Osbourne House
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Green-fingered getaways

Perfect UK breaks and short courses for garden lovers

Nothing offers the gardener greater inspiration than an opportunity to inspect the efforts of others, and horticulturalists will adore this bunch of UK breaks. Thanks to a mild climate, the Isle of Wight grows plants more associated with warmer climes – the Med, South Africa and even Australia. Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s family home, has glorious grounds and offers special tours. Features include the Walled Garden, Pleasure Grounds and Italianate terraces. Red Funnel offers car and passenger ferries and holidays to the island: 01983-298052, www.english-heritage.org.uk or Red Funnel: 0844-844 9988, www.redfunnel.co.uk

Royal Horticultural Society Holidays offer trips to some of its gardens and shows. The three- to five-night breaks include return travel by coach from assorted pick-up points, accommodation with dinner, bed and breakfast, entrance fees and some guided tours. RHS Garden Rosemoor and the Gardens of Devon costs from £249.99 for members, or £264.99 for non-members: 0843-224 7647, www.rhs.org.uk/rhsholidays

Carmarthenshire, known as the Garden of Wales, is home to both the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne, and Aberglasney Gardens, Llangathen, set in the beautiful Tywi Valley. In Aberglasney’s grounds there are two, two-bedroom cottages to rent from £485 a week each. National Botanic Garden of Wales: 01558- 668768, www.gardenofwales.org.uk Aberglasney Gardens: 01558-668998, www.aberglasney.org and for cottages: 01239-881397, www.welsh-cottages.co.uk 

Meanwhile, TV presenter Kate Humble has renovated a farm in Monmouthshire and runs courses and holidays devoted to the great outdoors. All About Trees, on 24 November and 19 January 2013, costs from £110 per person. The course is led by tree specialist Phil Webb. Stay in The Piggery, a two-bedroom cottage, from £500 per week: www.humblebynature.com 

Also in Wales, Bodnant Garden near Conwy – 01492-650460, www.bodnantgarden.co.uk – is home to four National Collections of plants. Rural Retreats – 01386-701177, www.ruralretreats. co.uk – offers luxury self-catering cottages sleeping 4-8 on Bodnant Estate within 1-2 miles of the garden, with prices from £403 (sleeping 4) for three nights.

Travel-Jun15-02-590Castello di Casole

Lakeside Hotel by Lake Windermere, offers rooms with lakeside views. Book a Country House Garden Room for 27 June or 29 August and you also get a private guided tour of two local gardens – Rocky Bank and Haverthwaite Lodge. Garden rooms from £169 per night, including breakfast: 01539-530001, www.fihotels.com 

Book two nights at Knockinaam Lodge, a Victorian manor house near Portpatrick, before 15 July and get free entry to two notable local gardens, including Logan Botanic, Scotland’s most exotic garden, and Dunskey, with walled and woodland gardens and 19th-century glasshouses. Two nights with tea on arrival, dinner and breakfast, costs from £230 per person: 01776-810471, www.knockinaamlodge.com 

Finally, the Orient-Express Northern Belle takes passengers to some flowery days out, from £325 per person. Visit RHS Hampton Court Flower Show on 5 July from Birmingham, Crewe and Liverpool, or on 6 July from Derby, Leicester and Nottingham. On 5 August, visit Blair Castle and Gardens, from Aberdeen. Champagne Bellini and brunch is served on the outward journey, and a five-course, garden-themed meal with wine and champagne on the return. Orient-Express: 0845-217 0799, www.orient-express.com

Around the world

Castello di Casole

A stunning hilltop location in the Tuscan countryside, opens on 1 July. Situated 30 minutes from Siena, book by 30 June, and a four-night stay is on offer for the price of three. From £879 per person, including car hire and breakfast.

Western & Oriental: 020-7666 1218, www.wandotravel.com 

The Feathers Hotel

Visit Woodstock in Oxfordshire for a ‘free’ al fresco live opera. Saturday 14 July features French opera and song; Monday 27 August, musical theatre and operettas, performed by the Opera Anywhere company. Rooms from £229.

The Feathers Hotel: 01993- 812291, www.feathers.co.uk 

Crystal Cruises

Celebrity florist Paula Pryke is one of the guest speakers on a 12-day Floral Design-theme cruise from Lisbon to Rome, departing on 25 July. There will be a Q&A session with Paula as well as floral design workshops.

From £3,996 per person: 020-7287 9040, www.crystalcruises.co.uk  

River Orwell mini-pageant

Sail with 11 friends along the River Orwell on luxury yacht My Fair Lady from Ipswich to Harwich and back. Lunch or dinner is served at the renowned The Pier at Harwich, with a stunning array of seafood on the menu.

From £1,680 for 12. The Pier Hotel & Restaurant: 01255-241212.



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