A joy to explore in September
On a bright September a couple of years ago, Gary and I ventured off to Surrey to visit the beautiful gardens at RHS Garden Wisley.
We were intrigued to see how the autumnal months influenced their planting. Whether there would still be an array of colours and swathes of lush green verdant foliage throughout the captivating beds and borders.
Well, we certainly weren’t disappointed. The delightful aspect regarding RHS Wisley is that not only do they have their central external gardens to explore, but they also have a vast glasshouse. The glasshouse stands 12 metres (40 feet) tall, and along with its selection of exotic planting, you’ll even discover a waterfall inside.
A little background on RHS Garden WisleySeeding the dream
Sir Thomas Hanbury gave RHS Garden Wisley to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1903. At the time, a sizeable portion of the estate was woodland, and only 24ha (60 acres) was a cultivated garden.
The RHS team nurtured the world-class gardens, and now the magnificent grounds stretch over 97 hectares (240 acres).
Creating memories of a lifetimeFollowing a family tradition
My grandad was a very keen gardener and often exhibited his own delphiniums at garden shows. His delphiniums were beautiful; he nurtured them himself by cross-pollinating, trying to create the perfect shade of blue.
My other memory of visiting RHS Wisley was seeing the attractive half-timbered laboratory. The Arts and Crafts style building was built in 1916 but bared the resemblance to a Tudor home.
The view along the Jellicoe CanalExploring the captivating Walled Garden
There are delightful trails to follow around Wisley if you wish.
However, we just loved wending our way along the tranquil footpaths, not knowing what we would discover around the next hidden corner or through the secret verdant archway.
We’re exploring Wisley’s GlasshouseIt has a tropical feel
After strolling through the old woodland ‘Oakwood’ sections, we wander back onto one of the main paths adjacent to the Rock Garden and the flourishing waterway, which was full of lily pads.
RHS Wisley is such a delight to walk around; you’ll constantly be stopping to admire the plants. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have your ‘PlantNet’ app ready to identify plants; you must download it if you haven’t already. It is so useful.
RHS Wisley’s memorable Rock GardenEnsure you head to the top
We snake our way up through the narrow paths amongst the gnarly old rocks and admire the delicate planting of the feathery acers and autumn flowering crocus.
Keep winding your way up to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with exceptional views across RHS Wisley Gardens below; they’ve even thoughtfully placed some benches for you and me.
The delicate delightsThe Alpines and the Bonsai
Our next stop was to the Alpine Houses; I love these delicate little plants; they just make me smile. With a backdrop of ochre stone and a base of the honey-coloured shingle, the striking flash of colour lights up any unforgiving terrain.
It’s incredible how these tiny species flourish year after year.
Good to know
Mingling amongst the vegetable gardenRHS Wisley aromatic herb garden
RHS Wisley takes vegetable patches to another level; they are exceptional. Weave your way amongst the lush beds and see if you can spot the 50 types of vegetables that they are nurturing. Oh yes, then seek out the different varieties of these vegetables.
Of course, I’m only joking.
Take your time around the different sections and amble beneath the canopy of pears and the grape vines overflowing with fruit.
Nearby the vegetable garden is Wisley’s aromatic herb garden. This is a delightful place to sit and admire the surroundings, watch the bees hop from one lavender stem to another, and enjoy peace and tranquillity.
Our herb garden is not quite a patch on Wisley’s, but hey, from little acorns, mighty oaks grow.
Embracing the exotic gardensAnd the tranquillity of the cottage gardens
We wind our way down the main path towards Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden and onto the Exotic and Cottage gardens, all of which I was looking forward to seeing.
The Exotic Garden is still awash with bold colours in September. However, the best time to visit for full-on vibrancy would be to head to Wisley in the summer months.
The banana plants tower high above, and you can imagine sitting underneath them in the heat of the day, enjoying the secluded shade. The Exotic Garden unquestionably transports you to another part of the world. Burning shades of orange and crimson, dazzling pinks to stop you in your tracks and exquisite blends of purple and cerise.
We then seamlessly amble through into RHS Wisley’s Cottage Garden; if only I could replicate a square metre of this enchanting oasis in our cottage garden, I would be happy.
The delicate and thoughtful planting is quintessentially English; enchanting fragrance floats in the air, and the calming sound of water trickling amongst the swaying grasses is captivating.
Visiting in September, we had missed the full blooms; however, some of the pastel blooms were still clinging onto the last of the autumn sunshine.
I’m sure we’ll return to RHS Wisley in the near future, especially to see the gardens during spring and summer.
Also, in the summer of 2021, RHS Wisley opened RHS Hilltop, the Home of Gardening Science, a state-of-the-art science building surrounded by three spectacular new gardens. The Wellbeing Garden, the World Food Garden and the Wildlife Garden.
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