SGT West Country Gardens, Devon and Cornwall

"Tropical" Gardens in England!?

7 days/7 nights

The south-west corner of England enjoys a more temperate climate than the remainder of the country. Here, the warm Gulf Stream washes the coast and the soft undulations of the hills and high hedgerows shield gardens from the ravages of the worst weather. It’s not surprising, then, to find a concentration of England’s finest gardens all gathered here. First time visitors do gasp at the profusion of species, even finding palm trees totally unexpected!

Our tour features a diverse selection of the best gardens – large and small, public and private, formal, wild and tropical. All of these stunning horticultural landscapes along with the charming local sites, quaint harbors, rugged coastline, ancient stone circles, freshly caught seafood, local specialties of pasties and cream teas to sample and last but not least, the friendliness of the local people. According to the Cornwall Gardens Guide, “Cornwall is often described as the ‘garden capital of the world’ as the lush vegetation and colour give garden lovers a feast for the eyes all year round.”


This tour begins and ends in London.


Day 1 Saturday

We depart our London meeting point at approximately 09:00 and begin with a guided walk around one of the world’s top gardens. The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew is a lavish 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kew is home to the world’s largest collection of living plants, more than 30,000 different kinds! Kew Gardens originated as the exotic garden at Kew Park in 1759 and remains as a ‘must-see’ destination for garden lovers. We’ll experience the highlights of this wonderful property including the Alpine Gardens, Japanese gardens, The Great Pagoda and Treetop Walkway to name a few.

Later, a rare bit of motorway driving will speed us towards the coast. We might stop as we wish and as time permits at Hampshire area gardens. A certain visit is iconic Salisbury Cathedral with its lovely Cathedral Close gardens.

Our night stop location is a lovely Dorsetshire village, a setting for Thomas Hardy as his ‘Casterbridge.’

Overnight: Dorchester area. PROPERTY: Poachers Inn or similar,


Day 2 Sunday

We’ve some amazing gardens right on our doorstep! Kingston Maurwood College Gardens is in the Arts and Crafts style of the Edwardian period. The series of garden rooms, enclosed within splendid stone terraces, balustrading, steps and yew hedges including water features and topiary, were designed by Sir Cecil and Lady Hanbury, great benefactors of the RHS.

Later, we will make our way across the dramatic Dartmoor Moors – and if we’re lucky catch a glimpse of the famed Dartmoor ponies – en-route to our next garden of interest.

Eden Project is the progressive endeavor located in an old disused quarry. Its aim is to demonstrate as many aspects of the world’s bio-diversity as is possible, in the correct ecological context. The actual site looks like a moon settlement with its massive glass pods.

NIGHTSTOP: Falmouth area. PROPERTY: Penmere Manor, Penmorvah Manor or similar,


Day 3 Monday

We have 3 days to explore the amazing gardens around the harbor of Falmouth in further into Cornwall. We are certainly spoilt for choice in this amazing ‘tropical’ corner of England! There are a wide variety of gardens to choose from and your guide will take ‘soundings’ from participants as to what places of interest just can’t be missed. We’ll be able to mould the schedule around guest interest as well as weather conditions. Carwinion is right on our doorstep, a 12 acre Victorian property, home to one of the most spectacular national collections of bamboo in the country. Lanterns in a tiny gem, bursting with fragrance and colour and there’s Trelissick, perched on the Fal Estuary, boasting jaw-dropping views and a huge array of plant species. Lots of wonderful options!

The Lost Gardens of Helligan is definitely on our agenda today. This amazing place represents Europe’s largest restoration project with over 80 acres of award winning landscape, a super walled garden of exotic fruit and 22 acre ‘jungle.’

NIGHTSTOP: Falmouth area, as above


Day 4 Tuesday

Another day spent exploring Cornwall Gardens.

We will certainly have time in Trebah Gardens. Trebah is a uniquely beautiful, wooded 25 acre sub-tropical ravine garden with its own beach on the beautiful Helford River. It is the wild and magical result of 160 years of inspired and dedicated creation. Maybe, if feeling adventurous, the group could take a ferry from Trebah to Glendurgan to explore the subtropical gardens and laurel maze dating from 1833?

NIGHTSTOP: Falmouth area, as above


Day 5 Wednesday

Our final day around Cornwall. Perhaps we might venture down to the coast today!

NIGHTSTOP: Falmouth area, as above


Day 6 Thursday

This morning will be spent discovering the quaint fishing villages of the north Cornwall and Devon coast. We have Port Isaac of TV show Doc Martin fame, Boscastle with its Arthur and Thomas Hardy connections and rugged Tintagel Castle, the reputed birthplace of King Arthur high on top of the wild cliffs accessible only by walking all as options.

RHS Rosemoor, created and given to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1988 by Lady Anne Berry, this magnificent garden has been developed into a joyous 65 acres of gardens and woodlands. Highlights include Herb and Cottage Gardens, a Potager, a Fruit and Vegetable Garden, two beautiful Rose Gardens, a Foliage and Plantsman’s Garden.

NIGHTSTOP: Barnstaple area



Day 7 Friday

Via the landscape of the Exmoor Moors, we will pay a visit to the charming Victorian country house, Knightshays Court. The gardens here feature lily pools, floral borders, amusing topiary and a newly restored kitchen garden.

Also today, Stourhead Gardens, featuring one of the world’s finest 18th Century landscape gardens including a magnificent lake, classical temples, enchanting grottos plus rare and exotic trees. The Temple of Apollo here was featured in a memorable scene between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice and should be recognizable to fans.



Please Note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we do our utmost to include all properties, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to visit due to change in opening times, days.


Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.

Toll Free Tel: 1 866-725-5250

Price based on how many travelers; this is a suggested tour itinerary for private departures, adjustable to best suit your specific wishes

This is a sample itinerary and can be customized to best suit your individual wishes. Rates are based upon vehicle and guide hire per day, number of touring days, number of guests in the party and your chosen level of accommodation. Please note that your final day to day itinerary may fluctuate to accommodate variable opening times/days for listed attractions, special events and places of interest. Please discuss your needs with us for an individual itinerary with rate quote.


Logistical Note: Cornwall is somewhat of a remote part of England and, via quaint rural roads, involves a bit more driving than some other regional itineraries, with a few longish days. We strive to present an itinerary balanced overall by spending several leisurely days in one base. The stunning landscapes throughout are surely worth the journey!