Summer Gardens of Dorset
- Athelhampton House
Visit Athelhampton manor houses surrounded by one of England’s greatest architectural gardens.
- Compton Acres
Compton Acres was built in 1924 and is a wonderful example of a historic garden in the UK.
Abbotsbury encompasses 20 acres of rare and exotic plants from around the world.
- Bennetts Water Garden
This water wonderland is home to the National Plant Collection of water lilies.
- Minterne House gardens
Inspired by Capability Brown, this enchanting 20-acre woodland park is shaped like a horseshoe.
- No fly
- Half board
See Dorset in bloom...
In the course of three days of excursions you will visit six gardens in the company of your expert gardens host who will be on hand throughout the holiday to give insights into the plants, gardens and their history. You can also look forward to two informative talks from your host during your holiday.
You will be accompanied by an expert host who will give talks and join you on all excursions.
All breakfasts (B) and dinners (D)
Local expert guide
- Cancellation rights
- Expert host talks
- Hosted welcome drinks reception
- Free Wi-Fi
- Hotel porterage
Included excursions and visits
- Compton Acres and Cranborne
- Minterne House gardens and Athelhampton
- Abbotsbury and Bennetts Water Garden
The Hermitage Hotel, Exeter Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK BH2 5AH
The 4-star Hermitage Hotel occupies one of the best hotel locations in Bournemouth, directly in front of the iconic pier.
All 76 traditional bedrooms have a flat-screen television, hairdryer, tea and coffee-making facilities and free Wi-Fi. Saga guests stay in standard rooms with inland views (upgrades to sea view, superior, superior sea view and suites available on request). The hotel has a lift, and some rooms are located on the ground floor.
Tea coffee making facilities
Food and Drink
All meals will be served in the hotel's Hardy’s Restaurant, awarded an AA Rosette and using local and sustainable ingredients. The NEO restaurant (a la carte and at an additional charge) features a modern lounge bar serving over 40 gins and with an extensive cocktail menu.
A la carte restaurant
Bournemouth is located on a coastline of outstanding natural beauty and features fine Victorian and Edwardian buildings, including Langtry Manor House built by Edward VII for his mistress Lillie Langtry.
The town has many museums, perhaps the most striking of which is The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in nearby East Cliff. Set in an unusual Victorian garden, it exhibits a fantastic display of pictures, 17th to 20th-century oil paintings, oriental treasures and furniture.
Bournemouth also has 2,000 acres of parks and gardens and you can stroll from the town centre to the seafront through the Central and Lower Gardens without crossing a single road!
The New Forest, rolling Dorset hills and stunning Jurassic Coast are also only a short distance away. There's the pretty Boscombe area with its pier, Victorian arcade, antiques market, beautiful parks and fine sandy beaches; the tranquil seafront of Southbourne that boasts a splendid sandy beach and Christchurch – five miles away – is a charming town with a magnificent 11th-century Priory Church.
The area's other attractions include the country estate of Kingston Lacy and the scenic remains of Corfe Castle.
From the A31 turn into the A338 (Wessex Way) following directions to Bournemouth for about eight miles. At the Bournemouth West roundabout take the first left onto Cambridge Road. At the next roundabout take the first exit onto Commercial Road which then becomes Terrace Road and Exeter Road. Proceed to the next roundabout and continue on the B3066 towards the seafront. Your hotel is situated a short distance along on the left hand side. There is a free car park at the hotel subject to availability.
If you have arranged rail travel through Saga you will receive tickets to Bournemouth railway station. Transfers to and from the hotel are not included – it is about two miles from the hotel and easily reached by taxi or by using the local bus services (bus numbers M1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 pass close to the hotel). Your Saga host will meet you on arrival at the hotel.
The nearest National Express drop off point is the coach terminus, right next to Bournemouth railway station at the Travel Interchange. Details of coach services can be obtained by phoning 08705 808080 or you can visit their website for up-to-date timetables and bookings.
A taxi to the hotel should cost around £6. If you wish to pre-book a taxi, the hotel recommends PRC Streamline Warren taxis, telephone: 01202 373737. PRC Streamline Warren are not associated with Saga; any contract is between you and them, and all queries about their service must be referred directly to them.
Compton Acres and Cranborne
Admire the wonderful Elizabethan gardens set around historic Cranborne Manor near Wimborne. Only open to the public for a few days each year, these famous gardens are a real treat to explore. They boast a variety of planting themes in a range of gardens including a walled kitchen garden, herb garden and a white garden.
Then explore the 20-acre grounds of Compton Acres, a late Victorian garden built in 1924 which is now considered one of the UK's finest historic gardens. There are five themed gardens providing year-round interest: these include the beautiful Asiatic flowering shrubs decorating the Japanese garden, the water features of the Italian garden and one of the country's largest privately-owned rock gardens which has over 300 different kinds of plants on display.
Included on 4 nights itinerary
Minterne House gardens and Athelhampton
The enchanting 20-acre woodland garden of Minterne House is set in a peaceful valley in the heart of Dorset. One of the former owners, Robert Digby, was an acquaintance of Capability Brown. Following the revolutionary gardener's ethos that gardens should avoid looking contrived, Robert created a horseshoe shaped park of indigenous species with a series of small lakes, waterfalls and streams in the 18th century. Today you can admire newly-planted specimen shrubs and rare trees coupled with superb views around the lake.
Contrast Digby's design with the historic walled gardens of Athelhampton House. These were created at the end of the 19th century and feature an octagonal cloister garden and the Great Court which is dominated by 12 yew pyramids – they were originally planted to simply add interest to the rose border but now provide the main focus! You can enjoy strolling through the gardens that are surrounded by natural woodland all the way down to the River Piddle.
Please note: Minterne House is not open to the public and some of the garden paths are uneven and steep in places.
Included on 4 nights itinerary
Abbotsbury and Bennetts Water Garden
Beginning life as a kitchen garden for the Countess of Ilchester's castle in 1765, over time Abbotsbury has grown to encompass 20 acres of rare and exotic plants from around the world. Among its beautiful blooms are a camellia grove and collections of rhododendron and hydrangea for you to admire. You can also enjoy a stunning panorama of the Jurassic Coast from a viewpoint on the aptly-named Magnolia Avenue.
Your day continues with a visit to Bennetts Water Garden, a water wonderland that's home to the National Plant Collection of water lilies – they should be seen in all their glory at this time of year. Also admire the scene surrounding the Japanese bridge that was inspired by Monet's gardens at Giverny in France.
Included on 4 nights itinerary