An Afternoon at RHS Wisley – the Double Herbaceous Borders, Cottage and Jubilee Rose Gardens, a touch of woodland and more …

The spectacle of the Double Herbaceous Borders at RHS Wisley at the height of summer! I definitely have Border Envy though I appreciate how much work goes into this long-lasting display. Such healthy happy plants too.

The Country Garden, pictured below is no less of an extravaganza but the effect in many parts is of a beautiful soft gauzy floatiness …  well, you can see for yourself –



Ammi and Hordeum
Ammi and Hordeum
Hordeum jubatum and Cosmos
Hordeum jubatum and Cosmos

The Jubilee Rose Garden, like the Cottage Garden, sits behind the Double Herbaceous Border but is an entirely separate room. Just roses, in wide concentric beds, with wide grass paths, some metalwork for the roses to climb up and over and seats in a central space. There’s a view across to the House and then to the tall trees of Battleston Hill, but otherwise it’s roses all the way. By contrast, the Bowes Lyon Rose Garden by contrast (and not visited on this occasion) has a mix of bold herbaceous planting to compliment the roses.

From the top of the rose garden, the ground rises and you enter the meandering circuit of woodland paths that wind around Battleston Hill – or take the direct route up the grassy strip (to the Rocket, just now) and directly into the Trial Fields. Forgive me for saying, but the hustle and bustle of the gardens elsewhere always recedes into a gentle cool calm, with glades of sunshine and hydrangeas now, as you meander around Battleston Hill. True even in School Holidays.

To finish, a hotch-potch of plants – from the Trial Fields and Plant Centre, mostly, but they mop up the last of the edited ‘Highlights’ of my afternoon at Wisley. Obviously I missed out huge swathes of the gardens – but the supermarket beckoned and I hadn’t thought to spend so long in the Trial Fields. The evolving Glasshouse Borders need to be seen in their High Summer glory and the Alpine House always has new treasures. 7-acre Wood has been delightful in Spring and early Summer and that’ll be on my agenda next time around. The Grass Borders and the cool of the Pinetum … So many gardens in one, so little time …

Another patch of Wildflower meadow
Another patch of Wildflower meadow

5 thoughts on “An Afternoon at RHS Wisley – the Double Herbaceous Borders, Cottage and Jubilee Rose Gardens, a touch of woodland and more …

  1. So many beautiful shots, as always – thanks for the tour! I especially liked to see the rocket has a home (we saw it recently at the Hampton Court Flower Show) and the impressionistic shots with grasses and flowers – they give a wonderful feeling of summer.

  2. Just gorgeous! Having just returned from a trip to the UK, you have summed up my own response: “Border Envy”! And I love your photos of the Hordeum — had to look that up. What a lovely foil to the other cottage blooms.

  3. whoa, what a feast to the eye! the yellow & orange Echinacea look particularly amazing! I can’t find any on-line suppliers for them though. Are they on trial too?

    1. Hi there,

      I’m sure these were in the Plant Centre at Wisley though there were plenty on trial. I photographed them all but found the pictures to be quite dull – spindly plants against a bare earth backdrop, so I haven’t included them in the galleries. So many new directions for Echinacea, with these oranges and lemons, and those that develop huge centres, or long comet tails, or mutate from one colour to another. Ah now I see – Leilani, Pink Poodle and and Secret Glow, and Green Envy – these were in the Trial Fields. Sunseeker in Tans Yellow, in Tans Mellow and Orange were all in the Plant Centre. Let’s hope they all do well in the trials and we might see more of them in the future. Best wishes, Martin

  4. Thank you for more gorgeous pictures. What a wonderful garden. I have to say though, that the main double borders are among the most unattractive I’ve seen. The plants are clearly grown to exceptional standards and your close-ups with an artist’s eye make for remarkable visuals. But overall it seems a random hodge-podge of perennials without any regard to the beauty of the thing as a whole. The blobs of color look lost in space and seem to have no relationship to each other. If you’re going to use every color in the palette you’d better have a mastery of combining them in interesting and beautiful ways. Visually strong foliage components would help unify things, especially along the front of the border and especially if the same plants were repeated throughout. And please plant in drifts rather than blobs. Someone at Wisley should read their Gertrude Jekyll again!

    On the other hand, I find the country garden exceptional. Not specifically because it’s pastels and gauzy but because it has a theme, a point of view, and it carries through with artistic confidence. A lovely spot of garden-beauty I’d really like to visit in person. Thanks again.

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