I’m very much a city person. I was born in London and have always lived here and can’t imagine living anywhere else. I like to make the most of all a great city has to offer with regular visits to the theatre and art galleries, and of course enjoying all London has to offer food wise with its fabulous range of restaurants and food markets. However, I do also enjoy living in the ‘green and pleasant land’ of South West London with Kew Gardens, Richmond Park, Bushy Park and the River Thames right on my doorstep. Slightly further afield (a 20-minute drive round the M25) are Wisley Gardens. I’ve been going to Wisley regularly for years and with my Royal Horticultural Society membership, can pop in if I’m in the area for a short walk or, like this morning, head there for a longer walk. It’s one of my favourite places and while not on the grand scale of nearby Kew Gardens, it’s also a prestigious botanical garden with a vibrant educational and research centre.
Recently Wisley has been in the news because of plans to widened the adjacent A3 road where there’s a busy junction connecting to the M25. Wisley is a Grade II listed garden and the threat from Highways England could rob the gardens of 10,000 square metres of land and woodland, cutting down about 500 historic trees and destroying wildlife habitats. Famous gardeners like Alan Titchmarsh have spoken out to try to stop this happening and there is a petition you can sign on the RHS website. I really hope Wisley Gardens, as they currently stand, can be saved.
There’s always so much going on at Wisley that it’s often worth a special trip. Only a couple of weeks ago I took my two and a half year old grandson, Freddie, there for a Birds of Prey show. I knew he’d love seeing real, live owls and other big birds. There’s a Taste of Autumn show coming up next weekend (18-22 October 2017) with exhibitions and food stalls. Wisley often have fruit and vegetables for sale at the entrance, particularly at this time of the year when you can buy different types of apples to try. And their garden centre is my absolute favourite, offering the largest selection of plants for sale in the UK.
Wisley’s Glasshouse was opened 10 years ago by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. There are always some wonderful exotic plants to see, with an orchid display in the spring. Next spring (13 January – 4 March 2018) there will be a Butterflies in the Glasshouse event, which I think is going to be a ‘must’ event for my grandson.
Outside there’s a lake and a wonderful range of different areas to explore, from a wooded area, to rock gardens, vegetable and fruit gardens, a few small show gardens to give you inspiration back at home, and a fabulous mixed border walk that’s one of the very best things.
Of course, October isn’t the time to see it at its best but there was still an impressive and beautiful array of colours, as I found elsewhere in the gardens. Just look at these photos!
And fabulous autumn colours everywhere.
There are unexpected delights like a sculpture of Pan and his pipes; a life-size model of ‘Bear Fishing’; a Henry Moore bronze sculpture, ‘King and Queen’; and this wonderful long bench of connecting love seats.
There are cafes for snacks, coffee, tea and meals so it’s easy and pleasant to spend the day or a good part of it in Wisley. Rather cleverly, on the way out, you have to exit through their shop.
I almost never manage to resist buying something! But at this time of the year, I find it’s a great place to buy some Christmas presents.
Wisley Gardens are a wonderful place to visit it. To find out more and what’s going on there look at the website: click here.