I thought a quick trip to the Scilly Isles would be suitable substitute, especially a focus on Tresco Abbey Gardens. The Scilly Isles for those outside the UK are a group of island just off the coast of Cornwall, which is the south west tip England. They are small islands, some you can stay on, others just visit for the day. Getting there from the mainland is by ferry or small plane, which have a certain retro feel to the inside.
Flying in gives you great views of the islands
The main island St Mary's is where most people stay, as it's where the ferry and planes arrive. From the time you arrive it is obvious that the climate is conducive with more exotic plants; aeoniums, yuccas, agaves and palms are common place.
From there on the transport is more local.
Various size boats ferry you between the islands, usually taking around 15 - 20 minutes. For plant lovers, the first stop is always Tresco and the Abbey Gardens. Again as soon as you get off the boat you know it is going to be good.
It is a gentle stroll to the gardens and you walk past the abbey and get your first idea what the gardens are going to be like.
Entering the actual gardens you cross this japanese inspired bridge.
From there it's view after view, and stunning plants everywhere. There are too many for one post, so I'll split them up a bit, starting with a quick tour of the gardens and followed up with close ups of some of the plants in later posts. Sadly it was not a sunny day, so please overlook the grey sky.
This is what you reach if you walk straight up from the bridge (looking back towards the it).
Turning right along the path
Along with the plants, the gardens are known for certain vistas containing statues.
Getting into more arid sections.
Looking back into the gardens
Towards the end of the top path, the banks are steep, rocky and full of succulent inspiration.
Finally you get to the abbey building.
One of my personal favourite aspects to Tresco, is the way the succulents are populating every available surface.
Just below the abbey are the ruins of the old abbey, which have been taken over by plants.
It is not all succulents though, next to the old abbey, is a little sculpture garden full of ferns
At the bottom of the garden is the other famous sculpture
In the lower part of the gardens, you can walk through fern filled paths, or more open lawns
If you are anything like me, you will end up walking around and around each time noticing a different view, not to mention different plants, which will be part 2.
To give you an idea of the other islands, here are a few general photos on a brighter day.
That is a quick tour of a couple of the islands and an introduction to the gardens on Tresco, next up will be the plants.