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This Week’s guest Blogger is Louise Bateman, a life long gardener and plantaholic who opens her garden for NGS

My trip to the Isles of Scilly

The islands are an archipelago made up of granite ending at the infamous storm battered Bishops Rock Lighthouse. There are five inhabited islands and many smaller ones where seals bask and seabirds nest undisturbed by human activity. Before the last ice age when sea levels were lower it was part of the mainland, and has a huge number of ancient archaeological sites. It is an area of exceptional beauty and when the sun shines the sparkly quartz and granite sand reflects the light offering crystal clear deep blue seas.

This holiday has been on my bucket list for a great many years, with my interest being focussed on the famous sub-tropical Abbey Gardens on Tresco. It was developed by Augustus Smith who on signing the lease, started planting wind break trees in 1834 which protected the garden from salt laden winds. His descendants still lease the island from the Dutchy of Cornwall. Most of the garden is terraced on a steep south facing slope offering maximum warmth and sunshine. It is frost free in most years and has high UV levels, so there are many choice plants grown such as Protea and Leucospermum from South Africa and Puya from South America.

It is estimated that there are approximately 4000 species, many of which self-seed around the property. The most iconic is the biennial Echium pininana which towers up to the sky and is a bee magnet.

Many plants have escaped the confines of the garden and have found places on the other islands. On St Martin’s there is a Puya which offers blackbirds and bees a nectar feast, as the co-evolved hummingbirds are in short supply!

Aeoniums are particularly happy growing in many walls and often sold from honesty stalls around the islands.


The decimated cut flower industry is evidenced by volunteer Narcissus, Gladiolus and Alliums growing through meadow grassland between high protective evergreen hedges of Pittosporum crassifolium.
Now for the trip advisor part. Would I recommend a visit? Yes! It is a perfect very quiet getaway in the UK offering spectacular views, sandy beaches galore, water sports, walking, bird watching and feasting. For those with limited mobility staying on St Mary’s is recommended as the main ferry and plane arrives here and all transport to the off islands are by small open tourist boats accessed by steps from the quays. Transport to and from the isles is frequently affected by poor weather, both rough weather or fog in the case of planes. If you’d like to give it a try you need to book it well in advance. Many people get addicted and go year after year, so there is a limited amount of available accommodation and it is pricey. Get your money box prepared and give it a go!

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