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Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.
Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. If you arrive before rooms are available, you may leave your luggage with the concierge and go out for a walk or relax in the hotel's public areas.
Lunch: At the hotel for those who arrive in time, we will have a light 2-course lunch with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: After you check in and get your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. Orientation: 5:30 p.m. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This program is staffed with both a Group Leader, who will accompany us throughout the program and deal primarily with logistics, and a Study Leader who will lecture, conduct field trips and serve as an information resource on program-related topics. Caroline Holmes is our Study Leader for this program. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Dinner: In the hotel dining room, we will have a plated 3-course dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 6 miles, approximately 1/2 hour depending on traffic. Walking according to personal preference; largely flat terrain with tarmac paths in most places. Most buildings, and all cafés and shops have level or ramped access.
Breakfast: In the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers a variety of choices such as eggs, bacon, sausages, hash brown, tomatoes, mushrooms, make-your-own muesli, cereals, pastries, toast, milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: At the hotel, we’ll begin the day with a lecture by our Study Leader, “Glass and Class – royal pagodas to botanical mastery.” After the lecture, we’ll board a motorcoach and ride to the leafy borough of Kew to visit the renowned Royal Botanic Gardens, home of the world's largest and most diverse collection of botanicals with more than 30,000 different types of plants. This is also a UNESCO designated World Heritage site. From the UNESCO inscription: “This historic landscape garden features elements that illustrate significant periods of the art of gardens from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The gardens house botanic collections (conserved plants, living plants and documents) that have been considerably enriched through the centuries. Since their creation in 1759, the gardens have made a significant and uninterrupted contribution to the study of plant diversity and economic botany.”
Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. There are a number of venues for lunch in the garden.
Afternoon: Our Royal Botanic Gardens field trip will continue until we reboard the motorcoach and return to the hotel at 4:00 p.m.
Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will have a plated 2-course dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 11 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. Walking according to personal preference; pathways.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach and ride across London to historic Chelsea Physic Garden, the oldest botanic garden in London, established in 1673 to educate and train apothecaries. Today, it houses around 5,000 different medicinal, herbal, edible, and useful plants. Our Study Leader will introduce the garden microclimate and explain the importance of its south-facing location nestled by the River Thames. We will then board the motorcoach again and ride to Syon Park west of London, on the Thames looking across the river to Kew. In a lecture during the journey, we will learn about the special relationship between Philip Miller and John Bartram, “the man who put Sloane in the square.”
Lunch: In Syon Park's Restaurant, we’ll have a 2-course lunch with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Syon Park is the London home of the Duke of Northumberland and has been in his family for more than 400 years. The 16th-century house is surrounded by 100 acres of parkland, gardens, unique tidal water meadows, and grassland. The trees in the Arboretum date back to the late 18th-century and there are more than 400 species of trees in the extensive plantings. Our Study Leader will lead us through the house and gardens and discuss 600 years of garden history including 16th-century plantings, 18th-century landscape gardening, great Victorian plant collections, and domestic gardening of the 1960s. We’ll also have a lecture on Capability Brown and the making of the English landscape. We’ll return to the hotel after our field trip.
Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. All marquees are accessible, and all gardens and floral exhibits can be viewed from ground level. Where possible, gardens are adjacent to trackway. Areas around the gardens are often busy.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We will leave early (7:30 a.m.) for the journey to Chelsea with an on-board lecture on winners of show awards and horticultural wonders. The Chelsea Flower Show has been held every year since 1913 — with the exception of two world wars! Upon arrival, we will enter the world's most prestigious flower show and experience glorious gardens and beautiful blooms. The Great Pavilion has displays by 85 nurseries and the odd collection of carnivorous plants. The Show Gardens reflect different styles, while the popular Artisan Gardens combine old traditions and new designs. Flower Show trivia: “In 1927 there was a campaign to get the RHS to ban foreign exhibits from RHS Chelsea to reduce competition with British firms. The RHS refused saying, ‘horticulture knows nothing of nationality.’”
Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.
Afternoon: The motorcoach will depart at 2:30 p.m. and return to the hotel. You are welcome to stay longer, see more of what interests you, and return independently.
Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 14 miles, approximately 1.5 hours.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: This morning we will take the motorcoach to Camden Town, where we will be welcomed by three gardeners who open their home gardens to visitors as part of the UK’s National Garden Scheme. We’ll experience the vibrant plants that flourish in these tree-shaded smaller gardens, and maybe enjoy some tea and cake while we’re at it! We’ll then board our motorcoach and travel to Hampstead Heath.
Lunch: Served at a traditional English pub.
Afternoon: Next, we will ride through Hampstead to Keats House, where Romantic poet John Keats lived from 1818 to 1820, and where he wrote “Ode to a Nightingale” under a plum tree in the garden. Our Study Leader will begin a lecture on wildflowers and Regency gardens during the journey, and finish the lecture in the apt setting of Keats House’s garden. Moving on, we will reach the National Trust's Fenton House, considered one of London’s hidden treasures. Our Study Leader will take us to the 300-year-old walled garden, with formal and informal plantings. We’ll be able to admire the topiary in the formal lawn and terrace, the sunken rose garden, and cross borders. We’ll also explore the kitchen garden and historic apple orchard with 32 species of apples and pears. The 17th-century house is home to a collection of keyboard instruments and artwork we will also be able to see. Returning to the hotel, take some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.
Dinner: In the hotel, we’ll have a plated dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.
Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.
Activity note: Some transfers may leave before breakfast. Hotel check out 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet depending on departure times. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!