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Work we do

Italian Gardens - 100 Year Anniversary

Find out about the work being done at the Italian Gardens in Torquay to mark the 100 year anniversary.

You may have seen or heard about the work taking place in the Italian Gardens on Torquay seafront and that we have removed some palm trees. To allay any concerns you may have, we’d like to explain what's happening:

Firstly, we want to apologise for not adequately communicating with you about those plans, in advance of beginning the actual work. We do appreciate we should have shared our plans earlier and more widely, as understandably, this has left many of you feeling disconcerted.

Consultation with community stakeholders about the restoration and planting scheme for the Gardens first took place back in 2019. Unfortunately, the work couldn’t progress due to the pandemic and budget pressures. Fast forward to 2023 and we were keen to move forward, ahead of the Gardens’ upcoming centenary in 2024. However, in our enthusiasm to deliver, we raced ahead and failed to let you know that we were going to be making a start on the scheme, so causing this breakdown in communication.

The removal of the palm trees, which were some 40 in total was the start of us making those changes. These trees were at varying stages of decline, none being in their prime and having sustained a long period of weathering from the elements of being on the seafront.

The palms we removed were Cordyline australis (Cabbage Palm) with a lifespan of 50-70 years in UK horticultural settings and, while they tolerate salty air, it is not ideal growing conditions for them. Most of the palms we removed were already around 50 years old and displaying signs of advanced decline, evident by the presence of die-back in the top of the palm.

It is worth noting that there were no palms present in the Italian Gardens when it was first planted in 1924. They have been added over the years and periodically replaced as they have died off at at varying stages. While the Gardens have always been planted in a renaissance style, the look and feel has been ever evolving. Of late, the quality of the Gardens had diminished and they were looking far from their best.

Italian Gardens

With the 100 year anniversary of the gardens being next year, now felt the right time to make improvements.

A key factor we had to consider was sustainability - significantly, the redesigned gardens will have a life span well beyond the remaining years of the palm trees that were removed so, from a practical point of view, it made sense that we removed them before the new planting has a chance to establish, so avoiding future disturbance.

The new garden will feature 1600 new plants, from 12 different species, comprising a sustainable blend of indigenous plants and European exotics; furthermore, the new scheme will include direct replacements for some of the palms, together with the addition of over 100 yew and olive trees.