“Abbey is a bit Dr Seuss, it feels as though the plants have taken over,” says photographer and filmmaker Howard Sooley of the unlikely private oasis, situated on the island of Tresco, 28 miles off the coast of Land’s End in the Isles of Scilly, England. “It’s slightly shabby, and full of joyous colors and scents––but colors and scents you don’t encounter anywhere else.” Boasting a collection of 20,000 plants from over 80 countries, including Argentina, Burma and New Zealand, the 17-acre garden was created in the early 19th century by Augustus Smith within the grounds of the home he designed and built, and remains in the family. Today Abbey is owned by Robert Dorrien-Smith, landlord to Tresco’s 150 inhabitants, all of whom work for him. And because Augustus Smith took on the long lease for the Scilly Isles from the Duchy of Cornwall, Dorrien-Smith is himself technically Prince Charles’s tenant. “There are so many strange and beautiful plants,” Sooley adds. “You feel like your are exploring somewhere exotic, somewhere undiscovered.
Look out for the next episode of Great Gardens on Tuesday July 29.