Wonderful Wisley

Last Sunday, we strapped the sprogs into their car seats, cracked the windows open to let in some warm summer breezes and set off along the A3 heading for RHS Wisley.

Sun behind trees | Wolves in London
Trees, sunshine, what more could you want?

I wasn’t sure how enjoyable the rest of the Wolves in London clan were going to find the excursion; all of them so far too young /not-into-gardening to think that a thrilling day involves me wandering round examining flower beds and sharing fascinating snippets of information about Latin horticultural names or the biology of a plant’s roots. (More fool them…)

Tree trunk | Wolves in London
“Now gather round, family, and let me share some fascinating facts about this stately tree…”

Actually, I was delighted at how family friendly Wisley was. There were only a few areas where I had to try and explain “Keep off the grass” signs to the sproglet.  There was a soft play area and a children’s playground. But, it says a lot about how much fun we had everywhere else, that we didn’t have time to visit either of them.

An arts and crafts fair was taking place that weekend (I know, double heaven for me: gardening and crafts!)

Lots of stalls were set up around the grounds with makers selling their wares and offering lessons in everything from pot-throwing to brooch making.

Had I been alone, I would have definitely tried my hand at these plant prints. I only had a very quick look, but I think they must be made with inkodye, something I have been dying (geddit?!) to try out for a while now. The effect is really striking:

Blue ink flowers | Wolves in London
My guess is that these have been made by placing a leaf over some fabric covered in light sensitive dye

The sproglet was particularly impressed with a collection of wire sculptures of animals, like this hare:

Wire hare | Wolves in London
Pretty realistic, no?

And, naturally, I couldn’t resist getting a photo of this wolf sculpture. (A friendly wolf! I’ve written before about how they’re pretty hard to find…)

Wolf sculpture | Wolves in London
Awww, a soft cuddly wolf

There were also various performances going on during the day. This lady, in the glasshouses, was billed as an “aerial artiste”…

Aerial artiste | Wolves in London
Not a job for those with vertigo

But, most fun was had just wandering through the impressive grounds themselves, which are full of quirky architecture and sculptures.

RHS Wisley | Wolves in London
I loved these huge bulrush sculptures by the lakes

The sproglet dashed off in glee the minute he saw the pagoda:

Pagoda at Wisley | Wolves in London
You can’t beat a good pagoda…

But his attention was held for even longer by a rather impressive insect hotel.

(Side note: I think these look stunning, but any I have come across seem rather devoid of insects. Anyone have something similar in their own garden?)

Bug hotel at Wisley | Wolves in London
I have a sneaky suspicion a few bits of wood might have been removed at this point…

Rather intriguingly, my friend Annie (of Nimble Fingers and Steady Eyebrows) tweeted me just as I was leaving and said that there was a statue of her somewhere in the grounds. Sadly, I didn’t see it, but I did enjoy this couple sitting and soaking up the view:

Statue at Wisley | Wolves in London
“Weather’s nice today, dear…” “Yes, isn’t it, dear.”

And the glasshouses, of course, were mind-blowingly awesome:

Glasshouses at Wisley | Wolves in London
Now I only I could replace my old greenhouse with one of these!

We spent a lot of time wandering round inside and, of course, I took a few hundreds of photos of plants. This is the (highly) edited selection…

Pink flower | Wolves in LondonOrchid | Wolves in LondonLeaves | Wolves in LondonWhite orchid | Wolves in LondonYellow flower | Wolves in London

Rather foolishly, I was so busy being snap happy that I forgot to write down the names of any of these plants and I’m not really familiar with exotic flowers like this so I no longer have a clue what’s in the photos.

But no matter, for I’m saving the best til last. My very favourite part of the gardens was the more naturalist drift planting, just outside the back of the glasshouses. This is the look I aspire to in my own (much, much, much) smaller flower beds.

Drift planting at Wisley | Wolves in London
The sun was in when I took this photo, which is a bit of shame…
Red flower | Wolves in London
So cheery!
White flowers | Wolves in London
I think this was a type of Lavatera
Red flowers at Wisley | Wolves in London
Anyone know what this is? There were so many lovely red flowers here it *almost* persuaded me to plant some in my own garden…

And I was very excited to see lots and lots of Mexican fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus) growing out of walls and steps all over the place. I just bought some for my own garden and have planted the little plugs over the stone wall that divides one of my flower beds from the lawn. The first little daisy-like flower appeared yesterday, to my immense delight:

Erigeron karvinskianus | Wolves in London
One day I hope mine will look as prolific as this

Aaaaand, that’s the end! Lots of photos, but still only showing a mere fraction of what’s there. I shall be returning soon, no doubt.

I also purchased some rather glorious second hand gardening books, but this post is already heejusly long so I’ll show you them another time…

The hubby is off work for five weeks now between jobs, so we’ve got plenty of time for exploring. Anywhere else we should go?

{Joining in with Manneskjur and How does your garden grow? If only this were my garden!)

14 thoughts on “Wonderful Wisley

  1. Fab post! I adore Wisley but haven’t been for a couple of years, another visit is definitely needed soon! The red flower you mentioned at the end looks like an Achillea. I love Tom Stuart Smith and James Hitchmough’s naturalistic planting too- I was lucky enough to have been taught by James and we visited Wisley with him on a uni field trip 🙂 very inspiring indeed!

    1. Wow, how incredible to be taught by James, I am seriously jealous…

      Thanks for the Achillea identification, have just Googled it and that is indeed the one. Now I have to decide whether to give it a space among by mostly blue and white flowers in the garden, ha ha.

      Have just been having a look through your blog and website and am seriously over-awed. How incredible to get an RHS Gold in your first year! You must have been utterly thrilled.

      I’ve just done an RHS horticulture course and am hoping to go on and do garden design now as well. Feel extremely inspired by reading about everything you’ve done and all of the sustainable and ecological stuff you’re working in with your designing as I’m passionate about that too. Maybe in five years time I’ll be doing something similar!

      Thanks so much for commenting.

      1. I think you should definitely squeeze in an Achillea- they are so pretty and fantastic for pollinators!
        And go for it with the garden design stuff, I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love for a living!! drop me an email any time if you need any advice 🙂

    1. Oh yes, definitely worth a visit! We were only there for about three hours (had to head home before we were WAY too much past naptime!) but I reckon a day would be much better to explore everything there is to see…

  2. So do you also have an aversion to red flowers? I don’t like them because they don’t blend prettily with the other colors. My husband thinks that white flowers are pointless. Thanks for sharing your lovely day.

    1. I *like* red flowers, but I’m not sure if I like them in my own garden! I find exactly the same as you, they’re so loud that it’s really hard to mix them with anything else.

      I have these bright red alstroemeria in one of the flowers beds (here from the people before) and — though I do actually like the flowers — they dominate the bed so much you don’t even notice anything else…

      I love the idea of white flowers being “pointless”! Someone once told me that if you have too many white flowers it looks like you’ve got hankies hanging up in your garden, but I can’t say I feel that way, ha ha. I love white flowers…

  3. Ah this reminds me of all the wonderful gardens I visited as a child. we would always try to find a bank to roll down and “keep off the grass” signs were always such a disappointment. I want the naturalistic planting too, I have made a garden plan from all the bits we sent back and forth. I am going to show you at some point, then it is off to the garden center. I am going to have to ask mum if the statue of me is still there. Well I could blather on all day but I will stop. Have a lovely weekend – Annie

    1. Ooh yes, do show me your plan, love it! Are you over this summer at all? We could go to some garden and chat plants sometime. See, you are turning into a Gardener’s World watcher yourself, ha ha. xx

  4. I’ve never been but it looks amazing. I love coming across contemporary art in a garden. I really enjoyed this post. I have the red achillea.;)

    1. Oooh, what do you have planted next to it? Does it work with everything else? I think it is really beautiful, actually, and am feeling tempted to bite the bullet and go red next year, ha ha. (Just as long as I can keep all the lovely whites and blues from being overshadowed…)

  5. Beautiful! I visited for the first time a few months ago and loved it. A few of us are meeting up there on Monday 28th with our children if you are free *gives a winning smile*
    Totally in love with that wire hare and those ink prints!
    Glorious photos – thank ever so much for sharing x

    1. Oooh yes, I saw you were going on that day, but I can’t make it sadly (have the utterly thrilling prospect of taking my toddler for his two-year check… …and, judging from the one year check, an hour’s wait before seeing anyone. Now you’re wishing you were coming to that instead, right?!)

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