Spring in the Abbey Garden
Garden Curator Mike Nelhams guides us through some stand out showy spring blooms from our island garden...
Spring is arguably the best time in any garden - and though the Abbey Garden is awash with subtropical colour throughout the year, if I had to choose my favourite time, it would be the spring.
Among the sheltered terraces and bright botanicals, you could easily be overseas. But then, I suppose you are...
Probably the most iconic of our spring blooms, if you want to talk spectacular “weeds” then look no further than the Canary Island Echium! You can take your pick from over 70 different species of either the shrub variety or single stem.
Echium pininiana the single-stemmed type can grow up to twenty-foot tall in just eighteen months and will produce a spectacular blue flower spike that will tower above any shrubs that happen to be loitering nearby.
Being biennial and only living for two years, it will then scatter copious amounts of seed. The following season this will produce many hundreds of young plants and so the cycle is repeated.
Banksia formosa is a species of shrub native to the south-west of Western Australia but equally at home in our little corner of the UK.
A showy shrub with distinctive serrated leaves and an orange coned flower, it grows to a height of around 2 metres.
If you're a keen gardener you may have known this previously as Dryandra formosa. You can blame the botanists - they do love to re-classify plant names!
Also known as African Hemp, this is a species of flowering evergreen shrub or small tree native to the open woodland of Africa.
It grows particularly well on Tresco and is much admired in the Abbey Garden for its soft large lime green leaves and white showy flowers.
When an insect, or a finger, bumps or brushes the flower the mass of hanging stamens puff out, rather like a hairy caterpillar when threatened. This adaptation helps in pollination.
A native of South Africa, this is certainly one of the most perennially popular and splendid plants in the garden.
The fabulous red or pink flowers appear in spring and are unusual in that the centre of the flower look and feel almost like bird feathers.
Olearia x scilloniensis
This plant “appeared” in the Abbey Garden in 1948 - a natural hybrid between two other Olearia species.
It was so named and has since become a firm favourite around the nurseries, plant centres and gardens across the country.
Its parents originate from New South Wales and Tasmania so it is well travelled! !!
Native of Mexico, Beschorneria is a member of the Asparagus family and is well known for its spectacular red flower spikes that emerge from its architectural foliage each spring.
Quite tough, it will resist regular frosts if not too persistent.
One of the Cape Heathers from South Africa, this is the principal genus of the Cape floral kingdom with over 657 species in the group.
A clever little plant, they are very bright in colour, often with more than one hue on the flower which attracts birds and insects to assist pollination.