Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Garden Tours

Gardens of Kent and Sussex

If there’s one tour that epitomises the joy of strolling around a perfect English country garden, it is this one – with one shining example after another to be savoured and enjoyed.

Even if you have visited some of these properties before, such is their allure that you can return again and again, just as you would re-read your favourite novel. First-time visitors will be bowled over by the quality and pedigree of these gardens, which capture the essence of the English country garden. We start at Great Comp, filled with rare and beautiful shrubs, followed by Lullingstone Castle. Nymans Garden offers outstanding plants in a theatrical setting and is twinned with the Sussex Praire Garden, reminiscent of the work of the great Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf. We also visit Sissinghurst, surely the most-copied flower garden in the world, and Great Dixter. A stroll around the gardens of Wakehurst Place and a special tour at Perch Hill, the garden of well-known TV presenter Sarah Ravens, round off a distinguished tour


What's included?

  •  Accommodation
  •  Services of a professional tour manager
  •  Comfortable coach travel throughout
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary

Today's Price

Deposit: £100 Single supplement: £195

Tour highlights:

  • Lullingstone Castle’s innovative World Garden of Plants
  • Outstanding plant collections at Nymans
  • The magnificently manicured gardens of Sissinghurst
  • Special access tour at Perch Hill

Tour details

Dates 28 May 2020 - 31 May 2020
Duration 4 days
Today's Price
Deposit: £100 Single supplement: £195 Balance due by 5 March 2020
Activity Level
Tour code BWGKS20A

Departure Points

Location Depart Return
Tothill St, Westminster
0845 1815
Copthorne Gatwick Hotel
1000 1700

Please note all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.

Book Now or call 01334 657155 if you have any questions

28 May 2020: Itinerary

We depart from our pick-up points in London and Gatwick and head towards Kent and our first visit, Great Comp Garden – a beautiful 7 acre garden with many beautiful and rare shrubs, perennials and other hardy plants. This Kent garden is a plantsman’s haven. The year starts with Helleborus, followed by magnolias, rhododendrons and azaleas, then the remainder of the year follows with rare and exotic shrubs and perennial plants such as the huge collection of Salvias. There are areas of formal and informal plantings linked with meandering grass paths and ruins homing in on an Italian Garden. Lunch is included in the Old Dairy Tearoom here.

From here we continue to the magnificent Lullingstone Castle. A historic family mansion dating back to the time of Domesday, frequented by Henry VIII and Queen Anne, the manor house and garden are set in the beautiful Darent Valley. The garden was designed by horticulturist Tom Hart Dyke, a modern day plant hunter who follows in the traditions of plant hunters who used to risk their lives and limbs in pursuit of fantastic blooms and plants. He was held captive for nine months by Columbian guerrillas in 2000 and on his release he created the World Garden of Plants, which continues to grow and build each year adding rare and important botanical plants to its collection.

We continue to our hotel, the 4-star Donnington Manor Hotel, Sevenoaks. Dinner will be served in the evening.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Donnington Manor Hotel

This morning, after breakfast, we will set off for the Sussex Prairie Garden at Henfield. Surrounded by mature oak trees, this eight acre garden consists of a series of interlocking arcs of large planted borders in a naturalistic style, reminiscent of the work of the great Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf. The plantings consist of generous drifts of herbaceous perennials, planted in a free flowing style, which contrasts leaf forms, stems, stalks, flower shapes and textures. Colours are soft and muted and complement the natural landscape.

We continue to Nymans Garden, an outstanding plant collection in an inspirational setting. This theatrical garden design, created by the Messel family, is one of the finest gardens in Sussex and still retains much of the personality of the family who created it. There are many rare and exotic plants combined with a pinetum, walled garden, Italian garden and woodland walks. Lunch is available here (not included).

We return to the hotel in time for dinner.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Donnington Manor Hotel

This morning after breakfast, we visit the magnificently manicured gardens of Sissinghurst. This famous garden was created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson from 1930 onwards and became the most admired English Garden of its time. Few great gardens live up to their reputations so effortlessly as this. Sissinghurst is a large connoisseurs’ garden consisting of a series of small romantic areas enclosed by the surviving parts of an Elizabethan mansion. It never disappoints its visitors, it has the power of enchantment, but it is also an unending source of inspiration for all gardeners. Sissinghurst is surely as close to gardening perfection as you can get, and it continues to be one of the most-copied flower gardens in the world.

We continue to another classic English Country Garden – Great Dixter. The distinguished garden writer Christopher Lloyd (who died in January 2006 at the aged of 84) was the genius behind Great Dixter, with its timbered 15th century house. Restored by Edwin Lutyens who also planned the garden, Mr Lloyd has firmly put his lively stamp on it. A recent experiment involved installing a summer tropical garden rich in bold shapes and brilliant colours. No gardener could come to Great Dixter without making discoveries and rekindling a zest for gardening.

We return to the hotel in time for dinner.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Donnington Manor Hotel

This morning after breakfast we will leave the hotel and head for Wakehurst Place Gardens, near Haywards Heath, which was the most visited NT property in 2009-10. The gardens, set in 180 acres, are now managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Wakehurst Place boasts a walled garden with cottage style garden plantings, a water garden with a mixture of plants growing in and around the water and the Himalayan Glade with a collection of azaleas and rhododendrons, however the main feature is the collection of trees and shrubs. In the summer months we can expect to see many delightful brightly coloured plants.

We depart for Sarah Raven’s Garden at Perch Hill where we will enjoy lunch followed by an exclusive guided tour with the Head Gardener. Once a rather ramshackle ex-dairy farm with a lot of concrete, corrugated iron and not much else; the land has been converted to an organic 90 acres of new seed and plant varieties. The constant supply of favourite flowers comes from the large cutting garden where the central four beds are filled with hardy and half-hardy annuals and biennials. There are also two purely ornamental gardens at Perch Hill, not dedicated to harvesting – the Oast garden with an extravagant mix of colour and structure and the front farmhouse garden, which is designed to have a calmer feel.

We will return to your original pick-up points late afternoon.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

28 May 2020: Additional Info

28 May 2020: Accommodation

Donnington Manor Hotel is located just 10 minutes’ drive from Sevenoaks. It offers a fitness suite, free WiFi access throughout the hotel, an Italian restaurant and complimentary parking.

The super king bedrooms at the 4-star Donnington Manor Hotel offer satellite TV, hairdryers, tea/coffee-making facilities, a media hub and feature rain showers in the bathrooms.

The hotel's 15th-century beamed Osteria Chartwell Restaurant serves Italian food, including pastas and pizzas prepared with toppings and sauces made from a selection of meats and fish, cheeses and vegetables, herbs and olive oil.

28 May 2020: Enquiries

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