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GARDENS OF A GOLDEN AFTERNOON
Late Summer Gardens of Sussex & Kent
A hand-picked selection of the finest, mostly private gardens and nurseries in the south-east of England, this is indeed a star-studded garden visiting experience, including a visit with Tom Coward to the gardens of Gravetye Manor, an ‘early bird’ visit to Sissinghurst, a special invitation to lunch with Lady Collum at the delectable Clinton Lodge and the Great Dixter Autumn Plant Fair. We have selected Ockenden Manor Hotel, a charming and tranquil Elizabethan Manor House, which offers good food and hospitality, as the perfect base for the tour, with dinners with wine, bed and breakfasts all included.
Day 1: Wednesday 28th September
This tour starts at Haywards Heath Railway Station at 12 noon to take advantage of the train service from London. Those who wish to drive, can park at Ockenden Manor to be collected at 11:30 by the coach en route to the station. We journey together to Gravetye Manor, former home of William Robinson, ‘Father of the English Flower Garden’, laid out in classic Arts & Crafts style and now a hotel of distinction. Lunch will be served on arrival followed by a garden tour with Head Gardener Tom Coward. The gardens are mature, charming and wonderfully renovated. We leave in time to check-in at Ockenden Manor.
Day 2: Thursday 29th September
Start the day with Sarah Raven’s Cutting Garden. Set high on a breezy hill with stunning views, the Sussex farmhouse is surrounded by a series of engaging flower filled terraces. A lunch follows at Stone House, a small, privately run hotel and family home of Peter & Jane Dunn. Jane is a Master Chef and will create a wonderful lunch using many of the products of the working kitchen garden which we will visit. Marchants Hardy Plants is a nursery selling an array of unusual and stalwart plants, many grown in the adjoining garden: a living catalogue providing innovative ideas for plant combinations.
Day 3: Friday 30th September
Firstly, we head to Chichester to visit West Dean. Formerly the home of Edward James, it is now devoted to promoting arts and crafts with the exquisite walled gardens managed by Sarah Wain. A light lunch is included before travelling to Arundel Castle for guided tours of the Castle and new formal garden designed by Isabel and Julian Bannerman conceived as a light-hearted tribute to Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel (1585-1646), known as ‘The Collector’. Lord Arundel was the first of the great English art collectors, whose antique marbles are now at Oxford, and the library at the Royal Society; the magnificent Van Dyck and Mytens portraits and some other objects commissioned or collected by him form the basis of the collection now at Arundel Castle.
Day 4: Saturday 1st October
A special early morning visit to Sissinghurst Castle Garden created by the writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson. Sissinghurst is one of the most famous and influential of our 20th century gardens. After lunch at a village inn we visit the Great Dixter Plant Fair to view stalls of a unique range of specialist nurseries from across Britain & Europe that attract an elite group of plantsmen. Great Dixter was the family home of Christopher Lloyd, who devoted his lifetime to creating one of the most experimental, exciting, and constantly evolving gardens of our time, now managed with sensitivity and skill by Fergus Garrett.
Day 5: Sunday 2nd October
Our final day begins with a visit to Sussex Prairies. Most of us dabble with herbaceous plants in our gardens but Paul & Pauline McBride have broken the mould by boldly planting a large field with huge swathes of perennials. We are then invited for lunch as special guests at Clinton Lodge. Lady Collum has a deep knowledge and quiet passion for her wonderful compartmentalised garden surrounding an early 17th century house with unforgettable herbaceous borders, fragrant herb garden, green knot terrace, and scented shady glade. We then return to Haywards Heath Railway Station for 16:30 PM and onward to Ockenden Manor at 17:00 PM for those who have left cars.
How much & what's included
The price per person: £1998
Single supplement £100 (levied by the hotel).
The price includes four nights’ dinner (with wine), bed & breakfast accommodation at Ockenden Manor plus five lunches as stated in the itinerary and transport from Haywards Heath Railway Station.
The price does not include extras at the hotel, or travel insurance.