Flora Garden Tours


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Spring in the Lake District and Yorkshire Garden Tour

A 7 day tour

The price of this tour is £1820, which includes a visit to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show.

This tour is not scheduled to run in , but it may be possible to arrange it for a large enough party.

This tour starts in Harrogate [Yorkshire] visiting Yorkshire gardens for three and half days and it then makes its way via more gardens to Hawkshead in the Lake District where we stay until the tour ends at Carnforth [Lancashire] railway station. The first part of the tour stays in the fine old spa town of Harrogate at The Studley Hotel. For the next three nights we shall be based in the quaint old village of Hawkshead in Cumbria staying at Queens Head Hotel.

Those that wish may take this tour as one of two separate short ones:-

Harrogate Spring Flower Show and Yorkshire gardens [3½ days costing £920]. This tour starts and finishes in Harrogate.

Lake District gardens [4 days costing £920]. This tour starts and finishes at Carnforth. A view of flower beds in the Valley Gardens at Harrogate, Yorkshire, UKThe Valley Gardens, Harrogate

The English Lakes are renowned for their scenery, glorious at all times of year but spectacular in the spring and autumn. Rhododendrons thrive on the rocky outcrops and in the shade of ancient trees. Clematis montana and wisteria festoon the stone cottages.

In the Lake District this tour stays at Queens Head Hotel in Hawkshead and visits famous gardens such as the fourteenth century Sizergh Castle, Levens Hall with its original sixteenth century topiary and the Italianate gardens of Holker Hall. At Holehird, the Lakeland Horticultural Society garden, and at many small private gardens there will be a wealth of late spring and early summer flowers.

The Cost of this tour is £1820, which includes a visit to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show and includes B&B but not evening meal. Included is transport to the gardens, garden entrance fees, and optional evening power point talks.

Flora’s small group tours typically have 5-7 of us in a comfortable 8 seater vehicle. Dr Sommerville plans and guides all tours, enthusiastically describing the plants, scenery and architecture which we encounter.

‘We have enjoyed our “holiday” immensely. Would not have been as fun without your personality, Barbara, to guide us!

The gardens were all that we had hoped and more. However, what should always make the time special are good times and good friends―it was memorable!

keep in touch with us.,

Debra and Kathy on the Lake District Tour

Alternatively, you may come for just the first three and a half days for a tour of Harrogate Spring Flower Show and Yorkshire Gardens (£920) or join us on the last four days for a tour of Lake District gardens (£920).



Spring in the Lake District and Yorkshire Garden Tour

A 7 day tour

The price of this tour is £1820, which includes a visit to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show.

Draft Itinerary

The base for the first second and third days of this tour is the fine old spa town of Harrogate where we stay at The Studley Hotel For the fourth fifth and sixth nights of the tour we shall be staying in the quaint old village of Hawkshead Hawkshead in Cumbria.

Day 1

At 9am we set out from the Studley Hotel for a tour of the centre of Harrogate and a brief visit to the Pump Room Museum. We shall visit Betty’s cafe and restaurant close to the original one founded in 1919 to have our coffee and English muffin. The waitresses still give impeccable service in their traditional caps and pinnies and one can now enjoy branches in Ilkley and York all of them displaying stunning marquetry pictures made by the French artist, Charles Spindler.

At 11am we visit the Spring Flower Show where we shall spend the rest of the day and return to the hotel in our own time. Harlow Carr anniversary flower bed in the Valley Gardens at Harrogate, Yorkshire, UKValley Gardens, Harrogate

Day 2

Today we shall be collected from the hotel at 9:15 by our minibus and driven to Harlow Carr Gardens founded in 1946 by the Northern Horticultural Society as a botanical garden to grow plants suited to the cooler conditions of the north of England. It was taken over in 2001 by the Royal Horticultural Society. [It opens at 9:30am so anyone wishing for a lovely wooded waIk starting off through the Valley Gardens can set off at 8:45am]. The gardens have 26 acres made up of mature woodland, a stream and a small lake. There are a wide variety of beds, alpine houses, the Bramwell Learning Centre and a plant and book shop. We have lunch there and in the afternoon take the minibus to visit the ruins of Fountains Abbey founded in 1132 by Benedictine/Cistercian monks. Adjoining the Abbey is Studley Royal Water Gardens—one of the early ‘English Landscape’ gardens made in 1718 by John Aislabie. It was granted World Heritage status in 1986.

We shall return to Harrogate by about 6pm.

Day 3

We leave the hotel at 9:15 to catch a bus to Ripon Cathedral founded in the seventh century. The present medieval building is on the site of the stone church built at that time and beneath the crossing there is still the original seventh-century crypt and in the choir stalls many beautifully carved misericords, the best in Britain. After this we taxi a short distance to one of the most impressive gardens in Yorkshire at Newby Hall. This is the home of Mr. & Mrs. Richard Compton and the house, built in 1690, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Adam. Built on a rise above the river Nidd, there is a long sweep of grass connecting the two with wide herbaceous borders each side. There are numerous small ‘compartment’ gardens leading off on either side and a curved pergola. There is a huge collection of rhododendrons flowering in every shade from pure whites through softer pastels to bright pinks, vivid reds and rich purples. We shall have lunch here and move on about 4pm in the minibus to Dacre Banks in Nidderdale to visit Low Hall tor tea arriving back in Harrogate by about 5.30pm.

Day 4

We leave the hotel at 9am in the minibuswith our luggage and visit Beacon Hill House, near Ilkley belonging to Mr & Mrs H. Boyle. This 7 acre moorland ‘intake’ is on a steep slope in Wharfedale and has a gorgeous spring garden with Rhododendrons, Magnolias and bulbs. It has a 19C fernery and many unusual mature trees planted in the mid 1800s onwards. We have an early lunch at Bolton Abbey in the Old Post Office cafe close to the River Wharfe and the ruins of Bolton Priory. This is an idyllic spot with breath-taking scenery.

Those taking only the Yorkshire part of the tour will have lunch and return to Harrogate with our driver. Those taking the Lake District part can get a taxi from Carnforth or Lancaster to either Levens Hall or Hawkshead. The train Journey from London takes about 3 hours

After lunch we shall be collected by our Lake District driver who will drive us west over the Pennine Hills to Cumbria where we visit Levens Hall. The family have lived in this superb Elizabethan house with its medieval pele tower since 1590 and it is one of the finest stately homes in south Cumbria. Here there is unique 17C yew topiary, the only example in England to have survived the ‘English Landscape Garden’ fashion. The old trees are still clipped in their original shapes but are now huge. There is a portrait in the house of Guillaume Beaumont, the French designer of the original garden. After tea there we drive on into the southern part of the lake District and the quaint village of Hawkshead associated with the poet William Wordsworth and, more recently, the writer and painter Beatrix Potter. We are staying in The Queens Head Hotel close to Ann Tyson’s Cottage which was the boyhood home of Wordsworth when he attended the nearby grammar school. Many of Beatrix Potter’s original illustrations for her children’s books are displayed in the building which features as the old shop in several of them. We should reach Hawkshead by 6pm and there are plenty of places to choose from for the evening meal. A view of the ruins of Bolton Priory beside the River Wharfe, Yorkshire, UKBolton Priory ruins and the river Wharfe, Yorkshire

Day 5

Today we leave the guest house at 9am to visit Stagshaw gardens on the bank of Lake Windermere. It is owned by the National Trust and will have some stunning trees in flower with a back drop of the Lake. Created by Cubby Acland, a former National Trust land agent in 1957, the garden has an outstanding collection of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas, as well as many unusual trees and plants. From here we go on towards Windermere to visit Holhird gardens run by the Lakeland Horticultural Society where we have a guided tour at 11am. There will be plenty of colour set on a steep slope with a backdrop of Lake Windermere and the Langdale Pikes which might have snow on their tops. This garden has four National Collections - Astilbe, Meconopsis, Daboecia, and Polystichum. It also has a hot drinks machine for coffee! We shall have a light lunch at Low Fell West in the Winster valley belonging to Barbie and John Handley. This is an interesting garden painstakingly created on natural out-crops of bed rock. Finally we visit two small private gardens in the Lyth valley lying very close together- Low and Middle Blakebank and then take the Bowness car Ferry across Lake Windermere to reach Hawkshead via Beatrix Potter’s home village of Sawrey. Meconopsis blue poppies and golden Azalias in the Lakeland Horticultural Society‘s Holhird gardens with Lake Windermere and the Langdale Pikes in the distance, Cumbria, UKMeconopsis and view of Lake Windermere and the distant Langdale Pikes from Holhird Gardens

Day 6

Today there will be time to explore the village of Hawkshead. You might look in at the Church, which has interesting documentation about woolen shrouds. Other intersting sites are the Grammar school and perhaps the Beatrix Potter gallery. There are a lot of gift and out-door clothing shops as well. At 11:30 we drive north to William and Dorothy Wordworth’s houses at Dove Cottage and Rydall Mount where there is a good garden high up overlooking Rydal Water. Next door is Rydal Hall built in 16th Century and the home of the Fleming family. It has an impressive and famous formal garden designed by Thomas Mawson [1861-1933]. We lunch there and have tea in Grassmere village before returning to Hawkshead.

Slate slab wall with the church and village of Hawkshead and a back drop of hills, Cumbria, UKSlate slab wall and Church, Hawkshead

Day 7

We leave with our luggage at 9:30am and drive south to call in at Beatrix Potter’s Cottage at High Sawrey and on to Holker Hall, the home of Lord and Lady Cavendish. This stunning garden has elements of the formal, the Italinate and informal plantings of old Rhododendrons. It also holds the National Collection of Styracaceae and is the home of the Great Holker Lime. At 7.9 meters in girth it is one of “Britain’s 50 Great Trees” where we have lunch. We have tea at to Sizergh Castle , a 700 year-old house run by the National Trust. It has a fine limestone rockery, a terrace and lake and the medieval house, still lived in by the Strickland family, before driving to Carnforth. [Carnforth station is where the tour ends at about 5pm and it was the setting for the 1945 British film “A Brief Encounter” starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard. It has a museum devoted to that film as well as a general Railway museum.]

Lancaster station is very close and is a major junction so trains can be taken to anywhere, London or even Glasgow [Renie Mackintosh and the Burrell collection] and Edinburgh.


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