Tresco Island a paradise of Wild Flowers, Beaches and walks.

28_06_16_2806So many of you were interested in Tresco Abbey garden I have decided to show a bit more of the island.

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Borough Beach

Tresco is unique  in that its habitat ranges from a windswept northern plateau with waved heath to sheltered bulb fields, wetland and lakes, to beautiful beaches backed by a sand dune system on the south coast.

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Tresco Island, Isles of Scilly

There are three Sites of Special Scientific Interest. They are the Castle Down , Great Pool  and Pentle Bay. Castle Down is a SSSI for its waved maritime heath, its lichen flora, a breeding colony of Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) and for its geology. Great Pool is a SSSI because it is the largest area of fresh water in the islands and important for its breeding birds, and as a sheltering and feeding area for migrants.

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Pentle Bay

Pentle Bay is designated for the transition from a flora–rich sand dune system to lichen–rich heath.wild flowersThe varied landscape means that there is a huge range of wild flowers everywhere on the island.wild flowers (5)It is more or less possible to walk all over the island and the wild flowers are one of the attractions of these walks.wild flowerIn places bracken has grown but this is often cut back to enable the wild flowers and wildlife to flourish.

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Pentle Bay

Many of the paths are either sand or grass which further gives opportunities for wild flowers.agapanthus 9In many paces Agapanthus and Yarrow have colonised the sand dunes creating natural prairie like planting.

2017 wild flower tally

This year I decided to take photographs of the wild flowers as we identified them. Some of them you will recognise as garden flowers. These will be garden escapes but as they then go on to grow naturally they all add to the flower paradise.

Hover over the picture for the identification of the flowers or click on any one to display a full size image on a carousel.

And there were lots more that I could not identify!

Thanks also to Fiona and Chris Smith who helped me identify some of the flowers.

Cottage gardens

17_07_03_6499As well as the wild flowers many of the cottages have fantastic gardens.IMG_1554Some impressive flowers for any front garden.IMG_1533What a garden wall should look like!

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Cromwell’s castle

There are many archaeological remains on the island which include neolithic burial mounds as well as recent history.

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Block House Beach

But the beaches are a main attraction even though I would consider the beach to be crowded with more than two people on it!

Glebe House Garden

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning May 27th Total 2017 to-date Average per week
16 587 20

Tresco Abbey Garden

For the last two weeks we have been away a staying on Tresco, one of the islands that make up the Isles of Scilly.

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Tresco Island, Isles of Scilly

The above photograph shows what a beautiful island Tresco is. The garden this blog describes is located just between the first pool and the left hand side of the island. The Isles of Scilly are 28 miles south west of the British mainland

and benefits  from a temperate climate which enables many subtropical plants to survive there.

A brief history of Tresco Abbey Garden

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Augustus Smith (1804 – 1872)

In 1834 Augustus Smith leased all the Isles of Scilly. He set himself four goals: good education for children, to stamp out smuggling, to stop the practice of dividing family holdings and to ensure improvement of the land and buildings stock by islanders themselves.

He also started the Tresco Abbey Garden which were based around the ruined St Nicholas Abbey. He built walls and planted shelter belts, established a close connection with Kew and, because of the location of Tresco, many Scillonian mariners returned with seeds, plants and cutting from around the world.

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Thomas Algernon Dorrien-Smith(1846 – 1918)

In 1872 Thomas Algernon Dorrien-Smith, nephew of Augustus inherited the lease. He continued to support the economy of the islands and started the daffodil flower industry. Tresco Abbey Gardens went from strength to strength. The plants Augustus planted were reaching maturity and were flowering. Thomas identified the Monterey pine and Monterey cypress as successful in shelter belts and went on to plant thousands of trees. With links to the Truro Flower Show he effectively introduced many tender species to Cornish gardens.

“He devoted his life unselfishly to these islands and added greatly to their prosperity and beauty”

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Major Arthur Dorrien-Smith(1876 – 1955)

In 1918 Major Arthur Dorrien-Smith inherited the lease from his father. He was already a gardener and horticulturist and in 1903 set up the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. He went on many plant hunting expeditions in New Zealand and on one expedition brought back 2000 plants to be divided between Kew, Edinburgh and Tresco. In 1922 financial constraints forced him to hand back control of the other Scilly islands to the Duchy of Cornwall

However, he continued to develop Tresco abbey gardens. In 1935 there were 3500 cultivated plants on Tresco and he continued to order new varieties from around the world. In 1950 the gardens were opened to the paying public. He was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the RHS

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Lieutenant Commander Thomas Mervyn Dorrien-Smith

In 1955 Lieutenant Commander Thomas Mervyn Dorrien-Smith inherited the lease from his father. He was not a plants-man but soon established a management role. He made the transition from a purely agricultural community to one that also embraced tourism. He converted some of the island cottages for holiday lets and built the Island Hotel (now closed). He continued to introduce new varieties of plants to Tresco and in 1960 exhibited the full range of Tresco’s treasures at Chelsea Flower Show.

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Prince Charles and Robert Dorrien-Smith(1951 -)

In 1973 Robert Dorrien-Smith inherited the lease  from his father and in 1983 introduced a heliport on Tresco.

The garden was then hit by natural disasters:
In 1987 a very rare snow storm caused extensive damage to many of the plants and in 1990 a hurricane brought down many of the trees including ones in the shelter belts. Robert has since replanted 60,000 trees and restored plantings in the garden. He also introduced  various sculptures to the garden and created the “Mediterranean Garden”

Tresco Abbey Garden today

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St Nicholas Priory, the ruins of 12th century Benedictine abbey

St Nicholas Priory was founded in the early 12th century by Benedictine monks and it was where the first plants of the Abbey Garden were planted in the mid-nineteenth century.17_07_05_6595The garden is terraced against a sheltered south facing slope. This is the middle terrace. Each terrace effectively has its own micro climate getting drier as you go up enabling different ranges of plants at each level.IMG_1623Do not expect formal planting schemes or manicured borders. The garden is really about the plants.

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South African Watsonias

Watsonias flower in drifts through the gardens in the summer.

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King Protea

The King Protea is the national flower of South Africa and one of the most striking blooms on Tresco! No other garden in Britain can boast such a variety of beautiful South African Proteas on display.IMG_1588In the lower parts of the gardens tree ferns from New Zealand and Australia flourish.

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Norfolk Island Pine

This is one of the most iconic trees in the garden with its regular foliage. I often think it was planted upside down as the branches seem to hang upwards!Picture25‘Gia’ by sculptor David Wynne and made from a block of multi-coloured South African marble.

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Canary Island palms

The Canary Island palms on the Middle Terrace are the tallest in the British Isles. These steps are called Neptune Steps and they dissect the garden from top to bottom.Picture22Higher up the Neptune Steps.Tresco_20080703_2317The “Mediterranean Garden” with a water feature, based on an Agave, which was created by Cornish artist Tom Leaper in 1996. This is probably the most ‘designed’ part of the garden.

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The pincusion plant from South Africa, Leucospermum cordifolium

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A native of the Andes, Puya chiensis

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Furcraea longeava in flower

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Aloe arborescens

Each New Year on Tresco the gardeners have count the number of plants in flower. This year saw more species of plants than ever before in bloom – an astounding 289.

I have only touched he surface of this unique garden. The only way to really understand the garden is to spend a few days on the island. There are many places to stay owned by the Tresco Estate. 17_07_05_6593

Source of history:
‘Tresco Abbey Garden A Personal and Pictorial History’ by Mike Nelhams

Glebe House Garden

2017 Gardening Hours
Week beginning July 1st Total 2017 to-date Average per week
0 558 21