Tresco's tropical gardens - on the Isles of Scilly


Tresco's tropical gardens - on the Isles of Scilly

The semi-tropical Abbey Gardens, located on the island of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, benefit from the warm flow of the Gulf stream, being set in the Atlantic 45km (28 miles) from Land's End. The 17-acre gardens were established by the nineteenth-century proprietor of the islands, Augustus Smith, around the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey.

Today, the garden is home to plants from across the world's Mediterranean climate zones, and is designated Grade I in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Within the gardens are the remains of the original Abbey (founded in 964 AD), although the majority come from the Priory of St Nicholas - founded by monks from Tavistock Abbey in 1114.

Building of the gardens began in 1835. One of Smith's first acts was to build a granite wall for shelter. He followed by scattering gorse seeds, although gorse did not provide enough protection, so Smith proceeded to plant shelterbelts.

In the early 20th century, Arthur Algernon Dorrien-Smith (Thomas' son) expanded the collection. He made a number of trips to South Africa looking for suitable trees and plants.

Because of the mild winter climate, the long hours of summer sunshine, and the high walls and hedges around the garden protecting it from the Atlantic winds, the garden is now home to exotic plants from all over the world: the Mediterranean, South America, South Africa and Australasia.

The Valhalla Museum within Tresco Abbey Gardens features a collection of some 30 ships' figureheads, as well as name-boards and other decorative carvings from the days of sail.

Further reading

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