A long-overdue visit to the gardens of RHS Wisley – a riot of colour and scent this early May Day

Hawthorn, Bluebells, Azaleas and Rhododendrons, flowering Viburnums, a craft fair, tree-trunk sculpture, sunshine and fragrance. A fine start to a long-overdue visit to these gardens. Sunshine and a few scattered squalls, sometimes a bit over-bright for good photography, but glad to have made the effort to get out here today. The Craft Fair – huge – meant we were in the overspill car parks, but managed to explore the new Heather Garden and walk through the Arboretum.

We made our way, past the tented craft fair, around the lake and through Seven Acres Wood to the base of the Rock Garden and stream that runs along there, with some fine Rhododendrons and Azaleas, beautiful Japanese Acers, superb shade-loving ground cover Epimediums (which we simply must get for Petersham Nurseries), Symphytum too, more Bluebells, late-blooming (yellow)  Magnolias – but more to come …

The Nectoscordum siculum, elegant, hugely tall and erect, delicate but bold, ghostly but definite forms, quite beautiful.

Massed Camassias growing in the sloping grassy bank, behind the Bowles borders and the Bowes Lyons Rose Garden. Intoxicating in this rich tall blue, a sea of movement, studded with flowering dogwoods and magnolias, with Wisteria and Laburnum on the fringes, Copper Beech for contrast, crab apple blossom too … magnificent and just the best day to see it all.

Moving down to Battleston Hill now –

There really was so much colour in these winding shady corners of Battleston Hill, some delightful combinations, with ferns and Trilliums, Foamflowers (Tiarella) with Azaleas, Poppies, Cercis siliquastrum (Judas Tree and there are more to come), Rodgersia, Polygonatum (Solomon’s Seal), the pink (and edible) leaves of the tree Toona sinensis …

This little section took us back above the Trial Fields and by the Mediterranean landscape, past the dry borders, with drifts of Euphorbia and Ceanothus, sentinel-like pencil Cypress, Eucalyptus and with more Rhododendrons and Azaleas to marvel at.

Down through the Double Herbaceous Borders, the new Wisteria Tunnels, planted with Alliums and Yew Topiary, past the Lily Canal, back through the Arboretum and out. Didn’t see it all by a long way, but will definitely be back within the next few weeks. So pleased to have seen it today though and I hope you enjoy the tour.

The Craft Fair runs until Monday. Just three modest purchases, some raw honey from Spain, and from Fruits of the Forage, some wild garlic pesto and hot crab-apple chutney. Looking forward to it all.

Having contributed to a honey-themed workshop this past week (planting for honey-bees) in association with Cire Trudon who are launching a honey-scented candle, with Sarah Wyndham-Lewis of Bermondsey Street Bees, who has taught me so much and converted me wholeheartedly to the taste sensations of raw honey (I have some Buckwheat Honey coming tomorrow) and Rachel de Thample who demonstrated fermenting and preserving with honey, this is absolutely my new favourite passion. I hope to get out to the Petersham Nurseries Hives – we have seven now –  suited up appropriately, with Linda, our beekeeper, to get a little closer to the action.

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