Wisley. 17.02.13

Garden visiting in February is always going to be dominated by the weather. The Royal Horticultural Society's garden at Wisley can cope with a spot of wet weather but the day was bright and sunny, the crowds came out and the facilities were almost overwhelmed.

We arrived early in the morning and were able to see some of the formal parts of the garden in the bright light. In common with all gardens in winter there is a satisfying simplicity to the scene.

Hordes of people descended on the garden, the queues for admission persisted throughout the day though of course we have passes that allow is to breeze through without undue obstruction. Gloria does not like crowds and once inside we chose to scamper round the less frequented parts of the garden.

Battleston Hill was once a derelict corner, abandoned to the badgers and the builders of compost heaps but in the last few decades it had been tamed and organised. This is the peak season for Hamamelis and some of them are quite magnificent. This is H. x intermedia 'Gingerbread' which glowed in the shafts of sun that penetrate the thin woodland.

I particularly wanted to visit the Heather Garden while the winter Erica were in flower. I have long felt that Heather Gardens are a mistake. I fear that they do not have a good season and my fears were borne out on the day. Gloria lives to take pictures but she was not happy here. The RHS are to be thanked for maintaining this garden as part of their educational remit. It serves as a grim warning to us all.
This was like the stain left on the ground when a fat hippie explodes and we were pleased to get away.

At the other end of the garden we found these pansies lining the walk to the Hillside events centre. I am very fond of pansies and Gloria enjoyed capturing the low sun shining on their smiling faces. They are always cheerful and in large groups they smell rather wonderful.

Winter is a season when the ground is clear and it is possible to experiment with new ideas. These stems of Cornus stolonifera 'Flaviramea' had been cut and stuck into the ground in a sinuous line. In effect it is a giant flower arrangement, emphasising the yellow-green stems through the winter without the inconvenience of the growing plant. I assume they will be discarded when the summer bedding goes out, though they may have rooted by then.

Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill' has become the emblematic shrub of the decade. It joins Spiraea 'Goldflame', the golden Choisya ternata, Potentilla 'Red Ace' and a host of other plants in a select club of the excellent but overplanted. This specimen was the best I have seen but with this density of flower it was drowning passers-by in its fragrance.

We observed the greenhouse from a distance because of the crowds it had attracted. The society is repeating its 'Butterflies in the Greenhouse' event and it has proven very popular. One couple estimated that they had queued for an hour and a half to get in with their children. We decided that we could find other things to interest us and didn't need to visit the butterflies. As Gloria observed, we were there to see the plants not the vermin.

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