A late-September taste of the gardens at RHS Wisley

A mid-week, late morning, late September tour of the RHS Gardens at Wisley. Blue skies peppered liberally with white clouds (today was a brighter, warmer clearer-skies day than yesterday, but probably overbright for my photographic skills so here we are …)

It is still quite definitely late summer, rather than full-on Autumn. Very few of the trees were in their stained-glass garb of gold, ruby and russet, though the Liquidamber Lane Roberts was putting on a little show with much more to come. Some of the birch were a little golden, and the crab apples cheek-by-jowl with the culinary cousins in the orchards, were steeped in colourful fruit.

The new Wisteria tunnel is coming along splendidly, with a buttress of Cosmos to provide some bulk while the creepers begin their ascent, with topiary sentinels adding weight to the grass borders either side. It will be a superb sight and probably, quite soon.

The Exotic Border is the most striking contrast to when I first saw it, just after the initial planting last year. And oh my goodness wow!! It clearly has loved the preparation lavished on this space, the former Jubilee Rose Garden, and then the heat and late rains the summer and season have provided throughout the summer. It is quite, quite the jungle, with towering plants above and paths crowded with stems, leaves, flowers and branches akimbo, hiding and revealing whatever joy is around the corner. Quite a delight and I forgive them entirely now for grubbing out the roses. The show, as it matures, can only get better.

There is more work afoot as at least three, or maybe more, of the show gardens that border the hilltop site, the lower reaches of Battleston Hill and the Bowes Lyon Rose Garden, have been removed and heavy machinery is at work. I look forward to seeing the new displays.

Hydrangeas to the fore on Battleston Hill, and especially the spectacular specimen of Hydrangea paniculata Vanille Fraise (Renhy) which has coloured up beautifully – a beauty among many as you ascend the grassy path. Actaea/Cimcifuga James Compton is a fragrant delight too, with tall creamy wands punctuating the clouds of Hydrangea. A rather lovely flowering dogwood there too in rich, bright autumnal hues. I think I photographed the identifying label.

Then it was on past the Dandelion sculpture and the tall green sentinels of Cypress (?) with Amarine Belladiva on one side, and Rosemary on the other. A quick look at two amazing Eucalyptus, and then down and through the Trial Fields, before returning to view the Dahlias planted en masse, close to the herb and fruit gardens, and on into the Orchards. Apple time and I confess to trying at least a couple of windfalls.

Back down through the Arboretum, passing that Liquidamber, and the Piet Oudolf borders (not photographed), to the lake and Glasshouse borders; the Rock Garden, the walled gardens and the ‘Thinking out of the Box’ garden (alternatives to the plagued-Buxus) by the Jellicoe Canal, and on to the House and overlooking all of the new buildings under construction for the new visitor and science/education centres.

Obviously a quick look in the Plant Centre, and then home.

So much more obviously to see – the Heather Gardens were replanted recently and may be establishing well now – and there is the new cafe out at these further reaches too. I didn’t look in the Glasshouse, or Seven Acre wood and the larger lake area, or the Pinetum … another time. But very enjoyable nevertheless and glad to have seen especially, the Exotic Border and the Dahlias. I hope you enjoy too.

I’m working on a blog now covering the use and planting of Spring bulbs – nothing like a deadline as I have a workshop on Friday and need to get my notes in order!


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