Travel the World with PHS

Introducing our exciting catalog of destinations for 2016

What makes Pacific Horticulture tours special? Gardeners see the world on another level. Expert guides versed in the local culture and natural history, access to exclusive private gardens, and attentive escorts ensure your travels are unique and enriching. Click through on links below for more information and registration details.

Jardin Etnobotanico de Oaxaca Photo: RG Turner

Jardin Etnobotanico de Oaxaca Photo: RG Turner

February 15 – 21, 2016

Visit Oaxaca, Mexico and you’ll quickly become entranced with its history and vibrant cultural traditions.

The original inhabitants were known for textiles, ceramics, cuisine, and myriad plant use. In fact, corn and squash were first domesticated in this part of the Americas. A major destination on this tour is Jardin Etnobotanico de Oaxaca—an ethnobotanical garden where you’ll experience breathtaking landscape design and also learn how plants have always interacted with the culture of this region.

Your stay will be in Oaxaca’s Casa Antiqua, a small, 19th-century traditional style hotel built around a courtyard and noted for their especially delicious breakfasts. It’s central location makes it the right location to explore this delightful town.

A highlight of our visit will be a walking tour of the local food market to taste spices and regionally grown produce followed by a cooking class in the home of Susana Trilling, cookbook author and host of the PBS series “Seasons of My Heart: A Culinary Journey through Oaxaca.”

You will be welcomed into the homes and studios of local artists and you’ll travel through the lush, fertile countryside to visit the village of San Martin Tilcajete, center for the delightful carved animals called “alebrjie.” You’ll also visit a ceramic workshop, a handmade paper factory, and a tinwork studio, another of Mexico’s colorful art forms created with precision and artistic flair.

Immerse yourself in the world of colors, flavors, textures, landscapes, and plants on this trip to fascinating Oaxaca, Mexico.


Colonial city of Cienfuegos. Photo: Greg Graves

March 4 – 14, 2016

Join us for a cultural journey with a botanical slant. Our itinerary begins with a tour of Havana whose old town is rich with culture, music, museums, architecture, and more. Your travel around this island nation continues to Zapata National Park, the Escambray Mountains, and the Spanish colonial cities of Cienfuegos and Trinidad, where you’ll see Cuba’s diverse landscapes, including the plains or llanos, mountain regions, and coastal wetlands.

Throughout your journey, there will be special emphasis on meeting the people of Cuba—botanists, environmentalists, teachers, scientists, students, and national park personnel—and learning about their lives and work, culture and traditions.

During your stay in Cuba, you’ll:

• Explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Old Havana and Trinidad.

• Spend time in the Spanish colonial city of Cienfuegos, on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its representation of a 19th century Spanish city.

• Visit leading botanic gardens where you’ll see amazing plant collections that thrive in this climate.

• Explore the mountain station at Topes de Collantes, and take in the extraordinary views from these highest peaks in the Escambray .

• See the extraordinary plant life in the Sierra de Escambray, including Cuba’s national flower, the white mariposa (Hedychium coronarium).

• Learn about Las Terrazas reforestation project, the site of Cuba’s earliest surviving coffee plantation and today a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

• See the orchids at the Orquideario Soroa with it collection of 700 species in a hillside garden.

• Visit Vivero Alamar, an impressive project for sustainable agriculture in suburban Havana where fresh vegetables and fruits are grown for the community.

Email to receive registration information as soon as it is available.

The violet sabrewing (Campylopterus hemileucurus) Photo: iStock

The violet sabrewing (Campylopterus hemileucurus) Photo: iStock

Costa Rica
March 23 – 31, 2016

Join Pacific Horticulture as we explore this jewel of the neotropics. Situated at the southern end of Central America, Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity is a concentration of the plants, birds, and animals from both Central and South America.

You’ll encounter a variety of microclimates including cloud forest, sub-tropical montane forest, dense riparian jungle, and lush rain forest habitats all the while learning about the remarkable flora and fauna of each region including orchids, heliconias, bromeliads, and ferns.

You’ll visit well-recognized destinations such as such as the Nectandra Cloud Forest and the Las Cruces Biological Station with its 800 butterfly species and 400 native and migratory bird species.

Our tour includes major public gardens that you’d expect to enjoy on a trip to Costa Rica as well as private reserves and gardens not found on most. These include spectacular orchid collections, tropical plants thriving along the humid Caribbean coast, and a butterfly “farm.”

Many different species of trees can be seen in the high altitude forests of Cerro de la Muerte mountain, which is also considered a bird watcher’s paradise with fairly common sightings of the iconic Resplendent Quetzal, Emerald Toucanettes and hummingbirds.

You’ll stay in metropolitan San Jose for a short portion of your trip, in cabins at the Las Cruces Reserve and the Savegre Hotel Natural Reserve and Spa the balance, letting you experience this progressive country at its finest.

A lush, verdant scene in a hospitable Southern garden. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

A lush, verdant scene in a hospitable Southern garden. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Charleston & Savannah
April 4 – 11, 2016

Visit lovely Charleston and step back in time to a world of colonial mansions, antebellum homes, and peaceful public squares shaded by ancient live oaks.

You’ll also explore Savannah, which has our country’s largest historic district. The city is built around gorgeous squares of live oaks dripping with Spanish moss and azaleas, ringed by Southern mansions. Your Savannah walking tour features the homes and gardens found in the popular book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Your visit is timed for peak bloom of magnolia, daffodil, iris, camellia, early azalea and rose, flowering fruit tree, and so much more

You will have exclusive access to private gardens not open to the public in both Charleston and Savannah, and enjoy a private lunch in lovely Beaufort, hosted by the white-gloved ladies of the Beaufort Historical Society.

Bloedel Floral Conservatory, Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo: Howard Sandler/Shutterstock

Bloedel Floral Conservatory, Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo: Howard Sandler/Shutterstock

Victoria & Vancouver
Late June, 2016

Join us in summer of 2016 for a visit to two of British Columbia’s most dynamic cities—Victoria and Vancouver.

Gardening is a year-round passion in Victoria’s mild climate. Hanging baskets hang from lampposts and in early summer private gardens throughout the entire city offer a profusion of blooms. You’ll get an insiders view about Victoria’s gardens during a dinner talk just for tour members.

Our tour of private gardens showcase a variety of styles including a collectors’ whimsical property, a sculpture garden, a multi-level townhouse garden, and two of Victoria’s most famous homes and gardens: Abkhazi Gardens and the Government House.

On a grander scale you’ll see how the Butchart family turned an old quarry into an international destination and claim the title of the world’s premier floral show garden.

In Vancouver, Thomas Hobb’s Southlands Nursery is a destination not to be missed. You’ll also tour his richly planted 20-acre personal garden that Martha Stewart called a must-see.

Visits to other private gardens are included in our stay in Vancouver and you’ll also gain insight to Vancouver’s world-famous public gardens through docent-led tours of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, VanDusen Botanical Gardens, and Bloedel Conservatory.

Photo: courtesy of Betchart Expeditions

Photo: courtesy of Betchart Expeditions

July 2 – 11, 2016

Nature lovers grab your binoculars and cameras and come explore Iceland! This trip is an introduction to the magical island country of Iceland with its astonishing natural phenomena, Viking history, arctic plants, wildlife, and creative ecologically conscious populace.

Iceland has captured people’s imagination since Jules Verne first wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1871 and today more visitors than ever travel there. Its second largest city, Akureyri, was just named the #1 European destination by Lonely Planet travel guides.

Icelanders pride themselves on their geography and you’ll learn why as you experience dramatic waterfalls and fjords, high sky countryside, glaciers and geysers, and birds of all types. You’ll visit a cliffside Puffin rookery that extends almost 7 miles with birds so tame you can almost pick them up with your bare hands.

You’ll learn about the native plant collection at the botanical garden in Akureyri, just 30 miles from the Arctic Circle. This outstanding garden also boasts a large collection of introduced plants that are carefully watched to see how they handle Iceland’s long-day summers and dark winters. You’ll see, too examples of sod-thatched homes dating back to early European roots.

With more landscape architects per capita than any other European nation, Iceland’s buildings and landscape reflect both aesthetic ingenuity and a strong sense of sustainability—water tanks in one Reykjavik building hold a million gallons of geothermally heated water

Join us with Icelandic naturalist Siggi Tomasson to experience this country’s majesty and beauty first hand.

Email to receive registration information as soon as its available.


The dramatic 16-story “super trees” in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. Photo: Josh Schechtel

Bali & Singapore
September 2016

Explore the allure of tropical gardens in Singapore and Bali!

Singapore is a contrast of ultra modern urban design and traditional cultures. Nothing expresses this better than two of its public gardens on our itinerary.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens have been at their current site since 1859 and were laid out in the English Landscape Movement style. Kew-trained botanists have since developed them into an important tropical institute and Singapore’s first nomination for a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay opened in 2011 after an international competition determined its design. The property includes two huge glass houses that contain plants and trees from across the globe and is know for its signature “super trees,” metal and concrete structures up to 16 stories tall that are covered with thousands of living epiphytic plants.

Bali’s culture includes music, dance, and the visual arts. It has long been a popular destination for travelers—more than one artist has visited Bali and never returned home!

Your Balinese adventure includes stays in the beachside town of Sanur and the inland village of Ubud. You’ll tour private gardens and villas, museums, and experience the art and culture for which Bali is known.

You’ll also visit ancient temples and palaces as well as the workshops of modern artisans working in stone, wood, and cloth including demonstrations of batik dyeing and ikat weaving, techniques that create some of the world’s most beautiful fabrics.

Come to Bali with us, walk its terraced rice paddies and forests, and you’ll understand how Bali has inspired so many over the years.

Blooming Leucospermum at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, South Africa. Photo: Lucy Warren

Blooming Leucospermum at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, South Africa. Photo: Lucy Warren

South Africa
October 1 -14, 2016

From the time Pacific Horticulture began hosting tours to faraway places, South Africa has been a popular destination.

This southern-most point of the African continent is a riotous mix of picturesque mountains, tumbling rivers, rocky fields of flowers, heathland, and a stunning coastline. The region is home to some of the greatest densities of flowering plants on earth.

Join us as we visit this remarkable “Floral Kingdom” in the fall of 2016; spring in the Southern hemisphere. South Africa’s Mediterranean climate—wet and mild in winter and dry in the summer—supports a vast array of beautiful plants many of which are adapted to long periods of drought, heat, and the ability to survive wildfires.

Our tour includes visits to diverse ecosystems ranging from the montane fynbos and evergreen forests, to semi-desert locations, and stunning beaches populated with flocks of resident penguins! We will explore a wealth of botanical treasures at Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens, Table Mountain, Karoo National Botanic Gardens, and Addo National Park where you’ll find many familiar and useful plants for western gardens, as well as those that were once considered unusual including proteas and leucadendrons.

This tour will make every effort to allow us to see some of the iconic animals of Africa such as elephants, rhinos, and perhaps even lions. South Africa is also a birdwatchers’ hot spot with many species from the center of the continent mixing with coastal birds seen nowhere else in the world.

South Africa beckons to the adventurous and the inquisitive alike. Come along with us—it’s about time we go back—or visit for the very first time.

Email to receive registration information as soon as it is available.

The Golden Pavilion, Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Wikimedia

The Golden Pavilion, Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Wikimedia

October 13 – 25, 2016

Visit some of Japan’s most famous gardens while touring its large cities, mountainous terrain, and busy countryside. You’ll experience neon-lit Tokyo and Osaka, contemplate the serenity of Kyoto’s Zen gardens, and learn why the landscape architecture of this culture has so greatly influenced the world.

Among the gardens on our tour several began as vast private gardens surrounding castles in feudal times, which over the years have been restored as public gardens. Others are part of the cultural heritage of Kyoto, some are nestled into the wooded hillsides, and a few are recent additions to the landscape that have been voted modern favorites.

You’ll see Shinto shrines and castles and view steeply thatched roof homes on a drive through the Japanese Alps or while riding Japan’s excellent rail system. As you walk the back streets of old Kyoto where it abuts the eastern mountain range you’ll see examples of traditional crafts such as lacquer ware production, pottery making, kimono dyeing, and more.

Our itinerary also features examples of contemporary architecture and features Japanese dining and culture.