I’m sharing a conversation with Islander Jon Taylor. Jon is the Assistant Head Gardener at the world famous Tresco Abbey Gardens.
I have known Jon for many years through inter island gig racing and cricket matches. However, I really enjoyed finding out more about how Jon came to be a gardener in such a prestigious location, and what his daily work looks like.
1. How did you find yourself on the Isles of Scilly?
I was working at Gravetye Manor Hotel in Sussex, the Head Gardener there was a former student, and employee, of a place called Tresco Abbey Gardens. He suggested I apply for the Elizabeth Hess Scholarship. After a bit of research I thought it was the right step to take in my career.
After applying I got a placement on the scholarship and immediately fell in love with Tresco and Scilly. I spent a year on the islands and once I finished, I got an international placement at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. As I was nearing the end of my time over there, a friend informed me that he was leaving the Abbey Gardens and suggested I got in touch with Mike Nelhams. I asked if I could come back, and I’ve now been here nearly 14 years.
2. What has kept you living on the islands?
There are quite a few things that have kept me on the islands for 14 years. The social life, the job, the scenery, and now I have a young family. My two daughters absolutely love island life with the beach two seconds from the house and a great group of friends.
3. You work as Assistant Head Gardener at the world famous Tresco Abbey Gardens, full time and year round. What is your favourite part about your job?
As the Assistant Head Gardener part of my role is the supervision of the three scholarship students. My favourite part of the job is the variety, from looking after the gardens, doing tours for the numerous cruise ships, and helping out around the islands and Hell Bay Hotel. In the garden it’s the range of plants we have from Banksia’s from Australia and Proteas and Erica’s from South Africa, just to name a few on the top terrace. We have many different ferns and palms in the lower half of the garden.
4. What are the biggest challenges you face working in the gardens?
I think the biggest challenge of working in the gardens is the weather Although we rarely get frosts, our biggest challenge is the wind. Our prevailing wind is from the Southwest, we can easily get 100mph winds at some point over the winter months. So, deciding whether to wear shorts or trousers can be a bit of a challenge…
5. Your Instagram account is full of stunning island imagery, including some spectacular sunrises. What motivates you to get up so early?!
Primarily exercise, either a run or bike around the island after I’ve walked the dogs. It’s nice to have the feeling that I have the whole island to myself, enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the islands. It doesn’t matter if it’s grey and overcast, or I’m seeing the sunrises from different parts of the island. Plus, it’s nice to be up before the kids are awake!
6. What would your perfect day (not working) on Scilly look like?
My perfect day off would begin with a cycle or run around the island first thing in the morning. Then it would be spending time on one of the beaches on Tresco or jumping in the boat and heading off to a different island with my partner Emma, kids and the crazy dogs.
7. Finally, do you have a favourite Phoenix & Providence product?
My favourite Phoenix and Providence product would either be the Rejuvenate Seaweed Bath Salts, which are great to relax in after exercise, or it would be the Nourish Body Oil which I find perfect after having a shave.
Thank you so much for your time Jon. If you would like to seeing Jon’s behind the scenes photos of Tresco Abbey Gardens, or enjoy one of his many beautiful sunrise images, you can find him on Instagram here. You can find out more about Tresco Abbey Gardens here.
Shop Jon’s P & P recommendations: