Sunday, 2 August 2015

RHS Wisley

For Father's Day this year, my daughter Fiona and her husband Juan Fernando very generously got me a Guest Membership of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). On Friday we used it for the first time. (I say "we" because the main member is allowed to take a guest, so of course Jane came along with me). We went to our "local" RHS property, Wisley Gardens, just the other side of Guildford. It's about 20 miles from where we live.

This is the view that epitomises Wisley:

The Lily Pond

And of course the amazing Long Border is deservedly world-famous:

In the border there were some absolutely stunning clumps of Helenium, currently one of my favourite flowers:

For me, the vegetable garden is naturally of great interest. Of course I inspected everything carefully to see how it compared with my own plants. Their Celeriac, whilst not yet big, is certainly bigger than my feeble efforts!

The whole garden was a-buzz with bees, so it is hardly surprising that their Runner Beans had been very thoroughly pollinated:

I was encouraged to see that their Brussels Sprouts were more or less exactly at the same stage as mine - and protected in identical fashion. I must say though that I was surprised at how densely-packed they were.

This enormous "Palla Rossa" Chicory really is a thing of beauty!

And so is this Artichoke:

In the greenhouse there were some of the very trendy "Indigo Rose" tomatoes, nearing maturity.

Since we last visited Wisley, an enormous new glasshouse has been built, accommodating four different environments - Hot Dry, Rainforest etc. (I don't remember exactly what they were.)

I was very impressed with this glasshouse. It was very well done indeed. I loved this green wall, covered in ferns:

I also loved the water features, providing humidity, movement and sound to the scene:

As you know, I am not easily impressed by flowers (as opposed to veg, I mean), but it was hard to be anything other than amazed at the variety of plants, and their immaculate quality. I can't remember many of the names, but let me show you some of the flowers...

It was actually quite hard to drag ourselves away from the glasshouse and out into the fresh air again, but there was just so much to see!

The enormous Gunnera is imposing in many respects, though not a plant you would normally call beautiful, but this enormous old, dying leaf had an intriguing coppery sheen to it.

The wildlife was abundant too. Loads of birds, including a Moorhen with her adolescent chicks:

And of course bees everywhere. Almost every flower had a bee or some bees on it. The plant seemingly most popular with the bees appeared to be the rather unassuming Polygonum. I'm regretting now that I didn't photograph any of it, because it was almost literally heaving with bees - hundreds of them! Here's a token "Bee on flower" photo for you...

At the moment Wisley has an "Alice in Wonderland" theme event running, which includes an adventure trail for kids to follow, but it also has lots of very attractive statuary which will be of equal, if not more, interest to the adults, such as this:

I could show you many more photos, but I think that's enough for now. Well, perhaps just one more. This lovely plant came home with us from the Wisley Plant Shop. It is a Lysimachia ciliata "Firecracker". The dark foliage is described as "mahogany" colour, and the plant has a mass of contrasting bright yellow flowers. I'm currently very much on colour contrasts, so this is just the sort of thing I like!

Since Wisley is so close to us I hope we will be able to visit on several more occasions during the twelve months of my membership.

Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention, the membership included a £5 voucher for the cafĂ©, a free RHS tote bag and another £5 voucher to spend in the gift shop. This is what I got in the gift shop - an addition to our extensive collection of little bowls from all round the world:


  1. Beechgrove Garden TV prog is conducting a trial of densely grown cabbages and has found that they can be planted very close together and still produce properly formed cabbage - just smaller than those grown with more space between plantings. The more space, the bigger the outside leaves and the longer to produce a larger heart. Close planting is also supposed to suppress weed growth between plants (but the plants on my allotment don't seem to know that).

  2. At Harlow Carr they use s lot of willow to create screens and support structures, do they do the sad at Wisley?

    1. Didn't notice any screens, but there were certainly lots of "obelisks" and such-like made of willow. There were also bean-poles in the veg garden that might have been willow - though probably something stronger. They were quite twiggy, tied in bunches.

    2. At HC lots of the screens are living willow/.

  3. Thank you for the garden tour...just beautiful. It's always interesting to see other gardens for we are forever learning about different planting methods and experimenting with different techniques. I spent some time yesterday researching "Square Foot Gardening"...another dimension to planting our vegie patches!

  4. All of the flowers are beautiful, of course, but what I really loved were those unusual lilypads. And I'm a bit of a bowl collector as well - not a "true collector", but simply someone that would rather pick up a locally crafted bowl as a souvenir when I go somewhere than just about anything else.

  5. Spectacular! What a wonderful visit.


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