lake, parkland and infinite skies. Return to Rotterdam Airport for flight BA4458 departing at 19:15, arriving at London City Airport at 19:10.
How much & what's included:
The price per person: £2490
A single supplement of £210 is levied by the hotel.
The price includes: four nights’ bed & breakfast accommodation at Hotel Villa Augustus, Dordrecht; three evening meals with wine (two at the hotel and one at a fish restaurant), plus three lunches and one tea; and return flights from London City Airport to Rotterdam. If you wish to arrange your own flights, please notify at time of booking and telephone to discuss your preferred joining arrangements and we will be happy to deduct £114 per person from the tour price. Please note that hotels used by Boxwood Tours are invariably hotels of character featuring a variety of rooms & styles.
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