17th to 20th March 2020:
An early spring tour focusing on magnolias led by HORTUS contributor Kirsty Fergusson, hosted by editor David Wheeler.
Head south for the Cornish magnolia spectacle. The Cornish peninsula is famous for sheltered woodland gardens harbouring important collections of magnolias, as well as camellias, rhododendrons, palms, tree ferns and many other exotic plant groups that predominantly flower in the spring accompanied by carpets of wild spring flowers. Most of these gardens are found to the south of the peninsula where valley gardens lead down to secluded creeks warmed by the Gulf Stream. The wonder and magnificence of Cornish gardens is made possible by this unique microclimate as well as by the prosperity of estates established in the seventeenth century, funded by local tin-mining and porcelain production. This all coincided with the arrival in Britain of large quantities of exciting new plant specimens collected by botanists travelling to far-flung regions of the world. To immerse yourself in the splendour of these outstanding woodland collections, stout footwear and the capability to walk around expansive valley gardens are required. We stay at Olga Polizzi’s renowned Tresanton Hotel, a haven of beauty and peace where guests enjoy comfort, fresh local cuisine and traditional, unobtrusive service. All rooms have dramatic views across the sea towards St Anthony’s lighthouse with the opportunity to stroll into light-filled St Mawes, one of the prettiest fishing villages in Cornwall.
Day 1: Tuesday 17 March
Depart Bristol Parkway at 10:30 and travel to Cornwall by coach, or take the train to St Austell Rail Station to join the coach at 14:15. Alternatively, if you wish to take your own car to the hotel we will arrange for you to join the group at the first garden. Tregrehan has been the home to the Carlyon family since 1565. Jovey Carlyon’s passion for trees during the late nineteenth century is evident today. Tom Hudson, the latest family member to take on the gardens, is an equally gifted planstman: his collection of high-altitude Asian trees, including some very special magnolias, brought back from recent plant hunting expeditions, complement his cousin, Gillian Carlyon’s camellia collection and Jovey’s superb pinetum. Drive on to Tresanton Hotel with time to settle before dinner together, with wine included.
Day 2: Wednesday 18 March
Nothing quite prepares you for the loveliness of that springtime view of Caerhays Castle, comfortably enthroned between lakeside pasture in the foreground and a rising backcloth of a thousand trees, the canopy splashed with clouds of pink and cream magnolia blooms. We start the day at Caerhays Castle viewing one of the finest collections of magnolias in the country for a special walk with owner Charles Williams and his highly skilled gardener Jaimie Parsons. J. C. Williams (great-grandfather of the present owner) and successive members of the family, assisted by their dedicated head gardeners, have had success at hybridising as well as collecting magnolias; Caerhays now holds a National Collection comprising more than eighty species and five-hundred named cultivars. A light lunch is included at nearby Bodrugan Barton Farm before we visit Burncoose Nurseries that offers a vast array of magnolias, several of which have been home bred. Return to Hotel Tresanton for a pre-dinner talk by Charles Fox before dining together in the hotel.
Day 3: Thursday 19 March
The Fox family started a successful shipping agency in Falmouth in the eighteenth century and established many important gardens in the region. We are delighted to have Charles Fox of Glendurgan to show us two of these outstanding gardens – to relate how they were initiated and developed by his family and to showcase their important collections of magnolias. Trebah has one of the most beautiful vistas of all Cornish gardens, down through the valley gardens to the Helford estuary. At Glendurgan we are invited to lunch at home with Charles and Caroline Fox before being shown their remarkable garden, first developed by Alfred Fox. Return to Hotel Tresanton where we dine together in the hotel.
Day 4: Friday 20 March
Our final morning includes a special visit to Trewithen, where head gardener Gary Long will take us to the main lawn with its celebrated, intricately planted vista. We can then enjoy some free time to explore the garden by ourselves before journeying northwards for lunch at the Polgooth Inn. The coach then returns to St Austell (14:30) and Bristol Parkway (18.30) and we arrange for transfers back to the hotel for those who need to pick up cars.
How much & what’s included:
The price per person: £2399
Single supplement: £450 (levied by the hotels).
The price includes: three nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast at Tresanton Hotel; three evening meals with wine at the hotel plus three lunches, including a special invitation to lunch at Glendurgan House with Charles and Caroline Fox, and all transportation from Bristol Parkway or St Austell Railway Stations. The price does not include extras at the hotel, or travel insurance. Please note that Boxwood Tours use hotels of character featuring a variety of rooms & styles.
Joining Arrangements: Depart Bristol Parkway at 10:30 and travel to Cornwall by coach, or take the train to St Austell Rail Station to join the coach at 14:15. Alternatively, if you wish to take your own car to the hotel we will arrange for you to join the group at the first garden. On the last day, the coach returns to St Austell (14:30) and Bristol Parkway (18.30) and we arrange for transfers back to the hotel for those who need to pick up cars.
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