HORTUS GOES TO MALLORCA
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Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands with a rich and varied terrain, from the jagged mountain peaks of the Serra de Tramuntana in the north to the patchwork fields edged by drystone walls of the central and southern plains, all surrounded by dramatic cliffs and sandy beaches. Under Moorish rule for three hundred years, it is now part of Spain, with strong Catalan ties. About one fifth of the population is comprised of British, German, Swiss and French expatriates, some of whose exceptionally beautiful gardens are included in this tour alongside those of Moorish influence, as well as the small, gem-like botanic garden of Soller that aims to educate and protect the island’s native flora. We have carefully chosen two hotels for this six-day tour: Hotel Son Julia – a former manor house with historic Arabic gardens in the countryside to the south of Palma – and Gran Hotel Son Net in the Serra de Tramuntana Mountains, a converted grand estate house with beautiful views over verdant valleys towards a dramatically precipitous landscape.
Day 1: Sunday 19 April
Depart at 12.30 from London Heathrow on flight BA0450, arriving in Palma at 15.50. We then travel into the countryside for a warm welcome at Hotel Son Julia where we stay for two nights and dine on excellent Mediterranean cuisine with local wines included.
Day 2: Monday 20 April
A trio of delights in the south-east of the Island: Son Muda is the home of Helene and Christian Lindgens who are developing an ambitious and wonderfully intriguing white garden, decorated with a host of sculptures by local artist Pedro Flores. After lunch at a local restaurant we are the guests of Professor and Mrs Liesenhoff at Ca’n Estel, an ambitious garden of roses and orange groves divided by a snaking dry riverbed. Further south, close to the sea, we then visit Ca’n Mel, a personal labour of love created by Marianne and the late Andrew Beith. Marianne provides a warm welcome and drinks before we return to Hotel Son Julia for dinner with local wines.
Day 3: Tuesday 21 April
We leave Son Julia after breakfast to head for the mountains to see Jardines de Alfabia where, in 1229 King Jaume I rewarded his ally, the Moor known as Benhabet, with a large estate, thanking him for his help in conquering the island. Benhabet created the lush terraced garden in the Arabic fashion that continues to impress. The estate has never been sold: it is still in the hands of the Zaforteza family. Onwards then to Jardi Botanic de Soller, a flourishing, compact garden dedicated to the study of the Balearic Islands flora. We then drive along the rugged coast, past the former home of Robert Graves (1895–1985) at Deia, arriving at the hill town of Valldemossa where we have some free time to wander and have lunch before visiting The Real Cartuja de Valldemossa, formerly a Carthusian monastery, associated with French novelist George Sand and her companion, the composer Frédéric Chopin. Their stay in 1838 is ungraciously commemorated in Sand’s A Winter in Mallorca. We then continue westwards to Gran Hotel Son Net in the tranquil village of Puigpunyent. This old manor house dates from 1672 and is now one of the finest hotels on the island where we dine together with local wines included.
Day 4: Wednesday 22 April
Three friends, three very different gardens: we begin at the small terraced garden of our guide Sally Beale before moving on to the themed cottage garden created over several decades by Vicky Widdows. After lunch at a restaurant overlooking the sea in the nearby village of Sant Elm, we drive through floral-rich meadows to the exquisite garden created by Camilla Chandon, a hidden retreat enlivened by rivers of blue-flowering plants studded with olive trees and tightly-clipped silver and green Mediterranean shrubs threaded with climbing roses. Return to the hotel in time to change before a free evening in Palma.
Day 5: Thursday 23 April
A day in the north-east begins at the famed garden of Torre d’Ariant (managed now by the Black Vulture Foundation) created by Heidi Gildemeister, doyenne of Mediterranean gardens. Famous for her books on Mediterranean gardening, Mrs Gildemeister has learnt from first-hand experience about the dry eastern reaches of the Serra de Tramuntana. We follow this exceptional visit by travelling down from the mountains to the peninsula of Alcúdia to enjoy a tapas lunch and see the unusual Museo sa Bassa Blanca, otherwise known as the Yannick and Ben Jakober Foundation, with sculpture park, rose garden and private art museum. We dine together this evening at Son Net.
Day 6: Friday 24 April
Biniagual is a private hamlet lovingly restored to include a contrasting series of small gardens that surround a sequence of historic homesteads. It produces excellent vintages that are mainly exported to Switzerland and Germany. We will be offered wines and tapas before heading back to Palma Airport for flight BA0451 departing at 17.35, arriving at London Heathrow at 19.05.
How much & what's included
The price per person: £2898.00
Single supplement: £450.00 (per person, levied by the hotel).
The price includes two nights with dinner and breakfast at Hotel Son Julia, three nights with breakfast plus two dinners at Gran Hotel Son Net, and four lunches, all with local wines and return flights from London Heathrow.
Please note that if you wish to arrange your own flights we will be happy to deduct £89.00 per person from the tour price if we are notified at the time of booking.
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