Meet the landscape architect, tour his creation and visit some of the north-west’s best gardens

One of the biggest gardening projects in Europe, RHS Garden Bridgewater is due to open to the public this year and you could be among the first to visit it on this exclusive four-day tour.

Making it even more unforgettable, you'll be joined by the man behind the vision for the project, landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith, who will take a tour of the garden with you, followed by afternoon tea, a talk from Tom and a Q&A session.

Your holiday will also take in some of the finest gardens in the north-west, including Trentham Estate with gardens designed by Tom, Dunham Massey and Tatton Park. You'll visit Ness Botanic Gardens in the Wirral, with their own weather station, and Arley Hall, where a pair of herbaceous borders were first laid in 1846.

Meet Tom Stuart-Smith

Tom, who has designed eight gold medal-winning gardens for the Chelsea Flower Show, will join you for a tour of RHS Garden Bridgewater, the plan for which he designed. He'll also deliver an exclusive talk and answer your horticultural questions.

Tour Trentham Estate

You'll begin with a visit to the Staffordshire Gardens where the contemporary revival of Italian Gardens was led by Tom himself. Explore the Piet Oudolf-designed Rivers of Grass and Floral Labyrinth and Trentham Lake, created by Capability Brown.

Delightful gardens

Ness Botanic Gardens feature lilies, primulas and terrace gardens with climbing plants, herb and water gardens in summer. Dunham Massey was planted in regimental fashion by the 2nd Earl of Stamford and Warrington before being abandoned in 1856. Crystal Palace architect Joseph Paxton designed aspects of Tatton Park; then visit Arley Hall's beautifully maintained gardens.

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Your expert guides

Tom Stuart-Smith
Landscape architect

Landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith designed the Queen's Jubilee garden at Windsor Castle to mark the Golden Jubilee, and Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire, as well as the masterplan for the RHS's gardens at Bridgewater, which is the largest new garden project in the UK.

Price includes

  • Tour of RHS Garden Bridgewater with Tom Stuart-Smith
  • Talk by Tom Stuart-Smith
  • Afternoon tea at RHS Garden Bridgewater
  • Three nights' dinner and B&B at the Queen at Chester Hotel, Premier Collection by Best Western, Chester
  • Visits to Trentham Estate, Arley Hall, Dunham Massey, Tatton Park and Ness Botanic Gardens
  • Comfortable coaching throughout
  • Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager


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  1. Day
    Pick up, Trentham Estate
    Trentham, United Kingdom

    Depart by coach from your pick-up point this morning and head for the north-west of England, where we begin with a visit to the gardens of Trentham Estate in Staffordshire. The contemporary revival of the famous Italian Gardens was led by renowned designer and multi-Chelsea gold-medal winner Tom Stuart-Smith. To the east of the Italian Gardens are the Rivers of Grass and the adjacent Floral Labyrinth. Both these schemes were designed by eminent Dutch plantsman, and Chelsea gold medal winner, Piet Oudolf.

    At the centre of Trentham Gardens is the mile long, Capability Brown designed, Trentham Lake. Take the circular lakeside walk all the way round as it takes you beside the River Trent, by the bird hide, through Capability Brown's cascading weir and along atmospheric woodland trails. The show gardens offer further inspiration to gardeners on a more domestic scale. Lunch is available here (not included). Following the visit, continue to the hotel in Chester, where dinner is served in the evening.

    Meals - Dinner
  2. Day
    Ness Botanic Garden and RHS Bridgewater with Tom
    Ness Botanic Garden, United Kingdom

    After breakfast, depart for a visit to Ness Botanic Gardens in the Wirral which lies between the Dee and Mersey estuaries. There is year-round interest in the garden with lilies, primulas, herbaceous borders, terrace gardens with many climbing plants, native plants, herb and water gardens thriving in the summer months. Ness Gardens has its own weather station and has been producing accurate and regular daily records since the early 1960s. There is also a gift shop, plant nursery and a café.

    In the afternoon you'll visit the brand new RHS Garden Bridgewater at Worsley, to the west of Manchester, where you'll be personally welcomed and given an introduction to the garden by the curator. This once-in-a-generation project will see the Royal Horticultural Society take inspiration from the heritage of the site and transform it into a world-class garden, while also delivering a programme of community outreach and education activities, volunteering and training. Highlights will include one of the largest walled gardens in the UK, beautifully landscaped grounds, living plant collections and horticultural trials.

    Exclusive Event: The garden is based on an overall design by award-winning landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith, and we are delighted that he will join you here as you tour the garden. Later, transfer to a nearby hotel for Afternoon Tea, during which Tom Stuart-Smith will give a talk on his work and experiences and answer questions on gardening and landscape design. Return to the hotel this evening, where dinner is provided.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  3. Day
    Dunham Massey and Tatton Park
    Tatton Park, United Kingdom

    Following breakfast, visit the gardens at Dunham Massey. Previously a garden of straight lines and regimented planting favoured by the 2nd Earl of Stamford and Warrington, the garden became the family's pleasure ground under the 5th Earl when sweeping lawns and meandering paths were introduced. Shunned by Cheshire society, 7th Earl George Harry and his wife, former circus performer Catharine Cox, abandoned Dunham in 1856 and the garden was left unchanged for the rest of the 19th century. After being pressed into service to help the war effort in both world wars, Dunham Massey was taken over by the National Trust in 1976 and work began to transform the garden to its former glory. It was decided that the garden would have an Edwardian pleasure ground feel with the freedom to choose from a range of planting options, with native favourites alongside exotic treasures. The garden continues to evolve today - modern additions include the Rose Garden and the Winter Garden.

    Later today you'll visit Tatton Park, whose gardens have developed over 200 years yet retain much of their Edwardian character. Lewis William Wyatt and Joseph Paxton, architect of Crystal Palace, designed various elements including the Conservatory which is now open following a comprehensive restoration programme. Other features include a vegetable garden used for growing varieties of plant known to be cultivated at Tatton during the Edwardian era such as 'Scarlet Emperor' runner beans, 'Fat Lazy Blonde' lettuce and 'British Queen' potatoes and a fine representation of a Japanese garden, thought to be the result of Alan de Tatton's visit to the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at the White City in London in 1910.

    Once again dinner is served back at the hotel this evening.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  4. Day
    Arley Hall
    Arley, United Kingdom

    After breakfast you'll check out of the hotel and depart for a visit to Arley Hall. A pair of herbaceous borders was laid out here in 1846 and they survive to this day, beautifully maintained - one of the great garden sights of England. There are also old walled gardens with good mixed borders and a simple terraced walk above a ha-ha. Still in private hands, Arley Hall preserves the atmosphere of a garden kept for its own delight. Following this, your final visit, you'll return to your original pick-up points.

    Meals - Breakfast

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Brightwater Holidays is an award-winning tour operator specialising in garden and special-interest escorted tours worldwide.

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Call now to book 01334260011