Day 4 |
May 22, 2012

Tresco & St. Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, England 

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 49°55´N, 06°19´W
Weather: overcast
Air Temperature: 14°C

Today’s tour was, at least for me, one of the top highlights of our voyage up the coast of Great Britain and Ireland – the Abbey Gardens of Tresco on the Isles of Scilly. As usual, the ship anchored between the two islands of Tresco and St. Mary’s. The weather was overcast but no wind was blowing at all, so the Zodiac disembarkation went smooth and quickly. I was really excited about our visit to these gardens, although I have visited the site several times. Every time new flowers are blooming, new plants are growing and so the garden looks different every time. Established around 160 years ago, the Abbey Garden grew and grew and at the moment it houses around 20,000 individual plants with innumerous species from all over the world. It is needless to say that, for a botanist, this garden is really heaven on earth.

A well-informed local guide took us around the garden, showing the guests the most amazing flowers, like King Proteas, different Eucalyptus, Aeoniums and even a Wollemia Pine from Australia. It was not only that our guide had an excellent knowledge of the plant species, he was a gardener too with fabulous experience of plant propagation and care and so could answer a lot of question from the guests.

After an extensive tour through the gardens, guests had the opportunity to explore and enjoy the site on their own. The time passed by too quickly and we had to return to the ship. In the short break between the morning and afternoon activities, we all enjoyed lunch on board.

For the afternoon excursion, we were picked up by local tender boats that brought us to the pier of St. Mary’s. Here our guests had the choice between a free, leisurely afternoon in town or a birding and botany walk around the island. Some 25 guests joined my colleague Chris and I on this walk. During the two hours that it took us to do a loop around the western part of the island, the views over the landscape were just amazing. Also the weather improved during that time and so guests really had a wonderful walking experience this afternoon. From the botany point of view, we saw the Little Elm, which is rare on most of the mainland, English Stonecrop, Red Campion, Alexanders and Thrift. Birding was not so successful but still we could observe Robins, Black birds, Song Thrush and Cormorants. At the end it was a very nice and pleasant walk and guests enjoyed it very much.

Back on the Silver Explorer again, the activities of the day were not over. A Recap & Briefing we informed our guests about the plans for tomorrow and interesting things that we saw today. In the evening, sailing away from the Isles, our guests enjoyed a delicious dinner in The Restaurant, looking forward to the next day when we will visit the green island of Europe – Ireland.