The Rhododendron, Camellia & Magnolia Group

Three groups of plants – one group of enthusiasts worldwide

Spring Tour 2019

The Lake District May 7th – 10th 2019

Booking Information

You are recommended to book up early for the Group Tour as hotel accommodation is limited.

The tour is based at the Hillthwaite Hotel, Windermere, The Lake District, and the itinerary includes a selection of private and important public gardens where the group’s genera can be found. We will be visiting the gardens of the Lakeland Horticultural Society at Holehird Gardens, followed by Holker Hall, Gresgarth, the gardens of the internationally known landscape architect and designer, Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd, and Muncaster Castle Gardens. One day is devoted to visiting private gardens.

Daily room rate for dinner, bed and full breakfast at the hotel is
Single room en suite (limited number offered on a first come first served basis) - £99.50
Cosy double room en suite for single occupancy - £149.50
Classic double or twin room en suite for double occupancy - £199

Members and guests MUST BOOK AND PAY FOR THEIR ACCOMMODATION DIRECT WITH THE HOTEL. Full details of how to book and pay are on the Booking Form.

The cost of the tour includes

  • Coach travel from Hillthwaite Hotel Lodge to all venues (with the exception of Muncaster Castle)
  • Entry to all the gardens
  • Conducted tours in some of the gardens

The cost of the tour is £150 per person.

Not included in the tour price are

  • Hotel accommodation (to be booked direct with the Hillthwaite Hotel)
  • Meals, drinks and refreshments other than those meals included in the hotel booking
  • Voluntary gratuities

The tour commences at 2.00pm on Tuesday 7th May and ends around lunch time on Friday May 10th.

You can download the booking form here - PDF download Once downloaded then please complete, scan & save it with your own name in the file name and email to the Tour Organiser Christopher Legrand clegrand@pirltd.org.uk if you have paid by Bank Transfer or print and post with your cheque.


About the Tour

Hillthwaite Hotel  is highly rated on both Trip Advisor and Booking.com. This family-run Lake District accommodation has an indoor swimming pool, sauna, picturesque gardens and free parking. Free WiFi is available in the downstairs public areas and the bedrooms.

The hotel occupies an elevated position and a terrace with stunning views towards Lake Windermere and the mountains beyond. Some rooms also have views towards the lake and mountains. There is also a guest lounge with a log fire and lake views.

Holehird Gardens  is an extensive 10 acre site. It is the home of the Lakeland Horticultural Society. The garden consists of a large variety of plants, particularly those suited to the local climate with its high rainfall. It is made up of extensive rock and heather gardens, alpine houses, and a walled garden. The Upper Garden is the most diverse area of Holehird Gardens.  It occupies the full width of the Gardens, across the slopes of the fellside, with the upper parts accessible by bark and stone paths which are steep in places.  Here you will find the rhododendron and magnolia beds.

Holker Hall   The gardens at Holker Hall have evolved over many hundreds of years, under the guidance of generations of the Cavendish Family.  Each owner has made their mark, adding new features and plantings, to create a garden that is now rich in character and beauty.  At its heart, it remains a family garden and while its scale is grand, it retains an intimacy in its planting and design.   
The 23 acres of immaculately kept gardens comprise of a series of formal gardens set within a more informal landscape of interesting trees, shrubs and meadows. They are planted to offer year-round inspiration for casual visitors and keen gardeners alike. The spring is a riot of colour with displays of tulips, daffodils, wallflowers and spring meadows, framed by majestic rhododendrons and magnolias.

Gresgarth Hall Gardens   The property is the country home of Arabella Lennox-Boyd. Whilst the Group’s genera are to be seen in the woodland area of the garden they are not a special feature of it.  However, the site contains many features: parkland; an entrance forecourt; terraced gardens; a series of hedged coloured themed gardens; a redesigned lake; a bog and lakeside garden; a wild garden; a large terraced vegetable garden; a nuttery and orchard; a woodland and water garden. The garden provides the practice with hands on experience of how to manage a large property which contains most features of horticulture and design.

Muncaster Castle Gardens   Visitors to Muncaster today will find 77 acres of the most tranquil historic gardens in Cumbria; with a blend of cultivated areas, lawns and woodlands. Flowering camellias, magnolias and native wild daffodils abound in March but as April turns to May, rhododendrons and azaleas are a riot of colour throughout the gardens.  Ruskin named the view across Muncaster’s gardens to the fells beyond as the Gateway to Paradise

We visit Muncaster on the last day of the tour, Friday May 10th.  As we are told that it is easy to enjoy a whole day there, or if you wish to leave at any time to suit yourselves to travel home we will not use a coach and you will drive yourselves (Just over an hour by car from Hillthwaite).   For those who have come to Windermere by public transport we expect to be able to offer lifts to Muncaster.  When returning home, Ravenglass railway station (National Rail)  is only 5 minutes by car from the castle. 

Muncaster Castle video   https://youtu.be/7bYrBWXTYkA

Windy Hall  one of the private gardens we will visit is the home of Dianne Hewitt and David Kinsman (David was a judge at Chelsea Flower Show for 20 years) The history of the garden reads that at times during its 400 year history there has clearly been garden developed around the house but few traces survive and on arrival Dianne and David were met by a plethora of old chicken sheds, bee hives and collapsed green houses.  In many places solid rock protrudes through the shallow soil and the house itself is built on a sloping foundation of rock (every room in the house is at a different level and some rooms have sloping floors).  The rock type and weather have led to development of an acid soil and so they have planted hundreds of rhododendrons, camellias, hydrangeas, magnolias and stewartias.

For more information about Windy Hall visit the YouTube video.    https://youtu.be/t_6cfseUe6k

Greenbank  is another private garden described as a taste of the Himalayas in the centre of The Lakes.   Greenbank Garden includes many species which one would not expect to grow in this area, and some which may be extinct in the wild. The preservation of the garden and Michael Black’s wonderful legacy is now expertly overseen by Alan Clark.

Four Ways is the 1.5 acre garden of our Group Members, Christopher and Mary (DD) Bradbury who have kindly invited us to share the joy of their collection of over 600 mainly species rhododendrons.