a landscape lover's blog

garden tales from a Brit at home and abroad

RHS gardens, Wisley

Some people are rather sniffy about the Royal Horticultural Society’s gardens at Wisley in Surrey: the entry fee and cafés are too expensive, the visitors are all middle-aged and middle class, the displays are too horticultural, the history of the site is not celebrated, the car park is impossible to navigate for the disabled.

All those criticisms have their merits. Yet on a warm day in late April, there are few more pleasant places for keen gardeners to spend some time. The site was first developed as an experimental garden in the 1870s. Today it is almost 100 hectares of display areas, from trained fruit, vegetable plots and alpines, to roses, a wild garden, various water features (including a canal designed by Geoffrey Jellicoe), and extensive trial fields. In summer and autumn, there are perennial gardens to enjoy by top designers Piet Oudolf, Penelope Hobhouse and Tom Stuart-Smith.

daffs and crab appleAcer griseum and daffspearl bush

When we were there just before Easter, every Spring-flowering bulb, tree and perennial seemed to be in full bloom, all planted in big, heartening swathes: white daffodils, crab apples, pink tulips, lilacs, magnolias, pearl bush, epimediums, rhododendrons, a mass of tiny blue grape hyacinth, even the peonies were joining in.

epimediummuscaripeony and epimedium

The Bicentenary Glasshouse, opened in 2007, was full of exquisite displays, including some beautiful orchids, all laid out and labelled in a way that put the similar Grandes Serres at the Jardin des Plantes (about which I posted recently) to shame.

orchids in the glasshouse

Despite the criticisms of Wisley, and despite the controversial changes the RHS is facing under its new Director General, Sue Biggs, it was difficult on that bright Spring day to do anything but enjoy these flower-filled gardens.



5 comments on “RHS gardens, Wisley

  1. lula alvarez
    May 3, 2011

    It definitely looks as a paradise of flowers and colors in your images! It looks like the RHS is going under complicated times, changes are happening in similar institutions, such as National Trust with different results.

  2. Jill, The gardens look lovely despite the controversy. Hard to see the epimediums, but I have an idea of how pretty the combination was. Carolyn

  3. gagarden
    May 6, 2011

    I think what you have shown is really beautiful. The massing of the flowers is quite stunning. Even the trees are putting on a show.

  4. Malinda
    May 6, 2011

    The gardens sound like a “must see”. The flowers and colors are inspiring! It’s wonderful to travel vicariously through you!!

  5. visitinghousesandgardens
    April 5, 2013

    I’m hoping the bulbs looks as fabulous tomorrow when I visit for the first time.

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This entry was posted on May 2, 2011 by in Gardens, UK and tagged , .

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