A picture of contentment, for all!
Monthly Archives: July 2013
My love of pattern, especially natural/abstract pattern, will be apparent to anyone familiar with my posts. One of the richest sources is the seashore, particularly at low tide. The ebbing tide frequently leaves behind interesting seaweed formations – interesting for their shapes and for the strands of varying thickness and texture.
To maximise the impact, I often choose to isolate the pattern and set it against a white background. It is a painstaking process but one I enjoy.
Although I sometimes suggest a narrative title (as in this case) it is almost invariably an afterthought and is probably unnecessary. Certainly my enjoyment derives from the pattern itself.
A walk along the main path in Tresco Abbey gardens takes us through an archway between trees and eventually up gentle steps, past the fountain, to a small garden house on the upper terrace. This is the Shell House. It takes its name from the interior murals which comprise imaginative pictures and patterns constructed with care and skill using shells found on the Isles of Scilly. (See also my previous post, Tresco Abbey Gardens)
Tresco Abbey Gardens enjoy an international reputation and are particularly noted for the collection of subtropical plants and trees. There are 20000 plants and it is claimed that more than 300 will be in flower on any day in the year. There are plants from South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and S E Asia. Many of the plants could not survive in Cornwall, just 30 miles away.
The garden was initially created by Augustus Smith. In 1834 Smith was granted a long term lease for the Isles of Scilly by the Duchy of Cornwall and became Lord Proprietor. He built his home amid the ruins of a priory – hence Tresco Abbey.
Smith was an enthusiastic gardener and recognised the possibilities offered by the mild climate of the Scilly Isles. He maximised this potential by constructing walls and terraces and by planting trees to protect his plants from the excesses of any Atlantic gales.
Augustus was a bachelor and when he died his estate was inherited by his nephew, Thomas Algernon Dorrien-Smith. Successive generations of Dorrien-Smiths have, to this day, each made a significant contribution to the development of the Gardens.
With so much to choose from, I hope the following selection will suffice as an appetizer!
Tresco is the second largest island in the Isles of Scilly archipelago. It measures approximately 2½ x 1 miles and has a resident population of 180. This figure increases dramatically during the tourist season. The island is primarily a holiday resort with many timeshare properties. Cruise liners bring large numbers of visitors to visit the famous Gardens. It is a car-free island. Essential transport is provided by farm tractors and passenger trailers plus a few golf buggies for the disabled and elderly.
The attractions of Tresco are its natural beauty and its mild climate. The southern half of the island is fringed by idyllic beaches of white sand. The northern half comprises heathland and a rugged coast.
Isolated landmarks, such as Cromwell’s Castle (pictured below), Charles’ Castle and the Block House are reminders of the Island’s strategic importance in British history.
The world famous gardens at Tresco Abbey on the island of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, are bisected by a long straight path culminating in a flight of granite steps leading up to an imposing classical head. The steps are known as Neptune’s Steps and seem to confirm a classical connection, but there is a double deception here. Despite appearances, the head is not a stone sculpture but is made from wood, and the subject is not of classical origin but represents Father Thames. It is, in fact, the salvaged figurehead of the SS Thames, a 500 ton paddle steamer that sank on the Western Rocks (just off the coast of St Agnes) in 1841.
The story of the loss of the Thames is tragic and is an example of the hardship and dangers experienced by seafaring communities in the 18th and 19th centuries. The event was fully recorded by the minister of St Agnes at the time, the Rev George Woodley, and can be read on http://www.tresco.co.uk/what-to-do/abbey-garden/valhalla_thames.aspx
In a corner of the Abbey Gardens there is a museum of other figureheads from vessels wrecked in the waters around the Isles of Scilly. It is known as Valhalla and I have written about it in a previous post (see https://lagill6.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/shipwrecks-and-valhalla/)
The Isles of Scilly include five, small inhabited islands, four of which once formed a single larger island (the exception was St Agnes). But around 3000 years ago rising sea levels divided the land and created the present formation.
The channel between Tresco and Bryher is normally very busy with boats ferrying tourists and residents between islands as well as providing anchorage for visiting yachts. But four or five times a year, for a short while on three or four consecutive days, the sea bed is exposed. It is the time of the Spring tides – a time when it is possible to walk between Tresco and Bryher and, indeed, between Tresco and St Martins. For those whose holiday happens to coincide with a Spring tide the walk is often high on their ‘things I must do’ list.
Such an occasion occurred 10 days ago and the pictures below record the event, beginning with two or three ‘pioneers’ and developing into a steady stream. (See also my post Isles of Scilly)
Click on each image to enlarge