Wisley 30.06.12

We are fairly frequent visitors to the RHS garden at Wisley. It often seems to be on the way from one place to another and it is always worth dropping in. Horticultural marvels are more or less assured, sometimes they are planned and home grown and sometimes they are bedded out at the last minute. Either way it is worth a look.
The garden can be a little cautious for my taste and sometimes the horticulture is a little backward looking, but they have to please a large audience so it is understandable.
We were staying in Essex, and had an afternoon engagement in Hampshire so we were able to spend a morning in Wisley en route, which is a very satisfying way of doing things.

There are a couple of little gardens beside the long herbaceous border and the new rose garden that are easily overlooked but which repay close attention in their season.
This garden is a fascinating blend of pastel colours through the summer and flows naturally across the practical paving. In modern terms, this would be seen as ironic. It is the sort of design that would be comissioned by someone who lived in a gingerbread house, but it works.

This little rose garden shows what Wisley does so well. Not really challenging or original, but perfectly executed and maintained. The selection of cultivars has changed over the last 30 years or so.
When I was young I dismissed it out of hand as a bunch of roses waiting for a gentleman to pick them for me. Now I have matured and the prospects of a young gentleman have receded I have developed an appreciation for the ungathered experience.

At this time of year it is the herbaceous plantings that have drawn me into the garden. This is the view down the hill to the double herbaceous border. It has been a cold year and the border has still to hit a peak, but it is still a busy part of the garden through the middle of the day.
The genius of this design is that it makes full use of the stunning outlook without overwhelming the planting.

Over the top of the hill lies the trials field and there is always something good to see and something to learn. The Delphinium trial has been planted for a couple of years and is reaching a peak of performance. This is D. 'Thamesmead' which impressed me. I wish I could grow them but the slugs in my garden would devour them in a few sittings. I am happy to enjoy someone else doing it so well.

Also running is a trial of sweet peas. There is a good display of cultivars grown for garden use (rather than exhibition). This is 'Sophisticatd Lady' which was my favourite on the day. None of them were scented as strongly as I would have liked but that seems to be the way things are going. Most of them are new cultivars and it will be interesting to see which of them make it to the commercial catalogues. I though it was also worth noting that they were all quite traditional, only a couple of striped forms and quite a lot of scarlet cultivars.

The new crevice garden by the side of the Alpine House is starting to mature and is becoming more satisfactory with every month. When it was first built it was rather stark and I was very impressed that the RHS tried it on such a large scale when the technique was still being tested in the UK.

The new greenhouse reflects beautifully in the pool on a calm day (this wasn't a calm day). It is impressive from the outside and wonderful on the inside. The elegant curves of the house are a little lost in the summer when the vents are open but the gardens needed a piece of bold architecture, and this delivers it.
In some ways the exuberant planting inside is a little too much. There is hardly any view of the lake and surrounding planting from the inside which is an unfortunate loss. It could be a marvellous viewpoint for that end of the garden.

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