A pleasure for the senses
A visit to RHS Wisley is a delightful experience all year round, as the beautifully kept gardens have something different on display all through the seasons.
We arrived on a bright autumn morning with a slight chill in the air, but the day ahead was looking promising.
Jellicoe Canal and the Laboratory
It had been about 20 years since I’d last visited RHS Wisley and it brought back some lovely memories.
I came here with my grandad who was a very keen horticulturist and often exhibited his delphiniums that he had nurtured at home through blood, sweat and tears.
Welcome to RHS Garden Wisley
So, arriving at RHS Wisley things had changed a little, there was still the high levels of care, love and dedication throughout the gardens. And smiling teams of green-fingered enthusiasts as you strolled around.
At the entrance to RHS Wisley
Pre-booking is necessary
A visit to RHS WisleyNurtured over the years
Armed with our map, we went off to discover the alluring wonders of the garden and the beautiful fragrances that followed.
RHS Wisley has grown and grown over the years and the gardens now currently cover 97 hectares (240 acres).
All points lead to splendour
You won’t be alone if you don’t manage to cover it all in a day.
You can enjoy one of RHS Wisley’s 3 self-guided ‘plants trails’ or like us just wander amongst foliage and enjoy where your senses lead you to.
RHS Wisley's LaboratoryWhere the magic happens
The laboratory has been nurturing and training budding students and apprentices for decades. A restoration project is underway, and in 2021 the public will then be able to enter the ground floor of the laboratory.
Dotted all around RHS Wisley are attractive sculptures, some large and some small. From the end of Jellicoe Canal with the water lilies stretched out beyond is one of Henry Moore’s works of art (the ‘Draped Reclining Figure’).
Map out your route
Whether you’re planning a road trip, plotting a hiking route or cycling one of UK’s scenic trails, there’s nothing quite like using a tactile paper map.
The Ordnance Survey folk are here to help, with maps, guides, gadgets and more. Take a browse through their vast array of maps and grab your ideal companion for your adventure.
Exploring RHS WisleyGo with the flow
Heading along the Jellicoe Canal you must wander to the water lily pavilion, it’s from here you’ll get a delightful view of the pond and the historical laboratory in the background.
Good to know
Pond in the Walled Gardens
The planting here is so lovingly thought out, just take a seat and enjoy your surroundings.
I loved the delicate water features within the walled garden and the serene pond bordered by evergreen planting of conifers, ferns and grasses.
Discovering the gardens at RHS WisleyOakwood
We then stroll further through the gardens into Oakwood. This one of the older parts of Wisley Gardens and was established within an existing wood in 1878.
These woodlands were so peaceful, and you would not believe that the M25 (London’s orbital) was only one a mile away.
Around the tranquil paths of Oakwood
Following the path back towards the rear of RHS Wisley, we pass by the base of the rock garden and by the side of the charming pond. Thoughtfully planted out for with low borders so the full extent of the water lilies could be seen. I should think some little pondlife critters have made their home here too.
Looking up over the Rock Garden
The next stop is the glasshouse and the adjacent scenic lake. The glasshouse stands 12 metres (40 foot) high and even houses a waterfall inside.
The glasshouse was opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 2007 and has plants flourishing from exotic places all around the world.
You can meander between three climate-controlled areas of moist, dry and tropical temperate. It’s amazing the plant life in here and if you’re lucky you may even catch a butterfly fluttering past.
Depending on the time of year will obviously determine the plants that you see; however, I love the cactus and succulent displays, and you can see these all year round.
Each section is a real pleasure to experience, and the moistness created in the air of the cloud forest with its gushing waterfall feels so natural.
By the way, the tropical region is pretty warm, you may come out looking like you’ve had a bad hair day.
Coming from afar?
To the Rock Garden
The Rock Garden is a part of RHS Wisley that I recalled from my visit 20 years ago. Still as beautiful as I remember, well actually now it’s even better.
I love all the little rock pools and the waterfall flowing through the garden, over the gnarly rocks and between the Acers and Dwarf Conifers.
I really didn’t expect to see crocus, cyclamen and colchicum flowering in autumn.
The rock garden has been created with tranquil Japanese ambience and is such a pleasure to stroll around.
Climb up beyond the rock garden, and you can enjoy the enchanting view across Wisley gardens outstretched below.
The many sides to RHS WisleyAlpine Houses
Another species of plants I love are Alpines. They bring such a delicate flash of colour to a terrain that is so harsh at times.
The little heads of the plants push their way up through the unforgiving rock and somehow, just start to creep over the top of the stones and makes the tough surroundings their home.
One of the Alpine houses has a display of plants within a craggy natural environment, and the other Alpine house has individual species planted in sunken pots. This way you really get to appreciate the delicacy of the plants.
Inside an Alpine House
Haemanthus Albiflos in the Alpine House
Short of time?
The Vegetable Patch RHS Wisley
Just nearby here is the Bonsai Walk and also the Vegetable Garden.
The Bonsai walk has a wonderful display of this delicate species that can be seen throughout the changing of the seasons. Some of these little Oriental trees are up to 80 years old.
Now, RHS Wisley’s main vegetable patch is not quite like what you and I would have at home. Although, saying that they do have ornamental kitchen gardens and also allotment sized patches. Take a stroll through and see if you can count the 50 types of different vegetables, let alone the different varieties of these vegetables.
The Vegetable Garden
Heading up from here and passing by the whispering grasses by the Bowes-Lyon Pavilion is the Fruit and Herb Gardens. Autumn is an excellent time of year for the fruit garden as there are so many apples, pears and vines overflowing with produce.
You can even have a taster of Wisley’s homegrown produce, just leave a donation, and the choice is yours.
RHS Wisley’s herb garden is a lovely place to sit and relax in, even though it was early autumn, there was still the delightful scent of lavender floating through the terracotta paths.
Charming and relaxed atmosphere
From the herb garden, we wander down to the Hilltop Border and what an incredible display of colour. The dahlias here were beautiful, swathes of delicate heads mixed with soft grasses were such pleasure to experience.
Touch of Exotic
There really is an incredible amount to see at RHS Garden Wisley, it’s not surprising that it attracts around 1 million visitors a year.
The best time to see the Exotic Garden is during the summer months; however, even in early autumn, it was still a blast for the senses.
Bold colours are flowing around the borders, banana plants stretching high above and delicate flowers bouncing in the breeze.
From the exotic garden you stroll seamlessly through into the cottage garden this is very quintessentially English and beautiful.
Still, some of the delicate flowers are clinging on to the last of the sunshine. This is everything you would want your cottage garden to be, relaxed planting and swathes of bustling borders.
I really feel I need to return in other months of the year, to enjoy the garden through all its seasons.
Would you like a little more?
We have created a little YouTube video of our day at RHS Wisley
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As mentioned, there really is plenty to see and enjoy for a full day at RHS Garden Wisley. There are eateries dotted all around the gardens and also picnic areas nestled amongst the grounds.
Then when you have finished for the day stroll through the Wisley garden shop, where you can purchase that longed for plant and pick the brains of the experts on hand to give advice.
Wisley Garden Shop
Useful things to know
- Adults - £16.5 incl Gift Aid
- Children 5-16 years - £8.20 incl Gift Aid
- Family 2+2 (2 adults + 2 children) - £42 incl Gift Aid
- Additional child £7
We were given two complimentary tickets to RHS Garden Wisley by The Talbot Inn, Ripley. The Talbot coaching inn is located just 2 miles from RHS Wisley and makes an ideal place for a mini-break.
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