Great English Gardens in The Lake District

Great English Gardens in The Lake District

Tour highlights:

• Exclusive visit to Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd private garden
• Holker Hall & Gardens, Lord and Lady Cavandish’s private garden
• Abi and Tom’s nursery has a vast choice of hardy perennials to purchase
• Sizergh Castle, impressive formal gardens mixed with meadows
• Levens Hall, award winning topiary garden
• Lowther Park – Dan Pearson’s design in the ruins of the castle
Day one – Tuesday 22nd May

Our tour begins with a mid-morning flight from Dublin to Manchester. On arrival, we will be met by our coach and driven through Beatrix potter countryside to our first garden.
We will visit one of Britain’s foremost garden designer Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd’s private garden, Gresgarth. Arabella’s list of blue-chip clients include Duke of Westminster, members of the Rothschild family and singer Sting.
Gresgarth Hall is the most magical place. Created over a period of nearly 40 years, this is a garden to get lost in, a place to sit and dream, wander in the dapple shade of the arboretum or to be inspired by the expert planting combinations in the formal borders. A garden like this is a rare thing, combining both design and horticultural excellence with a passion for plants.
Spanning roughly 10 acres, it is set in an enchanting steep-sided valley cut by a tributary of the River Lune called Artle Beck. It is a garden of marked contrasts, with formal terraces and garden rooms around the house giving way to wilder areas in the further reaches of the garden, including an expanding arboretum with rare specimens of trees and shrubs. Arabella is known for her beautiful herbaceous borders, often colour-themed, and those at Gresgarth are typical of her style. Overflowing with the flowers she loves, from roses to hostas, they demonstrate her eye for colour and form. The valley is planted on both sides with a collection of rare and interesting trees, some of them grown from seed collected from many plant hunting trips.

We will then take our coach to the picturesque town of Windermere, which will be our base for the next couple of days. Once we are settled into our hotels, we would love you to join us for our group dinner.

Day 2 – Wednesday 23rd May

Wednesday morning we will meet at our coach for 8.30 where he will take us on a short drive to our first garden of the day, Holker Hall, where we will be met be the head gardener. Lord & Lady Cavendish’s private garden is located on the Cartmel Peninsula, extending out into Morecambe Bay.
The location proves a wonderful climate for Holker’s lush gardens, which cover 24 acres of woodland and formal garden areas. The gardens are an intriguing mix of Italianate design with English tradition, 200 year old parkland, woodland walks, a sunken garden, rose gardens, azaleas, rhododendron, and spring bulbs.
The deer park stretches to over 125 acres of attractive walks and not to be missed are the spectacular displays of rhododendrons which should be still blooming for our visit. The Great Holker Lime, this awe-inspiring tree measures 7.9 metres in girth. It was probably planted as part of a formal garden in the early 17th century. Today its huge trunk stands in a cavern of overhanging branches. Lord and Lady Cavendish are also National Collection holders for the plant family of Styracaceae, which also includes genera such as Halesia, Styrax, and Pterostyrax.
After our lunch we will journey to our next destination, Abi and Tom’s Nursery. Abi and Tom’s Garden Plants was founded in the spring of 2011 on the site of the original nursery at Halecat. It took a major overhaul to rein it back from years of neglect and degradation, and they have been continuously working to improve how they grow their plants, adding to and developing the garden areas and structural planting as it matures with each year.
The nursery today is a fusion of traditional nursery values, with modern approaches to the display, growing, use and experiment of the plant material. Every season they introduce new plants to their range of garden plants. They are predominantly focused on hardy herbaceous perennials of which they grow 1000 different types. Tom will be on hand to show us around their garden and nursery.

Day 3 – Thur 24th May

We start our day with a guided visit to Sizergh Castle. This garden has many delights in store for us

including, formal terraces in the garden, herbaceous borders, wall plants and roses. There is also a delightful wild flower meadow, a dutch garden and large limestone rock garden.
The garden is perfect for moisture loving plants, including the National Collection of four genera of hardy ferns, which hug the sides of rocky streams and pool. The garden is now run by the National trust so there will be time to have our lunch and stroll through the shop for a bit of retail therapy.
After lunch we will travel on through the beautiful countryside to our next destination, Levens Hall.  The gardens at Levens Hall, near Kendal, are world-famous for their historic topiary, in fact it holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s oldest topiary garden, and with over 100 pieces to look after, the gardeners have their work cut out – literally. Cutting and trimming of the topiary begins in September and doesn’t end until February…
The gardens at Levens Hall date back to 1694. Some of the 100 pieces are named, while others are more abstract in shape. The gardens were designed by Monsieur Guillaume Beaumont, who had been gardener to King James II, and there have been just 10 head gardeners since. In addition to the topiary garden you’ll find a rose garden, orchard, nuttery, herb garden, beech hedge walk and Bowling Green, as well as vegetable borders and herbaceous borders.

Day 4 – Fri 25th May

Our final day starts with a guided tour of Lowther Castle. Built in the 13th Century, Lowther Castle was a crumbling wreck when Jim Lowther inherited it in the mid 90’s. He soon realise that garden is the key to its future success and he had the foresight to turn to the best people for help early on. In consultation with Dominic Cole, historic landscape consultant and landscape designer, Dan Pearson, it was decided to use the ruins of the castle to create a backdrop to a series of gardens or ‘hot spots’. The most notable of these, created by Dan Pearson are a new parterre garden which takes center stage in front of the south facade of the castle and a “garden-in-a-ruin” inside the shell of the castle. This is a dramatic scene-setter; with the imposing ruins towering above, Dan uses trees and shrubs to provide structural planting while roses, jasmine and wisteria scramble through the Gothic windows and grasses sway in the breeze.
Dan says he is aiming at a “dark and mysterious” feel with his plantings, with deep blue irises, salvias and campanulas complemented by taller subjects such as veronicastrums and thalictrums all cradled in a mass of ferns and other foliage plants. The evergreen structure of the parterre is “intended to evoke the feel of a carpet, or a threadbare tapestry – there is warp and weft in the hedge system”. Dan’s master plan for Lowther will evolve over the coming years and the emphasis is to not only conserve and reclaim the garden but also to gently engage with contemporary ideas of ecological design.

Just after lunch our coach will collect us and ferry us to the airport where we will take an afternoon flight home.

Booking Information

Tour Price is: €450 per person

Tour price includes:
• Comfortable coach transport.
• Admission to all gardens.
• Friendly and knowledgeable professional tour coordinator.
• Botanical expertise of Jimi Blake
• Evening Meal on the 22nd May

Tour price excludes:
• Airfare and Accommodation – You will book your own flights and accommodation but only after we send you an email confirming that our reservation minimum has been met and the tour will proceed.
• Travel insurance. (See below)
• Lunches. Budget £10 per lunch minimum.
• Evening meal on the 23rd and 24th May

Payment schedule:
• A non-refundable deposit of €200 is due when you book your tour.
• Final payment, in full, is due by Jan 31st, 2018.


Travel insurance is required in case you have health emergencies or other unforeseen issues arise. We recommend AA Travel Insurance and you can get a quote online at Click here for Travel Insurance. There are many providers so you may identify other travel insurance providers on your own. Before departure, you will be required to provide evidence that you have obtained travel insurance.


It’s easy to book your garden tour, just let us know by return email and we will hold your place. Later we will ask you to fill out our online booking form and at that stage you can pay the deposit by paypal or direct debit.
Your trip reservation will be confirmed by email upon receipt of the completed Reservation Form and trip deposit/full payment. Payment in full must be received by Jan 31st,2018

For questions or help completing your reservation, please contact Orlaith Murphy.
Phone: 087 6453042 or Email:

As a small tour company Jimi Blake Tours offers tailored tours for keen gardeners and plant enthusiasts. Each tour is guaranteed to proceed as soon as the minimum of 20 reservations has been met. In the event that our reservation minimum is not met by Jan 31st, 2018, we reserves the right to cancel the tour. Deposits/payments will be refunded in full if the tour is cancelled.

Please DO NOT make your airline reservations until we have guaranteed (by email) that the tour will proceed.

If you would like to join us, then simply contact Orlaith by email at or by phone on 087 645 3042.

To avoid disappointment, please book early.

On booking, we will supply you with information on suggested accommodation

Leave a Reply


By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.