Wisley! What Is It?

I’m sure it’s an amazing place even to the English.

To a Canadian gardener it is truly awe inspiring. We have botanical gardens of equal size and scope but none have the range of plants that can be successfully grown here.

What’s Wisley?
Wisley is the home of the Royal Horticultural Society and as such can be seen as the centre of British gardening. It is a vast expanse of green lawn, mature trees, water features and winding paths that lead to formal areas of roses and perennials and every other imaginable horticultural crop, all outlined and divided by the most amazing Beech Fagus sylvatica hedges.

beech,  hedges Tired Hedge Trimmers
There must be thousands of individual trees that make up these miles of hedges. All immaculately trimmed to about 8' tall and 3' wide. It may be just my appreciation for the time and effort involved but I found these continuous background dividers one of the most amazing features of the garden.

Narcissus,  Daffodils

Drifts of Daffodils
We chose spring as the season to visit to help banish winter in Canada and nothing does that better than spring flowering bulbs. The sight of a single variety of Narcissus in a bed with thousands of blooms, is quite breathtaking even after you have turned the corner and repeated the experience several times. It does leave you wondering how they can equal that display in other seasons. That, of course, is the allure of gardening and of revisiting public gardens.

Magnolia An Amazing Hill
Leaving behind the more formal parts of Wisley, leads you up Battleston Hill . The grass climbs quickly, surrounded on both sides by less formal areas of trees, shrubs and perennials. Turning by the imposing Henry Moore sculpture at the peak, you disappear into a vast woodland like no other. It is filled with dozens of varieties of Camellia bushes and Magnolia trees in full bloom. I had no idea that Magnolia soulangeana came in so many varieties featuring different flower colours and shapes.

Peony,  Paeonia cambessedesii

Shorter Pink Delights
If you could take your eyes away from these large masses of colour and let them wander around on the forest floor, then even more delights such as the 12 tall Peony Paeonia cambessedesii in full bloom, were waiting to be discovered.

It’s impossible to describe this garden on a single web page. The brief guide to the garden is several pages long and as you head for the exit at the end of an exhausting day you can only wish that you had a week to spend there and another, as each of the seasonal changes occurred. Of course, the main exit from Wisley is through the garden shop and that was the point, at which I was most thankful, that I was flying to another country. I saved a fortune not being able to purchase the huge array of plants that they had on sale. I did get to buy a few and some nice containers to add to my son’s little English garden.

If you are ever in the south of England with a day to indulge your gardener’s heart and soul, go to Wisley.

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