Gardens / Botanical

Choosing the Right Gardens / Botanical Vacation

Suggested Tour Operators

South Pacific

Discovery Travel (http://www.discoverytravel.co.nz, Tel. + 64 3 3578262)
A Christchurch-based tour operator offering three tours to private gardens in the local area.

United Kingdom

Britain Express (http://www.britainexpress.com/tours/gardens-summer.htm, Tel. + 1 214 265 7782)
Offers tours of some of England’s finest gardens in Yorkshire, the Cotswolds and Surrey in the company of a gardening expert.
Garden Tours (http://www.gardens-scotland.co.uk, Tel. +44 (0) 1463 731 628)
Tours of gardens and nurseries in the North of Scotland with an expert.
British Garden Tours (http://www.britishgardentours.co.uk)
Guided tours of magnificent southwest English gardens including the Cotswolds with experts that include head gardeners and the owners of estates.
Flora Garden Tours (http://www.flora-garden-tours.co.uk, Tel. + 44 1366 328 946)
Visits English botanical or historical country and open heritage gardens in the Cotswolds, Devon and Cornwall.

North America

The Secret Garden Tour (http://www.secretgardentours.org, Tel. + 1 (401) 847 0514)
Tours of the private gardens and hidden yards of some of Newport, Rhode Island’s most prestigious homes and estates.
Cheval’s Garden Tours (http://www.chevalsgardentours.com, Tel. + 1 703-592-6836)
Garden tours in and around Virginia by an independent operator.
Garden Inspired Tourism (http://www.gardeninspiredtourism.org, Tel. + 1 604 574 7772 or + 1 800 435 5622)
Offers garden tours or garden inspired getaways in British Columbia. Also helps arrange self-guided daytrips.
Historic Garden League (http://www.historicgardenleague.org, Tel. + 1 831 649 3364)
A non-profit foundation formed to restore and maintain the historic gardens of the Monterey State Historic Park gardens. HGL volunteers also provide tours of six gardens.
Victorian Gardens Tours (http://www.victoriangardentours.com, + 1 (250) 380-2797)
Offers customized tours of scenic public and private gardens throughout the Victoria, British Columbia and lower Vancouver Island.

Worldwide

ToursGallery (http://www.toursgallery.com, Tel. + 61 7 3359 6651)
Worldwide escorted special interest tours to Asia and Europe taking in national parks, gardens and nurseries.
American Horticultural Society (http://www.ahs.org/events/travel_study.htm, Tel. + 1 703 768 5700)
The AHS has a series of national and international trips that include Costa Rica, Europe, Australia and American gardens.
Coopersmith’s Garden Tours (http://www.coopersmiths.com, Tel. + 1 415 669 1914)
High quality garden, country inn and fine arts tours in Great Britain, Europe, New Zealand and California.

Europe

Fat Tire Bike Tours Paris (http://www.fattirebiketoursparis.com, Tel. + 33 1 5658 1054)
Offers tours of the gardens of Paris, Versailles, the Loire Valley and Monet’s Garden on a bicycle.
Secret Gardens (http://www.secretgardensitaly.com, + 39 320 6077 749)
Hosts historical garden tours of Rome, Lazio and Umbria.

Do-it-yourself options

There are a number of books on the market and travel websites that can help you plan your own garden-visiting itinerary. If you have enough knowledge of flora and like to be independent, nothing beats the pleasure of going it on your own. Browse the websites of tour companies to see what they offer and how you might replicate your own journey. Find out when the major flower shows are on, as these are often held during the best seasons, and schedule them into your journey.

You may not get the access to as many private estates as tour companies do, but you could try writing to the estate owners in advance to see if access might be specially granted.

If you are visiting popular garden locations try to arrive early to avoid the crowds and tour groups. It is usually the best time in the garden anyway when the most birds and insects are prevalent, and the grounds are cool and crisp. Saturdays and Sundays can be particularly busy in public gardens and public holidays might be best avoided.

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