Crossing the vibrant blue bridge into the lush botanic garden of Tresco Island this morning felt like entering a tropical oasis – a delightful surprise on this remote English isle. Located twenty-eight miles off the southwestern tip of Cornwall, Tresco is just one of the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago that few are lucky enough to visit.
Despite the peace found in its gardens, the treacherous reefs surrounding the isle have sent many a sailor to an early death. The Valhalla Museum, also located in the gardens, displays a collection of beautifully painted figureheads recovered from ships that ran aground near the isles.
During our private tour, expert gardeners shared their knowledge of the enormous range of flowering plants. They inspired us with their passion for caring for this magical place. They explained how the North Atlantic Drift, an extension of the Gulf Stream, keeps the island unusually warm for its latitude. The garden is further sheltered by a protective wind belt of hardy trees.
In the early 19th century, British politician and philanthropist Augustus Smith purchased the island and began to cultivate his romantic gardens around the ruins of an abandoned Benedictine abbey. The 17-acre gardens now boast 20,000 plants from 80 different countries, including subtropical plants from Mexico, Chile, South Africa, and the Canary Islands, all brought back to England by British travelers throughout the years. Red squirrels scampered up the trees, and pheasants wandered through the carefully planned lawns and flourishing flower gardens.
After a brief downpour, the sun came out in full force, beautifully illuminating the droplets on the leaves and allowing for some stunning photos. We all left with huge smiles and a deep feeling of calm as we made our way back over the dunes to the Zodiac landing.
During our relaxing afternoon at sea, we were treated to a wine tasting with copious amounts of fruit, cheese, and desserts. Afterwards, Joe Holliday provided entertainment with his presentation on the geology and plate tectonics that created the Europe we know today.
Our delightful day aboard National Geographic Resolution ended with our Guest Slideshow. We enjoyed sharing memories of our voyage during the quiet evening before our final full day of adventure in Wales tomorrow.