Day 1 Wednesday May 20, 2020 Departure
Our holiday begins with our flight to London, England.
Day 2 Thursday May 21, 2020 London, England
This morning we arrive at London’s Heathrow Airport. After clearing customs, we will be met by our private coach and transferred in to the city. We will have an overview sightseeing tour of the city before we transfer to our hotel. We will see Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and more. Heather will meet those wishing to dine as a group in the hotel lobby. Tonight you might like to catch one of the many splendid London shows.
Day 3 Friday May 22, 2020 London, England
The highlight of our time in London will be our visit to the famous Royal Chelsea Flower Show. It is the summer event in the English horticultural calendar. It boasts about twenty amazing landscaped gardens built by prominent landscapers and more than 500 displays featuring the best flowers, plants and trees, with many new introductions. For gardeners, it is the experience of a lifetime and a highlight of our garden tour. This evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner.
Day 4 Saturday May 23, 2020 London, England
This morning we visit Hampton Court Palace and Garden. The Palace is an interesting place to visit to gain insights into the activities of British monarchs from Henry VIII onwards. The garden is most famous for its Great Vine, planted in 1768, which still produces hundreds of Black Hamburg grapes each year. The Pond Gardens offer a magnificent display of bedding plants. The newly restored Privy Garden of William III is a spectacular example of baroque design, with parterres, cut work, clipped yews and spring and summer displays of 17th-century plants. In the afternoon, we visit a private garden in West London. This is a true collectors’ garden, with perennial borders, a knot garden, a bog garden, a conservatory and views to a private park.
Day 5 Sunday May 24, 2020 Barcelona, Spain
This morning we board our flight to gorgeous Barcelona. Upon arrival we enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city. Capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain. We will see the historic cathedral and the beautiful streets of the Gothic Quarter. We visit the modernist Eixample district and see examples of Gaudi’s stunning architecture, including the famous Sagrada Familia. We will continue with a visit to Park Guell, designed by Gaudi which is a combination of architectural and landscape features with mature and natural looking plantings. Among them is the grand iron-balustrade entrance, with its mosaic tile work on the walls and the imposing staircase dragon.
Day 6 Monday May 25, 2020 Barcelona, Spain
This morning we travel north to the Costa Brava to visit the Jardi Botanic Mar I Murtra, which was created by Karl Faust. He created several different gardens to house the plants he collected from all over the world. Mar I Murtra is now divided into tropical, temperate and Mediterranean garden areas. In the afternoon, we will travel to visit spectacular Santa Clotilde, a large property built on the site of an old vineyard. It is an Italianate garden in the Renaissance style, where the symmetry of paths, planting and interesting focal points defines the garden.
Day 7 Tuesday May 26, 2020 Barcelona, Spain
The morning is free for independent sightseeing before we are transferred to the port to board the Celebrity Constellation to start our cruise through the Mediterranean to Venice.
Day 8 Wednesday May 27, 2020 Monte Carlo, Monaco
We will have a wonderful day on the French Riviera today. We first enjoy a sightseeing tour, with a local guide, of Monte Carlo, famous for its casino and Royal Family. We’ll continue our journey with a visit Le Jardin Exotique d’Eze, perched on a high outcrop with the most magnificent views overlooking the sea. This garden with its wonderful and varied collection of succulents offers a unique experience, and the little town of Eze is fascinating. We continue with a visit to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild garden. It was laid out at the beginning of the 20th century by Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild, a member of the wealthy Rothschild family. The garden has been developed as a series of compartments representing different architectural and planting styles and is the ultimate in manicured French exotic style.
Day 9 Thursday May 28, 2020 La Spezia, Italy
On arrival in La Spezia, we travel to visit Villa Torrigiani. We reach the villa by a long avenue of cypress trees which very scenically frame the gate and villa. The downhill part of the park contains fountains reflecting the façade of the villa, which dates back to the layout of the 17th century. The garden is one of the most beautiful of its kind in Italy and is famous for its “waterworks” which are equipped with suitable hydraulic mechanisms, allowing water to spring out to create an overall scenic effect. We stop for lunch in Lucca, a city known for its well-preserved Renaissance walls and cobblestone streets. We continue our travels to explore Villa Garzoni, an ornamented baroque spectacle in a beautiful valley. The garden rises from a semi-circular parterre, through terraced flights of steps to a water cascade, thrusting into the woods. The cascade widens as it ascends the hill, making it more dramatic when seen from below and more extensive when seen from above. A heroic terracotta statue of Fame waves gaily from a highpoint in the garden. Overall, the garden displays a fine baroque transition from cultivated to wild.
Day 10 Friday May 29, 2020 Civitavecchia, Italy
This morning we arrive at Civitavecchia. Today we visit the gorgeous formal gardens of Villa Lante. Geometrically organised on four levels along a main axis, emphasised by fountains, it has perfect symmetry. This is a marvellous Renaiss-ance garden in which murmuring water, flashing fountains, shade and sunlight alternate under vast plane trees. We travel on to the gorgeous town Orvieto. The town enjoys a remarkable site on the top of a volcanic rock. We will enjoy a sightseeing tour, where we will see the Duomo dating from the 13th century situated in the Piazza del Duomo, the Palazzo del Popolo, built of volcanic rock and the Piazza della Repubblica, which stands on the site of the ancient forum.
Day 11 Saturday May 30, 2020 Naples, Italy
Today we arrive in Naples and take a short walk to board a ferry for the island of Ischia where we visit the famous garden, La Mortella, previously the home of Lord and Lady Walter. Here we explore a garden massed with rare trees, palms, shrubs, ferns and bulbs to excite the plantsman and botanist. There are many interesting features including an Islamic-style rill of water leading to a pool. This is part of an extension to the garden by famous designer Russell Page. He also constructed a series of rock pools, their banks a home for bog plants, ferns and bamboo, which contrast with the parched Mediterranean hillside. Lady Walton, who died a few years ago, has a beautiful memorial set in the garden. This garden delights all the senses.
Day 12 Sunday May 31, 2020 At Sea
The day is free to enjoy the wonderful facilities of the ship. In the afternoon we will enjoy a Gardening Trivia competition. We will divide the group into teams with prizes for the winning team.
Day 13 Monday June 01, 2020 Kotor, Montenegro
Today we sail up the picturesque Bay of Kotor, a submerged river canyon. The port of Kotor was built by the Republic of Venice and is surrounded by impress- ive city walls. There are many attractive Venetian buildings in the town. We will have a morning tour to explore this interesting city. The afternoon will be free for individual exploration.
Day 14 Tuesday June 02, 2020 Dubrovnik, Croatia
This morning we call in to the historic city of Dubrovnik. Known as The Jewel of the Adriatic, the city is situated on a promontory surrounded by the beautiful waters of the Adriatic Sea. It is renowned for the beauty of its monuments, its magnificent city walls and welcoming atmosphere. It was founded by fugitives from the Roman city of Epidaurum during the seventh century. We have a comprehensive tour of Dubrovnik and see the impressive Fort of St John and the Sponza Palace, which was built in the 14th century as the Mint for the city.
Day 15 Wednesday June 03, 2020 Koper, Slovenia
Today we travel to Ljubljana to visit the Slovenia Botanical Garden. Established in 1810, it is Slovenia’s oldest cultural, scientific and educational institution opening uninterrupted since its foundation. The garden contains 4,500 different species and sub-species 1/3 of them are endemic to Slovenia. We will enjoy our last night aboard the ship tonight.
Day 16 Thursday June 04, 2020 Venice/Como, Italy
After disembarking the ship this morning we will enjoy a short sightseeing tour of Venice before we travel north to the shores of Lake Como, where we will spend the next three nights.
Day 17 Friday June 05, 2020 Como, Italy
A scenic trip along the west shore of Lake Como brings us to the picturesque village of Tremezzo and Villa Carlotta. This elegant 18th century villa has its own landing place on Lake Como and beautiful views over the lake. It was given as a wedding present to Carlotta, Duchess of Saxe-Meningen, who, with her husband, created the landscaped gardens and began the botanical collection. Around the house, an 18th century formal layout has lemon arbours on the terraces, tall camellia hedges and flower beds to suit the architecture. This afternoon, we visit Villa Balbianello, one of the jewels of the lake, located on a small promontory and accessed by boat. Steep steps lead from the landing to an avenue of candelabra-pruned plane trees and the loggia, garlanded with creeping fig. The villa perches high above Lake Como and is filled with an astounding personal collection of furniture and artefacts. This evening Heather will meet those wishing to dine with the group in the lobby.
Day 18 Saturday June 06, 2020 Como, Italy
Today we visit Lake Maggiore, heading to the beautiful town of Stresa from where we take a private boat across to Isola Bella, the most spectacular of the Borromean Islands. The magnificent villa is surrounded by one of the most dramatic 17th-century gardens in Italy, with 10 terraces rising like a ship’s prow in the reflecting waters of the lake. Masses of roses and perfumed plants set among superb statues and fountains make this a garden to remember. We visit the nearby island, Isola Madre, so very different, with its lush sub-tropical planting of ornamental trees and shrubs, in a parkland style of the early 19th century. We will enjoy a farewell dinner this evening to say good-bye to group members.
Day 19 Sunday June 07, 2020 Departure
This morning is free to explore Como. Later we travel to Milan airport to board our flight to Australia.
Day 20 Monday June 08, 2020 In flight
Day 21 Tuesday June 09, 2020 Arrive Australia
The group arrives in Australia and tour arrangements conclude.