Travelogue: RHS Garden Wisley

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.



  1. I really do need to visit England some day. Not only am I a gardener, but I’m a tea lover! It’s a match made in heaven. Adding to bucket list…

  2. Mr. Bill says:

    Wow very nice travel series. I enjoyed your photographs.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Mr. Bill.

  3. Such a beautiful place. I hope one day I will definitely visit there, but after these beautiful images it is like that I am there. Thanks for sharing these beautiful images.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lucio, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I know I really did. Amazing places.

  4. I missed seeing Wiseley when I was in the UK and am glad to see your lovely photos. Love your travelogues!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Gail. I love writing them. It’s like going again.

  5. Excited to see you went somewhere I’ve actually gone but I have to agree Wisley isn’t.. *looks for the right word* ..a personal sort of place, or an intimate one. You can’t imagine anyone living there.
    To my shame I’ve never been to Hever, despite living only 30 miles away, or Sissinghurst. Looking forward to seeing where else you went.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Victoria, you simply must go to Sissinghurst. Seriously. It’s was my favorite part.

  6. Jean says:

    Thinking of you as we make our way thru England and some of its gardens now. Went to Wisley a few years ago and was amazed at its size (I’d expected smaller I guess). Went to Great Dixter yesterday (much smaller than I expected!) and hope to post a few pics on FB later today.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Jean, I hope you’re having a lovely time. I want to see Great Dixter. Interesting that it’s smaller than you thought. Sissinghurst was bigger than I thought.

  7. Lydia Plunk says:

    I accidentally found Wisely years ago. I still remember plants we grow outdoors here being carefully tended to within a magnificient glass house Do they still have the gift shop to end all gift shops? I should have bought more. I thought I would be going back every year- but life changed.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Yes Lydia, that gift shop was amazing! A lot can be bought online thank goodness. Life does often throw us a curveball doesn’t it?

  8. bittster says:

    What a huge place, I think I’d forget my own garden after visiting there, it looks so well tended and well grown!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      It’s extremely well tended as all of those public gardens are. I felt like my garden was rather shabby in comparison when I got home, but I forced myself to get back into the swing of things.

  9. This place is so big you would need two days to see it in full. I enjoyed the vignettes that caught your eye. Those plant supports look rather wild compared to the surrounds. Looks like something that you might find in my garden. ha… I can see why you like that geranium so much. I have seen something similar around here before. I will have to keep my eyes open for that one. I love having tea. I agree that we could use less processed foods in our touristy places. I am looking forward to any and all of your posts regarding your trip. Such fun traveling vicariously.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      I adore having tea. Haha.

  10. Your comments about wishing you could grow more brassicas and skipping the tropical house because you can grow tropicals outside amused me, because that is the exact opposite of my reaction. Although I might skip the tropicals precisely because I can’t grow them. I often forget how different our climates are, because we can grow a lot of the same plants; yours just bloom a month sooner.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Oh honey, our climates are almost polar opposite, and we even live in the same country. I had to keep reminding the Brits that it’s a very big country.

  11. indygardener says:

    I love this travelogue series, Dee. Someday, I’ll go to England to see these gardens for myself!

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