A chat with Christine Walkden
Garden enthusiasts will love our four-day tour, taking in seven beautiful English gardens in the Cotswolds. From a comfortable and central base near Cheltenham, you'll visit Highgrove, Cerne House, Rodmarton Manor, Kiftsgate Court, Batsford Arboretum, and Sezincote.
At Hidcote Manor, Christine Walkden - a gardener, horticulturist and broadcaster - makes a special guest appearance, accompanying you on a tour of the garden. That evening after dinner, Christine will talk candidly about her experiences as a gardener and presenter and host a Q&A session.
Known for her no-nonsense approach to gardening - an ethos that led to two books on that theme - Christine is a wonderful companion to explore the gardens of the Cotswolds - and ahead of the trip, we caught up with her to find out more about what she's looking forward to and what guests can expect.
What makes the Cotswolds special for you?
I love the countryside around the Cotswolds. But it's not just that: the architecture and the olde worlde villages. And the general calmness of the area. And it's beautiful gardens! Although it's hard to choose just one.
Can you give us a teaser of what you will chat about on the trip?
The thrills and spills of starting a gardening career. My career has taken an interesting path. It all started when I was given a crocus corm at school, and it fascinated me. I started my first allotment at age 11, and that was the moment I thought gardening could be a career. The TV and books came later.
What do you think are the real highlights of the trip?
It's not just about one garden, it's about the combination of these super gardens that show a great range of plantsmanship and variety. It's that skill and creativity that I'm looking forward to showing people on our tour of Hidcote.
Tell us a few highlights of your career as a horticulturist.
I've fond memories of working at the Wakehurst seed bank, looking after the growing side of the seed physiology. But making the move to becoming a national and international freelance lecturer was a great moment for me, too. Of course, moving into radio and TV work was exciting, particularly becoming a panel member for BBC Radio 4 Gardeners' Question Time. I'm looking forward to re-living moments from that time when I answer questions from the guests on the trip about their own gardens!
Tell us about some of the most challenging moments of your career.
I suppose there are two things: both quite different! The first was the seven years of study to gain all the professional qualifications I wanted. And working in television - that comes with its own challenges.