Dear Garden Enthusiast,
Welcome to COOPERSMITH'S, North America's
oldest and most trusted garden tour company, specializing in upscale,
small-group garden, fine arts, country inn and manor house tours
In the past, I have used this page
to extoll the virtues of the extraordinary men and women who lead
our tours; waxed rhapsodic about the historic and atmospheric hotels
and country inns we stay in; and sung the praises of the wonderful
mix of people from all over North America and elsewhere who take
our trips. Now, looking ahead to our 29th year in the business,
I find myself thinking about the many unforgettable gardens we have
visited, and how we have broadened our horizons, horticulturally
as well as geographically, over the years.
When I first began operating tours
in the mid 1980's, we relied almost exclusively on iconic British
gardens such as Sissinghurst, Hever Castle, Stourhead, and Hidcote
Manor. No matter where in England, Scotland, or Wales we based our
tours, there was never a shortage of celebrated and spectacular
gardens from which to choose.
In time, we began mixing in smaller,
private, lesser-known gardens to augment our itineraries: gardens
that were on a more human scale, to which our clients could more
readily relate. Concurrently, we crossed the English Channel to
include France, Italy, Spain, and other Western European nations.
Gardens in these countries tend to be more formal: less dependent
on flowers, more on architectural elements, vistas, fountains and
other water features. This added yet another dimension to our tours.
In more recent years, as we have offered
tours to places such as New Zealand, Japan, and, beginning in 2013,
Turkey and Scandinavia,
our repertoire of gardens has grown ever more diverse. One that
immediately comes to mind is Linton House, in the New Zealand village
of Akaroa. Linton's owner, artist Josie Martin, loves flowers and
was born with two green thumbs. But the real stars of her garden
are her larger-than-life, marvelously imaginative mosaic tile sculptures
(see photo, below).
Other examples in a similar vein include
Gaudi''s colorful Parc Güell in Barcelona; surrealistic Sacro Bosco
in Bomarzo, Italy; and Niki de Saint Phalle's phantasmagoric Tarot
Garden in Tuscany. Also standing out from the crowd, though in a
very different way, is Tokyo's Rikugien, a highlight of our upcoming
Autumn in Japan trip. A
park that is heavenly in late fall, when hundreds of Japanese maples
flaunt their brilliant autumn foliage, Rikugien's gardens are renowned
for depicting eighty-eight scenes from famous poems using plants,
rocks, and sand.
This is not to say that all the more
innovative or one-of-a-kind gardens lie outside Great Britain. To
the contrary. As just one of numerous examples of how creative modern
British gardeners have become, the home of the late Scottish artist/poet/garden
designer, Dr. Ian Hamilton Finlay, boasts one of the most unique
and stimulating gardens we've ever come across. Known as Little
Sparta, which we'll have the privilege of visiting on our summer
Dublin & Edinburgh tour,
the garden marries poetic and sculptural elements with those of
the natural landscape, creating an 'emblematic garden' that addresses
the mysteries of life, and the world in which we live.
One of the things I love most about
running a garden tour company is this aspect of exploration and
discovery. The more we look, the more beautiful, fascinating, and
thought-provoking gardens we find. I'll sign off for now with the
hope that, if you haven't already done so, you'll come join us soon,
to see for yourself what makes our tours truly One-of-a-Kind™!
private tours, [by] a luxury garden tour specialist..."
— Martha Stewart Weddings
company that specializes in small groups [where members] are
often taken to private gardens rarely seen..."
— The New York Times
wife recently had the good fortune to meet and speak with
[famous English horticulturalist] Penelope Hobhouse, who recommended
your garden tour as one of the two best in Europe..."
— Collier Espy, Jr., Dothan,
| Paul at Linton House Garden, Akaroa,
New Zealand. Photo by Suzanne Parker
Rose by Suzanne Parker, Sissinghurst Castle Garden by Paul Coopersmith