Firm offers 'secret garden,' flower show tours

LITCHFIELD, Conn. -- Expo Garden Tours here is planning a "secret garden" itinerary to England from May 20 to 30.

Clients who book the program will experience "behind the scene" visits to private gardens not normally open to the public, the firm said. The tour also will feature a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show.

"Garden tours have continued to increase in popularity as garden lovers all over the world strive to visit many destinations during peak bloom," said Michael Italiaander, president of Expo Garden Tours.

Expo Garden Tours' itinerary also will feature a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show. "I added this unique tour to enable garden lovers a chance to meet and talk with garden owners and head gardeners while experiencing a trip of a lifetime not normally available to the general public," he added.

The nine-night trip will begin in London and visit private gardens in the Cotswolds and Bath, including a stop at a 12th century manor home and a 14th century property. A traditional English tea while visiting a property in Bath also will be featured.

Other stops along the way include Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Camden, with time for exploring the towns' antique shops.

"When creating this tour, we kept the needs of our repeat travelers in mind," Italiaander said. "Many of our clients have traveled to the ordinary destinations and have been requesting something new and different. For this reason we took a lot of time to research this tour."

The trip includes accommodations in deluxe hotels with private facilities; breakfasts daily; five dinners; two lunches and one traditional tea; entrance fees; roundtrip air fare from New York; deluxe private coach for all transfers and excursions, and services of a tour manager.

The cost of this itinerary is $4,998 per person, double occupancy. The land-only price is $4,489. Air is available from other gateways.

The company also will run a program to Scotland from June 16 to 27 for clients who want to combine garden visits with golf.

The trip includes visits to many well-known gardens and historical sights, such as Inverewe Garden, located in the Scottish Highlands; Brodick Castle, dating back to the 13th century, and Bolfracks, a private garden near Alberfeldy.

"I added this program so travelers with interests in both gardens and golf can join our tours," said Italiaander. "I wanted to offer something unusual for couples and those who like to travel together yet are not always interested in the same hobby, such as gardens," he added.

The Garden and Golf of Scotland program is priced at $4,426 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from New York (other gateways available) and first class accommodations.

Also included are all breakfasts; one lunch, seven dinners; tea with private garden owners; all ground transportation; sightseeing admissions; service of a tour manager and garden expert; transfers; luggage handling, and most gratuities.

A golfers supplement is available for $498 per person that enables participants to play up to five rounds of golf during the 10-night stay. Featured courses include Royal Troon, Royal Dornoch, Gullane and St. Andrews.

Expo Garden Tours also provides customized group itineraries for garden clubs, horticultural societies, nonprofit organizations and botanical institutions. These tours are limited to groups of 15 to 26 people.

For more information and free catalogs, contact Expo Garden Tours at (800) 448-2685; fax (860) 567-0381, or e-mail [email protected].

The company's Web site is at www.expogardentours.com.

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