I had thought that I would write about the islands we visited in order, but knowing that you are all plant lovers, I decided to put Tresco first as the planting there is so unlike anything else in the British Isles.
The island of Tresco has a world famous garden, it is said that it is like the conservatory at Kew gardens but without the roof ! All the islands belong to the Duchy of Cornwall ( in other words, Prince Charles! ) These are some Echium growing in someones front garden, the bees were enjoying them, it was positively humming with them.
Following the signs to the garden – a fair walk from the quay – a lake with this sculpture of a shoal of fish is opposite the entrance.
This sculpture of the present Dorian – Smith children ( who are now grown up ) can be seen from outside the garden, even though it is placed at the far end of the Lighthouse Walk.
A nice welcome to the garden, just before they relieve you of your money!
Once into the garden, just to the right of the entrance is a small museum called Valhalla, of figureheads from ancient ships that have been shipwrecked around the Scillies 100 yrs or so ago, the rocky shores causing many ships to go down. Thank goodness for modern sat. navs.
This shows some of the shelter belt within the garden, the hedges must be at least 20ft high! The statue at the top of the Neptune Steps is of Father Neptune and behind me is Lighthouse Walk with the statue of the children on the boundary of the garden.
Doryanthes palmeri from Australia, about to open, probably next week when we are home!
The garden was started in 1834 by Augustus Smith within the walls of an old 12th C Benedictine Abbey which existed until the reformation in the 16C. There are only a couple of the original walls remaining now. The island is leased from the Duchy of Cornwall by the Dorian – Smith family.
I liked the pattern made by the sunlight coming through the leaves of the Nikau Palm from New Zealand – Rhopalostylis sapida.
A wall covered with a Lobster Claw plant, Clianthus puniceus, one that we need to grow indoors.
I don’t know what this plant is but the flowers were covered in bees. We are short of bees on the mainland, maybe they have all gone for their holidays too!
I think this Aloe is the same as one that I have in a large pot which comes into the conservatory for the winter, maybe if I keep it indoors for the summer, it might flower ?!
An absolutely massive agave, at least 6ft tall, it makes mine in a pot look really pathetic!
More Aloes, they were everywhere on the cliff face.
This is the photo I showed you in the last post to tempt you – South Africa cliff. The planting is amazing and you wonder how it can survive in the British Isles.
There are other areas of the garden with Australian, South American and Mediterranean plants all of which we grow as bedding plants or permanently in pots. It is wonderful to see how large they grow when they are set free!
There are lots of Phoenix canariensis in the garden, this is the Canary Island date palm and most have now grown to 40ft tall. With the garden being terraced, the drainage is excellent and being shaped in a south facing semi circle, backed by huge trees and shrubs as a shelter belt, the conditions are just right for growing these exotic plants. I thought my Aeoneum was large and of course mine has never flowered, but over here everyone has them in their gardens and mine now looks very puny!
Another really massive Agave
I think the pink daisy flower is Oscularia deltoides, which they say can be rooted in pure sand.
I made it up to Father Neptune at the top of the garden, working in this garden would get me fit!
Gaia, the Earth Mother, nestles into the planting, Prince Charles now has a copy in his garden, he liked it so much.
The Agave in the foreground is a metal water feature and the steps lead up to the shell house.
The inside of the shell house with murals made from shells found on local beaches, they must have taken ages to make.
The Protea family are everywhere in the garden, we were too soon for the King Protea unfortunately, I think this one is P. lepidocarpodendron !
I think these last two photos are of a Leucadendron with very showy bracts, the flower is in the centre.
So many palm trees everywhere and not just in the garden here, on all the other islands too.
I was really taken with the shape of this tree, I know there is an umbrella pine, does anyone know if this is it?
I feel I should know this, I think a little bulb, which is seeding itself merrily along a gravel path.
This is where my note taking got muddled, is this Hakia eliptica from Western Australia or Retama monosperma from North Africa ? From a distance it looked like broom and I thought, what is that doing here? Closer, it was obvious I was mistaken, the flowers were different and the perfume totally different.
Lots of Echium surrounding a grassy glade.
I know you all probably think I’m quite paranoid about pheasants, but when they start following you around expecting to be fed, even though they are such gorgeous Golden Pheasants, it really is getting beyond a joke!!
Another Leucadendron, this time with spiky bracts, Leucadendron eucalyptifolium.
A view along the Long Walk which runs right across the whole of the garden.
Our last look at the garden before leaving, are you inspired to create something similar?
We walked back to our boat via the beach with its silver sand, such a lovely place to live, but maybe not with the winter gales!
Looking northwards to the Northern Rocks, which are now a nature reserve for seals, puffins and cormorants.
We are almost back to the quay now, but what’s this, it looks remarkably like a Barbara Hepworth sculpture to me, did she ever get here I wonder?
This is our small boat to get us back to St. Mary’s.
I couldn’t possibly grow these plants in my heavy clay and with all the shade that I have but I can admire the determination that started the garden and that has carried it on through a few disasters. In January 1987 a snowstorm brought temperatures down to -8c, made worse by a 25 knot easterly wind , with the wind chill factor it felt -25c. The snow lasted 15 days but the temperatures stayed the same for some time. They say the garden literally fell to pieces and collapsed into oblivion. The Botanic Gardens around the world came to their rescue and plants and seeds came from far and wide, gardeners the world over are very generous and share what they can when one of their friends is in trouble. Then of course in 199o came the hurricane, when they lost so many of their huge trees in the shelter belt, in all they lost 800 trees. Seeing the garden as it is now, you would never know the problems that they have had to overcome, they did have a sprinkling of snow this winter, but, thank goodness, no damage was done this time. I hope you have enjoyed your trip to Tresco, I can highly recommend a visit if you ever get the chance.