A kaleidoscope of treasures in the Alpine House at RHS Wisley


Lewisia cotyledon Regenbogen

The Alpine House at RHS Wisley never fails to delight me – there is always something bright and interesting to look at and the display changes with the seasons so each plant is always looking its best. There are two Glasshouses and it is the traditional display that I prefer – raised benches, at a convenient height, on either side of a central path. The benches are filled with sand into which terracotta pots of the various specimens are sunk. This keeps the root balls cool and moist enough, with the sharp drainage that many of these plants demand. The glass was shaded today. There are traditional alpine troughs on the terraces outside, as well as the dramatic fins of the recently installed Centenary Crevice Garden

In April 2011 a new feature in the Alpine area of the Garden was opened; the Centenary Crevice Garden. This celebrates 100 years of the Rock Garden at Wisley and has been designed by Czech alpine specialist, Zdenek Zvolanek. The Crevice Garden replicates many different growing conditions for alpine plants from sunny, hot areas on the south facing side, to cool shady areas facing north.

Alpines require free-draining conditions which are provided in the nooks and crannies incorporated into the construction. Hundreds of plants are now growing in the Crevice Garden, enjoying the ideal conditions it provides. The 2007 Alitex alpine display house provides a well-ventilated area for the seasonal displays of alpines from around the world.

Miniature beauties from all over the world

This whole area now displays a huge variety of alpines, cultivated by the Wisley alpine team.

The alpine house displays are always of the highest standard, as they are changed daily to ensure only the very best seasonal plants are on display.

Such seasonal changes would, for example, bring in bulbous plants such as Cyclamen, Crocus and Colchicum in the autumn; to be followed by southern hemisphere flowers such as Oxalis and Lachenalia and others over the winter months.

Spring brings spectacular displays of Narciccus, Crocus and Iris as well as gentians, saxifrages, Hepatica and Primula; with summer seeing samples of lewisias, sempervivums and campanulas.

With the passing seasons and through all weathers, the alpine area provides inspiration and delight. This jewel of Wisley is an area of the Garden not to be missed.



Primula auricula Argus (above)


Scilla peruviana (above)


Cypremedium parviflorum (above)


Gentiana verna subsp balcanica (above)


Primula auricula Blue Velvet (above)


If you have the opportunity, visit this – or other Alpine Houses – and I would be very surprised if you do not fall in love with these miniature treasures too.

For those within reach of the RHS Lindley Halls by Vincent Square, the Alpine Garden Society London Show is this coming weekend, on Sunday 27th April 2014. Follow the link below for details of all of their UK shows in 2014.


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