Day 1 Friday June 21, 2019 Departure
We depart Australia today on our flight to Barcelona, Spain.
Day 2 Saturday June 22, 2019 Barcelona, Spain
This morning we arrive in Barcelona, capital of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain. We will enjoy a sightseeing tour with a local guide of Barcelona. We will see the historic cathedral and the beautiful streets of the Gothic Quarter as well as the modernist L’Eixample district and see examples of Gaudi’s stunning architecture, including the famous Sagrada Familia. We will visit Parc Guell, which is a combination of architectural and landscape features with mature and natural looking plantings. The park was commissioned by Count Eusebi Guell in the 1890s. By 1914, Antoni Gaudi had completed the famous features that are most enjoyed by the park’s visitors today. Among them is the grand iron-balustrade entrance, with its mosaic tile work on the walls and the imposing staircase dragon.
Day 3 Sunday June 23, 2019 Embarkation
This morning will be free for independent activity. Later we will be transferred to the port to board the Norwegian Epic for our garden cruise in the Mediterranean. This evening we will enjoy welcome drinks to formally meet Sue and other tour members.
Day 4 Monday June 24, 2019 At sea
The day is free to enjoy the wonderful facilities of the ship. In the afternoon Sue McDougall will give an insight into her life in the media and her love of gardening.
Day 5 Tuesday June 25, 2019 Naples, Italy
Today we arrive in Naples and we travel to Sorrento and board a ferry for the island of Ischia where we visit the famous garden, La Mortella, the home of Sir and Lady Walton. 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 6 Wednesday June 26, 2019 Rome, Italy
We arrive at Civitavecchia this morning and travel to the beautiful Gardens of Ninfa (Giardin di Ninfa), located in the Lazio region of Italy, about 40 miles south-east of Rome. Ninfa was a substantial town going back to the times of the Romans. Having fallen into decay over centuries the ruins were transformed into a botanical garden. Now plants wind over ruined towers and walls, rejoicing in the lush damp conditions. The setting is indescribably atmospheric, with roses scrambling for footholds in ruined archways, and the frescoed church wall still standing open to the weather. Roses, banana trees, maples and resident ducks thrive in the microclimate of Ninfa. The dampness of the location, under the hills facing the coastal plain, leads to an unusual mixture of species.
Day 7 Thursday June 27, 2019 Livorno, Italy
On arrival in Livorno 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 date 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 well-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 8 Friday June 28, 2019 Cannes, France
This morning we arrive in Cannes on the French Riviera. A local guide takes us sightseeing to see the best of the French Riviera. We explore the narrow picturesque streets of Nice and drive along the Corniche Road, which provides spectacular views of the ocean and cliffs as we travel to Menton. Later we visit the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. The garden was laid out at the beginning of the 20th century by Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild, a member of the wealthy Rothschild family. The garden was developed as a series of compartments representing different architectural and planting styles. The garden is the ultimate in manicured French exotic style. Seven gardens laid out around the pink, Venetian-style villa, represent a voyage around the world including – French, Spanish, Florentine and Japanese, which are furnished with the ‘spoils’ of her travels. The sea views are wonderful and the interiors of the villa are simply beautiful.
Day 9 Saturday June 29, 2019 Palma, Majorca, Spain
After docking in Majorca early afternoon, we travel to Esporles to visit La Granja, a historic country house on a site known since Roman times. Since 1447 it has been privately owned by various noble families. We will see the gorgeous aristocratic drawing room with its own theatre and a dungeon with a torture chamber. We will also explore the gardens, which contain spectacular waterfalls and an extensive botanical park.
Day 10 Sunday June 30, 2019 London, England
This morning we disembark the ship in Barcelona. We travel to the airport, fly to London and upon arrival we are transferred to our city hotel. The remainder of the day is free for independent activity.
Day 11 Monday July 1, 2019 London
This morning we meet our London Blue Badge guide for a comprehensive tour of the main sights. We take in Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, The Strand, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. Later we visit Raworth’s Garden, a private garden in West London. This is a true collectors’ garden, with perennial borders, a knot garden, bog garden, conservatory and views to a private park. We also enjoy a delicious afternoon tea. This visit will be a highlight of the tour.
Day 12 Tuesday July 2, 2019 London
Today we visit the Royal Horticultural Garden, Wisley. The RHS was given Wisley Estate in trust by Sir Thomas Hanbury in 1903. The garden will capture the imagination with richly planted borders and luscious rose gardens and amazing glasshouses, which recreate tropical, moist temperate and dry temperate habitats. Trials of flowers, vegetables and fruit were expanded at Wisley and they continue to be some of the principal features of the garden. Several Chelsea Flower Show prize winning gardens are displayed in the grounds. Our visit will be an interesting look at the history of gardening in Britain.
Day 13 Wednesday July 3, 2019 London
A free morning today before we visit the famous Kew Gardens, London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the world’s most diverse collection of living plants and a scientific research centre of international renown. Set in 122 hectares, we will discover beautiful glasshouses including the iconic Palm House and its exotic rainforest; the Princess of Wales Conservatory with ten of the world’s climatic zones; and the Waterlily House with its amazing, giant lily pads.
Day 14 Thursday July 4, 2019 London
Today we visit RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the world’s largest annual flower show, stretching over 14 hectares. Flanking both sides of the Long Water at Hampton Court Palace, we will enjoy Show Gardens, the Rose Marquee, Floral Marquee, plant pavilions and a variety of talks, demonstrations and exhibits.
Day 15 Friday July 5, 2019 Redruth, Cornwall
Today we travel to Cornwall. On the journey we will visit Stourhead. Sue will take the group on a tour of delightful Stourhead and explain the visionary design of Henry Hoare II. It is claimed by many that this garden is the greatest surviving example of a classical garden. We arrive at our hotel late afternoon. We will enjoy an included dinner this evening.
Day 16 Saturday July 6, 2019 Redruth
We visit two gorgeous Cornish gardens today. Our first garden, Trebah, has an extensive collection of Mediterranean plants, a stream and a carp pond. There are blue and white hydrangeas giving summer colour and many beautiful mature trees and shrubs. We continue with a visit to nearby Glendurgan Garden. This sheltered 10 hectare valley garden slopes down to the atmospheric Helford River. Majestic trees abound and the sheltered environment permits plants from all over the world to flourish. We will enjoy an included dinner this evening.
Day 17 Sunday July 7, 2019 Redruth
The morning will be free for individual exploration. This afternoon we will visit St Michael’s Mount. It is a private 18th-century walled garden, which rises in terraces from just above sea level. Because of the micro-climate many tender and exotic sub-tropical plants thrive. Tour members will have a steep climb to the castle walls, where they will have a magnificent view. We will enjoy an included dinner this evening.
Day 18 Monday July 8, 2019 Taunton, Somerset
Today we travel to visit the Garden House. The garden was originally developed in the 1940’s, centred around the ruins of a medieval village. The three derelict terraces were developed with a diverse range of plants including rhododendrons and mahonias. There has recently been a program of re-planting in the walled garden and long walk, which have resulted in a stunning high standard garden. We continue to the historic city, Taunton.
Day 19 Tuesday July 9, 2019 Taunton
Today we will visit two superb gardens. Cothay Manor is located in a magical setting, surrounded by 6 hectares of garden and wildflower meadow. During the 1990’s the present owners completely re-made the garden as a series of rooms and courts within the original framework. There is a Bishop’s room, where the colour scheme is reds and purples reflecting the episcopal robes and a white garden called the Green Knight garden. We continue our journey to visit Knightshayes garden. Near the house the terraces are planted with shrub roses and tree peonies and herbaceous plants. Battlement hedges frame the pool garden with a backdrop of acer’s and topiary foxes repeated throughout the garden. We will have a farewell dinner this evening to say good-bye to our new friends.
Day 20 Wednesday July 10, 2019 Departure
This morning we visit stunning Hestercombe Gardens. This superb product, a collaboration between Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll blends archi-tecture with planting. Jekylls original designs have been replanted as close to the original as possible. To the north of the house are the landscape gardens, a unique example of 18th-century pleasure grounds. We also see an 19th-century yew tunnel with views towards a Victorian tower. We continue to London Heathrow for our flight to Australia.
Day 21 Thursday July 11, 2019 Arrival Australia
The tour group arrives in Australia and the tour concludes.