Tresco Abbey Gardens, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, TR24 0QQ
Telephone: 01720 424108
Review by Bella D'Arcy Reed - May 2011
Photographs by BDR
Going to a garden a long way off can seem daunting. Too tiring to drive, too much hassle and is the garden accessible anyway? (Which is why I started this website) But when the garden is not on the mainland what then? Such is the Abbey Garden, Tresco which I have long admired from afar, and delighted in the thought of its glorious plants.
I have now come to the conclusion that each trip will be a comfortable and effortless as possible. Worth saving up for ‘First Class’ all the way! Planning is all. To got to Tresco, I sourced the train fares three months ago on www.nationalrail.co.uk, and found to my surprise that a Paddington /Penzance return was £89.00 - and that was First Class! So far so good. Taxi to local station, customer service trolley at London from platform to taxi, and the same taxi - platform at Paddington. (You have to book these in advance). Wheelchair at Penzance, heliport shuttle, and onto helicopter. We hired a buggy for the day from the Island Hotel where we stayed and a scooter at the gardens themselves. The whole thing was so smooth, I am encouraged to go elsewhere.
The gardens were not a disappointment - in fact (look at the pictures!) they were wonderful. The weather had caused the echinus to be out in their full glory with many proteus specimens and huge agaves and aeoniums. The paths are wide and the gradients are pleasant - a bit of welly round the odd corner. As the woman in the cash office said "Here's a map with the wheelchair paths marked in blue, but, basically, if the path is too narrow don't go down it!" I'm afraid that we didn't use the map. Just tried to find our way round the odd steps for ourselves. You have to visit the little Summer House with its lovely mosaic from two side - one to go up to and pass it and one to see the agave fountain in front of it and look at it.
I know everyone can't do this, but I can walk a bit, so my companion was delighted to see me up some steps, told me to shut my eyes and maneuvered me into position. I opened them and there were the most huge Agave Americana Varietgata plants I have ever see in a view across to palm trees and the brightest of flowers!
The exit is marked through the shop, but it's a bit narrow so we exited past the cash desk and then into the cafe. They said they had Cornish Pasties, but I have yet to see a Cornish Pasty with chicken and spices or cheese! That was the only disappointment. After lunch and a cuddle of the gardens' black cat, we went back in and round again - at one point my companion 'stole' my scooter and had a ride up the long terrace as I just sat and looked... And the loo was fine.
The buggy took us all over the island, (to the delight of its driver not me - I let Christine do it!. The roads are mostly smooth and the rutted ones are fun) which is very small. We couldn't go by buggy to the two castles - Cromwell's and King Charles'. So I stayed at the hotel in the sun looking at the sea, thinking and writing. I was then able to negotiate a short walk to the beach and would have paddled if the water hadn't looked so cold... but the sand is smooth and the water is so clear: blues and turquoise.
The journey back was just as smooth. Planning my next journeys now - to the Cotswolds and then - to Rome!