Bespoke garden tours in Dorset and around

Sample 3/4 day itinerary for two guests in May 2024

We can create a unique itinerary for small groups, staying at lovely 3, 4 or 5 star hotels in the county.

Below is a sample of a tour we created for two guests, in May. As ever, we wanted to show off this unique region of England, widening our brief to bring in not just some wonderful gardens and restaurants but also country walks, a private view, and a lively Saturday antiques market.

Please get in touch below to discuss your plans. 

Day One

Collect from the station (eg., Dorchester or Sherborne) and go to your hotel for lunch.

Created by the artist John Hubbard and his wife Caryl, and justly compared to Sissinghurst and Hidcote, the garden at Chilcombe is a paradise in every sense, composed of linked enclosures all hidden away in the hills behind Chesil Beach. The main walled garden is divided into a series of rooms by pleached apple trees and sculpted yew hedges. Each of these intimate spaces invites you to stop and admire the plantsmanship and love that went in to its creation.

Return to the hotel for drinks and dinner.

Chilcombe
Stoke Abbott

Day Two

In the morning we visit the village of Stoke Abbott, one of the most magical and secluded villages in Dorset. We’ll see the gardens at Manor Farm, Simon Tiffin’s own home, and picnic in the magnificent orchard, enjoying a talk by James Crowden, the poet and author of Cider Country: How an Ancient Craft Became a Way of Life.

In the afternoon we can explore further this wonderful corner of west Dorset with a walk through beech woods to the summit of Lewesdon Hill, an Iron Age hillfort above the village that acted as a waymark for sailors out in Lyme Bay.

Later we’ll take the opportunity to attend a private view, organised by one of England’s leading flower painters.

Day Three

Bridport is one of England’s liveliest (and loveliest) little Georgian towns and the weekly morning market is always a draw, combined with exploring the antique and junk shops in The Alleyways.

 
We will have lunch overlooking the sea, on the clifftops at the Seaside Boarding House, and then go on to Mapperton, home to the Earl and Countess of Sandwich.

 
Mapperton has been described as the nation’s finest manor house and its grounds are equally remarkable. Caroline, Countess of Sandwich, has kindly agreed to show us the gardens, which feature stunning topiary, a magnificent orangery and a recently restored eighteenth century swimming pool. The planting in the borders is varied and elegant and the arboretum features a stunning collection of trees and shrubs.

Day Four

Check-out at 10am, after breakfast.

Jim Bartos is a native New Yorker and noted garden historian, former Chairman of the Board of the Gardens Trust. His exquisite gardens at the Old Rectory in Corscombe, unfolding with a magnificent interplay of exuberance and restraint, overlook three counties, and Glastonbury Tor.

Lunch is at the award-winning Brassica in the peaceful little town of Beaminster.

In the afternoon we head north to Hauser and Wirth, Bruton, to visit the stunning garden designed by Dutchman Piet Oudolf, a leading exponent of the “New Perennial” movement. The Oudolf Field is a large perennial meadow that flows organically from the gallery buildings. Known for his use of plants with spectacular seed heads, Oudolf has created a garden that has interest all year round, in a celebrated Somerset setting. 

Return to London.