Wonderful Gardens of Southern England About the Tour Visiting gardens yields many pleasures. Some of us love to see how man's ingenuity has assembled buildings, plants, paving, water and landform to create gardens, how things were done at various periods in history, in the work of famous men and women. Some of us love beautiful plants, unusual plants and attractive combinations of plants.
Some of us, without a special interest in plants or design, simply like to see gardens, which are scenically beautiful. This garden tour offers you a combination of all those pleasures, by taking you to a truly wonderful and diverse collection of gardens in Southern England, combined with visits to some of the beautiful historic towns England has to offer. Highlights of the Tour Day 1 3 Around London Arrival in Heathrow or Gatwick airport.
Pick-up from the airport and transfer to Windsor. Windsor Castle This ancient castle, begun by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century, stands a short distance west of London. Within its massive walls lies St.
George 9s Chapel, one of the most outstanding examples of Perpendicular architecture in the country and burial place of many English monarchs. Windsor Castle is still used by the Royal ... more. less.
Family as one of their principal homes but when they are not in residence the magnificent State Apartments are open to visitors. When Her Majesty is cat home d, a visit to Queen Mary 9s Dolls House will be made instead.<br><br> Late afternoon transfer into London and check-in to your hotel. Dinner at the hotel and free evening . O/N LONDON Day 2 3 London The morning will be spent on a panoramic tour of the major London sights with a qualified guide.<br><br> A panoramic tour is the perfect way to orient the visitor to London, both for the first time visitor or as a good refresher for those that have visited before. The tour takes you past all the main sights such as Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament with Big Ben, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square with the National Gallery, The Strand and Theatreland, St. Paul 9s Cathedral, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.<br><br> There are no entrances included on the tour, but time is allowed for photo stops. 2 Ambassador Tours 3 148 E. Michigan Ave.<br><br> 3 Kalamazoo MI 49007 USA Free time for lunch in Covent Garden area. In the afternoon, your guide will take you on a Walk Of The London Parks. Centuries ago these parks were mainly royal hunting forests outside the confinements of a much smaller capital.<br><br> The oldest of these parks is St James 9s Park . It is hard to imagine this beautiful park with its neat lawns and picturesque flowerbeds as marshland, which is what it was before Henry VIII drained it to provide a bowling alley and deer nursery. By the late 17 th century it became a home to many species of wading birds, including pelicans given to the King by the Russian Ambassador.<br><br> The variety of birdlife is still a main attraction today. St James 9s Park forms the first link in a great green chain through the heart of London. The largest of these parks is Hyde Park.<br><br> The River Westbourne, which flowed through the park, was dammed to form a lake. The east and west halves of the lake, known as the Serpentine and the Long Water are divided by a bridge designed by George Rennie in 1826. It has a magnificent prospect.<br><br> Hyde Park has been open to the public since 1635 and demonstrates the value of a really large boldly planted park in a city. It is enlivened by two fine modern restaurants, one at each end of the Serpentine. Apart from this feature, so appropriately named for an example of the Serpentine Style, the park has never been designed as a whole.<br><br> Its style contrasts with the Baroque style of the adjoining Kensington Gardens. Kensington Gardens belonged to Kensington palace and were laid out for Queen Caroline by Henry Wise and Charles Bridgeman and are full of charm. It contains a Round Pond, created in 1728 just east of the palace, formal avenues, a sunken Dutch garden and an orangery, now a restaurant and tearoom.<br><br> In the corner near Lancaster Gate are the recently restored Italian Water Gardens with fountains and ornate statuary and a dogs 9 cemetery, started in 1880 by the Duke of Cambridge while mourning one of his pets. This evening we can organise a Theatre evening in London to either a play or musical. O/N LONDON Day 3 3 West London After breakfast, you will drive to the west of London to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.<br><br> The original gardens were created for Augusta, Princess of Wales around her home, Kew Palace. She was much helped by Sir William Chambers who was influenced by oriental gardening and designed the Chinese pagoda in the grounds and other buildings. The estate was acquired by the nation in 1841 and enlarged to become a place for the scientific study of horticulture.<br><br> It now contains the largest collection of plants in the world with tropical and sub-tropical plants being kept in appropriate conditions in magnificent Victorian glasshouses. The variety of plants is overwhelming but Kew has a magic far above the ordinary run of Victorian plant collections, perhaps because of its size and the underlying but unobtrusive formality of its structure. The queen's Garden has recently been laid out as a faithful copy of a 17th century garden with parterres, sunken garden and alleys.<br><br> The tour will be conducted by one of the garden specialists of Kew Gardens, and will be followed by a 2- course lunch at the Pavilion restaurant. In the afternoon you will visit a beautiful Manor House and surrounding gardens in the same area, Chiswick House. In 1682 the first Earl of Burlington purchased a Jacobean mansion set in extensive acres at Chiswick.<br><br> The magnificent avenue leads to a Palladian temple to the arts set in a high-walled, daringly informal but still Italian inspired paradise park. Built by the immensely refined Richard Boyle, 3 rd Earl of Burlington for 3 Ambassador Tours 3 148 E. Michigan Ave.<br><br> 3 Kalamazoo MI 49007 USA displaying his art treasures and entertaining his cultured clique, this county villa was modelled on Palladio 9s Villa Capra near Vicenza, with injections from William Kent on the decoration and garden. In accordance with the change of fashion from Wren 9s ebullient Baroque to the Classically inspired, Burlington designed this Palladian Villa, which strictly adheres to Palladio 9s principles: main front, garden façade, two identical lateral elevations; symmetrical arrangement of rooms along the main axis: he justified having a variety of shaped rooms by saying they were modelled upon study of Romans Bath detailed in Palladio 9s Four Books of Architecture. Late afternoon return to London.<br><br> This last evening in London can be spent at leisure. O/N LONDON Day 4 3 Surrey Today you will leave London to explore some of Southern England 9s finest gardens. The first visit today will be to the famous gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society , just south of London.<br><br> Wisley Garden , as it is commonly known, was established by George Wilson, a chemist and horticulturalist, and given to the RHS in 1903. It contains a whole range of different habitats spread over 250 acres of glowing land and continues to be developed. Edward White designed the impressive rock garden in 1911.<br><br> Woodland, heather and bog gardens were added. Lanning Roper designed a walled canal garden in the 1960s. There are many demonstration gardens, the world 9s finest collection of horticultural books and, of course, an excellent plant collection.<br><br> The private garden tour will be guided by local Wisley guides and takes about 1 ½ hours. A group lunch will be arranged at Wisley, which has its own cafetaria. In the afternoon, visit an unusual villa with surrounding gardens, Polesden Lacey .<br><br> This Regency villa (1820 9s) was bought by an eccentric Edwardian hostess, Mrs Ronald Greville in 1906 and furnished with her collection of fine furniture, paintings and porcelain. She also furnished an Arts and Crafts garden by J Cheal & Sons. The long grass terrace walk dates from 1671 and was extended by the playwright Sheridan, who lived her from 1797-1816.<br><br> The Edwardian garden has a series of walled and hedged enclosures with roses and herbaceous planting. The tour will be conducted by the head gardener or head warden who will answer all your questions. After the garden visit you can explore the house at leisure.<br><br> Continue to your hotel in Kent (Maidstone/Sevenoaks area). Dinner at the hotel. O/N KENT.<br><br> Day 5 3 Kent After breakfast, explore the lovely town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. This pleasant historic town became a popular Spa Town in the 17 th century after mineral springs were discovered in the town in 1606 by Lord North while he was trying to find his way along the muddy Kentish Road. Helped by Royal patronage the town boomed and gave it its face of today.<br><br> The heart of the original town is the colonnaded and paved tree-lined promenades, named cThe Pantiles d after the original square tiles. They were laid out in the 1700 9s and now house pleasant restaurants and shops. 4 Ambassador Tours 3 148 E.<br><br> Michigan Ave. 3 Kalamazoo MI 49007 USA Your guide will take you a on a walking tour of the town, and afterwards you will have time for shopping and lunch. In the afternoon a first garden visit will be made in Kent, in what is fondly known as cThe Garden of England d.<br><br> Penshurst Place , lies just outside Tunbridge Wells. The first recorded owner of the original 13th century house and estate was Sir Stephen de Penchester, a distinguished royal servant whose tomb can be found in Penshurst church. The house was constructed in typical medieval style with two-storey wings joined by a central hall.<br><br> Built of local sandstone and completed in 1341, Penshurst Place remains one of the best-preserved examples of 14th century domestic architecture in England. Another of Penshurst's splendours is the 11-acre formal garden, with records dating back to 1346. The garden was one of the first to be restored, in the 1860s, to its 'Old English' style using Kip's engraving (c1700) for guidance.<br><br> A second restoration began in the 1970s. The gardens have a series of rectangular enclosures treated in different ways. There is a box parterre, an orchard, a rose garden and borders designed by Lanning Roper.<br><br> It is one of the oldest gardens in private ownership. A fully qualified guide will take you on a private walk through the gardens. You are then at leisure to explore the house yourself afterwards.<br><br> To end this visit, enjoy a 8Kentish Cream Tea 9 on the premises in the Garden Tea Room. Drive back to your hotel for dinner and overnight. O/N KENT.<br><br> Day 6 3 Kent A second day will be spent in this beautiful area. This morning enjoy a tour of Leeds Castle and grounds. Originally a Saxon Royal Manor built in AD857, Leeds became the stone Castle of the Norman Crevecoeur family.<br><br> From 1278 Leeds was a Royal Palace where Edward I built the unique fortified mill and barbican. Falling to Edward II's troops in 1321 because his Queen was refused admission, the Castle was never again besieged, as its reputation for being a ladies Castle grew ever stronger. In it's illustrious history, Leeds Castle has been the home of six medieval Queens of England and will no doubt be graced by many distinguished ladies in the centuries ahead.<br><br> In the 17th century, the park at Leeds Castle was given a formal appearance - some of the original oaks planted between 1710 and 1740 still survive in the grounds today. The Castle's rivers, streams and lakes are home to over 30 species of waterfowl. The Duckery now provides a natural habitat for a wide collection of ducks, geese and black swans.<br><br> The Culpeper Garden, named after the family who owned Leeds Castle in the 17th century, was originally the site of the kitchen garden. The flowers may have been seen in an old English Cottage garden as we have roses, pinks, lavender, poppies and lupins on display. If the group arrives before 10.15 in the morning (Monday-Friday) we can arrange for a privately guided tour by one of Leeds Castle 9s dedicated gardeners.<br><br> A tour takes about 1 hour. After that there is time to explore the rest of the grounds and the castle itself at leisure. A special group lunch will be taken in the restaurant of the castle.<br><br> In the afternoon, you will visit one of England 9s most famous gardens Sissinghurst A sixteenth century tower, and other buildings, with the most famous twentieth century garden in England and a prime example of the Arts and Crafts style. The garden was made on the site of a medieval manor and some structures survive. Harold Nicholson, a diplomat and author, laid down the main lines of the design in the 1930s.<br><br> Vita Sackville-West, a poet, a garden writer and Harold 9s wife, took 5 Ambassador Tours 3 148 E. Michigan Ave. 3 Kalamazoo MI 49007 USA responsibility for the planting.<br><br> She worked as an 8artist-gardener 9. Her planting design was brilliant. The historical importance of Sissinghurst comes from its role in transmitting Gertrude Jekyll 9s design philosophy to a host of visitors.<br><br> Return to your hotel. Dinner at a pub in the area. O/N KENT Day 7 3 Sussex Today you will visit another county, which belongs to 8The Garden of England 9, Sussex.<br><br> The first visit will be to Borde Hill , a garden of contrasts that captures the imagination and delights the senses. Col. Stephenson Clarke, a keen horticulturalist, bought the property in 1893.<br><br> It is set in 200 acres of a traditional country estate in the area of outstanding natural beauty in mid Sussex. The garden and parkland were established at the turn of the century from the great plant collectors who travelled to the Himalayas, China, Burma, Tasmania and the Andes. They contain the best private collection of champion trees in Britain and one of the most comprehensive collections of trees and shrubs in the world.<br><br> At the turn of the century Mrs Stephenson Clarke planted her rose garden with English roses, wrought iron swags and rose covered archways. Over the years this area gradually changed and by 1980 it was a set of herbaceous beds. Robin Williams has restored the main part of this garden to its former glory using David Austin English roses.<br><br> The tour will be privately guided for your party, and will take at least 1-2 hours. We will request a meeting with one of the gardeners as well, to elaborate on your visit. Lunch can be taken at leisure in the tearoom, or we can pre-arrange a lunch in the on-site restaurant (subject to availability).<br><br> In the afternoon continue your journey to Leonardslee Gardens, a great woodland garden, inspired by the planting ideas of Sir Uvedale Price, Richard Payne Knight and JC Loudon. Exotic plants are used a 8picturesque 9 manner, derived from landscape painting. Sir Edmund Loder bought the estate in 1889 and imported the herd of Wallabies, which still lives here.<br><br> The garden lies in a sheltered valley with a string of ponds, made a century earlier to provide waterpower for the iron industry. Being damp and slightly acid, the soil is well suited to rhododendrons, camelias and magnolias. Loder gave his name to the famous hybrid Rhododendron 8Loderi 9.<br><br> After exploring the garden on your own at leisure the owner of the garden, Mr Loden, will be taking the group on a private evening walk of the garden. This exciting evening will be followed by a private buffet dinner at the garden restaurant. Continue to Brighton for overnight.<br><br> O/N BRIGHTON Day 8 3 Brighton & Staunton This morning explore the seaside resort of Brighton, a favourite summer resort with the British nobility during the 19th century; it is still one of Britain 9s best-known coastal resorts. The town is not only famous as a seaside town with candyfloss and a Victorian Pier complete with funfair, but it also has a superb arts diary with concerts and exhibitions. Some of Brighton 9s liveliest areas are just beyond the seafront, with The Lanes, a maze of small streets and squares taking most of the attraction.<br><br> These lanes were the original streets of the village of Brighthelmstone and now form the heart of Brighton 9s antique and art craft hunter 9s paradise, mixed in with small individual restaurants and cafes. 6 Ambassador Tours 3 148 E. Michigan Ave.<br><br> 3 Kalamazoo MI 49007 USA The dazzling and exotic Royal Pavilion , an Indian Palace created by John Nash in the early 19th century for King George VI when he was Prince Regent lies just behind the Lanes. The exotic skyline has remained largely unaltered and positively extends the imagination. The gilded wall decorations with Indian themes, the fiery dragons, which feature in many of the interior schemes, the exotic furnishings and lavish colour schemes, make a visit to the Pavilion a mind-boggling experience.<br><br> Enjoy a guided tour of this fascinating house. After free time for lunch, continue west towards your next destination of Salisbury / Portsmouth/Southampton. En-route a visit will be made to the former private garden of Sir George Staunton, Staunton Country Park.<br><br> Sir George Staunton was a horticulturalist and an orientalist. The Victorian house where he lived has gone but much of his garden survives. There is a terrace, a shell house, lakes, a Chinese bridge, a crinkle crankle wall and a very large nineteenth century greenhouse.<br><br> The purpose built glasshouses, originally designed and built in the 1840's have now been restored to Staunton's original design. You can experience plant life from around the world encountering many unusual and exotic flowers from the wet and humid tropics, such as Banana, Bamboo, Bird of Paradise, Tea and Coffee plants as well as carnivorous species such as the Pitcher plant. Marvel at the exotic lily house complete with tropical fish such as pacu piranha, guppies and gourami as well as experiencing the magnificent scale of the Giant Amazon Water Lily during the summer months.<br><br> Dinner at the hotel. O/N IN THE SALISBURY/ PORTSMOUTH/ SOUTHAMPTON AREA. Day 9 3 Stourhead & Salisbury After breakfast you will drive further west to visit one of the most famous landscaped gardens of Southern England : Stourhead.<br><br> Stourhead is the best example of a garden inspired by the great landscape painters of the 17th century. Ernst Gombrich suggests it should bear the signature of Italianised French painter: Claude Lorrain (1600- 82). The garden was made by a wealthy English banker who had been buying works of art in Italy at the time he inherited the Stourhead estate.<br><br> Henry Hoare II 9s 8Claudian 9 garden was made in an unusually well proportioned valley behind the house. The Temple of Flora was made in 1745 and the grotto in 1748. But the key date was 1754, when the lake and the Pantheon were made.<br><br> The five-arched bridge was made in 1762 and the Temple of Apollo in 1765. Gothic features were added later in the century: Alfred 9s Tower, a Rustic Cottage and an Hermitage. The woods were underplanted with Rhododendron ponticum after 1791 and with more exotic species in the twentieth century.<br><br> Lunch today can be taken in the nearby town of Shaftesbury. This small hilltop market town has a long history, a ruined abbey and splendid views over the surrounding countryside. Its steep, ancient and cobbled Gold Hill is one of the most famous images of Britain.<br><br> With its steep cobbles and picturesque cottages it is the epitome of rural charm from a previous time. The winding streets of well- preserved sandstone and thatch houses make up the centre of Shaftesbury itself. In the afternoon return to Hampshire and visit Salisbury .<br><br> Rising like a swan from the water meadows, the spire of the only Cathedral conceived and executed in the Middle Ages in a single style, dominates the medieval streets. Salisbury was founded in 1220, when the old hilltop settlement of Old Sarum was abandoned, being too arid and windswept, in favour of this new site. The Cathedral, built in the early 13 th century, also holds a Cloister, the Chapter House and the Library, where one of the four copies of the Magna Carta is housed.<br><br> 7 Ambassador Tours 3 148 E. Michigan Ave. 3 Kalamazoo MI 49007 USA The Cathedral Close, originally designed to house the clerics, now forms a glorious precinct to the Cathedral.<br><br> Beyond the walls of the Cathedral Close, Salisbury developed its chessboard layout, with areas devoted to different trades, perpetuated in street names as Fish Row and Butcher Row. Now these pleasant cobbled streets and crooked market squares are lined with art shops, restaurants and tearooms. This evening dinner can be taken in a local restaurant in Salisbury, or at a supplement we can arrange for a special dinner and evening at Wilton House, a beautiful Manor House just outside Salisbury.<br><br> O/N IN THE SALISBURY/ PORTSMOUTH /SOUTHAMPTON AREA. Day 10 3 Hampton Court After breakfast the tour will lead slowly back to London. Only one visit today of Hampton Court The original Tudor Mansion of Hampton Court was created by Cardinal Wolsey, one of Henry VIII 9s richest and most powerful subjects.<br><br> He presented it to the King in an attempt to remain in favour. Hampton Court became one of Henry VIII 9s preferred country houses and he soon set about enlarging it to create one of the most splendid places in his kingdom, favoured by most of the most famous English Kings and Queens. The Chapel Royal is a stunning example of the Palace 9s rich interiors and the Tudor Kitchens are the most extensive surviving 16 th century kitchens in Europe.<br><br> Hampton Court is set in sixty acres of beautiful Tudor, baroque and Victorian gardens including its famous maze. The renaissance garden, which Henry VIII made here in the 1530s, was converted to the baroque style between 1660 and 1702. Naturally competitive, Henry VIII wanted Hampton Court to outshine Francis I 9s palace garden at Fontainbleu.<br><br> Henry VIII 9s garden had square plats of grass with lions, dragons and other painted heraldic beasts on posts. When William of Orange left Holland to become King of England, in 1688, he and Mary were delighted with Hampton Court. The air was fresher than Greenwich and kinder to William 9s asthma.<br><br> Desiring a second "Het Loo", William employed George London and Daniel Marot. They kept the canal, planted a network of avenues and made two great parterres, which later monarchs neglected. One of the parterres, the Fountain Garden, provided a semi-circle for the 8goose 9s foot 9 of radiating avenues.<br><br> It survives in plan but not as a parterre. William 9s other parterre, the Privy Garden on the site of Henry VIII 9s heraldic garden and mount, was restored between 1992 and 1995 with the greatest attention to historical accuracy. 8Privy 9 means private.<br><br> Hampton Court is a very special kind of royal garden. The group will enjoy a private tour introduced by a slide lecture on the development of the gardens, followed by a guided tour of the Privy Gardens and The Vine. Lunch can be taken at leisure at the cafetaria in the Rose Garden.<br><br> The rest of the afternoon can be spent exploring the rest of the gardens at leisure, or a visit to the fascinating castle itself. Continue on to your hotel close to the airport for dinner and overnight O/N IN HEATHROW OR GATWICK AREA. Day 11 3 Departure After breakfast the coach will take you to the airport for your flight home.<br><br> Travel Arrangements by: Ambassador Tours 148 E. Michigan Avenue Kalamazoo, MI 49007 800-247-7035 www.ambassador-tours.com