Privacy and cookies

We use cookies to collect information about how you use our website. We use this information to make the website work as well as possible and see how we can improve our services.

Italian Gardens - 100 Year Anniversary

Italian Gardens FAQs

Answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the work being done at the Italian Gardens.

What is the consultation you refer to?

The work recently undertaken by SWISCo at the Italian Gardens in Torquay, is the first stage of a plan, first developed in 2019 by Torbay council and TOR2. In response to queries raised by them, informal discussions took place with the community group Abbey Park Friends and the Torbay Chamber of Commerce in late 2019/early 2020.

In 2020, SWISCo was set up to deliver services for the council in a way that meant it did not need to ask formal permission to undertake works to parks and gardens, including replacement planting in Torbay. Considering the previous involvement of interested community groups, together with the scope of its delegated responsibility, we proceeded to commence work in December 2023 as part of our commissioned service provision. Accordingly, no officers or current cabinet members were made aware, or gave any instruction around the commencement of the work.

Based on this, our error was not carrying out the work itself, but in failing to carry out a new consultation with the Council prior to commencing the work. We have taken full responsibility for this error, together with the assurance that we will take on board the community’s comments as to how to create an Italian Garden Torbay can be proud of.

What is the budget for the work?

The work in the Italian gardens is being funded using budgets already allocated to the annual management of our parks. We are confident we can create an Italian garden worthy of Torquay seafront for a budget of circa £30k.

Will any of the palms be replaced or regenerated?

Although Cabbage Palms will regrow from stumps the regrowth will potentially be multi-stemmed, meaning it looks shrubby and not in keeping with the new design which relies on symmetry and focal points. The stumps will be removed by stump grinding to a depth of approx. 300mm.

The new design does contain several Cabbage Palms which will be hybrids developed to be more suitable to our climate. We are currently discussing the exact type of Cabbage Palm as we wish to take advantage of the opportunity to add additional colour and texture into the scheme. We are very aware of the strength of feeling about the palms so are working with our designer and local experts to see if we can increase the number of palms in the new scheme.

The design does not have much colour or wildflowers.

The wildflowers in the Italian gardens were a short-term measure at a time when budget was reduced for this area of work, along with knock-on effect of the pandemic. Wildflowers are an integral and valuable part of the way we manage our parks, gardens and verges in Torbay, but they do not really belong in the formal, renaissance setting of the Italian gardens.

The scheme aims to provide low maintenance pastel colours but, taking on board your comments, we are now looking at options to include bulb planting such as crocus, tulip and daffodils which will provide a low maintenance annual splash of seasonal colour.

There is too much concrete/paving in the new design. Can it be grass like the Italian Gardens at Blenheim?

 The image that we published is very much an artist’s impression and we can see that it does look like paving. The paths around the symmetrical formal beds will actually be laid to gravel. We do not intend to incorporate any concrete or paving in the new gardens. Gravel paths are a traditional theme within Classical Italian garden design.