17th to 20th June 2019:
‘Far from the Madding Crowd….’, The gardens of deepest Dorset.


A garden tour hosted by Stephen Anderton, Gardening Correspondent of  The Times and led by garden historian Dr Sophie Piebenga.From fossil-stacked cliffs to rolling chalk hills and rich pastures, many travellers, artists, novelists and poets have been inspired by this beautiful region. We visit exquisite, little-known gardens, many linked to a plethora of small manor houses; then, by digging deeper, we find links with personalities who contribute much to the greater world of gardening. We visit two private gardens designed by Arne Maynard; feast at River Cottage, the creation of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall; and meet Jake Hobson, the Japanese Cloud Pruning specialist. The tour is based at the Georgian Summer Lodge in the village of Evershot. This is the heart of Thomas Hardy’s Dorset: in fact, Thomas Hardy designed the interior of the hotel’s blue drawing room. All the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable, the food is of the highest quality and the staff could not be more caring; you will be warmly welcomed.


Day 1: Monday 17th June
This tour starts at Bristol Parkway Railway Station at 10:00 AM and at Summer Lodge at 12 noon for those who prefer to join by car at the hotel. We then drive together towards the sea to visit Mapperton House. After a light lunch, we discover the topiary-filled valley garden, an Italianate pleasure-ground with fountains, topiary, grottoes, ponds and stone statuary steps leading down the valley to the Wild Garden. A visit to the house is included. We then return to Summer Lodge with plenty of time to settle in before an evening meal together with wine included.

Day 2: Tuesday 18th June
River Cottage is the name of the old farmhouse, garden, kitchen class-room and headquarters of writer & broadcaster Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and his enthusiastic team. We visit the working organic small-holding before sitting down to a delicious lunch straight from the garden. We then venture across the border to the edge of the Blackdown Hills in Devon to South Wood Farm, one of Arne Maynard’s most pleasing designs. This garden that enwraps a 17th century thatched farmhouse exemplifies how contemporary design can complement a traditional setting, incorporating the highest attention to detail throughout, even in the wildest areas of this beautiful garden. Return to the hotel with time to change before dining together at The Acorn Inn, a few steps up the lane.

Day 3: Wednesday 19th June
Our first visit today is John & Jennie Makepeace’s garden, The Farrs; a garden in two parts. ‘Hers’ is floriferous and sweet-smelling; ‘His’, a contemporary creation of simplicity and beauty. Coffee is included plus a rare chance to see some of John Makepeace’s wonderful furniture. Harvard Farm is Jake Hobson’s parental home with plenty of evidence of his genius with cloud-pruning, organic topiary and sculpture mounds. Dilly Hobson (Jake’s mother), has invited us to lunch before showing the garden she has created from a working dairy farm. Nearby Corscombe House sits in the shadow of the local parish church where owner Jim Bartos has created a strong structural garden with a Persian-influenced reflecting pool, hot and cool borders, and a vegetable garden. Return to Summer Lodge for our final dinner together.

Day 4: Thursday 20th June
Our final visit is to The Old Rectory in the village of Litton Cheney: a magnificent setting, with views out to rolling hills and glimpses of the sea. Steep paths lead to natural woodland with many clear springs and streams and two pools, one a natural swimming pool planted with native plants. We again see the hand of Arne Maynard: a pleached crab-tree screen and topiary focus the eye, complemented by soft planting of peonies and roses. As we walk past the small kitchen garden it is a surprise to glimpse a designed rose nursery: the owner has a passion for the production of rose bouquets. There follows a special invitation to lunch before returning to collect cars at Summer Lodge at 14:30 PM and to Bristol Parkway Railway Station for 16:30 PM.

How much & what’s included:

The price per person: £2350

Single supplement £250 (levied by the hotel).

The price includes: three nights’ bed & breakfast accommodation at Summer Lodge; three dinners (two with wine at Summer Lodge and one at The Acorn Inn); plus four lunches as stated in the itinerary, and transport from Bristol Parkway Railway Station or Summer Lodge. The price does not include extras or travel insurance. Please note that hotels used by Boxwood Tours are invariably hotels of character featuring a variety of rooms & styles.

Boxwood Tours Ltd is a company committed to customer satisfaction and consumer financial protection. We are therefore pleased to announce that, at no extra cost to you, and in accordance with ”The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018” all passengers booking with Boxwood Tours Ltd are fully insured for the initial deposit, and subsequently the balance of monies paid as detailed in your booking confirmation form. The policy will also include repatriation if required, arising from the cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Boxwood Tours Ltd. This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Zurich Insurance PLC.
Claims In the unlikely event of Insolvency, you must Inform Towergate Chapman Stevens immediately on +44 (0) 1932 334140 or by email at tcs@towergate.co.uk . Please ensure you retain the booking confirmation form as evidence of cover and value. Policy exclusions: This policy will not cover any monies paid for Travel Insurance or any claim relating to Air Flights. Please ensure the Company you have booked with has the appropriate CAA / ATOL Bonds in place.

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