2nd to 5th July 2019:
The Country Garden Collection Hosted by Stephen Anderton, Gardening Correspondent of The Times and led by garden historian Dr Sophie Piebenga.
Cheshire is a rich and varied county in northwest England, known for its rural villages of half-timber and local red sandstone dwellings. So many ‘Old Halls’, ‘Halls’, ‘Castles’ & ‘Granges’, and we have found a wonderful selection of the very best, all with exceptional gardens. Chester is the county seat: founded in the 1st century AD as a Roman fort, its walls still extant, and a cathedral displaying 1,000 years of architectural history; renowned for its black & white half-timbered buildings, cobbled streets and famous covered walkways which take you to a myriad of unique shops that fill the heart of the old town. This is where we find our distinguished hotel, The Chester Grosvenor. The history of Chester and its most famous hotel have been inextricably linked for many decades and the hotel has earned an enviable reputation for understated elegance, sublime comfort and a relaxed ambience. We include a chance to dine at both of the Chester Grosvenor’s celebrated restaurants: Michelin starred ‘Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor’ for a gourmet dining experience and the AA Rosette ‘La Brasserie’.
Day 1: Tuesday 2nd July
This tour starts at Chester Railway Station at 12:00 noon; parking can be arranged through the hotel if you wish to bring your car to Chester. We first journey together to Arley Hall for lunch before a special tour of the gardens. Bluebell Cottage Gardens owner, Sue Beesley has gained a
good reputation for her small specialist herbaceous nursery with a beautiful show garden to display many of her favourites. As she says “it is all about plants”: narrow grass paths surround large informal borders (often the reverse in more standard gardens). We drive back to Chester to check in at The Chester Grosvenor where we dine together in La Brasserie with wine included.
Day 2: Wednesday 3rd July
Tattenhall Hall is a large house now divided into two family homes: two couples who know each other well and who have shared the garden for over 20 years. One border is gardened by Jannie, another by Jen and yet another by them both; Nick cuts the lawn and Chris manages the wilderness below. It all works in a gentle, relaxed way. Wollerton Old Hall comprises a delightful 20th century garden around a 16th century manor house with wonderful borders and a fine nursery where plants can be purchased. A light lunch is included at Wollerton. Cholmondeley Castle has been owned by the Cholmondeley family since the 12th century. The elegant romantic gardens combine stately formality with a wild natural approach. Return to the hotel for a free evening in Chester with many excellent restaurants from which to choose.
Day 3: Thursday 4th July
We take a step into Staffordshire to visit the gardens of a ‘Grange’ and an ‘Old Hall’, both once part of the same estate. The garden at Biddulph Grange is one of the most exciting survivals of the great age of Victorian gardening. From 1841, James Bateman employed plant hunters to help amass an international plant collection which were then planted in geographically themed areas amidst rockwork, topiary, tree-stumps and an extraordinary collection of eclectic garden buildings. By contrast, the garden we find at Biddulph Old Hall is mostly set in the ruins of a 16th century grand manor that was built next to an older 15th century farmhouse. The Manor was destroyed during the Reformation but the ruins remain, now planted with roses, inspired by Sleeping Beauty and the Italian garden of Ninfa. At Boden Hall we are treated by owner, Victoria Wrather, to a special visit of her beautiful garden richly planted with roses and gooseberries. We return to the hotel with time to change before dining together in the Michelin starred ‘Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor’ restaurant with wine included.
Day 4: Friday 5th July
On this last morning, we visit another ‘Old Hall’ and its very private garden before lunch in a local inn. We then return to Chester railway station for 15:00 or to collect cars from the hotel at 15:15.
How much & what’s included:
The price per person: £2198
Single supplement £350 (levied by the hotel).
The price includes three nights’ bed & breakfast accommodation at The Chester Grosvenor Hotel with two dinners & wine at the hotel plus four lunches as stated in the itinerary and all transport from Chester Railway Station. The price does not include extras, car parking at the hotel or travel insurance. Please note that hotels used by Boxwood Tours are invariably hotels of character featuring a variety of rooms & styles.
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