Gardeners' World presenter Joe swift studied garden design at The English Gardening School in 1990 while he set up his own landscaping company. As well as co-anchoring the RHS Chelsea Flower Show since 2001, Joe has presented, Small Town Gardens, Garden Makers and The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge among other television programmes. He is also the author of three books, and regularly writes for a range of publications.
Discover Yorkshire’s idyllic gardens with Joe Swift
Famed for the rugged beauty of its national parks, charming medieval towns and villages and the grand estates that are dotted across its unspoiled landscapes, Yorkshire is perhaps the most quintessentially English corner of the UK. It's also home to many of the country's most innovative and impressive gardens, both old and new.
On this inspiring four-day horticultural tour, you'll visit the acclaimed grounds at Scampston, Heslington and Burton Agnes Hall, tour Jackson's Wold, a two-acre property with stunning views over the Vale of Pickering, and explore the intriguing one-acre plot at York Gate. You'll also enjoy an afternoon tea at Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms, overlooking the Royal Horticultural Society's flagship gardens at Harlow Carr.
Joining you at Scampston Hall will be popular TV presenter and landscape gardener Joe Swift, who declared its walled garden, which was opened for the first time in 2004, as his favourite in Yorkshire. Joe says:
I love the way Piet Oudolf has re-imagined what can be found within a traditional 18th-century walled garden. There's intrigue, drama and some fabulous planting design, which I'm sure will inspire garden lovers to see their own (and, most likely, more modest!) plots with fresh eyes."
Joe will show you around the gardens, pointing out some of his favourite parts, and will also give a private after-dinner talk in your hotel, when you can ask him all about his life and career, as well as get tips for your own garden.
Your accommodation for three nights will be the wonderful Principal Hotel in York. This charming period property offers comfortable en-suite rooms within a magnificent sandstone mansion. The hotel is perfectly located for exploring all that Yorkshire has to offer.
You'll visit some of the UK's most renowned gardens, including contemporary designs at Scampston Hall, the fascinating small plot at York Gate and the RHS's idyllic property at Harlow Carr.
Explore Harrogate and York
Beautifully preserved from its time as a popular 18th-century spa resort, Harrogate is full of charming cobbled streets and quirky shops, while York's stunning Gothic cathedral is one of the finest in the UK.
Visit stunning gardens
Explore Harrogate and York
Your expert guides
- Three nights' dinner, bed and breakfast at the Principal Hotel, York
- Special appearance by Joe Swift, including private talk and Q&A session
- Comfortable coach journeys from London and throughout your stay
- Visits to the gardens of York Gate, Jackson's Wold, Scampston, Burton Agnes Hall, RHS Harlow Carr, Stillingfleet Lodge, Birstwith Hall and The Nursery
- Afternoon tea at Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms in Harrogate and refreshments in the gardens at Heslington
- Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager
Day1Stillingfleet LodgeHarrogate, United Kingdom
Depart by coach from London and travel north to Yorkshire, stopping en route for refreshments (not included). Your first visit will be to Stillingfleet Lodge, a plantsman's garden which is subdivided into smaller gardens, each based on a particular colour theme with emphasis on the use of foliage plants. Also featured are a wild flower meadow and natural pond, long double herbaceous borders and a modern rill garden. Rare breeds of poultry wander freely in garden and there is an adjacent nursery should you be looking for a souvenir of your trip.
Following your visit, continue to your accommodation - the four-star Principal Hotel, in York. All rooms are en-suite with flat screen TVs and tea and coffee making facilities. Dinner is served in the hotel this evening.
Day2Burton Agnes Hall, Scampston and Jackson's WoldMalton, United Kingdom
After breakfast, you'll visit the award-winning gardens of Burton Agnes Hall, which offer something for everyone, from the walled garden containing over 4000 different plant species, herbaceous borders, a jungle garden and national collection of campanulas, to the woodland walk and maze.
You then continue to the walled garden at Scampston, which was opened for the first time in 2004. This inspired contemporary garden of 4.5 acres was designed by the internationally acclaimed Piet Oudolf, winner of a gold medal and the "Best in Show" at Chelsea in 2000, and his innovative and striking use of grasses and perennial meadow plantings provide a wealth of interest.
Exclusive Event: You will be joined here by celebrity gardener Joe Swift, who nominated Scampston as his favourite Yorkshire garden. Joe will join you as you tour the garden picking out points of interest.
Your final visit today is to nearby Jackson's Wold, a two-acre property with stunning views over the Vale of Pickering. There is another walled garden here, of a more conventional but no less pleasing variety, with mixed borders and numerous old roses under-planted with unusual perennials. Woodland paths connect with further shrub and perennial borders while a lime avenue leads to a wildflower meadow. There is also a traditional vegetable garden with roses, flowers and box edging framed by a Victorian greenhouse.
Dinner is served in the hotel this evening, after which Joe Swift will entertain you with a talk and Q&A session.
Day3Harlow Carr, Birstwith Hall and The NurseryHeslington, United Kingdom
This morning after breakfast, we will vist Harlow Carr, the Royal Horticultural Society's northern flagship, which continues to set the highest possible standards in the gardening world. Within this handsome and well wooded site there are sections devoted to particular groups of plants: a rose garden, a bulb garden and an arboretum, along with three different kinds of rockeries. There are also displays of new cultivars in the trial gardens, which vary according to the season. Refreshments at Betty's Tearoom are also included.
After some free time and an opportunity for lunch (not included) in Harrogate, we continue to a large four acre garden nestling in a secluded Yorkshire dale. The garden is the property of Sir James and Lady Akyroyd and features a formal garden and ornamental orchard, extensive lawns, picturesque stream, large pond, and Victorian Greenhouse.
We then continue back to York, stopping en route for a visit to a hidden, attractive and productive one acre garden behind a suburban house. Here we will find over 100 fruit trees, many in trained form. Many different vegetables are grown both outside and under cover including a large 20m greenhouse. These productive areas are interspersed with informal ornamental plantings which provide colour and habitat for wildlife. Refreshments are also included.
Dinner will be served at the hotel this evening.
Day4York GateAdel, United Kingdom
This morning after breakfast you will visit York Gate, a one acre garden tucked behind the ancient church at Adel on the northern outskirts of Leeds. Created by the Spencer family during the second half of the twentieth century, this is a garden of immense style and craftsmanship, widely recognised as one of the most innovative small gardens of the period.
In 2017 The Times listed York Gate as the seventh best garden to visit in the UK. The garden is divided by yew and beech hedges into a series of 14 garden rooms each with its own theme and style. The formal Herb Garden with its topiary, the Dell with its half-hidden pathways and stream and clever vistas provide exciting ideas for potential in smaller gardens. Evergreens clipped into strong architectural shapes are used to spectacular effect throughout the garden.
Following this, you will return by coach to your original departure points.
The Principal York
The Principal Hotel is beautifully designed, with elegant furnishings, attractive bedrooms and an excellent restaurant
A short walk from York Railway train station, The Principal is a four-star hotel housed in a magnificent late-Victorian building, the interior of which was renovated in 2005.
Outside, there are impressive landscaped gardens, and the property also has a sweeping view of the sea. Bedrooms are modern and comfortable, with thick duvets and foam pillows. Breakfast is eaten at the bar, while The Refectory restaurant serves freshly cooked seasonal dishes.
Other amenities include a private pool with a hot tub, a sauna and a whirlpool, a gym area and fitness centre. City centre attractions such as Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms and York Cathedral are also nearby.
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