At midday we will depart by coach from Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station for Hestercombe, one of Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens’ greatest masterpieces. The garden is home to a round pool in a round walled garden filled with wintersweet and roses, a Dutch garden of lamb's ears, lavender and the most beautiful orangery of the 20th century. Everywhere there are details of design and planting from which any gardener can learn.
Following our visit we will continue to our comfortable accommodation at the Best Western Tiverton Hotel, Tiverton.
Dinner is served in the evening at the hotel.
Following breakfast this morning we have a real treat when we have a guided tour of the Royal Horticultural Society's great treasure of Rosemoor, near Great Torrington in the heart of rural Devon. There are two gardens here, the first an intimate woodland garden dating from the 1960s, which has an excellent collection of trees and shrubs which relish the acid soil – dogwoods, eucryphias, maples, pieris, rhododendrons and vacciniums. The other is a more ambitious affair, which has been developed since the RHS became the owner in 1988, with rose gardens and giant borders, a lake and stream garden and a Mediterranean garden. Lunch is available here (not included).
In the afternoon we transfer to the timeless village of Clovelly, where a steep, cobbled street tumbles down past gleaming white cottages to a tiny harbour. Here we will visit the Clovelly Court Gardens, a sunny corner of North Devon where plants thrive in the protection of winds, so much so that they are often a month ahead of the season. A neat, carefully tended Victorian kitchen garden is bordered by herbaceous beds, while in the restored Victorian glasshouses, apricots, peaches, nectarines, melons, grapes, lemons and figs ripen in the warmth. Outside there are apples, pears, quinces, medlars, soft fruit and two mulberry trees.
We return to our hotel, where dinner will be served in the evening.
This morning following breakfast we check out of our hotel and travel down into Cornwall, where we begin with a visit to Lanhydrock Gardens. Now the property of the National Trust, Lanhydrock was the home of the Robartes family from 1620 until 1953. The magnificent seventeenth century house is surrounded by nineteenth century formal terraced gardens which formed part of a scheme of improvements overseen by George Gilbert Scott in 1857. Beyond the terraced gardens are areas of informal pleasure grounds which were developed from the mid nineteenth century with many choice trees and shrubs. The parkland with the famous beech avenue was first enclosed in the mid seventeenth century, and remains one of the finest examples in Cornwall. Lanhydrock Gardens feature a formal courtyard garden, beds of modern roses and a woodland garden, rich in flowering shrubs and trees, especially rhododendrons and magnolias. Lanhydrock is also home to the National Collection of crocosmias.
We continue to Trewithen, a garden whose reputation amongst connoisseurs of gardens has always been of the highest, though it is only recently that its great beauty and horticultural importance has become known to a wider public. Despite the loss of many mature trees in the great storm of 1979, it remains very much a woodland garden designed on a grand scale, with evidence of the great age of plant collecting to be found everywhere. Many of the flowering trees and shrubs were grown from seed sent from China, Burma and Assam and are now bigger than their parent plants, having flourished in the mild damp Cornish climate. From the South Lawn, smooth gently curving paths lead into numerous bays and glades, full of spectacular blooms and constantly offering new vistas and glimpses to tempt you on. From very early spring there is dramatic colour to be enjoyed in the huge magnolias and the vast array of camellias.
Following our visit we continue to our hotel, The Cornwall Hotel*, an elegant 4-star hotel and spa set within 43 acres of peaceful wooded parkland in Tregorrick, St Austell. Dinner is served at the hotel in the evening.
*Please note that for our June departure we are based at the 3-star Penmere Manor Hotel in Falmouth.
After breakfast we travel to the garden of Lamorran House, overlooking Falmouth Bay, which has been designed by the owner in an Italianate style, although there are also Japanese influences here. The intention was to create an intimate garden very much in the mould of Mediterranean gardens but with water ever-present, both as a backdrop to the garden and with running water featured in the many pools and streams. Many features are included to divide the garden into intimate compartments which the visitor can explore. Hence there are areas of woodland, a water garden in Japanese style as well as temples and archways in the steeper parts of the garden and a small bridge on which to lean to look out over the bay exhibiting a distinctively Venetian influence.
Our next visit will be to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The award winning gardens, asleep for more than seventy years, are the scene of the largest garden restoration project in Europe. In the spring of 1991, the Gardens of Heligan lay under a blanket of bramble, ivy, rampant laurel and fallen timber. A year later the restoration team opened the gardens to enable the public to share in the excitement of their discovery.
Dinner will be served back at the hotel.
Following our full English breakfast we depart for a visit to Trebah, a wild and colourful Cornish garden with something for everyone. The garden was laid out originally in the 1840s and flourished to become one of England's great gardens by the 1930s. After the death of the then owner, the garden was sadly neglected for many years until it was taken over by the Hibbert family, who still run it today. Wander down the "Zig-Zag", a slope where a rare collection of exotic Mediterranean plants was recently planted. You will also see Rhododendron Valley, a huge amphitheatre of sixty foot high rhododendrons, many of which were imported as seed in the 1890s. It was here that rare Chinese palm trees, giant ferns and a host of other exotic plants were discovered a few years ago when some of the rhododendrons were cut back.
We then transfer to the pretty harbour town of St Ives, where we will have some free time and an opportunity for lunch (not included). Later in the afternoon we will visit the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. Dame Barbara Hepworth lived and worked in Trewyn Studio from 1949 until her death in 1975. The small house, her working studios and the lush and secluded garden she created are open to the public as a museum devoted to her life and work.
We return to our hotel in time for dinner.
This morning following breakfast we check out of our hotel and depart for our final visit, Trelissick, a modern garden which was created within shelter belts planted 200 years ago. The garden is constantly evolving, with new planting and fresh ideas. Trelissick has seen trees grow to maturity, the tide ebbing and flowing, but has become a dynamic, forward-looking estate. The iconic Water Tower was built for irrigation and fire-control; now the lavatories are flushed with rainwater stored underground in modern reservoirs. Heat is extracted from kitchen appliances and the sun to provide hot water and heating.
Following our visit we will return to our original pick-up point at Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station, where the group will disperse or make onward connections.