Travelogue: RHS Garden Wisley

The house at Wisley seen from the far gardens.

Good morning campers! Did you think the travelogue was over? Ah, no, it is not. We have many more places to go and things to see. Click on the galleries below to see the photos in a larger format.

Today’s garden destination is RHS Garden Wisley in Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB, given to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1903 by Sir Thomas Hanbury. However, George Fergusson Wilson was the real spirit and driving force of the garden. Sir Hanbury bought the property after Wilson’s death. It seems he was into saving gardens as he bought others too. In Wisley, Wilson created the oldest section, called the ‘Oakwood experimental garden,’ in 1878. He was set upon growing difficult plants. I laughed when I read this description because all gardeners seem to be about growing difficult plants. Wisley has quite the pedigree as do most places in England. You can’t go anywhere in Great Britain that you don’t stumble over history. If the U.S. were as old, maybe we would see the same. We do have great arboretums and historic botanical gardens–Longwood Gardens, among others, comes to mind–but most aren’t as old as those in England. We just don’t have as long a history from which to draw.

I suppose as history goes, Wisley is rather a young English garden. It’s also HUGE and covers 240 acres. In some ways, it reminds me of all public gardens I’ve visited. It’s full of plant collections, has large greenhouses–which I love–long walks, espaliered fruit trees, a rose garden, splendid views, and so on. I found it a bit overwhelming. I tend to like more personal spaces, but it was very beautiful. After Bill and I walked around most of the garden, we decided to go have tea. We had tea in nearly every garden we visited. I should do a whole post on tea. I wish American gardens less processed food like their English counterparts. The English are especially good at sweets. Every garden and pub I visited in England had something gluten free for me to eat. Everything had dairy, but I was able to eat dairy there with no problems. I don’t know why, but I have my suspicions. Food in the gardens is considered expensive so if you’re on a budget, you may want to pack a lunch. We did bring some lunch, but later had cream tea. Such a lovely thing, cream tea.

This was actually a cream tea at Harrod's, but it will give you an idea. When you've walked a large garden all day, you need a yummy respite.
This was actually a cream tea at Harrod’s, but it will give you an idea. When you’ve walked a large garden all day, you need a yummy respite. Of course, Harrod’s tea is served on Wedgwood China. And, yes, that’s a gluten free scone.

What I’d give for a delicious gluten free scone and clotted cream right now.

I’m shaking my head to bring myself back to reality. Okay, back to the gardens. If you’d like to learn more about the history of the Wisley, just clickety click the link.

Of course, you know we stopped in the temperate house while we were there. They were in the midst of a pelargonium (often called geranium here, but actually a cousin) show, and had lots of lovely varieties. I liked ‘Rimfire.’ Check out that color. No, it probably wouldn’t like Oklahoma’s hot, sunny days. I thought the planters were shaped so nicely too. Also, they were on castors so they could be rolled in and out of the space. Smart. When I travel to botanical gardens, I always hit the temperate house and avoid the warmer greenhouses. It’s hot enough here at home, and I’m not into desert plants, or even tropical ones indoors. I can grow so many tropicals outside here.

If you liked this travelogue, I have more! You can also travel with me to Sissinghurst Castle and Hever Castle. I’m determined to take you on my entire English and French trip. That way, we’ll both remember the details before I get too fuzzy on them.

One more thing, before I let you go, here is a wonderful video from the RHS showing Wisley in all its glory from the sky. It’s worth watching. You’ll get a real sense of the gardens that I’ve shown you in photos.