RHS Wisley in Surrey – an inspirational place for gardeners

RHS Wisley in Surrey

Now that my husband and I have caught the gardening bug, we love visiting different gardens for inspiration and ideas. There are some very well-known places on every gardener’s list, especially the gardens run by the Royal Horticultural Society, or RHS for short.  Of all their four gardens, RHS Wisley in Surrey is the closest to us. So after hearing about Wisley but not knowing much about it, we decided to pay it a visit.

First impressions

I would suggest you check out their website before visiting to get as much information beforehand as you can.

We didn’t really know what to expect and when we got there, the sheer scale of the place took our breath away. From the vast car park it was a short walk to the entrance and the adjacent plant centre. The plant centre is accessible before you enter Wisley, so I imagine people living nearby use it as their local garden centre. We had a quick look around before entering Wisley and were very impressed by the quality and variety of plants.

What we found really interesting and encouraging is that they sell compostable plant pots made from bamboo! What a great idea, they feel just as sturdy as the plastic ones too.

Compostable bamboo pots and saucers

We decided to go and buy our tickets for entry into RHS Wisley before tiring ourselves out in the huge plant centre. If you buy membership to the RHS you can visit any of their gardens for free. We bought a joint membership which means that any partner gardens will only cost us one entry fee instead of two. It’s worth looking at membership if you plan to visit lots of gardens. You can do this online or at the centre.

We were very lucky with the weather as glorious sunshine followed us around all day. We purchased our RHS membership and were able to walk directly into the garden, although the queues were not too bad at that time in the morning. I recommend you go early to avoid the queues and also because you need the whole day to see as much as possible.

RHS Wisley entrance

Exploring the gardens

Once inside there is a handy map where you can find your bearings. We turned right down some steps and were greeted with a most magnificent view of the Jellicoe Canal. Once you walk past the big pool you get to the walled gardens.

Wisley garden start

Map at entrance

We didn’t have a map so we followed some of the sign posts but it would have been helpful to carry a map with us.

We were particularly impressed with the glasshouse. As soon as you walk in you feel the heat and humidity and you are greeted by exotic plants that almost look artificial. So many plants I had never seen before, there is so much you can learn at Wisley.

Glasshouse at Wisley

Glasshouse at Wisley

There was something new to look at around every corner, and we were like two children in a sweet shop. We got some really good ideas for our own garden. What impressed us the most is how tidy and perfect everything was… no weeds, no blackfly or greenfly, no blackspot… all the plants were as perfect as they can be. I noticed they used organic pest control like pheromone traps.

I really enjoyed the cottage garden and we have decided we will have a lot more plants in pots and containers… we’ve run out of space to plant in our beds!

A great time to visit

At this time of year, mid-May, the most prominent flowering plants were the Wisterias, Irises, Alliums and Rhododendrons and Azaleas. All of them displayed to their best and in stunning colour arrangements. However, RHS Wisley is truly a garden for all seasons, and there is plenty to see at any time of year, even in Winter!

There are plenty of eating places and picnic areas where you can take a break and sit in beautiful surroundings. We were not able to see the whole garden in one day and it’s probably fair to say that you would need more than two visits to take everything in properly. We plan to go back soon!
I thoroughly recommend a visit to RHS Wisley. As a gardener you will find so much inspiration and ideas. But even if you don’t garden, there is so much to see and the scenery is breathtaking. There is plenty to do if you visit as a family with children. There are whole areas dedicated to teach and entertain little ones.
I hope this post has given you some ideas and encouraged you to visit RHS Wisley. Let me know if you have already been, I’d love to hear about your experience.

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