Carol Klein is a regular presenter of Gardeners' World, where her down-to-earth approach has made her a hugely popular figure. She first appeared on the programme in the late 1990s when Geoff Hamilton featured the garden at her North Devon home, Glebe Cottage. In 2014, Life In A Cottage Garden was filmed at her property, and she was also seen on The Great British Garden Revival, a BBC series that won TV Broadcast of the Year at the Garden Media Guild Awards. Carol has a degree in Fine Art and spent many years teaching art in schools. She later ran a nursery from her home, Glebe Cottage, and showed at Chelsea for many year, so her hobby eventually became her career.
Explore Kent’s finest gardens with Carol Klein
There's a good reason that Kent is known as the Garden of England and you'll discover it on this five-day green-fingered tour of the county's horticultural highlights. You'll be shown round some of the South-East's finest houses and gardens, including Great Dixter, Sissinghurst, Hever Castle, Scotney Castle and Penshurst Place.
You will also have the chance to meet Gardeners' World regular and author Carol Klein, as she joins you for a private tour, followed by a three-course lunch at the beautiful Gravetye Manor. Considered one of the most important historic gardens in England, the 35-acre oasis was created by visionary gardener William Robinson in 1885 and Carol will talk about its significance.
Exclusive tour with Carol Klein
In what is sure to be an unforgettable experience, Carol will join you in Kent for a private tour of Gravetye Manor. In the fabulous surroundings, Carol will share her experiences and gardening secrets as well as explaining Gravetye's history and why it is one of Britain's most treasured gardens.
English garden visits
Created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson around 1930, Sissinghurst quickly became the most admired English garden of the time, and you will easily be enchanted by it. You will also visit Wakehurst Botanical Garden, where you'll witness the world's most ambitious conservation project, the Millennium Seed Bank.
Your three-star hotel during your stay is the Best Western Rose
& Crown on the high street of the historic market town of
Tonbridge. From this Tudor coaching inn with oak beams and jacobean
panels, you will explore the county's gardens. The building retains
the feel of its 16th-century original but boasts all
the modern comforts.
Reasons to book
Meet Carol Klein
Your expert guides
- Private tour of Gravetye Manor with Carol Klein, followed by included three-course lunch with wine
- Four nights in the Best Western Rose & Crown, Tonbridge
- Guided tours of Hole Park and Hever Castle
- Visits to Wakehurst Botanical Garden, Sissinghurst, Great Dixter, Ightam Mote, Emmets Garden, Scotney Castle and Penshurst Place
- Farewell cream tea at Penshurst Place
Day1Arrive in Tonbridge, welcome drink and private dinnerTonbridge, United Kingdom
16th Century character, 21st Century comfort. The Best Western Rose & Crown Hotel in the heart of Tonbridge is full of old-world charm. Opposite Tonbridge Castle, it offers traditional hospitality, with the warmest of welcomes guaranteed. Retaining the unique feel of the original building, you'll be treated to oak beams and Jacobean panels, while all renovations and extensions have been sympathetic to the its original design. Enjoy dinner at the hotel this evening.
Day2Private tour of Gravetye Manor with Carol Klein, followed by included three-course lunch with wineEast Grinstead, United Kingdom
An oasis of calm set over 35 acres of beautiful grounds. The garden at Gravetye is an especially unique feature of the manor and a piece of heritage of which we are very proud. Originally created by visionary gardener William Robinson in 1885, they are now considered one of the most important historic gardens in England. Every tree, shrub and flower is lovingly cared for by our head gardener Tom Coward, and his dedicated team.
With the garden constantly changing, with new plants and flowers making appearances you will always see something new. Here we will be joined by Carol Klein, English gardening expert and presenter on BBC's Garden's World, Carol will share her experiences, knowledge and secrets into what makes this one of the most treasured gardens in Britain. Tom Coward, head gardener will explain how his team successfully balance the garden's historically important heritage with the demands of a modern productive kitchen garden.
Explore the 500 acres of wild and wonderful woodland of Wakefield Botanical Garden at your own leisure. Discover the vast expanse of natural beauty and dramatic landscapes. Whether it's the stunning autumn vistas and buds of spring, or the vibrant summer blooms and winter showstoppers, with over 500 acres to discover there is something whatever time of year you choose to explore. Enjoy discoveries at every turn, from the dramatic sandstone cliffs of the Himalayan Glade and the wildlife-filled wonder of the Loder Valley Nature Reserve, through to the silvery beauty of birches in Bethlehem Wood.
Witness the world's most ambitious conservation project, the Millennium Seed Bank, now the largest and most diverse wild plant species genetic resource in the world, and explore the Elizabethan Mansion, home to a gallery of botanical works of art.
Return to hotel for dinner (not included) & overnight.
Day3Hole Park tour, Sissinghurst, Great DixterNorthiam, United Kingdom
Hole Park is one of the best known gardens in Kent, a worthy winner of Visit Kent's Garden of the Year award in 2016. Four generations of the Barham family have created a wonderful 16-acre garden in a magical parkland setting that must be everyone's dream. Hole Park has been owned by the Barham family for the past four generations and is set in over 200 acres of superb classic parkland. The colourful gardens enjoy far reaching views over the hills, woods and fields of the picturesque Kentish Weald. They are a skilful mix of formal design and more naturalised planting, giving colour throughout the seasons. The house, which is a private family home and therefore not open, was largely reconstructed in 1959 and is now little more than a quarter of its previous size. It resembles the house as it used to be before additions in the Elizabethan style were built in 1830.
The famous garden of Sissinghurst was created by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson from 1930 onwards and became the most admired English Garden of its time. Few great gardens live up to their reputations so effortlessly as this. Sissinghurst is a large connoisseurs' garden consisting of a series of small romantic areas enclosed by the surviving parts of an Elizabethan mansion. It never disappoints its visitors, it has the power of enchantment, but it is also an unending source of inspiration for all gardeners. Sissinghurst is surely as close to gardening perfection as you can get, and it continues to be one of the most-copied flower gardens in the world.
Great Dixter was the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd - it was the focus of his energy and enthusiasm and fuelled over 40 years of books and articles. Now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, Great Dixter is an historic house, a garden, a centre of education, and a place of pilgrimage for horticulturists from across the world.
Return to hotel for private dinner (included) & overnight
Day4Ightam Mote, Emmets Garden, Scotney CastleScotney Castle, United Kingdom
Nestled at the foot of a deep valley, the gardens at Ightham Mote occupy fourteen acres, with a sequence of water features running throughout. Without a famous plant collection, garden design or design style associated with them, the gardens have developed (like the house) with the ideas of each successive owner. As you walk down the slope and turn the corner, you'll arrive at the North Lawn with its 18th century cascade and terraced walks on either side. Originally the site of a lake, it was drained in the 18th century to create a bowling green, which was depicted much later in the painting 'A Game of Bowls' by John Singer Sargent.
Wander around the house, and past the tower to discover the Enclosed Garden hidden behind ragstone walls. This secluded, paved garden with 'secret garden' beyond provides a charming place to spend some time. Sunlight dances off the cherub fountain in the centre, whilst the soft colours and foliage of the planting scheme reflect an American's idea of a traditional English garden.
Emmets Garden was established in the late 19th century in the style of William Robinson. There are many rare and exotic plants and in Spring there are great displays of daffodils, bluebells, camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons. The garden is set up high in the Kent Weald with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. In the summer there is a good rose garden and the rock garden has recently been replanted to original plans. Emmetts Garden sits at one of the highest points in Kent, providing it with some fantastic views. On a sunny day you can sit and see for miles across the weald of Kent. Bough Beech reservoir can be seen in the distance from the bottom of the south garden, whilst Ide Hill can be spotted over the way from the wild flower meadow.
Really a fortified manor house, Scotney Castle was built in c. 1378-80 by Roger Ashburnham. It was strategically sited where the road from Rye and Hastings crossed the valley of the Bewel. The remnants of Ashburnham's house include the massive round tower rising from the lake-like moat and a ruined gatehouse. An Elizabethan brick range adjoining the tower is all that survives of the 16th-century additions, and jagged walls with gaping windows mark a substantial 17th-century wing. In 1836, Edward Hussey - the creator of the gardens we see today - consulted W.S. Gilpin, the noted landscape designer, in an effort to take advantage of the scenic potential of the site. He knew the castle was too cold and damp for habitation so he had the walls of the castle selectively demolished, leaving the present fairytale ruin.
Return to hotel for dinner (not included) and overnight
Day5Hever Castle garden tour, Penshurst Place and cream teaHever Castle, United Kingdom
The beautiful gardens at Hever Castle were laid out between 1904 and 1908 by Joseph Cheal and Son, turning marshland into the spectacular gardens you see today, which are a pleasure to visit at any time of the year. One of the most magnificent areas of the gardens is the Italian Garden, which was designed to display William Waldorf Astor's collection of Italian sculptures. Over 1,000 men worked on the grand design, with around 800 men taking two years to dig out the 38-acre (14.2 ha) lake at the far end of the Italian Garden. Within four years the 125 acres (50 ha) of classical and natural landscapes were constructed and planted. The garden is only now reaching its full maturity and includes the colourful walled Rose Garden which contains over 4,000 bushes.
There are many water features around the gardens, including Half Moon Pond, the Cascade, the cool and shady grottoes, the formal Loggia fountain inspired by the Trevi fountain in Rome, and the less formal Two Sisters' Pond.Other areas that you can stroll through include the Tudor Garden, Rhododendron Walk and Anne Boleyn's Walk, with its collection of trees planted more than 100 years ago.
Visit Penshurst Park and you will find one of the 50 Great British Trees in the country - the Sidney Oak - named after the 16th century poet Sir Philip Sidney, reputed to be 1,000 years old. Henry VIII owned Penshurst Place and used it as his hunting lodge whilst he was reputedly courting Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle. The Sidney family, owners of Penshurst Place since 1552, are related to Percy Bysshe Shelley the Romantic poet, and to the Churchill's through the Spencer family. The gardens are one of the finest examples of Elizabethan design in the country. Here you'll enjoy a farewell cream tea before setting off home.
Best Western Rose & Crown, Tonbridge
Three-star hotel in historic Tonbridge
On the high street of the historic market town of Tonbridge, the three-star Best Western Rose & Crown in a Tudor coaching inn with oak beams and jacobean panels. The building retains the feel of its 16th-century original but boasts all the modern comforts, and is the perfect base from which to explore the county's gardens.