Thursday, May 26, 2011

Garden Visit: Tresco Abbey Gardens, Scilly Isles

We had a fantastic day spent at Tresco Abbey Gardens located in the Scilly Isles just off the coast of West Cornwall. Despite its northerly latitude, Tresco, and indeed Cornwall benefits greatly from the warming sea currents of the gulf stream. There are a number of ways to get to Tresco, but once again we opted for the quickest way, a twenty minute helicopter ride from Penzance.

This was our third visit to the garden, sort of a tradition that we do every other year since we started our annual holidays to Cornwall. And I'm glad the weather has been cooperative every time, with the sun shining brightly and the air feeling warm.

Twenty minute helicopter ride from Penzance to Tresco via St. Mary's

View from the helicopter

The garden is open from 10am till 4pm, only six hours, which in theory seems sufficient enough time to see all of its parts. We took the first flight to Tresco and arrived there just before it opened, and took the last one out which was half an hour after it closed, and still found that the time we spent there wasn't enough. Every time we go there we leave still wanting more.

Tresco's signature blue bridge leading into the garden

There is so much to take in, from the sheer grandeur and size of the garden; the fantastic design and layout of the place; the glorious vista on top of the gardens overlooking the sea and bay; and of course the wonderful and exotic plants growing so well like nowhere else in the UK (courtesy of its mild microclimate). Depending on which section you are you can easily feel like you're either in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, or the Canary Islands.

You leave the garden feeling exhilarated and inspired by it's beauty. Despite having been several times we never get tired of visiting the place. For anyone into exotic gardening in the UK, it is an absolute 'must' to visit this garden even if just once. But even if you're not, anyone visiting will enjoy this garden. A truly stunning garden, it is probably the most beautiful and spectacular exotic garden in the UK, and up there as one of the best in the world.

Tresco Abbey Gardens homepage


  1. Gorgeous, I especially love the metal agave!

  2. Absolutely fabulous - almost fantastical. What an interesting and beautiful garden.

  3. Fantastic gardens and so different from what we have here.

  4. Wonderful garden, I have been there several times myself and stayed on the island, a very special place indeed. Glad you both had such a good time there...

  5. Wow! That looks like a fantastic garden. Was the arch in one of the pictures (9th?) part of a bigger structure before? It seems very old.

  6. what a cool garden--looks like it could have been in the depths of australia! i would so love to return to cornwall some day--and visit this garden, too!

  7. Beauty! I'm always amazed by the tropical gardens of the north. Micro climates are amazing, we have similar locations on the gulf islands near Vancouver island. Sometimes the flowers are 3 weeks ahead of us. Fascinating to say the least.

  8. Lovely photos, would love to go. Bit scared of the helicopter ride! Will make it there one day though, as like you, so many people I know have raved about it.

  9. Oh, you have just given me a real treat, thank you! I will swallow my jealousy - I love both Tresco and heliopoter flights. Despite the fact that I used to work with someone who had worked on helicopters and was so horrified by the accident stats that he refuses to fly on them... But such wonderful photographs, I can almost imagine myself there, such a beautiful location for a garden, and so well designed, like you say.

  10. Thanks Loree, HolleyGarden, Cher! Glad you enjoyed it!

    Will, I'm not surprised you've been several times. It is truly a very special place! I remember you mentioning it as s ource of inspiration in one the programmes you did a few years ago. This garden is like a siren that keeps calling for you to come back over and over again.

    Bom, from memory (and not entirely sure right this moment), part of that area is the original Abbey that stood there hundreds of years ago but I think the arch itself is a newer addition. I must read up on that again :)

    Janine, yes you must add this on your list of gardens to visit when you return to Cornwall :)

    Nat, what adds to the allure of the place is the fact that this garden is still pretty much England, but enjoying exceptionally mild climate courtesy of the Gulf Stream (and coastal situation). A fascinating garden indeed!

    Martin, Janet, I hope you both make it there soon :) The helicopter ride isn't so bad, in fact you won't feel any different as it lifts off and descends down, you'll probably find the noise as the only inconvenience of the experience. You can take the ferry too, the only thing is it docks on St. Mary's first before it proceeds to Tresco and you'll only have two hours left to wander around the garden. However, if you stay in the area overnight at least then shouldn't be an issue. A good excuse to have a holiday in the Scilly Isles :)

  11. Gorgeous!! Love your blog...I'm new to the Blog World. Please check it out...

  12. I'll bet the helicopter flight is not only the quickest way of getting there but the most exciting. Bits of it remind me so much of New Zealand, especially the echiums and tree ferns.
    A friend of mine went over a few years back ( by helicopter and she stayed). She waxed lyrical about for hours. I was so green...

  13. That's so true Janet, quickest and most exciting! Although we have yet to try getting there via ferry, I can imagine that has it's own gentle charm too. But if using the ferry it's better to stay there at least overnight, not realistic for a day trip.

  14. Oddly enough, despite living (and gardening) in Plymouth since 1974 I've never ventured over to Tresco. Great photos and you've rekindled the urge to pop over one day.

  15. John, if you get chance you should get over to see Tresco, you wont be disappointed!


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