A Visit to Tresco Abbey Gardens

Fuchsia, Agapanthus and succulents planted in the walls of the old Abbey ruins at Tresco Abbey Gardens. © Karen Netto (Andrews)

In August 2017, I was lucky to get the chance to visit Tresco Abbey Gardens in the Scilly Islands. I caught the Scillonian ferry from Penzance to St Mary’s island. Arriving by boat on Tresco island was like stepping into another world. The blue sea and beach looked like somewhere exotic rather than part of the British Isles.

Beach view on Tresco Island. © Karen Netto (Andrews)

The walk from the slipway to the gardens takes you through heathland. It was resplendent with flowering heather during my visit.

Tresco Abbey Gardens were created by August Smith in the 19th Century. He took advantage of the island’s mild climate in the Gulf Stream to create his garden. He created a shelter belt to protect his plants from the salty winds. The islands are virtually frost-free. As a result, the gardens boast exotic plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, California, South America, the Canary Islands and Madeira. They thrive amazingly well outdoors on Tresco. At times, the gardens make you feel as if you have stepped into the tropics. They also made me think about climate change means for the British mainland.

Tractor and trailer at Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isles of Scilly
Tractor and trailer parked by gardeners in a particularly tropical part of Tresco Abbey Gardens. © Karen Netto (Andrews)

I hope to return to Tresco Abbey Gardens again one day.

All photos © Karen Netto (Andrews)

Slideshow of Photos

  1. Archway of the old Abbey ruins
  2. Borders along the path heading towards the Mediterranean Garden
  3. Stone arbour with climbing Ipomoea and Erigeron karvinskianus around water cascade to pond
  4. Agapanthus praecox with a cannon at the Valhalla Museum of old figureheads collected from shipwrecks around the Scilly Isles
  5. Blue bridge near entrance to Tresco Abbey Gardens
  6. Aeonium grow well in the gardens
  7. Borders with a tropical feel
  8. Agapanthus seems to reign supreme
  9. A myriad of paths and terraces lead you through the gardens
  10. Watsonia ‘Tresco hybrid’ with Agapanthus praecox make a striking colour contrast
  11. Protaceae seem to thrive in the garden

© Karen Netto (Andrews)


Nelhams, Mike (2016): Tresco Abbey Garden. The Garden Guide. Truran. St. Agnes, Cornwall, UK.

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