Trips and Tours
Since 1998, HPSO members have traveled together to international garden destinations throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, South Africa, Spain, Portugal and Madeira, and, closer to home, to gardens in the Puget Sound area, the Mid-Atlantic states, and New York. New for 2016 will be tours to Japan, southern England, Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, and Vashon Island (Washington State)
Trips vary in duration, but they are filled with activities and represent an excellent value for the money. Tour prices typically include double accommodations, motor coach and 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 and led by HPSO members with experience in the relevant countries. HPSO works through excellent international tour companies such as STITA/Pathfinder Tours, Brightwater Tours, Sterling Tours, Samurai Tours, and ATS Pacific. These tour companies are responsible for booking arrangements overseas. Tours are open exclusively to HPSO members.
TOURS COMPLETED IN 2016
A Grand Adventure in New Zealand: The Gardens & Highlights of the North & South Islands, October 14 - November 4, 2016
Gardens of Japan: March 30-April 10, 2016 to Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kamakura, and Yokohama. Visiting Japan is a cultural adventure! As a small group of 16-18 people, we will learn about the three main types of Japanese gardens (hill garden, dry landscape garden, and the tea garden), enjoy the ritual of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, sleep on tatami mats part of the time, hike portions of the Inishie-No-Michi Trail and the forested hills behind the Great Buddha of Kamakura, tour the sites of Japan, and eat authentic Japanese food. Join the Japan Adventure group today!
Southern England - "[Quint]essential England for Gardeners: Wessex, The Downs, and Channel Coast" (in two parts), June 8-14 and June 13-19. England is famous for its gardens. There is nowhere else in the world where gardening is more popular. Join us on one or both parts of this tour and enjoy some of the very best gardens in England. Not only will you see large and famous gardens, but we've included many fabulous, smaller, and private gardens off the beaten path. This tour is ideal for first-time garden-travelers to England, but repeat travelers will also enjoy seeing new gardens as well as visiting old favorites (such as Great Dixter, Sissinghurst, and RHS Wisley)! In addition to gardens, we'll visit the key tourist sites along the way. We don't want you to miss a thing! In short, we hope that this tour will allow you to experience the best of quintessential England.
Wales and Galloway - "Britain's Wild West", June 21-July 2, 2016 This 11 day tour begins just outside London on the heels of the previous tour. Our exploration of Britain’s Wild West begins as we head out across the Cotswolds to Monmouthshire and South Wales. The rugged landscapes of Wales, the border areas known as the Welsh Marches, and the rolling hills of Shropshire will offer us well-known gardens, such as Powis Castle, contemporary gardens and historic garden restorations. Leaving the inland gardens behind, we venture into the incredible crescent of landscapes surrounding the Irish Sea. In the shadow of the mountains of North Wales we’ll find everything from the classic Welsh garden of Bodnant, to medieval castles and Victorian seaside attractions. Continuing north, our final leg takes us to the Gulf-stream-warmed coast of Galloway in Southwest Scotland. Our journey ends in Glasgow, where travelers may choose to continue on the subsequent tours.
Optional Glasgow and Isle of Arran Pre/Post Tour, July 2–4, 2016 This intersession tour is available only to travelers on the Wales tour or the subsequent Scotland tour. You may choose to add this special 2 night/3 day tour beginning in Glasgow and ending in Edinburgh. This pre/post tour features two nights in Glasgow, a visit to the Glasgow Botanical garden and a very special day on the Isle of Arran. The final day will take us to Edinburgh where travelers may leave for home or meet up with the Scotland tour.
Scotland - "Doon the Garden Paths of Scotland", July 4-14, 2016. Just as the Scots have their own legal, educational and religious institutions, they have a distinctly Scottish way of gardening, too. Confronting wet winters, cool summers, acid soils, they smile at the horticultural practices of their English compatriots and go about gardening in their own, ruggedly individual manner. Joins us on this 11 day/10 night tour and discover for yourself the many qualities that make Scottish gardens so unique. Starting in Edinburgh and concluding in Glasgow, we'll traverse the heart of Scotland, including the Kingdom of Fife and portions of Perthshire, the West Coast and the Highlands. We'll visit renowned gardens and unknown gems, meet garden owners and nursery people, acquaint ourselves with varied plant palettes and get to see what's happening in the contemporary garden scene.
Seattle/Tacoma - "Custom View of Seattle & Tacoma Public Gardens", July 27-29, 2016. Visit some of the exceptional public gardens and horticultural sights surrounding Tacoma and Seattle! Highlights will include admission to the limited-access Elizabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden as well as other special docent-led tours in some of the best public gardens in the U.S.
Vashon Island - "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 contrast to its urban neighbor. Accessible by ferry only, it is a world apart, possessing a pastoral beauty marked by farms, orchards, woodlands and empty beaches. Vashon's amazing gardens are equally beautiful and seldom seen. Join this HPSO Garden Tour and discover them with us!
TOURS ANNOUNCED AND/OR PLANNED FOR 2017
Gardens of Savannah & Charleston (April 22-29, 2017) - Sorry, this tour is now filled; contact Lois Moss for tour details. Southern hospitality awaits in two of the country’s loveliest garden cities: Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. Horticulture and gardening are important to both these communities which is reflected in their many public gardens, intimate private gardens and historic plantations. HPSO members will experience many of these and more!
"Bonjour Normandie!" The Ultimate Tour of Northern France, Part 1: Normandy (June 24-July 6 2017) - Sorry, this tour is now filled; contact Bruce Wakefield for tour details. Normandy (or “Normandie” in French), is one of France’s most beautiful regions. From vast stretches of magnificent coastline to it’s verdant interior, Normandy is a place where good food, history, and quaint towns converge to make a delightful vacation experience. It is also a great place for gardens! Situated across the channel from southern England, this region shares a similar climate and terrain (and has shared some English designers such as Lutyens and Jekyll)! This is a place where the English garden style and French garden style intermingle. Join us on this extensive tour of Normandy and see this region’s finest gardens and chateaux. Visit historical sites from Norman times to Joan-of-Arc to D-day. Tour a Calvados distillery, visit a camembert cheese museum, enjoy the Fêtes Medieval in Bayeux, and dine at seaside restaurants. This 13-day, 12-night tour is part One of the “ultimate” tour of northwestern France which includes Normandy and Brittany.
"Bonjour Bretagne!" The Ultimate Tour of Northern France, Part 2: Brittany (July 5-16, 2017) - Sorry, this tour is now filled. Contact Bruce Wakefield for tour details. Brittany (or “Bretagne” in French), is a unique region in western France. Situated on a jutting continental arm into the Atlantic, this mountainous and forested land is steeped in its Celtic roots, complete with its own language, Breton, still spoken in many parts today. [Brittany was annexed to France in 1532.] It is a land rich in culture, tradition, and history. Join us on this extensive tour of Brittany. Not only will we see fine gardens, but we’ll visit prehistoric megalith sites and tour a faïence pottery factory. We’ll visit the region’s finest châteaux and medieval fortified towns, enjoy the Fêtes Historique in Vannes and Bastille Day celebrations in Josselin. We’ll explore quaint seaside villages along a spectacular coastline and spend a day on Belle-ile-en-mer, France’s “Beautiful Island in the Sea”. This is more than just a garden tour. We plunge into all aspects of Bretagne history and culture, too! This 12-day, 11-night tour is part Two of the “ultimate” tour of northwestern France which includes Normandy and Brittany.
Southwest England: Cornwall & Devon (July 22-August 4, 2017) - Now open for registration. HPSO is returning to the United Kingdom again in 2017 with a thirteen-night tour traveling through a corner of Somerset and highlighting the gardens and history of Devon and Cornwall. From wild moorlands to sheltered cottage gardens, this special region of Britain lends itself to a unique mix of gardening styles and climates. Travelers will experience 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. You'll have time to explore on your own in charming Devonshire and Cornish towns such a Exeter, Falmouth and St Ives. We will roam the wild coastal landscapes well known to fans of the PBS series Poldark, and, of course, the perfect cream tea awaits you around every corner. Questions about this tour? Please contact tour planner Barb Christopher for tour details.
Portugal's Horticultural Treasures: Sintra, Cascais, and the island of Madeira (November 9-17, 2017) - Sorry, this tour is now filled. us for this nine-day, eight-night tour exploring 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. Both regions are blessed with year-round mild weather. Traveling at a time when Portugal is an incredible value, we benefit by staying in two luxurious hotels at bargain prices (and you’ll only pack your bags twice on the tour!). This expert-guided, fully escorted tour also includes time for independent discovery. Questions about this tour? Please contact tour planner Lois Moss for tour details.
TOURS ANNOUNCED AND/OR PLANNED FOR 2018
[In Planning] Philadelphia Flower Show (March 2018)
[In Planning] Sicily & Southern Italy (April-May 2018)
[In Planning] The Low Countries (September 2018)
[In Planning] Both Sides of the Bay: San Francisco (Sept/Oct 2018)
[In Planning] Southern Australia: Melbourne & Victoria State (November 2018)
Future tours will be announced to members through email, our member Quarterly, the HPSO Travel Interest Group (aka HPSO Travel Club), and on this web page. If you wish to have advance notice about tours, please join the HPSO Travel Interest Group. HPSO members only - contact the HPSO office to join or to be on a travel-interest mailing list.