Private & Public Gardens of Southern England #1


Private & Public Gardens of Southern England #1

Dates: May 21-June 2, 2023

Location: Southern England (United Kingdom)
Group Size: 14

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See Image Gallery and Workshop Details below.

NOTE: A limited number of single rooms are available on a first-come basis. Price increases to $7,895 (per person sharing a double room) after December 1, 2022.  Remaining balance due January 31, 2023.

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Additional information

Payment Options

Early-bird payment in full – single room $7,820, Early-bird payment in full (per person – double room) $7,395, Deposit (single room) $2,000, Deposit (per person – double room) $2000, Early-bird remaining balance (single room) $5,820, Early-bird remaining balance (per person – double room) $5,395

Image Gallery

Tour Details

Join Charles for a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime tour of some of the finest private and public gardens of southern England, featuring vibrant-colored plant palettes, rich textures, unusual shapes and old-world architectural and water features.

During the course of this 12-day trip, we’ll visit 15 quintessentially English gardens, with exclusive private access to all but two, each with its own personality and distinctive features.

After an afternoon meet & greet the day before, your journey begins in London with a day-long visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which houses the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world and includes four glass houses, a Japanese garden, arboretum, perennial border, Rhododendron dell, rock garden and much more.

Then, the following day, we’ll visit the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show, the world’s most famous flower show featuring stunning creative horticultural displays.  You’ll be given an opportunity to photograph impressive Show Gardens, as well as inside Chelsea’s Great Pavilion, which is filled with perfect specimens of every imaginable flower and plant under pleasing soft lighting conditions with little-to-no wind.  Some of the world’s finest growers and nurseries exhibit inside this Pavilion, and it will be filled with the glorious sights and scents of Spring.

Other gardens we’ll visit over the next 9 days include: Broughton Grange Gardens, Kiftsgate Court Gardens, Hidcote Manor Garden, RHS Garden Wisley, Great Dixter House & Gardens, Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Borde Hill Garden, Pashley Manor Gardens, Gravetye Manor House and five additional “secret” private gardens and a restaurant in a walled garden.

Our visit is timed for maximum color at peak bloom.  Some of the flowers you’ll likely be able to photograph include: Wisteria, Laburnum, Irises, Poppies, Allium, Lupines, Phlox, Clematis, Lotuses, Peonies, Rhododendron, Roses, Geranium and much more!

While this is primarily a tour, as opposed to a workshop, Charles will demonstrate various Impressionistic and multiple-exposure garden photography techniques and cover composition and macro flower photography methods while in the field.  His goal is to teach you how to go beyond the “snapshot” and craft a truly great intimate garden landscape photograph, thus capturing the essence or “spirit” of a garden.

Limited to 14 participants.


  • Exclusive pre-paid private photography access to 6 private English gardens
  • Exclusive pre-paid private photography access to 7 public English gardens
  • Photography in 2 world-class public English gardens for a day
  • Entrance fees to all 15 gardens
  • 12 nights’ accommodation in three 4-star luxury hotels (London, Cotswolds and East Sussex)
  • 12 full English breakfasts
  • 9 days ground transportation by private coach with driver
  • All day entry to RHS Chelsea Flower Show (on RHS Members Only Day, May 23rd)
  • London Underground tickets to/from Kew Gardens and Chelsea Flower Show
  • Welcome Reception (with tea, coffee & biscuits)
  • Special pre-arranged catered dinner at 2 gardens
  • Special pre-arranged catered lunch at 2 gardens
  • Lunch at a restaurant in a walled garden, followed by photography in the garden
  • Light refreshments in 3 private gardens
  • 3-course Michelin Star Farewell Dinner (with champagne & glass of wine) at a 16th century English country manor house hotel with rare opportunity to photograph in their stunning gardens of historical importance at peak bloom
  • Charles’ expert guidance, individualized field instruction, field demos and supportive image evaluations throughout.

Does not include:

  • airfare
  • airport transfers
  • optional travel insurance (Strongly recommended. We can provide this upon booking.)
  • optional spa treatments at Dormy House Hotel (Cotswolds)
  • garden guidebooks and/or souvenirs
  • some lunches and dinners (including alcoholic beverages)
  • snacks
  • incidentals (such as discretionary tips & gratuities, phone calls and laundry)


You’ll be staying in three upscale 4-star hotels on this tour.  Marriott Hotel South Kensington (London) for the first three nights, Dormy House Hotel (Cotswolds) for the next four nights, then Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club (Sussex) for the last five nights.  A limited number of single rooms are available at each hotel upon request and require an additional single supplement.  Please let us know if you would like a single room upon registration.  Every effort will be made to find a suitable roommate, should you require one.


Airfare is not included in the package price.  Please let us know if you would like help arranging flights; we can recommend a travel agent.  The tour begins at 4 pm, Sunday May 21, 2023 and ends the evening of Thursday, June 1, 2023 after dinner.  (Note: The night of June 1st at Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club and breakfast the next morning, June 2nd, are included.)  We suggest a US departure on Saturday, May 20, 2023 for an overnight flight to Heathrow Airport (LHR) and return flight to the US from LHR Airport the morning of Friday, June 2, 2023.  You may also fly to/from London Gatwick Airport (LGW).  (Note: Heathrow is closer to our first hotel, while Gatwick is closer to our last hotel.)  Please do not book any non-refundable airfare before December 31, 2022.


Taxi service from London Heathrow or London Gatwick Airport to the Marriott South Kensington (our first hotel) can be pre-arranged with Hyde Park Cars.  Their phone number is +44 (20)7244 6555.  Address for the Marriott South Kensington Hotel is: 147C Cromwell Rd, London SW5 0TH.

Taxi service from Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club (our last hotel) to London Heathrow or London Gatwick Airport can be pre-arranged with Western Cars & Taxis East Grinstead.  Their phone number is +44 (0)1342 300 000.  Address for the Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club is: Wych Cross, Forest Row, East Grinstead RH18 5JR.

If you wish to return to central London at the conclusion of the tour, Western Cars could take you to Haywards Heath or East Grinstead railway stations (about 15 minutes away from Ashdown Park Hotel), which both offer direct train routes to London Victoria and central London stations, including London Bridge, London Blackfriars and beyond.


Transportation to/from all 15 gardens during the tour is included in the package price. While in London for the first two days, we will visit Kew Gardens and the Chelsea Flower Show on foot via the London Underground (metro system).  Roundtrip tickets on both days are included in the tour price.  For the remaining 9 days, we have hired a 35-seater private coach with driver who will transport us to/from all the various gardens (also included in the tour price).


  • Sunday, May 21

Meet & Greet and orientation session starting at 4 pm (Marriott South Kensington – London).  Dinner on your own at hotel or a nearby restaurant.

  • Monday, May 22

Full day photographing at Kew Gardens. Hands-on macro and Impressionistic photography field demonstrations.  Lunch and dinner on your own.

  • Tuesday, May 23

Full day at RHS Chelsea Flower Show (London) on RHS Members Only Day.  Photographic opportunities (in particular, Chelsea’s spectacular show gardens and inside the Great Pavilion).  Lunch on your own at Chelsea; dinner on your own at the hotel.

  • Wednesday, May 24

Check out of Marriott hotel.  Private coach and driver transportation to second hotel (Dormy House Hotel in the Cotswolds).  Settle into hotel.  Lunch on your own at hotel.  Afternoon visit to Broughton Grange Gardens.  Photograph there with private access.  Special pre-arranged, catered dinner at the Gardens.

  • Thursday, May 25

Early am departure for Kiftsgate Court Gardens.  Private photography access to Kiftsgate all  morning before they open to the public.  Lunch on your own at Kiftsgate.  Return to hotel for a break.  Afternoon visit to a “secret” privately owned garden in Redditch.  Photograph there with private access.  Special pre-arranged, catered dinner at the garden.

  • Friday, May 26

Free morning at Dormy House Hotel.  Optional spa treatment.  Lunch on your own.  Afternoon visit to Hidcote Manor Garden.  Photograph with private access.  Return to hotel.  Dinner on your own.

  • Saturday, May 27

Early am departure for our second “secret” privately owned garden near Banbury.  Photograph there with private access.  Refreshments provided.  Then, moving on to a pre-arranged group lunch and garden visit at our third “secret” privately owned garden (also near Banbury).  Photograph there with private access.  Return to hotel.  Dinner on your own.

  • Sunday, May 28

Check out of hotel.  Drive to RHS Garden Wisley.  Full day photographing at Wisley.  (Lunch on your own in the Garden.)  Drive to Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club (East Sussex).  Check into hotel.  Dinner on your own.

  • Monday, May 29

Morning departure for Great Dixter House & Gardens.  Photograph there with private access to the gardens.  Return to hotel.  Lunch on your own.  Afternoon visit to Sissinghurst Castle Garden.  Early dinner there, then photograph with private access after they close to the public.

  • Tuesday, May 30

Morning departure for Borde Hill Garden.  Photograph there all morning with private access before they open to the public.  Lunch on your own at the garden.  Afternoon visit to our fourth “secret” privately owned garden in Hastings.  Photograph there with private access.  Return to hotel.  Dinner on your own.

  • Wednesday, May 31

Morning departure for Pashley Manor Gardens.  Photograph there all morning with private access before they open to the public.  Special pre-arranged group lunch at a nearby garden restaurant in a walled garden.  Photograph after lunch in the walled garden.  Free afternoon/evening at hotel.  Dinner on your own.

  • Thursday, June 1

Early am departure for our fifth “secret” privately owned garden in Haywards Heath.  Photograph there with private access.  Return to hotel.  Lunch on your own.  Free time.  Afternoon/evening visit to Gravetye Manor House gardens.  Photograph their stunningly beautiful gardens (not open to the general public), followed by a 3-course Michelin Star Farewell Dinner.  Return to hotel.

  • Friday, June 2

Breakfast at hotel (included).  Group departures.


All skill levels and camera formats welcome, including smartphone cameras.  Students should have a basic understanding of exposure, lighting and composition. Proficiency in post-capture image editing software, such as Lightroom, Photoshop or Snapseed, would be an added bonus but is not necessary.


No strenuous activity will be involved on this tour; however, you must be able to walk at least a quarter mile each day on uneven terrain, some hills and some flat ground at a reasonable pace unassisted, carry your own luggage and camera gear during the tour, and step in and out of a coach several times a day without needing assistance.  Additionally, the full days at Kew Gardens and Chelsea Flower Show will require stamina, as there will be a significant amount of walking each day and, of course, navigation of the London Underground metro system with its stairs & escalators.  Having a modest level of health and fitness will greatly enhance your tour experience.


All tour withdrawal requests must be in writing and received either by US mail or e-mail and acknowledged by Charles Needle Photography. There are NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS POLICY, even for medical or family emergencies. Unless otherwise noted, based on cancellation date, the following apply:

  • Greater than 120 days before this tour start date: refund, minus a $500 administrative fee.
  • Within 120 days of the start of the program: no refund.

We encourage you to purchase refundable airline tickets and trip cancellation insurance. We strongly recommend trip insurance to protect you in the event of an unexpected situation that prevents you from attending the tour.  We recommend Travelguard or Travelex Insurance Services.

We reserve the right to cancel this tour if the minimum student enrollment is not met, or due to any COVID-19 or other health concerns. In the event we cancel this tour, you’ll be notified as soon as possible and be given the option to receive a full refund or apply your payment toward any future workshop or tour within one calendar year from the date of cancellation.

We are not, however, liable for expenses incurred such as airfare or accommodations, and for this reason we also recommend purchasing trip insurance. The financial liability of Charles Needle Photography shall be limited to the amount paid to Charles Needle Photography for the tour only and shall not be extended to cover any other associated travel costs incurred (e.g. non-refundable air tickets, visa fees if applicable, clothing, equipment, miscellaneous transportation costs, lodging costs, medical expenses, travel insurance premiums, etc.).  For this reason, we highly recommend trip cancellation insurance.

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