A postcard from the Isles of Scilly

by our student gardener, Beth Large…

As everyone I’ve worked with over the past few weeks will testify, I haven’t been able to stop talking about my recent trip to Tresco. As trainee gardeners, we all get the chance to go on short work placements to enhance our learning and at the end of February, I was lucky enough to visit the Abbey Garden and spend two weeks working in a garden quite unlike any other. 

I arrived by helicopter on a clear, sunny morning and, still reeling from the aerial views of the island I’d just seen, I was shown around the remarkable garden it is home to. Tresco enjoys mild, frost-free weather and so the range of warmer-climate plants that can be grown here is mind-blowing. Proteas and Ericas were blooming in abundance and succulents were bursting from gaps in the stone walls. Clumps of Strelitzia, which I recognised from our indoor Ninfarium, were thriving and flowering outdoors without any protection. Most of the garden’s trees are evergreen and the structure they add is particularly impressive when the wind moves through them. Viewed from one of the lichen-covered benches on the top terrace, you can see past them, across the gardens to the sea beyond. 

Tresco is a small island and the sea is everywhere. I spent my spare time scouring the beaches for elusive cowrie shells, watching the waves and running into the freezing water for evening swims with some of the wonderful people who call this island their home. Like many gardeners, the team at Tresco are generous with both their time and knowledge and the warm welcome I received from everyone I met really made this a trip to remember. 

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