The sub-tropical Abbey Garden is a glorious exception; a perennial Kew without the glass, home to 20,000 plants from more than 80 countries, flourishing just 30 miles off the coast of Cornwall.
Tresco Abbey Garden was established by Augustus Smith in the 19th century around the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey. Today, the garden is home to plants from across the world’s Mediterranean climate zones, from Brazil to New Zealand and Burma to South Africa.
Fringing the lush grid of paths which criss-cross the gardens are a host of succulents, towering palms and giant, lipstick-red flame trees. Here you can find flowers of the King Protea and the handsome Lobster Claw, great blue spires of Echium, brilliant Furcraea, Strelitzia and shocking-pink drifts of Pelargonium.
The face of the garden changes throughout the year. In spring flowers bloom weeks ahead of those on the mainland – the perfect tonic after a long, cold winter. In the autumn the reds, golds and ambers of the seasonal foliage contrast with the magnificent proteas, aloes and camellias. Even at the winter solstice there are usually more than 300 species of plant in flower.
The treasures to be found within the Abbey Garden are not limited to the floral kind, either. The Valhalla Museum within the Garden is home to shipwrecked figureheads collected across the Isles of Scilly and now part of the National Maritime collection.