Bright stems of dogwood, willow and ornamental blackberry by the lake in the RHS Gardens at Wisley There was a little doubt whether these gardens would be open today after the storms over night – many gardens have been forced to close today – but hard work on the part of the garden team made everything safe by 11.30am. Ignoring the torrents of rain as I arrived and hoping for some improvement (there were blue skies as I left!) it was a joy to be out and about and not in a supermarket or other retail temple*
I’m familiar enough with the gardens that I struck out first for the lake, and the coloured stems of willow, dogwood and ornamental blackberry. Then through the woodland to the top of the Glasshouse borders, up through the Piet Oudolf beds (many grasses absolutely flattened by the wind, others like the Pennisetums and Calamagrostis unbowed), to the fruit mount. On through the apple orchards and a little scrumping of the windfalls – then heading through the Bowes Lyons rose garden (and the Old Rose garden) to the bottom of Battleston Hill and out through the double Herbaceous Borders into the plant centre.
There are hips, berries, crab apples, and all manner of fruit (I forget all their proper names!) a-plenty all through the gardens. Flowers from witch hazel, Viburnums, Mahonias, Hellebores, Camellias (the earlier flowering sasanquas) and even roses (including Simply the Best, featured in these galleries) studded the grounds too.
The gardens are open again on Boxing Day and every day thereafter – time to explore the woodlands of Battleston Hill for early Camellia blossom and appreciate the low winter sun through the spent heads of hydrangeas. There is something glorious for every day of the year in these gardens and it is worth making time to visit them regularly; there is always the capacity for surprise however well you think you know them!
360° view from the top of the fruit mount, looking down through the Piet Oudolf borders to the Glasshouse and lake, and across the fruit fields and orchards.
*I could have bought another Christmas tree, a beautiful cut lodgepole pine for £10 – and nearly did, even though I already have a Fraser Fir, but a bargain is a bargain!