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Lawns of Historic Gardens looking a little Scilly

Tresco_abbey_gardens1This past week, I spent a week yacht sailing from Falmouth to The Isles of Scilly - to get as far away from grass as possible! I was Crew on one of five yachts that slipped their moorings at a very unsociable hour of 04.30am on a Sunday morning to travel the 60 nautical miles from Falmouth to St Agnes to commence our week of circumnavigating the Islands.

Our trip was full of fun and laughter and quite a few early mornings once more to beat the tide so not what you could call a relaxing holiday. One of the hightlights was visiting the Island of Tresco and the Tresco Abbey Gardens
My expectations on what I might find were high. A bit of history on the gardens - in 1834 a man called Augustus Smith left Hertfordshire and took up residence on the Isles of Scilly as leaseholder of all the islands in the position as Lord Proprietor. He chose the island of Tresco to make his home and selected a site adjacent to St Nicholas Priory which had fallen into disrepair in the sixteenth century. Only the ruined arches and walls remained.

On a rocky outcrop above these ruins Augustus built his house and called it Tresco Abbey. He started almost straight away constructing a garden based around the St Nicholas priory and then built a series of walls to protect early plantings from the ferocious salt gales that sweep through Scilly in the winter months.

The garden was then expanded across the south-facing hillside on a series of terraces carved from the granite sub-soil. Many tender plants were introduced and it was obvious of the need for shelter on a grand scale.
Trees of Monterey pine and Monterey Cypress native of the Californian coast were selected from experimental plantings and they quickly protected the ever expanding garden and its ever-increasing exotic collections.

Four succeeding generations of the family from Augustus have since taken the garden forward each making their own unique horticultural contribution. From 1872 Thomas Algernon Dorrien-Smith made many new introductions while establishing the shelterbelts and woodland areas.

Mike Nelhams, the Gardens Curator and his Team have done an excellent job of planting and maintaining such wonderful plants that are a pleasure to view. Like the majority of Gardens open to the Public, the standard of the lawns always let them down!

They were very weedy, sparse in growth, full of weed grasses and some uncut. First impressions is always so important to a visitor, especially one with an interest in Turf Culture.

Come on Chaps - if you are going to open your garden (historic or otherwise) to the public - please ensure that the lawns are up to speed and looking good. Great lawns will always provide an excellent back drop for the plants in the garden and landscaping features as a whole. There is just no excuse for having rubbish lawns!


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