On Saturday morning I hopped onto the 0753 train from Waterloo to West Byfleet and after a short cycle ride I was at RHS Wisley by 0845, with time to spare before the 0900 opening time.
While I could easily remain tied to my studies and my desk until the moment I leave for Europe (in preparation of all the language lessons I have to take), I was anxious to see what has been happening at Wisley. I was wondering:
- How is the wisteria arch progressing (I last visited at Easter, when the structure had just been installed, much to my shock to see it there as I had grown used to the formal bedding in that area)?
- Is building of the new visitor centre moving on?
- Have the RHS yet started to reconfigure the main lawn, in anticipation of the cherry tree “arrival” avenue?
- What is in the trial fields this year?
- Are grapes thriving on the vines planted in the orchard, given the hot weather we’ve had?
- Did the new planting (2017) in the exotic gardens sing a song of joy in light of this year’s exceptionally hot weather?
So off I went, on what is in short a completely stress-free and enjoyable trip from Central London to Wisley if one takes they train and then cycles the remaining four miles. And indeed I did find out the answers to all of my questions. Photo evidence below 🙂
At the moment, I am very much enjoying watching the evolution of RHS Wisley. While there are pockets of the garden that are like old friends, reassuringly familiar on each visit, there is always something new for me to see. On this visit I also discovered a new area of meditteranean planting, using olives, lavender, cistus and thyme. It’s located at the top of Battlestone Hill, between the long double herbaceous border and the trial fields. I pulled up a chair in the lovely seating area they have created (on this visit I noticed many new benches and seating areas around the garden – a very good thing for someone like me who likes to visit Wisely with a few magazines and make my way around the garden via various spots to sit).
Another change (one about which I’d already read in the RHS’s monthly magazine) was to the planting along the Jellicoe Canal (in front of the house/lab). I had read that the RHS have changed the planting, with a view to creating balance between the beds on either side of the canal. I indeed saw standard hibiscus on both sides, with lots of cotoneaster conspicuus decorus (something that I would usually associate with low-maintenance gardening, e.g. in school playgrounds and supermarket car parks). I will be watching what they do with it in terms of maintenance.
I also had my notebook to hand, as next spring at home (in our large communal garden), we will undertake the next phase of drought-resistant planting. For example, we’ll be moving the hostas into a shadier (and, importantly), irrigated area of the garden and planting agapanthus in their place. From this trip, the plants that made it on to my short list are:
- Pennisetum orientale ‘Tall Tails
- The tall white Agapanthus Leicester (in the trial fields) – from Walter Blom Plants BV
- Another while agapanthus, “Snow Cloud” – from Fairweather’s Nursery and again in the trial fields
- And another, Agapanthus “Snow Crystal” – from Pine Cottage Plants
I want to introduce evergreen foliage where the hostas currently are, as at present the hostas die down and leave the flowerbeds bare until the daffodils start to come through. Agapanthus are a good solution for our beds with very shallow soil and narrow width. They like to be confined.
The RHS”s website lists the future major projects for the garden: https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley/major-projects-at-wisley
As ever, Wisley offered me a really enjoyable day out (I was there for five hours) and lots of inspiration.
When visited: August 2018
Theme tune for walking around the garden, which will always humble me.