My husband, Michael, and I went on the Romantic Gardens Tour of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey in June of 2003. I am a somewhat ‘serious’ amateur gardener, have taken gardening classes through UCLA Extension, and belong to several garden clubs. My husband is not a gardener and was a bit worried about going on a garden tour. We both had a wonderful time on Barbara’s tour. I spent most of my time in the gardens and although my husband also enjoyed the gardens he focused more on the historical homes that are part of many of the gardens as he is interested in history.Sissinghurst Garden
We usually don’t go on tours as we usually prefer going on our own but decided to try Barbara’s tour as it was a small group and we wouldn’t have to adjust to driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road or spend time getting lost. This was a good decision as we were much more relaxed not having to deal with the logistics and the group was small enough that we never had the feeling that we were being herded from one place to the next. A couple from the Boston area, an English woman from New Zealand, and a woman from Australia also joined the tour. The mix of nationalities, backgrounds, and ages was another positive. Everyone on the tour enjoyed it even though their knowledge of and interest in gardening varied widely.
We usually visited two gardens a day although on occasion three. The gardens varied and included famous gardens like Sissinghurst, Great Dixter, Nymans, Wisley, etc. but also included charming small individually owned gardens. We also visited a well known pottery. When we visited a garden we would arrange to meet at a certain time so participants had the option of going off on their own, teaming up with others, or viewing the garden with Barbara. I particularly liked this arrangement which allowed for individual preferences and worked in a very fluid casual manner.
Barbara Sommerville was very organized with a relaxed manner and a good sense of humor. She was knowledgeable about the resources in the area and when one of the gardens opened later than usual we made an enjoyable detour to a famous nursery. She was also attentive to people’s special needs and requests.
We hope to go on another Flora Garden Tour in the future.
If you have specific questions about the tour, you’re welcome to email me and I’ll attempt to answer them.
Go back to the Romantic Gardens of Kent, Sussex and Surrey page. Sissinghurst Castle herbaceous border
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