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Learn the secrets of success in Scilly Isles

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: February 21, 2013

By Sue Kemp

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ATOP gardening expert will be in Devon next month to talk about an island paradise and raise money for a local charity.

Mike Nelhams, garden curator of Tresco Abbey Garden in the Isles of Scilly, will be the guest speaker at Budleigh Salterton Public Hall on March 2, at the event in aid of Exeter Leukaemia Fund.

He will take guests on a journey through the sub-tropical Abbey Garden which plays host to thousands of exotic plants.

Many of these tender floral gems would stand no chance on the Cornish mainland, less than 30 miles away. Yet even at the winter equinox more than 300 plants will be in flower. All in all, the tropical garden is home to species from 80 countries, ranging from Brazil to New Zealand and Burma to South Africa.

The diversity of plant life to be found within the Abbey Garden is extraordinary. Fringing the lush grid of paths which criss-cross the gardens are a host of succulent, towering palm trees and giant, lipstick-red flame trees. Here you can find flowers of the king protea and the handsome lobster claw. Walk among the great blue spires of echium, brilliant furcraea, strelitzia and shocking-pink drifts of pelargonium.

All the beauty and colour of this great garden will be brought to life by Mike, who has been involved with Tresco for more than three decades.

He first went to the gardens as a student in 1976. He returned in 1984 as head gardener and became garden curator in 1994, a post that was established for him.

He is also a Royal Horticultural Society judge on the tender plants committee, judging regularly at Chelsea and Hampton Court and also lectures throughout the world.

The Gardening Talk has become a popular fixture in the ELF calendar and once again has been sponsored by Tozers Solicitors LLP. Vernon Clarke, partner at Tozers Solicitors LLP, said: "I am very much looking forward to hearing Mike speak. Anything that encourages people to take an interest in gardening is likely to be good for Devon's wildlife since far too many gardens in towns are now simply decked and paved over.

"I am delighted that as corporate sponsors of ELF, we are able to sponsor this event and help make it happen, so that funds can be raised for such a worthwhile charity."

Noel Allen, event organiser, said he was thrilled that Mike was to be their guest speaker.

"I am absolutely delighted he has agreed to come over to the mainland to speak to us. Tresco Abbey Garden is unparalleled and this promises to be a spectacular insight into its diversity and beauty."

Tickets for the talk, which starts at 2.30pm, are £5 and are on sale from Noel by calling 01395 272707 or from various outlets including Kings Garden Centre and B Natural Health Food Shop in Exmouth, Otter Nurseries in Ottery St Mary and the Garden Shop in Budleigh Salterton. Tickets may also be available on the door on the afternoon. Refreshments and a raffle will be available.

For more information about ELF please visit www.elfcharity.org.uk

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