The ancient British island is an unlikely bastion of exotic plants.
Positioned off the coast of Cornwall, it really is extremely hard to miss St. Michael’s Mount, it is situated roughly a one-third of a mile from the United Kingdoms coast, a spectacular treasure of stone ascending out from the sea. This idyllic island not only has a beautiful medieval monastery but it also has a castle fit for a fairy tale princess.
“Gardening on a rock in the middle of the sea isn’t for the faint-hearted, nor is abseiling from the battlements of a castle,” the listing reads. “But the Garden Team on St Michael’s Mount take all this in their stride as well as the general terrain which would challenge the most agile mountain goat.”
The job requires sure-footed and sturdy legs.
Indeed, the island’s dizzying heights are only compounded by its facilities — the village, monastery, fortress and castle perched at the very peak. From there, the new gardener would have to make a daily descent to minister to the exotic plants that lie below.
If you’re horticulturally inclined, however, those plants seem well worth the journey. St. Michael’s Mount boasts one of the world’s most stunning collections of exotic plants, from rosemary to lavender to aloe and agave that sprout directly from the bedrock. Many of those plants might not believe their luck in being able to live there, not unlike the person who gets this job.
“It is astonishing that a garden exists here,” the website notes. “But despite the gales and salty winds, the Gulf Stream tempers the climate so that frosts are a rarity and the rock acts as a gigantic radiator — absorbing heat by day and releasing it at night, creating a microclimate in which all sorts of unlikely plants flourish.”
In fact, the spectacular Walled Garden has been blooming since 1780. The only missing ingredient is someone who can give these precious plants their undivided attention while scaling ancient stones and precarious paths day after day.
But maybe you prefer to commute to work every day?
You can always walk the causeway, a cobbled ribbon that stretches from the beach at the coastal town of Marazion to the island. But it only appears for a fleeting number of hours before the high tide washes over those ancient stones.
At high tide, this ancient road is submerged, its best to take one of the daily ferries. Or better yet, take St. Michael’s Mount up on the offer of living on the island. The job promises a Victorian terraced house with all the requisite breathtaking views.
And what, you may rightly ask, happened to its previous occupant? Did the last gardener lose her footing while stretching to prune some stubborn sempervivums? Did she hear an echo of ghosts while trimming the echeverias and plunge from the battlements in fright?
Actually, Lottie Allen is fine. These days, the only thing haunting her, after five years as head gardener at St. Michael’s is the memories. She’s moving on to if you can imagine it, a “new challenge.”
“I will miss everything about this job,” she told the BBC.
St. Michael’s Mount off the coast of Cornwall is looking for someone to live there and care for its ancient gardens.