Leading U.S. tour operator Collette Vacations, in conjunction with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the UK's foremost gardening charity, has today released a complete line of new tours presented in its first-ever RHS Garden Holidays brochure.
Featuring a selection of carefully designed horticultural-themed travel packages with destinations around the world, the RHS Garden Holidays will inspire all, from the greenest of gardeners to more experienced horticulturists, with visits to exclusive gardens, private or expert tours of exceptional public and botanical gardens, and the chance to see many plants in their natural habitat. The tours are also rich in cultural highlights, making them of equal appeal to any non-gardening travel companions.
The brochure contains a total of 11 tours, with departures for certain itineraries starting as early as May 2013. Each tour is accompanied by one of Collette's expert tour managers, with local guides also being used where appropriate. In addition, some departures will also be accompanied by an RHS horticulturist, such as a Curator or specialist in their field.
Highlights of the itineraries are as follows:
Gardens of American History – 10 days, 14 meals, from $2,749: Enjoy early admission to the New York Botanical Garden and explore its famed Nolen Greenhouses, not open to the public. See the stunning Chanticleer Garden, also known as the Pleasure Garden, in Wayne, PA. Wander through the Ladew Topiary Gardens with the Head of Gardens and also view its 15 thematic “garden rooms” on this 250-acre property located in Monkton, MD. Experience a trip to the beautiful Brandywine Valley and its impressive Longwood Gardens, which is home to an astonishing 11,000 taxa of cultivated plants, representing more than 200 different plant families. Overnight inside Shenandoah National Park and travel back in time at Colonial Williamsburg, home of the Gardens of Gentility. Receive a guided tour alongside the Master Gardener at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello home in Charlottesville, VA. In Washington, D.C., fascinating stops include a visit to the historic estate of Dumbarton Oaks to experience the Ondine Garden, Johnson Addition's surrounding garden, and the Dell–all areas not open to the public. Here travelers will also discover the Hillwood Estate and Gardens before the grounds open. Departures: June 2013 - April 2014.
Historic Gardens of America's Northeast – 8 days, 9 meals, from $2,699: This trip includes spending an afternoon viewing the respected art collections of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and its courtyard garden in Boston. Travelers will also enjoy special access to areas not normally open to the public at the Dana Greenhouses at the Arnold Arboretum, a National Historic Landmark. Tour the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA with a staff horticultural specialist. Receive exclusive access to Edith Wharton's home, The Mount, where its Master Gardner guides guests through its three acres of restored gardens–among the largest and most exquisite in New England. Stroll through the Vanderbilt Mansion, a National Historic Site representing one of the oldest and most revered Hudson River estates, and also one of the finest monuments of the Gilded Age. In Tarrytown, NY, travelers receive early admission to tour Kykuit, the grand estate of John D. Rockefeller. At the estate, a specialist horticultural guide takes passengers to the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens, where 45 statuaries are strategically placed amidst 168 acres of fountains, ponds and landscape gardens. Departures: June – August 2013.
The Gardens of London featuring the Centennial RHS Chelsea Flower Show – 8 days, 9 meals, from $2,849: Includes entrance to opening day of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the world's leading horticultural show featuring top class show gardens, the famous floral marquee and fabulous shopping. Explore Hampton Court Palace, once home to King Henry VIII, with its world-famous yew tree maze (the U.K.'s oldest surviving hedge maze,) and 200,000 flowering bulbs planted amid formal gardens that flow down to the River Thames. Tour the 300-acre Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the world's largest living plant collection as well as a prominent assortment of preserved plants. Enjoy a farewell event at the RHS Garden Wisley, filled with its richly planted borders and rose gardens. As the flagship garden of RHS, travelers will dine in its state-of-the-art Glasshouse that covers an area equal in size to 10 tennis courts and rises 40 feet in height. Departures: May 2013.
The Beauty of Britain – 9 days, 10 meals, from $2,349: Stop at the famed Cambridge Botanic Garden and travel to Yorkshire, stopping en route to visit the remnants of the once-mighty but still mythic Sherwood Forest. Go to the spectacular Castle Howard for a private tour of this magnificent landmark before it opens to the public. Explore the extensive gardens and grounds with their multitude of fountains and follies. In Scotland, travelers make a morning stop at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, the splendid RHS garden in North Yorkshire. This nearly 70-acre space is dominated by water, stone, and woodland, and is an integral part of the surrounding landscape. During this trip, travelers enjoy an exclusive workshop on garden design. In addition, passengers join a local expert on a guided tour of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The history of the garden extends back to 1670 when it was begun as a physic garden on the grounds of Holyrood Palace. The current extensive grounds were first occupied in 1820 and have become renowned for horticultural excellence. Departures: May 2013 – April 2014.
Gardens of the Loire – 8 days, 9 meals, from $2,549: Spend the afternoon at King Louis XIV's magnificent Palace and Gardens of Versailles, the largest palace in Europe. A highlight of this visit will be the “Grandes Eaux” fountain show. Journey south to the Loire Valley and delight the senses at Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire's International Garden Festival. Enjoy a tour and tasting at one of the most well-known wineries in Vouvray. Become personal guests of the owner Rosamée Henrion and her son in their gardens at Plessis Sasnieres. Receive a private, guided tour of the Chateau de Villandry, the last of the great Renaissance chateaux built in the Loire. Travel to Giverny on the River Seine. These tranquil gardens combine flora and water elements, and also inspired Monet's greatest works when he lived in Giverny for more than 40 years. Departures: May – September 2013.
Portugal's Gardens featuring the Azores and Lisbon – 10 days, 15 meals, from $2,249: Fly to the Azorean island of St. Michael, the largest of the nine volcanic islands that form the archipelago of the Azores. Visit a local pineapple plantation and learn about the various stages of growth and the horticultural methods involved in making them so sweet. Experience a private tour of the Antonio Borges Botanical Gardens, the largest and most verdant municipal garden on St. Michael. Tour Terra Nostra Park, which is home to the world's largest collection of camellias. In Lisbon, visit Queluz Palace and Gardens, often called the “Versailles of Portugal,” where an expert horticulturist provides a private tour. Join landscape architect Gerald Luckhurst on a private tour of the gardens at Quinta de Regaleira, one of Sintra's most elaborate private estates. Departures: May – September 2013.
Gardens and Villas of the Italian Lakes – 10 days, 12 meals, from $3,249: Visit the Giardino Giusti, a lush sculpted garden in Verona named after the noble family that has looked after it for years. Venture to Switzerland and explore the gardens and museum collection of Villa Heleneum with a local guide. Dating back to 1931, the gardens display an amazing variety of tropical and subtropical plants and flowers which survive the winter thanks to a microclimate unique to the area. Visit Bellagio, and with a local expert tour the 18th-century gardens of Villa Serbelloni, situated high on the promontory above Lake Como. Behold a wonderful example of Italian Lombard Renaissance architecture at the Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, and receive a tour hosted by a member of the Cicogna Mozzoni family. Travel by boat to the stunning Borromean Islands to explore the enchanting Isola Madre palace and gardens featuring azaleas, pergolas of ancient wisteria, and camellia blossoms. Cruise to another of the Borromean Islands, Isola Bella, where another expert guide helps travelers discover the beauty of the island's palace and gardens. Departures: June – September 2013.
Eternal Gardens of Rome – 7 days, 8 meals, from $1,899: Meet with a specialized Vatican expert who will lead a tour of the extraordinary Vatican Gardens. Established in 1279, these gardens blend ancient statues, medieval fortifications, and monuments with a wide array of flora. Travel to the hilltop town of Tivoli to tour the famed Villa d'Este, with its picturesque gardens and glorious fountains. Venture to the ruins of the city of Ninfa. In the Middle Ages this ancient town was a bustling location along the legendary Appian Way. In the 17th-century, it was converted into the famed Giardino e Rovine de Ninfa, a tranquil garden framed by the city's Classical ruins. Explore the gardens, opened exclusively for our group, with a local expert and learn more about the beautiful flora and fauna that inhabit these grounds today. Departures: May – September 2013.
Floral Wonders of South Africa – 15 days, 23 meals, from $3,799: Head into Johannesburg for a private guided tour of the stunning Botanical Gardens featuring the formal Rose Garden with over 4,500 varieties. Experience a full day, open-air vehicle safari game drive at Kruger National Park, where a local expert leads travelers in search of the Big 5–elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino. Fly to Port Elizabeth. Founded in 1820, this coastal town is the gateway to the Garden Route, a scenic stretch of coastline set between mountain ranges and the Indian Ocean. Travelers journey through the Tsitsikamma Forest, which shelters hundreds of species of birdlife. Take a trip to Betty's Bay for a private tour of the peaceful Harold Porter Botanical Garden. Explore the collection of succulents and geophytes when heading north to the Karoo Desert Botanical Garden. In Cape Town, enjoy a private, expert-led garden tour of the acclaimed Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. This incredible setting, at the foot of Table Mountain, is home to over 5,000 species of native plants. Departures: November 2013, January 2013, and March 2014.
The Beauty of Japan – 13 days, 19 meals, from $6,249: With its fascinating culture of garden design and the associated historical traditions and rituals, no gardening holiday brochure would be complete without including Japan. This tour encompasses the two great cities of Tokyo and Kyoto as well as visits to Hakone, Nagano, Kanazawa, and Okayama while en route, ending in Osaka. Highlights include a visit to two of the Three Great Gardens of Japan – Kenroku-en, regarded by many as the finest of all – and Koraku-en, with its spacious lawns, streams, walking paths, and plum, cherry and maple trees. Travelers will also visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden with its fabulous cherry blossoms, and Ryoan-Ji, considered to be one of the finest examples of a Japanese Rock Garden. Departures: May 2013 – April 2014.
New Zealand's Garden Route featuring the North & South Islands – 19 days, 27 meals, from $4,999: Enjoy morning tea and a special garden tour with a horticulturalist at the famed Ayrlies Garden. Planted by Bev McConnell, winner of the prestigious RHS Veitch Medal, and her family, the garden is best known for its artistic and complex nature. Travel north to the Bay of Islands for an inspiring visit to the award-winning Palmco Garden, featuring exotic and native tropical palms. Walk along the historic Marine Parade Gardens, followed by a tour of original Art Deco-designed gardens in Marewa, Napier's 1930's suburb. Tour three stunning private gardens in Queenstown. Discover the meticulous gardens of Kate Sheppard, the celebrated leader of the women's suffrage movement in New Zealand. Enjoy a personal welcome and guided tour from the owner. Departures: November 2013 – March 2014.
With all bookings on RHS Garden Holidays, travelers will also receive a free, one-year membership to the RHS. Existing members will have their membership renewed on a complimentary basis.
For more information, contact a local travel agent, call Collette at 888.260.8662, or visit www.collettevacations.com.
Travelers that book by February 25, 2013 can save up to $450* per person. The offer is valid for travel through April 30, 2014, but excludes September and October departures on RHS Garden Holidays to Europe. Other restrictions may apply; call for details. All rates listed are per person, land only, double occupancy.
More information: Horticultural Society
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