The beautiful Isles of Scilly are just a short ferry ride from the coast of Cornwall, yet they feel a million miles away from the mainland. At the heart of the archipelago is the family-owned island of Tresco, and it's here that you'll find one of the island's most breathtaking attractions: Tresco Abbey Gardens.
The garden was established in the 19th century around the ruins of an old Benedictine Abbey and is now home to a fantastic variety of plants from all over the world, including Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa.
You'll find over 20,000 plants from more than 80 countries flourishing here in the sub-tropical climate of the Isles of Scilly. It's easy to see why these gardens are known as 'Kew without the glass'.
The garden changes throughout the year as different species thrive. In spring, flowers bloom on Tresco weeks before they do on the mainland thanks to the specific climate found here.
If you visit in the autumn, you'll be welcomed by a flourish of red, gold and amber foliage, alongside lovely camellias, proteas and aloes. In the winter months you'll find more than 300 species still in bloom here.
Tresco Abbey Gardens is also home to the fascinating Valhalla Museum, where you can discover an intriguing collection of shipwrecked figureheads collected from all over the Isles of Scilly.
These figureheads date from the 19th century and allow you to see how the human and animal carvings on the ships' bows altered in shape, pattern and size over the centuries.
Once you've explored the gardens, there is plenty more to see on the attractive island of Tresco. The second largest of the Isles of Scilly, Tresco is loved for its diverse landscapes, from beaches with powder-soft sand and rolling dunes to rugged coastlines and downs adorned with heather.
You might choose to take to the waters on an island-hopping day trip or a wildlife sea safari, where you might spot Atlantic grey seals or even dolphin. You could also hire a dinghy, kayak, or paddle board and explore the shores in your own time.
There's plenty more to explore in the Isles of Scilly, too. With vast, sandy beaches and historical forts and monuments to discover, the islands are a top destination for a UK staycation.
If you're a keen gardener considering an inspirational trip to Tresco Abbey Gardens, you can discover the wonderful wildlife and spectacular gardens of the Isles of Scilly on Country Living's exclusive six-day tour in October 2022.
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