Jun 5 - 14, 2023
10 days
$9,880per person, twin share (land content only). $2,560 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Deborah Trentham
Jun 5 - 14, 2023

Tour Leader

Deborah Trentham$9,880per person, twin share (land content only). $2,560 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.
  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


The typical wild English garden as we know it today actually began in the 18th century as a revolt against overly regular, formal gardens of the continental European style.  The English aimed for more natural, asymmetrical landscapes that incorporated expanses of waving grass, flowers, clumps of trees and ponds. June is the perfect time to see English gardens in their early summer glory – the last of the trees have come into leaf; the hedgerows and fields are exploding with new life; the air is full of the scent of roses and the sound of birdsong.

This 10-day tour takes us through some of the most beautiful countryside in England: from the dramatic coastline of Cornwall, out across the seas to the distant Isles of Scilly, to the wild moors of Devon. We’ll visit small private gardens and great estates, from rediscovered 18th and 19th century masterpieces to world-famous, ultra-modern concept gardens. We’ll learn about great historical landscape designers like Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens as well as some of the most innovative names in modern English garden and landscape design: Sir Tim Smit, Keith Wiley and the Bannermans, Julian and Isabel.

COVID-19? Book with confidence
If Government imposed COVID-19 restrictions mean that we cannot run a tour, or that you cannot travel to join a tour, then you will be given a 100% refund of all monies paid to Academy Travel for your tour.

Vaccination requirements
Academy Travel requires all participants on its tours to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. We reserve the right to inspect your digital vaccination certificate.


  •  Walk the medieval pilgrim’s path across the causeway to the remarkable St Michael’s Mount castle, perched at the top of a tidal island in Mount’s Bay.
  • Enjoy the mild climate of this subtropical paradise off the far southern tip of the mainland on The Isles of Scilly.
  • Explore the mysterious Lost Gardens of Heligan, neglected for almost a century after the start of WWI. Now fully recovered, the gardens have over 200 acres of marvels.
  • Witness nature working in colourful harmony with cultivation in designer Keith Wiley’s Wildside in Devon.
  • Wander through one of the most beautiful and romantic of all Royal Horticultural Society gardens in England. Rosemoor mixes formal and informal plantings to magical effect.

Start & Finish

The tour starts at 9.00am, June 5, at London Heathrow Airport.
The tour finishes with a coach transfer on June 14 to London Heathrow Airport arriving at approximately 1pm.

Detailed Itinerary

Monday 5 June – Arrival

Meet your tour leader at London Heathrow airport to commence the tour. We have an early departure by coach to Cornwall, stopping enroute at Stourhead. Stourhead is probably the most famous and most beautiful 18th-century Arcadian Landscape garden in England. Between 1740 and 1780, banker Henry Hoare (1705-1785) created an idyllic mix of Classical and  Gothic. The walk around the lake, crossed at one end by its beautiful Palladian bridge, takes in Classical temples, a Gothic cottage, and one of the most dramatic Rococo grottos in England. Following lunch of locally sourced produce at the Spread Eagle Inn, we will continue to Cornwall, arriving in the early evening. We gather this evening for dinner in the hotel. Overnight St Ives (D)

Tuesday 6 June – St Michael’s Mount and St Ives

Following an introductory talk this morning, we travel by coach to Marazion, where, depending on the tide, we’ll either walk the pilgrims’ causeway or cross by boat to St Michael’s Mount. Once a sister abbey to Mont St Michel off Normandy, the island and castle have been owned since the 17th century by the St Aubyn family. After touring the castle, we explore its extraordinary gardens, parts of which date back to the 18th century. This afternoon we return by coach to St Ives to explore the idyllic harbour town with its maze of quaint cobbled streets lined with fishermen’s cottages. The town’s rich artistic heritage is celebrated with a plethora of galleries that you may wish to visit, including Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. The Hepworth Museum offers a remarkable insight into the work and outlook of one of Britain’s most important 20th-century artists, who lived in Cornwall from the outbreak of war in 1939 until her death in 1975. Hepworth described her St Ives studio and garden as ‘a sort of magic’. This evening, we go to The Minack Theatre to enjoy an open-air performance. Overnight Saint Ives (B)

Wednesday 7 June – Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly

Today, we take an early morning flight from Land’s End airport across the sea to the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago off the Cornish coast. Following our arrival on the island of St Mary’s we take the short, picturesque boat trip to Tresco, one of the five inhabited islands. Tresco Abbey Gardens are home to subtropical plants and the Valhalla Museum, displaying wooden figureheads from local shipwrecks. First laid out in the 1830s by Augustus Smith around the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey, Tresco Abbey Gardens are still owned and run by the same family. The mildest and warmest climate in the UK thanks to their position in the middle of the Gulf Stream, the Isles have a remarkable subclimate, sunny most of the year, mild and wet. A subtropical paradise, home to plants that would stand no chance at all just 30 miles away on the Cornish mainland. The garden is home to species from across the world’s Mediterranean climate zones, from Brazil to the Antipodes, and from Burma to South Africa. In the late afternoon we take a flight back to the mainland. Overnight Saint Ives (B)

Thursday 8 June – The Lost Gardens of Heligan and Eden Project

We leave Saint Ives and the beautiful Mount’s Bay and head east to our next hotel in the countryside outside St Austell. Our first stop on the way is at the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Laid out in the 19th century they are a classic example of the Victorian ‘Gardenesque’ style and as such are highly prized for their botanical diversity. A genuine secret garden, the once-thriving Heligan estate was lost for decades under dense undergrowth until a door to one of the walled gardens was discovered by accident in 1990. An award-winning restoration project followed and today we’re able to explore 200 acres of subtropical gardens, ancient woodland and a jungle filled with strange and marvellous plants and trees. The world’s attention was focused via television programs on the garden’s ‘rediscovery’ in the 1990s, in which one of the central figures was Tim Smit. The experience proved pivotal for Smit, now Sir Tim Smit, in the creation of his Eden Project. Opening in 2001, the Project’s central attraction are its two remarkable biomes, the smaller simulating a Mediterranean environment, the larger a rainforest. In addition to this there are miles of paths that twist and turn up and down the slopes. Overnight St Austell (B, D)

Friday 9 June – Trematon Castle and Wildside

After a morning talk, today is a day of modern greats: the first stop is Trematon Castle, home, since 2012, to Julian and Isabel Bannerman, the ‘haute Bohemian’ designers of the magical gardens of Highgrove, Woolbeding, and Arundel Castle, among many others. Their Georgian house sits inside the walls of the Castle (dating back to the Norman Conquest) while the garden plays to the Castle’s romantic and pre-Raphaelite glories. It boasts wildflowers, woodland and orchards, all intensified with bold borders full of scent, colour, lustre and Bannerman panache. In the afternoon we travel to nearby Wildside. Since 2004, the garden has been Kevin Wylie’s experiment in ‘new naturalism’, a movement which seeks to work in harmony with nature, allowing plants to thrive much as they would in the wild. Overnight St Austell (B)

Saturday 10 June – Lanhydrock and Padstow

This morning, after a talk in the hotel, we head north to the coastal village of Padstow, famous for its association with celebrity chef Rick Stein. Upon arrival, you are free to explore this charming village before we enjoy lunch at one of Stein’s restaurants. After lunch, we visit Lanhydrock, a late Victorian country house, and one of the loveliest National Trust properties in Cornwall. Dating back to the 17th century, much of the house was destroyed by fire in 1881 and subsequently rebuilt. At the same time, the formal gardens as we see them today were laid out. There is time to stroll the extensive gardens admiring the herbaceous borders, a formal parterre and colourful higher gardens filled with camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons. Overnight St Austell (B, L)

Sunday 11 June – Castle Drogo

Today sees us heading for the wilds of Dartmoor and our hotel for the last three nights, the beautifully situated Bovey Castle, originally the home of the son of newsagent millionaire, WH Smith. On the way we call in at Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England. Constructed between 1911 and 1930, it was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and is now considered one of his finest achievements. Lutyens also designed a beautiful garden influenced by the work he had done in designing New Delhi. Although much of the planting was done by George Dillstone, Lutyens called in his long-time collaborator Gertrude Jekyll for advice. In the evening, we gather at Bovey Castle for dinner. Overnight North Bovey (B, D)

Monday 12 June – Montacute House and Barrington Court

Our first stop today is Montacute House: built at the end of the 16th century, Montacute is one of the few Elizabethan houses in England to survive almost unchanged. Its Long Gallery, the longest in England, has, since 1975, been an outpost of the National Portrait Gallery. Its gardens, although replanted in the 19th century, retain much of their original 17th-century lay out and form. In the afternoon we drive to Barrington Court. A Tudor mansion, it was the first house acquired by the National Trust in 1907. Its present state of immaculate conservation owes much to the fact that the house was leased by the Trust in the 1920s to Abram Lyle of Tate & Lyle, the sugar conglomerate. The celebrated garden designer Gertrude Jekyll was consulted by Colonel Lyle’s wife, Elsie, on the layout and best planting schemes for the garden. At the time, Jekyll was well into her seventies and almost blind, but she was able to advise what would grow best in the limy earth just by crumbling the soil, which was sent to her in biscuit tins. Elsie Lyle visited Jekyll to discuss the plans for the garden in person, and much of what you see today was inspired by these early plans.  Overnight North Bovey (B)

Tuesday 13 June – RHS Rosemoor

The final day of our tour takes us to north Dartmoor to the most beautiful and romantic of all Royal Horticultural Society gardens in England, Rosemoor. The garden was initially created by Lady Anne Palmer and later, when the garden was taken over by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1990, a master plan was produced by Elizabeth Banks Associates to develop the garden. Aptly, given its name, its rose garden alone includes over 2000 plants. Rosemoor is a public display garden offering examples of new and innovative planting using the widest possible variety of plants. Its summer Hot Garden is a perennial favourite. There are also fine examples of trees from around the world in its arboretum. Our final night sees us gathering for a farewell dinner at an excellent local restaurant. Overnight North Bovey (B, D)

Wednesday 14 June – Departure

This morning we travel by coach to Heathrow airport, where the tour ends. (B)


Deborah Trentham

Founder of The Garden Historians, Deborah also works in garden design and holds a BA in the History of Art and an MA in Country House Studies.

Deborah Trentham holds a BA in the History of Art and an MA in Country House Studies. She has worked at the National Gallery (London) for a decade, has taught garden history for over 20 years at Birkbeck College, University of London, Imperial College, and KLC School of Design in Chelsea. In 2013, Deborah founded The Garden Historians, to bring garden history to a broader audience.

Deborah also works in garden design, and brings her exceptional knowledge of gardens and their histories in Italy, the UK, France, Spain and the USA.

View Bio & Upcoming Tours


These premiere four-star hotels have been selected principally for their location.

Tregenna Castle, St Ives (3 nights)

The Cornwall Hotel & Spa, St Austell (3 nights) 

Bovey Castle Hotel, North Bovey (3 nights) 


Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 

Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:

All tours

  • All accommodation at properties mentioned in the itinerary
  • Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Taxis may also be used for short trips on some tours. Some city stay tours may involve local transport
  • All breakfasts
  • Lunches and dinners indicated with the letters L and D in the itinerary
  • Beer, wine and soft drinks at sit-down lunches and dinners. Picnic and light lunches may not include alcoholic drinks
  • Services of tour leader throughout tour
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local guides at some sites
  • All tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals

On international tours only

  • Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required, and when stated as included
  • Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
  • Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
  • Some trips may be made by public transport such as high-speed train and subway

What is not included in the tour price?

Our tours do not include the following:

  • Air or land travel from your home city to the tour start/end points
  • Local taxes and airport levies that we are not able to prepay on your behalf. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
  • Lunches and dinners not specifically indicated with the letters L or D in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses such as passports, laundry and phone calls
  • Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
  • Airport Transfers on international tours
  • Tours may begin at either the arrival airport or the first hotel. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel, and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers

Airport Transfers

Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.

Travel Insurance

We require all tour participants to have adequate insurance coverage.

  • For domestic tours, Medicare and your private medical insurance should be used to cover any medical expenses.
  • Domestic travel insurance is available and strongly recommended to cover non-medical expenses such as cancellation.
  • For international tours, we require you to have comprehensive travel insurance. Prices vary according to your age, your pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the length of your journey abroad.

Tour Details

Fitness Requirement

Grade Two

A Grade 2 tour is appropriate for travellers in good health with good mobility, who can comfortably participate in up to 3 hours of physical activity per day on most days.
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More information?

The consultant for this tour is Fergus Geddes. For further information or to have the consultant call you, please email.
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