Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you do these tours?

I love gardens and I love to travel. It's really a lot more fun to share these experiences with other people than to travel alone.

How do you choose the gardens?

I have studied landscape design and gardening since 1985 when I moved back home to Spartanburg from New York City. I took the Master Gardener program in 1990 and started teaching the Landscape Design portion of the course. I started reading up on the world's best gardens and realized that most of them were in England. After a trip to England in 1995 with my husband, I was hooked. I have many resources that keep me current with the gardens. Many gardens have to be seen over and over to appreciate their nuances but new ones are being created every year. It's unlikely I will ever see them all!

For the tours, I include the "must haves" and the lesser known gardens. I try to select gardens that are in a close geographical area so that the travel time is limited. And, I try to provide a cross-section of different types of gardens: classical, cottage-style, landscape, Italian, modern, historical, etc.

How do you choose the hotels?

Strategically. I use 3-, 4-, and 5-star hotels where possible with the emphasis on luxury as much as possible. Depending on the location and time of year, we may be limited to 3-star hotels. If this concerns you, you should probably look for another tour. To put this in perspective, remember that we leave the hotel at 9 a.m. and return around 5-6 p.m. so there is not a lot of time spent in the room.

European and especially English hotel rooms are tiny by American standards. This is to be expected because the buildings are generally 300-500 years old! Many do not have air-conditioning and that is because England is on a latitude with America's New England states of New Hampshire and Maine. Nights can be chilly even in the summer. Traveling, especially abroad, requires flexibility.

What is the pace for the tour?

I like a leisurely pace for the tours. The daily routine is as follows: 7 a.m. wake-up call, 8 a.m. breakfast, 9 a.m. depart the hotel for our first garden. Then, we either have lunch at the first garden or drive to our next venue and eat lunch there. The afternoon is spent in the second garden and, if there is time, we may make another stop. This third stop may be a garden, garden center, small village or market. We are generally back at the hotel between 5 and 6:30 p.m. If dinner is included for the group, we usually eat at 7:00 p.m.

Are you a tour guide or a host?

Technically, I'm a tour arranger. I host the tours because I arrange tour primarily so that I can see the gardens. Legally, I am not a tour guide. Guides in Europe must be registered and I am not a licensed guide for the UK. That said, our drivers are always very knowledgeable about their country and enjoy discussing it with us. In addition, my tours attract passionate gardeners who have a wealth of knowledge and are generally very willing to share with the group.

Are your tours designed for everyone?

Not really. You should have at least a passing interest in gardens and you do need to be in relatively good health. There is a lot of walking, though most of it is at your own pace. Keep in mind that the handicapped ammenities in Great Britain and Europe are nowhere near the level that we expect in the USA. This can present a problem if you are not sufficiently mobile.

How many members go on the tour?

Depending on the costs associated with the trip, I try to go with as few as six or eight people but never more than 16 which is the maximum number for the smaller coaches.

Words of Caution...

If you are very picky about things, you probably should look for another tour. I am particular about things in my own way and I understand that you may be the same, but we still may not agree on what is acceptable for these tours. If this could be an issue for you, you will probably be happier on another tour. Thanks!