New Plants From Kew Gardens Arrive On Tresco

Mike Nelhams selecting specimens at Kew Gardens

Mike Nelhams selecting specimens at Kew Gardens

Around thirty species of plants that wouldn’t normally survive outdoors in the UK have arrived at Tresco’s Abbey Gardens.

They’re part of a regular swap of plant specimens with the world-famous Kew Gardens in London.

Abbey Gardens curator Mike Nelhams says he travelled up to Kew recently to give a lecture and took the time to select the plants from their surplus stock.

Mike says Kew collects seeds from all over the world and often grow up to fifty examples in their glasshouses. But they can only keep a few because of the space. They also have to get rid of some plants that have grown too big.

Mike says the Kew staff are keen to offer the specimens because it gives them a chance to see them reach full size outdoors on Tresco.

From Radio Scilly

Mike Nelhams talks to Radio Scilly about his new plants from Kew

The plants come from a variety of areas around the world, including China, Vietnam, Mexico, Madagascar, Bermuda, the Himalayas and New Zealand.

And as it’s the first time many of these have been grown in Scilly, Mike says it’s a bit of an experiment to work out the best conditions for their new arrivals.

One of the most unusual is a Bismarck Palm from Madagascar. These normally like a very hot climate but Mike says they’ve got experience with plants from areas like Kenya, so there’s a chance it could do well in the right spot.

But it’ll take a while before they know if it’s a success. Mike says palms can often “just sit there” for two or three years before either giving up or suddenly springing to life.

The Abbey Gardens have often been described as ‘Kew with the lid off’.’ The two gardens have been swapping plants for more than 150 years and Mike says only two months ago, experts from London came to collect some samples to take back to the mainland.

In January this year, more that 255 different species were in flower in the annual Abbey Gardens flower count.

Planting will take place over the winter and Mike says visitors should be able to see the new specimens next season.