Thursday, April 27, 2017

Technicolor Wisley! (Part one...)

"Oh to be in England.." as Browning plaintively wrote...and for once we were! Twelve magical days and nearly a dozen spectacular gardens, any one of which would have been a highlight. To do any of them justice takes more than one blog posting: here's a start (I may have to mothball a few until winter--since the Czech Republic isn't too far off into the future, and gardens here are blooming mightily for the nonce. A cold snap this weekend may curtail that..). I begin with pictures of the floral excess of Rhodos that almost distracted me from the rock garden (which will appear in the distance--then all heck breaks loose!)...

The crowds were amazing. Wisley is so big that they don't overwhelm, however.

I think these pictures pretty much speak for themselves: COLOR!

Quite the medley...

I loved this combo...

A view from the top of the rock garden..

The classic rock work, a century old, finally shows up in the distance (where I took the last pic)

Closer in...

And closer...

I have been privileged to visit Wisley a half dozen times (or more) over the last four decades--at all times of the year. The rock garden is invariably in full bloom--even in the autumn--and looks stunning in winter. But mid April was heavenly. I've known four of the masters who have managed this garden over that period--the current one will show up eventually. It is one of the most enchanting spaces on earth and I hope to visit many more times.

Wonderful combo of barberry and phlox...

I shall not label every picture--and believe me you're seeing just a few that I took: the collections are so vast I always take a lot of pictures for future reference and study at home. And also to relish with a little more time and reflection.

A wonderful spread of Veronica orientalis ssp. orientalis from Turkey--altogether different from our forms.

A superabundance of Gypsophila cerastoides

Epimedium pinnatum seems to be the most vigorous in England as well...

Erythronium 'Pagoda' in profusion everywhere...

Beesia deltoidea looking very robust

Scads of the white Haberlea rhodopensis ('Virginalis' I think is the clone)

One rarely sees this little Tellima (Saxifrage cousin) in gardens.

MORE Haberlea rhodopensis 'Virginalis'

Champion planting of Salix yezoalpina

If I try and label everything it will take forever: so enjoy these pictures and if you need proper identifications, I recommend visiting Wisley: they're open every day! (I shall undoubtedly pipe up once again, but warning you that not every picture shall be labeled)...

I think this is H. hercegovinus--with the narrow leaves. I have a hunch some of the Wisley bunch may go through these and find no end of errors. If they do, I promise to correct the pictures. So you better check back in a few weeks!

Just a few pix from the various alpine houses at Wisley: more in another post perhaps...

Aloe humilis--a bit like Aloe aristata (the latter is quite hardy in England)

A superb specimen of the loveliest Verbascum dumulosum. Best of the genus bar none.

Rock lettuce (Petromarula pinnata) from Crete, my ancestral homeland.

Really splendid Acantholimons

And a superb Ptilotrichum spinosum 'Purpureum'

Helichrysum arwae from the Arabian Peninsula--OUTSIDE!

The red flowered form of Crassula sarcocaulis I've admired in the same spot blooming in July.

Extremely annoying masses of Eriogonum kennedyi. The best I've ever seen. It miffs me to see American plants grown better in Europe than we do!

Erigeron vetensis, which I bet came from Denver...

More irritation.

Not everything they grow is rare...some flashy numbers sneak in...

An outrageous Asperula suberosa

Tanacetum argeneum ssp. canum
I must have this plant! I am sure it would thrive for us in Denver.
Finally! Something I wasn't crazy about.

A gentian on one side, bright blue Polygala calcarea on the other...

Two of the team leaders: Gemma Neech on the left and Peter Goodchild on the right.
Jan and I popped in, unannounced. Peter proceeded to take a big chunk of his work day to show us around much of the garden, and Gemma joined us as as well: two more thoughtful, friendly and clever young people one would be hard to find.Considering their youth (and that of other staff we met) I think the future of Wisley is extraordinarily bright. Particularly if their management supports them as they deserve. Since R.H.S. is probably the most successful horticultural venture on Planet Earth when it comes to business, I believe we can bank on that.

A last few glimpses of the woodland garden

This is the tip of the iceberg: we have many, many more pictures of the rock garden, not to mention from dozens of other gardens and greenhouses at R.H.S. Wisley. To show them all would take twenty blogs like this--and I shall probably do at least one or two more. But then there's R.B.G. Kew--which was better than ever. And some great private gardens I haven't shown you...

Best thing is, buy tickets soon and just go there yourself! You can never err in visiting Britain!


  1. Great post. I can't wait to see more.

  2. Fabulous. I just found your blog recently, and have spent quality time going through your posts. I'm a newbie rock gardener and have learned so much. Love your humour and the photos! There can't be too many photos.

  3. I have dished up more for you, Grace. And I must disagree, Jen: there CAN be too many pictures--I have so many it's hard to sift through!


Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive