Garden Travel

WHERE HPSO TOURS GO

Since 1998, HPSO members have traveled together to international garden destinations in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Madeira, South Africa, New Zealand and Japan. A new destination - Australia is in the works.

Closer to home, our U.S. tours have featured gardens in Washington and California. The Puget Sound Islands tour series has highlighted the gardens of Whidbey and Vashon Islands, and a trip to Bainbridge Island is in the works. Another tour series is planned for California beginning with the Bay Area in 2019. Trips to the East Coast have also been popular. Recent destinations include New York City, the Hudson Valley, Savannah and Charleston. A visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show is in the works.

HOW WE CREATE AN HPSO TOUR

HPSO tours have distinctly garden oriented focus that supports our mission to provide great horticultural education opportunities for our members. Tours include a variety of cultural and historical sites that round out the landscape. Trips vary in duration, and they are filled with activities. HPSO tours represent an excellent value for the money.

Tour prices typically include double accommodations, motor coach and professional guide, tour gratuities, many meals, and admission to all gardens and other sites along the way. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from the tour's start and finish points, including airfare.

Tours are conceived, researched and led by HPSO members with experience in the relevant destinations. HPSO works through excellent international tour companies that are responsible for booking arrangements. Tours are open exclusively to HPSO members.

HOW TO GET ON AN HPSO TOUR

Tours are announced to members through emails, our member magazine the HPSO Quarterly, the HPSO Travel Interest Group (a.k.a. HPSO Travel Club), and on this web page.

HPSO Members who wish to have advance notice about tours must join the HPSO Travel Interest Group.  There is no fee for joining the group and no obligation to attend extra meetings. Travel Interest Group members receive earlybird registration privileges for HPSO tours. Contact the HPSO office to join and be on a travel-interest mailing list.


Tours Announced for 2018

[In Planning] “Philadelphia Flower Show”
March 2- 7, 2018

Look for tour registration in October 2017. Contact us if you would like more information.

For many residents in the Northeast, the Philadelphia Flower Show marks the beginning of the gardening season, much like the Seattle show does here in the Pacific Northwest. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s show began in 1829 and is now America’s largest and longest running garden show. It’s a must-see bucket-list event for any gardener. For 2018, the theme will be “The Wonders of Water,” and we can expect some truly amazing display gardens. Travelers will receive tickets for two days at the show including special PHS member-only preview hours. Our tour will also include a day outside the city visiting the spectacular Longwood Gardens where the conservatories will be a lush oasis. This five-night tour will also give you plenty of freedom to enjoy many of Center City Philadelphia’s cultural attractions and museums.


"The Enchanting Island of Sicily"
April 23-May 3, 2018

SORRY. THIS TOUR IS NOW FILLED. Contact us if you would like to place your name on the wait list.

Sicily (or Sicilia, pronounced See-CHEE-lee-ah by the natives) is a varied land steeped in history! As the largest island in the Mediterranean, strategically located in the center, it was constantly invaded over millennia - by the Carthaginians, Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, Spanish, and Bourbons until it ultimately became part of modern Italy. Join us on this tour of this enchanting island. We will experience equal parts of Sicily’s gardens, gastronomy, history, archeology, and architecture.


"Gardens & Villas of Southern Italy"
May 7-May 18, 2018

SORRY. THIS TOUR IS NOW FILLED. Contact us if you would like to place your name on the wait list.

For thousands of years, Southern Italy has been a desirable destination due to its strategic location, benign climate, beautiful coastline, fertile soil, and fine food! It is a land filled with history.  Join us on this southern Italy tour as we see fabulous cliff-top villas, visit the famous archeological site of Pompeii, tour the Pope’s private garden in Castel Gandolfo, visit royal palaces and museums, see the stunning Amalfi coast, and enjoy the magical islands of Capri and Ischia in the Bay of Naples, as well as visit incredible gardens - and a lot more! We will see the most romantic garden in Italy, the private garden of Ninfa, built on the ruins of a medieval village Our main tour will focus on the regions of Campania (encompassing Naples) and Lazio (home of Rome).  An optional pre-tour to the Boot of Italy will explore areas further south - the regions of Calabria, Basilicata, and Puglia, visiting the UNESCO world heritage sites of Matera and Alberobello.  


[In Planning] "A Tale of Two Cities: Gardens of London & Paris"
May 23-June 5, 2018

Look for tour registration soon. Contact us if you would like more information.

From the rooftops to the parklands, London and Paris are filled with gardens both great and small. Travelers will explore both contemporary and historical gardens in two of Europe’s great cultural capitals. With at least five nights in each city you will also have time on your own to take in some of the sites as well. In each half of the tour, we will include a day out in the country to take in the flavor of the estates and chateaux orbiting these capitals. We will also take advantage of some of the cultural offerings from theatre in the West End to a concert in Paris. Our journey will include transit on the Eurostar train through the Chunnel. For those who wish to come a few days early, we will offer a pre-tour package to attend the Chelsea Flower Show.


[In Planning] "Beautiful Bainbridge Island"
July/August 2018

Check back later in Fall 2017 for details. Contact us if you would like more information.

This is the third in the HPSO island series featuring the gardens of Puget Sound. Veteran tour leaders Nancy Goldman and Lucy Hardiman are cooking up another spectacular summer tour.


"Border Crossings: Garden Discoveries in The Netherlands, Belgium, & Northwest Germany"
September 4-16, 2018

SORRY. THIS TOUR IS NOW FILLED. Contact us if you would like to place your name on the wait list.

With this tour, Nancy Goldman and Jim Rondone return to one of their favorite gardening regions of the world.  Explore great public gardens and parks, several leading nurseries, and a number of superb private gardens on this 13-day, 12-night tour, which is almost entirely new compared to their 2008 and 2011 tours to the region.  Other sites with historical and natural significance are also included.  As usual, many of the stops on the tour are seldom seen by Americans or the independent traveler.


"Land of the Fynbos: Exploring the Gardens & Highlights of South Africa's Western Cape"
September 17-28, 2018

SORRY. THIS TOUR IS NOW FILLED. Contact us if you would like to place your name on the wait list.

The fynbos forms part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of the richest concentrations of plants in the world with over 9500 species!  This 12-day/11-night tour of South Africa’s Western Cape will explore the richness of the native flora and discover spectacular gardens (both private gardens and notable public gardens such as the world-class Kirstenbosch).  Included on the tour will be visits to exquisite vineyards and wine estates, excursions to the African continent’s most southern points, guided walks through a nature reserve and coastal reserve to view the southern right whales, and even a 2-night stay in a private game reserve with included wildlife safaris!


[In Planning] "Mediterranean Sun: Catalonia to the Algarve”
November 6-21, 2018

Look for tour registration soon. Contact us if you would like more information.


Tours in Planning for 2019

[In Planning] "Both Sides of the Bay; San Francisco to Oakland"
May/June 2019

[In Planning] "The East of England & the Thames River Valley"
July 4 - July 15, 2019

[In Planning] "Coast to Coast: The English Channel Islands & Brittany's Emerald Coast"
July 18 - July 31, 2019

[In Planning] "Australia: Sydney & Melbourne"
November 2019


Past Trips & Tours

HPSO offers custom tours, and we do not repeat our destinations every year. However, there are some popular garden spots that do tend to cycle onto the tour calendar fairly frequently. HPSO members in our Travel Interest Group also provide feedback that helps us with program ideas for new tours. A sampling of our recent tours is provided here.

2017

“Gardens of Savannah & Charleston”
April 22-29, 2017

Springtime and Southern hospitality in two of the country’s loveliest garden cities were the focus of this tour.  Horticulture and gardening are important to both these communities which is reflected in their many public gardens, intimate private gardens and historic plantations. 

"Bonjour Normandie!" The Ultimate Tour of Northern France, Part 1
June 24-July 6, 2017

Magnificent coastline, verdant interior, good food, quaint towns and great gardens converge in Normandy. Situated across the channel from England, this region shares a similar climate and terrain. The English garden style and French garden style intermingle.  This extensive tour of Normandy featured the region’s finest gardens and chateaux. Visits included historical sites from Norman times to Joan-of-Arc to D-day, a Calvados distillery, a camembert cheese museum, and the Fêtes Medieval in Bayeux. 

"Bonjour Bretagne!" The Ultimate Tour of Northern France, Part 2
July 5-16, 2017

Situated on a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic, Brittany’s mountainous and forested land is steeped in its Celtic roots, complete with its own language, Breton, still spoken in many parts today. Beyond gardens, this cultural odyssey included: prehistoric megalith sites, a faïence pottery factory, châteaux and medieval fortified towns, the Fêtes Historique in Vannes, Bastille Day celebrations and a day on Belle-ile-en-mer, France’s “Beautiful Island in the Sea”.

“Gardening to Land’s End: Cornwall & Devon”
July 22-August 4, 2017

This tour featured a bit of Somerset, but really highlighted the gardens and history of Devon and Cornwall.  From wild moorlands to sheltered cottage gardens, this corner of Britain has a mix of garden styles and climates. Travelers experienced the wonder of the Eden Project biomes, the magic of Tresco Abbey and the charm of the Arts & Crafts manor gardens tucked along the south coast.  There was time to explore charming Devonshire and Cornish towns including Exeter, Falmouth and St Ives.

Portugal's Horticultural Treasures: Sintra, Cascais, and the island of Madeira
November 9-17, 2017

This nine-day, eight-night tour explores Cascais and Sintra on the Portuguese Rivera, and the volcanic slopes of the island of Madeira, with its unique flora and fauna. You’ll be astounded by the natural beauty, horticultural diversity and stunning gardens of these locales, including three UNESCO World Heritage sites. This expert-guided, fully escorted tour also includes time for independent discovery. Click here for a brochure describing the full tour and itinerary.


2016

“Quintessential England for Gardeners: Wessex, The Downs, and the Channel Coast”
June 8-19, 2016

Nowhere else in the world is gardening more popular than in England. This tour highlighted some of the very best that country has to offer from large famous gardens to small private gardens off the beaten path. Travelers enjoyed visits to Great Dixter, Sissinghurst, RHS Wisley. This tour was ideal for first time HPSO garden travelers.

“Britain’s Wild West: Wales & Galloway”
June 21-July 2, 2016

The rugged landscapes of Wales, the border areas of the Welsh Marches, and the rolling hills of Shropshire offered well known gardens, such as Powis Castle, contemporary gardens and historic garden restorations. In the shadow of the mountains of North Wales finding everything from the classic Welsh garden of Bodnant, to medieval castles and Victorian seaside attractions. The final leg of the tour highlighted the Gulf-stream-warmed gardens Galloway, Scotland.

“Doon the Garden Paths of Scotland”
July 4-14, 2016

Travelers discovered the many qualities that make Scottish gardens as distinct as their legal, education and religious institutions. Starting in Edinburgh and concluding in Glasgow, this tour traversed the heart of Scotland. Renowned gardens and unknown gems presented varied plant palettes and both historical and contemporary garden schemes.

“Custom View of Seattle and Tacoma Public Gardens”
July 27-29, 2016

This two-night bus-tour left from Portland to visit some of the exceptional public gardens surrounding Tacoma and Seattle. Travelers were treated to special docent-led tours and a visit to the limited-access Elizabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden.

“Discovering Vashon Island & Its Uncommon Gardens”
August 7-10, 2016

Situated just 22 minutes from the hustle and bustle of downtown Seattle, Vashon Island presents a sharp contract to its urban neighbor. A ferry ride took travelers to a world apart with pastoral beauty marked by farms, orchards, woodlands, serene beaches and spectacular gardens.

“A Grand Adventure in New Zealand: The Gardens of the North and South Islands”
October 11-November 4, 2016

Travelers explored the gardens and natural wonders of the North Island (a 10-night tour) and the South Island (a 12-night tour) and a special pre-tour (3-nights) to the northernmost peninsula and the Bay of Islands. Travelers followed the burgeoning springtime in New Zealand as they traveled south. Along the way there was time to explore Maori culture, volcanic landscapes, and natural beauty of the Southern Alps and Milford Sound.


2015

“A Grand Tour of Ireland: The Gardens of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland”
July 1-19, 2015

Travelers were charmed by this verdant isle and its glorious gardens. This Grand Tour was offered in two parts. The first highlighted Dublin, Northern Ireland, and the wild western coast. The second began in Ennis and followed a path from the Ring of Kerry, around the south and back to Dublin.

“The High Line to the Hudson Valley”
September 13-19, 2015

Travelers enjoyed gardens from the High Line in Manhattan to the botanical garden in Brooklyn before venturing up the Hudson for some very exclusive private garden visits even including a visit to Martha Stewart’s garden.


2014

“An Andalusian Odyssey: Palaces Patios & Gardens of Southern Spain”
April 26-May 7, 2014

Travelers enjoyed great palace gardens, Medieval castles, picturesque hilltop villages, Moorish ruins, and fabulous food from Seville to Lisbon on this multicultural odyssey. A special pre-tour to the city of Madrid was offered as well.

“The Fairyland Palaces & Gardens of Portugal in the Springtime”
May 7-19, 2014

This thirteen-day adventure began in Lisbon and moved North, with stops including Sintra, Obidos, Coimbra, and Porto before returning south to Cascais and Lisbon. From the grand estate garden to the Port vineyards to the museums of Lisbon, there was something for all the senses.

“Madeira: The Flower & Garden Island of the Atlantic”
May 19-24, 2014

The unique climate and landscape of this magical garden island off the African Coast provided travelers with an abundance of horticultural experiences. Towering sea cliffs, terraces of sub-tropical gardens, cable car vistas, historic markets, and palatial quintas make this island into a bit of paradise.

“Princely, Public & Private Gardens of Berlin & Potsdam”
September 16-23, 2014

The rich, tumultuous, and often tragic history of Germany was on full display for travelers exploring everything from the expansive domains of Prussian kings to the city gardens of modern-day Berliners.


2013

“The Mystical Land of the Cathars, Carcassonne and Picturebook Provence”
April 21-May 2, 2013

Travelers found a world of great gardens amongst the Medieval castles, hilltop villages, vineyards and Roman ruins in the region from Languedoc to the Cote d’Azur. Highlights included a boat ride on the Canal du Midi, the villages of St. Guilhelm-le-Desert, Minerve and Rousillion, shopping and sightseeing in the cities of Avignon and Nice. A post-tour extension allowed some travelers to stay on and visit Cinque Terre.

“Adventures & Gardens in Northern Italy; From the Italian Lakes to the Venetian Canals” May 4-15, 2013

Superb scenery surrounded every garden as this tour visited Lakes Maggiore, Como and Garda. Stops off in Verona and Padua led into a few final days touring the islands of the Venetian lagoon including Murano, Burano and Torcello.

“The Gardens and Wonder of Whidbey Island” July 10-13, 2013

Just 30 miles north of Seattle, Whidbey is the largest island in Puget Sound and is home to extensive forest and farmland as well as some of the region’s best gardens. Travelers left from Portland for three nights on this special island. The return trip featured mainland visits to Far Reaches Nursery and Heronswood Nursery.