Acer griseum, lauded for its peeling bark, caught here in the chill morning sunlight on the slopes of Battleston Hill at the RHS gardens at Wisley. The gardens feature the remnants of many fine plants, dying beautifully, hydrangeas foremost in this class, as well as the heralds of a new season, with the earliest hellebores and camellias adding vibrant colour to the landscape.
Bare stems and bone white, but by no means bleak – Rubus biflorus has a chalky bloom along the architectural stems, straight before arching over. Other ornamental blackberries punctuate otherwise incredibly colourful stems of dogwood – like Cornus sanguinea Midwinter Fire – and willow – Salix Yelverton – to great effect.
Retracing my steps this morning, as I have skipped along rather merrily to the lake and the Winter Garden and gotten ahead of myself, back to Battleston Hill. A wide grass slope leads up from the herbaceous borders and curving grass or bark paths lead off into the surrounding woodland. Near the top of the main slope (to where the Henry Moore Arch usually stands – it is out on loan to Compton Verney at the moment), one tree stands out, laden with berries – Sorbus carmesina – previously known as Sorbus hupehensis – I didn’t know it had changed. I’ve loved a particular form called Pink Pagoda so will have to investigate further.
“…used to be known as the pink-berried form of Sorbus hupehensis, also known as var. obtusa or as named varieties ‘Rosea’ or ‘Pink Pagoda’, and then it was named S. pseudohupehensis. Now this collection has been named Sorbus carmesina. It has bluish green pinnate leaves, and large clusters of rich pink fruit, which are always wonderful, and in the best years are better than that, remaining while the leaves turn yellow, orange, red.”
The ‘Main Events’ in the woodlands are undoubtedly the Camellias – the earliest japonicas and the timely sasanquas – and some particularly prolific early stars amongst this select group. Show Girl in particular was in full spate with gorgeous large rich pink flowers.
Ursula Buchan writes very engagingly in this Telegraph article if you want to find out more –
I neglected to note the name of this spectacular cascade of white, at the base of the Rockery.. dear reader, it is a…? Iris unguicularis meanwhile I do know, also on the slopes of the substantial Rockery
The Canal and House – with the King and Queen, at the top of the shallow flight of steps leading from the water. A bronze Henry Moore, the Artist’s Copy, which has been on display for much of the past year. I was drawn to the peaceful pose of the hands…
And this leads me finally into the Plant Centre – it really was too early for hellebores out in the landscape – but as ever, there was much to tempt. This prize beauty, Harvington Rebekah, is a recent introduction and is truly stunning, large flowers, superb colour, strong plants…
And this brings my visit to a close. Plenty to see on my next trip – I’ll be paying close attention to the Fruit Display Garden where all manner of espaliers, cordons, double ‘U’s, fans and step-overs are on display. I’ve a workshop on Fruit Tree Pruning at the end of January and am sure to find some great visuals and a big dose of inspiration here. The IGPOTY winners are on display, as a final mention, by the Lake – and there are some really outstanding pictures as you might expect.