Abbey Gardens On A Worldwide Search For New Plants

tresco flower count 2014The range of plants at Tresco’s Abbey Gardens is being expanded again.

For many years, the Estate had been replacing plants that had been lost in the devastating hurricanes of 1987 and 1990.

Curator Mike Nelhams says it’s taken a long time refill the garden, and this year, visitors could be surprised to see a few spaces appearing. These are sites where they’ve been removing some duplicates ready to bring in new species.

Mike says they’re concentrating on Mediterranean climate plants, rather than tropical species, which may prove marginal.

They’ll also steer clear of hardier plants like rhododendron and camellia because they grow well in other parts of the mainland.

Mike says they know what grows well and what doesn’t and they’ll acquire plants through swaps and donations from other botanical gardens.

His team is searching plant lists from gardens all over the world to expand the Tresco collection.

They’ve already sourced heather from a South African garden near Cape Town and trees from New Zealand.

But he says it’s not an easy process. There are over 650 types of South African heather and the gardeners need to skilfully choose which will be best for the Abbey Gardens.

Mike has hired a familiar face to help widen the selection of plants following Dave Inch’s retirement last year.

Eamon McNamara will take on the role of Propagator, which involves producing plants from seeds and rooted cuttings.

Eamon first worked at the Estate ten years ago. He left Scilly for a yearlong internship in gardens in the USA before returned to work in the grounds of a castle in his home area of Northern Ireland.