Ever since I got the allotment, I have wanted to become an RHS member and visit the four, soon to be five gardens. All of a sudden I have visited three in the space of two months! That sounds crazy thinking about it, as they are all in different parts of the Country but it happened.
Harlow Carr and Hyde Hall in October, then on Monday, Wisley. All unique and absolutely stunning. I find it impossible to pick a favourite!
What I loved about Wisley, is its grandeur and confidence. Out of the three gardens I have visited, it has been with the RHS the longest, since 1903. As we all know real visions take time and patience, but my word it pays off, especially here. All the plants and trees are fully established, standing bold and making their mark within the creation.
Before I share all of my favourite things straight away, I will rewind and start at the beginning of my visit.
I arrived ready for the doors to open at 10am, excitedly waiting and wondering what lay behind the entrance walls. First things first, food! If you know me, you know I like to eat! So I headed straight to The Food Hall to see what goodies I could find and grab a coffee. There was no Fat Rascals, the Harlow Carr speciality, but there was….Pigs in Blankets, giant posh sausage rolls, I couldn’t resist. Pick one up if you go….flakey buttery pastry, proper sausage and a cheeky dash of mustard….delicious.
Now I was good to go….so I headed up through Oakwood and Seven Acres to The Glasshouse, which is no ordinary glasshouse for that matter, it’s extraordinary in size and certainly made me gasp for a second.
I was itching to get inside straight away, it always fascinates me to see what extra special plants you can grow in the UK as long as you can provide the right conditions.
Here is a few of my favourites…plus the stunning waterfall.
As I said, those are just a snapshot of some of the most beautiful flowers within the glasshouse. Make sure you give yourself enough time if you visit to really appreciate the design and collection which Matthew Pottage has curated.
Upon leaving here, I headed towards the South African Meadow for a quick nosey, then made my way up through the Glasshouse borders to the Viewing Mount. If it had been a little warmer I could have quite happily sat on the border path all day with a good book just taking in the view wrapped around me. It epitomises why I adore Autumn more than any other season, the colours just make me smile!
I think I spent a large ratio of my day appreciating this view, followed by the Vegetable Garden of course which I will come to shortly.
But for now I decided to go on an adventure through the Fruit Collections and Orchard towards the back of the grounds. Whilst these areas won’t come into their own until the Spring and Summer months, it was worth the walk through just to see the view at the bottom. Such a perfect spot and little hideaway, I can imagine that if I had the pleasure of working at the gardens I would spend a lot of my lunch breaks sat on this bench.
Next on my route through the trees and crisp fallen leaves was the Trials Field, where RHS Plant Trials take place. Providing the opportunity for multiple varieties of the same plant to be grown together, side-by-side and compared based on their health, performance and weather endurance. They are assessed by an expert RHS forum panel who use the trial results to inform their decision to grant plants the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) status. You will have most likely seen the symbol on seed packets and plants, well this is where and how those merits are determined.
As you can imagine and will see below, it is currently a little quiet in this vast area of space, but if you look closely when you are there you will see there is a selection of plants just above ground and others waiting under the soil to come alive next year. I can’t wait to really explore this area next Summer.
What a view, the above shot was taken from the top of the steps looking out on to the Trials Field. Where from here you can head past the stunning view-point towards the main entrance again. Not home time yet though, as I still have many of the gardens to see, including the Vegetable one most importantly.
I won’t go through them all in detail as there is such a vast amount to appreciate, including the cottage garden, exotic and herb gardens and the rose garden to name just a few. All absolutely beautiful and full of inspiration.
But now, the time had finally come, to see what I had been waiting for, the Vegetable Garden! An area looked over by some in favour of the non edible plant varieties or pure garden design, but for me, my huge passion and the reason I became a member is all about vegetables and grow your own. Just seeing the garden, I got a little giddy, not knowing where to look first.
Whilst it doesn’t necessarily have the grandeur of Hyde Hall’s new Global Veg Garden, for me, it is the most natural. You can look at it, take inspiration and actually believe you could re-create something very similar at home. It is relaxed and let’s the produce do the talking, of which there is still so much. They really have got all year round growing nailed!
Cabbages, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Lettuce, Leeks, Onions, Beetroot, Celeriac, Pak Choi and Chillies all still growing and looking fabulous.
It’s a must see! Don’t worry they still have weeds too, of which I did take a few shots as part of my #MyRealView Campaign. It’s great that even the best gardens are keeping it real.
I don’t know why I do it to myself every time, leaving the best bit in my opinion until last, I did it at Harlow Carr too. Next time, I’m heading straight to the Veg Garden! Will hopefully get an interview for you too, comment below if you would be interested in hearing from the gardeners in charge here and I will see what I can do.
Now it was time to slowly make my way back towards the car, via the fruit garden and reception to pick up my free postcards. A lovely gift for becoming a member.
As you can probably tell, I loved visiting RHS Wisley and can’t recommend enough that you take a visit. Matthew Pottage and the team have curated a true vision!
I hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on this incredible place, including a few of my favourite shots from the day. You can see the full collection of photos on my YouTube channel by clicking on the thumbnail image below.