Garden holidays – a popular trend

Garden holidays – a popular trend

Ever more people are keen to visit delightful gardens and spend their entire holidays in these green oases. Tour operator offerings in this area are enjoying increased popularity. Garden holidays are definitely "in".

The motives for going on a "green" holiday are many and varied – a yearning for tranquillity, to escape from the bustle of everyday life or the frequently stressful professional world, or to seek inspiration and ideas for one's own garden.

For around 15 years, my family and I, including our two children and six dogs, have been travelling to England, Wales or Scotland every winter, where we tour gardens in search of new ideas and rare plants for our own park. I must admit that years ago, many made fun of us and pronounced us insane for doing so. Today, the situation is completely different and we have found numerous imitators.

"Hunting for rare plants"
Many people enjoy discovering botanical rarities which are not so easy to encounter in their own climes. Some, like us, also take advantage of the opportunity to enhance our own collections. In this respect, I've developed a certain "hunting instinct".

I'm often asked for tips with regard to garden tours, which is a difficult and very personal question. We have been – as mentioned earlier – unapologetically enthusiastic for our garden and park tours on the British Isles. A personal favourite of mine is the "Hidcote Manor Garden" in Gloucestershire, which was created by the American garden designer Lawrence Johnston in 1907. What left a lasting impression in particular on my visit to this approximately 4-hectare (2.5 acre) garden were the various "outdoor rooms", the vistas, the trimmed topiary plants and the red shrub borders. A true feast for the eyes! "Hidcote Manor Garden" has been the model for numerous other gardens, which came as no great surprise to me. I was even allowed to work here for a few weeks, which is extremely uncommon and a great privilege for a non-Briton.

Another of my absolutely favourite gardens is the "Trebah Garden" in Cornwall. Here, there are breath-taking, metre-high gunnera. The park's paths snake through actual gorges, which lead down to the sea and the banks of which are covered in lush vegetation. Thanks to the mild Gulf Stream climate, subtropical plants can be cultivated here all year round.

At this point, I'm afraid I'll have to cut myself short. I could think of any number of English gardens, but that would exceed the scope of this article. I do, however, have another tip outside of Europe. Should you, as a garden lover, ever travel to South Africa, I warmly recommend a special garden: the botanical garden of Stellenbosch. Here though, you mustn't be afraid of carnivorous plants. If, however, you'd like to stay in Europe, I would of course also recommend my own Dennenlohe Palace Gardens in central Franconia!

For me, garden holidays mean recreation, creativity, inspiration and fascination. Perhaps, instead of the proverbial "mystery tour", you might like to embark on a "garden tour" for once. You won't regret it!

VIKING garden expert
Baron Robert von Süsskind



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