Garden Tours

There are many superb gardens to visit throughout the south east of England, ranging from well-known estates such as Sissinghurst and Great Dixter to lesser-known gardens such as Doddington Place and Pashley Manor, which are equally worthwhile. Depending on the season and length of time you have available, we can propose a tour to one or more splendid gardens, combined with a selection of local attractions to make the most of your day.

Sandwich, Deal and Walmer Castle

Sandwich is one of the most complete medieval towns in Britain and its street plan has little changed since the 14th century. Enjoy a guided walk through the fascinating centre, which is full of listed buildings including public houses, churches, almshouses and gates in the old town walls. 

Following the coast, we pass through Deal, once the busiest port in England, where Henry VIII built a castle in the shape of a Tudor rose to protect the town against naval attack. Today, Deal is a seaside resort with quaint streets and historic houses.

Walmer Castle is still the official residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The Duke of Wellington, one of the most famous wardens, left behind a collection of memorabilia and actually died here in 1852. Other past wardens include Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who has a lovely garden bearing her name. The historical gardens of the Castle are outstanding and  are worth a visit in their own right.

Starting Point: Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone (including train stations and ferry terminals)

Duration: Up to 5 hours

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Walmer Castle

The Cinque Port of Rye combined with the Garden of Sissinghurst 

A short drive heading west takes us through the Cinque Ports of Hythe and New Romney to the picturesque town of Rye with its cobbled lanes, ancient buildings and magnificent views over the Romney Marshes and English Channel beyond. Soak up all the highlights of this medieval town on a guided walk before heading inland to Sissinghurst Castle, which boasts one of the most famous and beautiful gardens in England.

The Sissinghurst estate comprises a 16th century tower and other medieval buildings surrounded by perhaps the most famous 20th century garden in England. The abundant and brilliant planting of the garden by Vita Sackville-West, the ‘artist-gardener’, are reflected in the romance and intimacy of her poems and writings.

Starting Point: Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone

Duration: Up to 5 hours

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Sissinghurst Castle

The Garden of Sissinghurst combined with Great Dixter

Enjoy the magnificent scenery of rural Kent as you drive through winding country lanes to 16th century Sissinghurst Castle with its remarkable garden, planted in the 20th century by poet and writer, Vita Sackville-West. Among the various garden ‘rooms’, the White Garden is perhaps the most famous and has certainly been the most influential in the gardening world.

After stopping off for a bite to eat in an idyllic Kentish village,  continue to Great Dixter, a a charming 15th century timber-framed manor house in East Sussex redesigned by the architect, Edwin Lutyens. The magnificent gardens were developed in the Arts and Craft style by Christopher Lloyd, a well known garden writer and television personality, who lived there throughout his life. Great Dixter is notable for its huge variety of unusual plants and superb Long Border. It is a place of pilgrimage for horticulturists from across the world.

Starting Point: Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone

Duration: Up to 5 hours

Great Dixter

Nymans plus Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens

For garden lovers, this is a truly exciting combination.  Nymans is a well-known English garden close to the village of Handcross in the Sussex Weald. The garden was developed at the end of the 19th century by 3 generations of the Messel family. At the beginning of the 20th century, Colonel Leonard Messel and his wife Maud further developed the gardens with a wide selection of plants brought back from southern continents. 

Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens are considered to be the finest woodland gardens in the country. With 7 lakes and a combination of forest, rock garden and parkland, these spectacular gardens were first planted in 1801 and reopened in 2019 after a huge 10-year restoration project. 

Classic afternoon tea is available at the Michelin-starred restaurant in Leonardslee house.

Starting Point: This tour would be ideal to include on  a transfer to/from Gatwick Airport

Duration: Up to 4 hours plus travelling time from departure point

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Nymans