2nd to 5th September 2020:

‘Far from the Madding Crowd….’,

Exclusive TELEGRAPH tour hosted by gardens correspondent, HELEN YEMM and led by SOPHIE PIEBENGA

Take a few days in deepest Dorset in the company of Helen Yemm and 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 Hotel 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: 
This tour starts at Bristol Parkway Railway Station at 10:00 AM or at Summer Lodge Hotel at 12 noon for those who prefer to join by car at the hotel. Following lunch at Summer Lodge, we drive together by coach the short distance to Mapperton House to see the topiary-filled valley garden, Italianate pleasure-ground with fountains, grottoes, ponds and stone statuary and the Wild Garden. In Beaminster, we visit The Farrs as guests of John & Jennie Makepeace, a garden in two parts: ‘Hers’, floriferous and sweet-smelling; ‘His’, a contemporary creation of simplicity and beauty. Tea is included plus a rare chance to see some of John Makepeace’s wonderful furniture. We drive back to Summer Lodge with plenty of time to settle in before an evening meal together with wine included.

Day 2: 
Today we stray across the border into Devon: River Cottage is the name of the old farmhouse, garden, kitchen classroom and headquarters of writer & broadcaster Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and his enthusiastic team. We visit the working organic smallholding 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. Jake Hobson will join us to demonstrate the art of topiary and Japanese Cloud Pruning. Return to the hotel with time to change before dining together at The Acorn Inn, a few steps up the lane.

Day 3: 
In the Isle of Purbeck (not really an island) we visit Rachel James’s coastal garden, Easington Farm. Protected from the elements by drystone walls with a good evergreen structure surrounding the early seventeenth-century farmhouse, this is a garden of great distinction. We then head to the Lulworth Estate with free time to purchase your own lunch and to stretch your legs on the beach at Lulworth Cove followed by an afternoon visit to the very private garden of Lulworth Castle House. Return to Summer Lodge for our final dinner together.

Day 4: 
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 with topiary to 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 14:15 PM and to Bristol Parkway Railway Station for 16:30 PM.

How much & what’s included

The price per person: £2498

Single supplement: £300

(levied by the hotel on double rooms for single occupation).

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 three 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.


Arena 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 are fully protected in the unlikely event of our insolvency, please contact us for further details.

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