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Tours with the Federated Garden Clubs of

Christmas Treats in Boston and
Newport on Dec 6-8 2017.

Donna DeSimone
Tours Coordinator
Phone: (Home) 860-521-2178


Highlights of the English Garden Delights Tour May 20-28, 2016

A group shot at Hole Park, a privately owned 15-acre estate.

At left, a stunning blue iris. At right is a view of the hothouse at Kew Gardens.

The winning garden at the Chelsea Flower Show is seen at left: at right is one of the innovative designs at the show.

At left, the group dines at the Farmhouse Pub in Kent. At right, green lavender!

The tour group in a garden at Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn's childhood home.


Highlights of the Yuletide Tour to Pennsylvania December 2-3, 2015

Scenes from Winterthur, left to right: A typical example of a Holiday Christmas Tree decorated at the Dupont Estate; The
handpainted wallpaper was purchased by Mr. Dupont and put up on the walls of their home at Winterthur. This room was
decorated with Flowers as it would have been in Mr. Dupont's Day. They always filled the vases with fresh flowers from the
greenhouses on the property; This formal dining setting is a reproduction of a typical holiday gathering for family and friends.
Note the palm trees and real silver ware.

Left: This year's theme at Longwood Gardens was"'water." The many varieties of sedum planted in this three-tiered
fountain were accentuated by the cascading "waterfall of lights." Center:''Montmorenci Stair Hall,'' the room containing the
free-hanging staircase that came from Montmorenci, an early 19th century North Carolina plantation house.Right: Decorated
Christmas Tree in the Longwood Garden greenhouse with a small waterfall in front. Thousands of pointsettias were massed
for a stunning effect.

Above: Fabulous tree covered from top to bottom with dried flowers picked at Longwood Gardens. Each blossom retained
its color and form...quite remarkable. Center: Amaryllis and lights on display at Longwood Gardens. Right: The largest tree
at Longwood was covered in blue lights. There was a small waterfall nearby and as you can see the effect was stunning.

Above are two views of decorated trees in the Glass House at Longwood Gardens, the third shows trees aglow outside at Longwood.


Highlights from the Hudson Valley Tour, September, 2015

The yellow garden at Stonecrop Garden in Cold Spring, NY. Members confer with the statue of Gertrude Jekyll at Stonecrop.

Members of the tour at the Vanderbilt Rose Garden, left, and at the FDR Home in Hyde Park, NY, right.

A view of the FDR gravesite in Hyde Park, above, and the Millbrook Winery in Millbrook, NY.

The lake at Innisfree Garden in Millbrook, NY, at left, and the FGCCT Members at Innisfree, right.



Our Trip to the Glorious Gardens of Charleston South Carolina, April 6-10 2015

As our flight left the frigid northeast, we were transported to the sunny south in less than two hours. Local guide Virginia spoke to us with pride about her city of Charleston. We drove past many of the sights before we were dropped at our hotel in the center of the Historic District.
The weather was sunny, the food was heavenly and the legendary hospitality did not disappoint.

A private home on Kiawah Island where we enjoyed an outstanding lunch was a rare treat. Our hostess, former President of the Kiawah Garden Club, greeted us like long lost friends. Her garden was a clever arrangement of yellow iris, potted plants, palms and more. The photo of the white stepping stones around a small pond stands out. The stones were her great grandfather’s and were used to print money on during the Civil War.

During our visit to Kiawah we were taken to a Demonstration garden by members of the Nature Conservancy at the Night Heron Garden. We also met with Bill Maneri, landscape architect who designed many gardens on Kiawah and in Charleston. He spoke with us and answered all our questions. The delicate balance between development and native habitat is fiercely protected by the Conservancy.

During our free time we took the opportunity to go to gospel-themed concerts, haunted cemeteries, plantation gardens ,shopping on King Street and much more.
Our dinners and lunches were bountiful. Cocktails on the rooftop of the romantic Vendue hotel . A cruise of the harbor highlighted events of the attack of Fort Sumter and history of Charleston.
Did I mention the charming streets filled with stunning flower boxes , slow moving fringe-topped carriages being pulled by horses as the tourists took in the sights?

We paced our Glorious Garden tour to end at the Nathaniel Russell House for a tea,lemonade and wine reception.
A walking tour that included the Joseph Maginault House , the historic College of Charleston Campus and the Second Presbyterian Church was a wonderful way to spend the morning.
The Middleton Plantation was a gorgeous location to see as the azaleas were in full bloom.
Reflecting on our trip will bring great pleasure to everyone who experienced it. I do hope you can join us for one of our fun-filled trips soon! We gardeners know how to have a good time!

Kathy Kobishyn
Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut Tour Coordinator
26 Pond Street
Milford Ct 06460


Tour of Longwood Gardens and Winterthur December 2-3, 2014

The Trip to Longwood Gardens and Winterthur was much anticipated. The decorations were stunning and our docents gave us a charming overview of the DuPont family. Let's not forget the Downton Abbey exhibit where you could see a wedding gown, butlers uniform, and the famous Turkish pants that Lady Sybil wore.

Yuletide – formal dining room. Peony tree (from Winterthur garden, dried). Tree and poinsettias in solarium.

Left to right: This tree is completely covered with flowers taken from the gardens. They are dried and preserved each year to use for decorating
the tree. Can you ID any of the flowers? Peony, delphinium,roses,dogwood,Chinese lantern,hydrangea,zinnia,yarrow,and more.
The star is an allium. Aren't the colors fabulous???; Downton Abbey costume exhibit at Winterthur.

Seeing Longwood Gardens lit up in the evening after we had our supper was a treat we’ll never forget. Waves of red poinsettias arranged in the large main rooms combined with gigantic Christmas trees festooned with lights were a sight to behold. A holiday concert of harps, bells and song was the perfect ending to a perfect day. I've often been told that Yuletide at Longwood is not to be missed and now I know why.

Left to right: Evening lighted tour of Longwood Gardens in the Conservatory – banks of amaryllis and begonias by water; Feathers
and silvered dried plant material; Lighted tree surrounded by flying cardinals.

Left to right: Live topiary tree; Swan covered in leaves and painted branches; Tree with live poinsettias.

After a restful evening in our hotel we were up and at it early to arrive in time for our private docent led tour of the incredible Barnes collection in Philadelphia. We saw Renoirs, Matisses, Cezannes, Van Goghs, Picassos, and many more. The eccentricity of Mr. Barnes was explained to us by our knowledgeable guide. The public was excluded during our timed tour which made for an intimate experience.
I overheard many in our group vowing to return again one day. It's just so inspiring!

Of course no photos were allowed in the Barnes, but you can go online to view their collection at No photos of the paintings.

After our experience at the Barnes, we were driven to the Christmas Market where we had about an hour to roam the stalls and pick up treasures. Puppets, candy, cookies, ornaments and the colorful canopies gave one the feeling of wandering the German holiday markets in Europe. It was such a treat! Almost everyone bought something back.

Our final stop was the holiday themed, decorated Strawberry Mansion in Fairmont Park. We had tea sandwiches and soup, as well as iced tea , coffee and cookies. The story of the history of the house was fascinating and we were honored to know that among the luminaries who frequented the mansion were General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette (I looked it up).

Left to right: Strawberry Mansion in Fairmont Park, Philadelphia; Gen. Lafayette who slept at Strawberry Mansion (painting of owner)
Hand-painted wallpaper; Lunch at Strawberry Mansion.
All photos by Ronnie Schoelzel.

All in all it was a generous amount of touring packed into two days. We plan to offer the Brandywine Tour again next Holiday season. We hope you can join us. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy healthy holiday season!

Kathy Kobishyn
Tour Coordinator


La Bella Italia – May 6 to 12, 2014

Along with 18 ladies and gents, I hosted my very first trip for the Federated Garden Clubs of CT in May of this year. It was a thrill for me to be leading the group, especially with the presence of my daughter Alexandra. It was a dream trip for me.
From the moment we stepped off the plane and met our local guide, the feeling that I had stepped into another world began to take hold.

Overlooking Lake Maggiore from our first stop in the morning.

Breakfast overlooking a misty lake from a mountainside trattoria was not a bad way to start. Homemade kiwi jam and all sorts of cheeses and meats, along with Italian coffee and biscuits, put a smile on our faces. A surprise visit to a cloistered convent with etchings on the wall from the 12th century was a stunning beginning to our journey.

We learned of the history of the House of Borromeo and their influence on the area surrounding Lake Maggiore. We went by water taxi to several fantastic gardens and palaces over the eight days and nights of our stay in Italy. Villa Carlotta, built in the 17th century, with its splendid gardens and magnificent villa, was just one of many stops. We took water taxis to most of the gardens, making the journey to get to the garden an adventure in itself.

Laughing and enjoying ourselves after our tour of Villa Carlotta on Lake Como.

One day we had a memorable lunch on Isola dei Pescatori (Fisherman's Island). The view of the lake with the mountains capped with freshly fallen snow was one we will not soon forget.

The freshly fallen snow on top of the mountain overlooking Lake Maggiore.

Gardens, restaurants, shopping, historic churches with incredibly beautiful frescos, were all blended into our extravagant trip. Milan was especially wonderful as we got to see not only The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci,but we also were taken to the beautiful Cathedral of Milan, followed by the world famous shopping area which is the center of the fashion world, the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II.

A group of us posed in front of the elaborate sculptural gardens on Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore.

We saw exotic flowers and trees, rows and rows of lush plantings at the Villa Taranto, Villa Melzi and, of course, Isola Bella and Isola Madre. It's tough to narrow a trip down to a few sentences and several photos. What left a lasting impression on me was the lovely people I got to know and the new friends I have made. I think that is what makes travel so interesting and fun.

I hope you will join me on our next trip to Brandywine Valley for Winterthur and Longwood Gardens, an exhibition of the Downton Abbey Fashions displayed in all their glory, as well as the world famous Barnes Exhibit of artwork from Post impressionist and early modern painters on December 2-3.

If you have any trips in mind that you would like to take, please send me an email and we can talk about it. Who knows? We may be planning your dream trip next!

* Kathy Kobishyn
FGCCT Tour Coordinator
203 915 6017


Garden Treasures along the Riviera and Provence, France:
September 26- October 3, 2013

Our group arrived in Ventimiglia, Italy, to tour the Hanbury Botanic Gardens. Forty five acres of terraced gardens
were there for us to enjoy. Tropical plants from all over the world are pleasantly placed along the pathways. Although many were not in bloom, it was delightful to see them in such a beautiful location. There is an 11th Century Pallazzo built on the remains of an ancient Roman Villa. An incredible experience with magnificent weather and stunning views.




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Last updated
May 9, 2017