Tresco: England's Island of Flowers by Ronald King
The Romans visited Scilly, and later the Vikings; but the islands had to wait till Victorian times before they were transformed into what they are today, and their transformation was due to a most remarkable man. Augustus Smith was born into a rich Nottinghamshire family, whose fortunes had been made in banking. As a young man, a strong social conscience motivated him to try by practical means to help the poor and unemployed. Local resistance to his ideas inhibited his plans, however, so when he heard in 1831 that the Duke of Leeds was giving up his lease from the Duchy of Cornwall of the Scillies, Augustus Smith bought the lease; and it was principally to provide employment that the "Lord Proprietor" as he came to be called began to build his house and lay out his garden on Tresco. Bathed as it is in the warmth of the Gulf Stream, it was found that rare and exotic plants not possible to grow in other parts of the country could flourish there. A vigorous traffic of seeds and plants began with Kew; and sub-tropical species were sent from all parts of the world. The same family, the Dorrien-Smiths, still lives at Tresco, and every year some 30,000 people visit its quite remarkable garden. This book provides both the story of the island and the family that developed it, and a pictorial record of what is to be seen in the garden. There is a chapter of practical advice on growing and caring for sub-tropical species.