TRESCO ABBEY GARDEN
In the Isles of Scilly archipelago, Tresco Abbey Garden is the epitome of subtropical splendour, where the sparkling cerulean sea is glimpsed through a veil of palm trees. The gardens are often described as ‘Kew with the lid off’, home to 20,000 plants from more than 80 countries. Down at the southern edge, there’s a blissfully shady glade filled with gigantic tree ferns that seem straight out of Jurassic Park. On the opposite fringe is a eucalyptus grove. On a hot summer’s day, it’s gloriously shaded, and the sight and scent of these magnificent silvery trees is quite remarkable. Another romantic highlight is the shell house decorated by Lucy Dorrien-Smith, while the Mediterranean terrace is a peaceful haven at the garden’s heart. The best thing about summers on Tresco is the pace of life. It’s island time. The day’s pace is set by the tide, so everything feels laid-back and relaxed. Stay in one of the cottages scattered across the island that are managed by Tresco Abbey, where you can absorb the sleepy charms of the archipelago; even at the height of summer, you can walk onto one of the most beautiful beaches – Pentle, Appletree, Blockhouse – and have it entirely to yourself. Those first, barefoot steps onto a deserted, mica-specked beach lapped by cobalt waters is a feeling that never gets old. Tresco is only 28 miles from the mainland – and by far the best way to get there is with Penzance Helicopters. The flight time is just 15 minutes, and the aerial views of the Cornish coast and the islands are out of this world.