Garden Tours

Deryn Thorpe Interview

Interview with Deryn Thorpe

What inspired you to get into gardening?

I started gardening in a big way after my husband and I bought our first house about 30 years ago. At first I just wanted a beautiful garden with lots of flowers but later I became obsessed with design and plants and studied horticulture to get more skills.

What can our travellers expect on the upcoming tours?

I am a passionate gardener and love looking at new gardens and discussing with our tour group about the plant selections and the design. Sometimes we discuss what we would do if we were the head gardeners! We’ve had some very constructive conversations about taking out trees to expose views and using more subtle perennials instead of garish annuals. I enjoy discussing these things as a group as we all have something to contribute and learn, me included!

My next tour is a cruise to Canada and the US in their fall where we are going to see some amazing autumn colour!

In March, 2017 I take my yearly tour to Ballarat and the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show where I have handpicked some of Victoria’s very best private gardens to share with the group.

In May 2017 we see some of England’s traditional cottage-style gardens (and I think that the English are probably the world’s best gardeners) before visiting the Chelsea Garden show and finishing with a luxurious 12 night cruise that takes in grand gardens in the Baltic, including St Petersberg in Russia.

New Zealand’s wonderful volcanic soil and mild climate helps create some of the best gardens in the world and we will see some spectacular gardens on a cruise starting in Sydney on October 30 2017 which sails around New Zealand.

What are your favourite things to do when touring and while cruising?

Well, like everyone I totally love being spoilt when cruising and enjoy getting dressed up for the five star meals and onboard entertainment. Meeting up with the tour group each evening for dinner is also a highlight as there is nothing nicer than getting to know some new people over a special occasion meal and a glass of wine.

When touring I love the sense of adventure as we often get to explore new sites and experiences together. After we have seen something wonderful or been on a great tour of a historical city with one of Travelrite’s local guides I love the way we are all talking excitedly on the coach, or at dinner, about what a great day we have had. We usually try to rank the experiences and it is great the way that different aspects of our trip are highlights for different tour members.

What aspects of your gardening do you find the most challenging, and the most satisfying?

This year I am opening my home garden to the public so it’s challenging trying to get everything perfect for one week in October. I live in Perth, which has the least fertile soils in the world, so the most backbreaking aspect is continually improving the sandy soil with compost and clay. Spending a day or two perched on ladders pruning the climbing roses also gives my muscles a good work out!

While I always want to achieve a ‘pleasing display’ the real satisfaction is being able to share my garden and its produce with others.

What do you love about travelling?

The sense of adventure! Meeting new people! Having something to look forward to and creating some amazing memories!

Could you name your favourite gardens around the world?

Cloudehill – Melbourne, Australia; Ninfa – Lazio, Italy; Villa Melzi – Bellagio, Italy; Monet’s Garden – Paris, France; Ayrlies -Auckland, New Zealand; Great Dixter – East Sussex, England; Longwood, Philadelphia, USA

What were the highlights from the last tour you hosted with Travelrite International?

  1. Visiting romantic Ninfa garden, set in the ruins of a small medieval town. An informal, organic garden which has been created so it looks wild and uncultivated. It is very artistic with old roses scrambling up stone towers, crystal clear streams and a kilometre of flowering lavender borders. Outstanding!
  2. I loved our day with our local guide Roberta touring Rome. The whole city is a museum! Roberta skilfully used our coach to ferry us around town so we managed to visit most of the important sites without getting too weary and her commentary brought the city to life.
  3. Italian food – especially home made pasta and artisan gelato. I enjoy a pre dinner glass of sparkling prosecco but it tastes best sitting with friends admiring the Bay of Naples from the rooftop bar of our Sorrento hotel.
  4. Chelsea Flower Show!!! I’ve been three times but it is always THE highlight!

To find out more about the Garden Tours Deryn Thorpe is leading please click on the Tour Images below.

The group beside a fountain in Villa d'Este in Tivoli
The group beside a fountain in Villa d’Este in Tivoli