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A New Year Blooms on Tresco

As gardens across the country languor in winter slumber, Tresco Abbey Garden is again ablaze with colour at the start of the New Year.

Each year, the gardeners down their tools and pick up paper and pens for the New Year flower count: an annual island tradition that has been taking place for more than 150 years. This year, a very healthy 255 species and variety of plants were in bloom.

At a time of year when most other gardens in the country and looking bare and colourless, the hundreds of plant varieties in flower on Tresco makes the Abbey Garden a rare exception.

The flower count, conducted by Garden Curator Mike Nelhams, Head Gardener Andrew Lawson and the rest of the garden team, celebrates flowering plants unseen elsewhere in the UK.

Proteas and Aloe Arborescens from South Africa, Acacia from Australia, Passion Flowers (Passiflora) from Peru, Sophora microphylla from New Zealand and Bomarea caldesii from Ecuador are just some of the exotic flora that adorn the garden at this time of year, thanks to the island’s mild climate.

The Isles of Scilly may be just 28 miles off the Cornish coast, but with a subtropical climate all of their own, here spring comes early and winter hardly exists. Even in the middle of winter, the islands enjoy higher temperatures, more hours of sunshine and fewer frosts than the rest of the country. As the rest of the country shivers, on Scilly the spring temperature rarely dips into single figures.

It is this climate that gives Tresco Abbey Garden its reputation as home to a global gathering of plants from more than 80 countries – and its nickname of ‘Kew without the glass’. Indeed, many of the plant species now in full and glorious bloom would not even survive 30 miles away on the mainland. 

Mike Nelhams, Curator of Tresco Abbey Garden, said: “We always enjoy a smug feeling of being somewhere really rather special at this time of the year. While most other gardens in Britain are looking less colourful, here on Tresco we’re tallying up hundreds of blooms of subtropical species that shouldn’t even survive – let alone thrive – in this country.”

Tresco Abbey Garden is open throughout the year, with the garden Visitor Centre and Café open from March until November.


The 2019 Garden Design Break

With its sundrenched terraces and shady glades, Tresco Abbey Garden is an icon of 19th century garden design. Whether your patch is an expansive country oasis or a bijoux urban escape, our 2019 Principles of Garden Design break is perfect to help you sculpt your own slice of paradise.

Join landscape architect John Moreland and Tresco Abbey Garden Curator Mike Nelhams for a few days exploring the concepts of garden design. From starting a mini project to designing your own garden, John and Mike will explore the concepts of garden design whilst exploring Tresco and its fascinating horticultural sanctuary.

The break, from 17th – 22nd June 2019, includes five nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast accommodation at The New Inn, as well as all tours, workshops, lectures and drawing equipment and supplies, unlimited entry to Tresco Abbey Garden, and access to Tresco Island Spa.

Supported by The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in Rural Areas

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