Gloria Londinii (Part one): a glimpse at the Alpinehouse (and a peek behind the scenes) at RHS Wisley's Alpine collection..
|Lewisia cotyledon forms in one of several alpine houses at Wisley|
I have visited both RBG Kew and RHS Wisley many times: but never back to back as we did two weeks ago: it's of course comparing apples to oranges: Kew has a greater emphasis on Science and RHS more on the Art of Horticulture: in the world of Alpines, however, they both quite simply have two of the most extraordinary, really VAST collections of alpines and bulbs--and both have built large new facilities to house and show these off (some time ago now, perhaps: I've been doing this so long twenty years ago feels like yesterday)! Visiting them in quick succession made me realize that these two institutions constitute an enormous and complementary reservoirs of knowledge and experience: Edinburgh, Gothenburg, Wurzburg and Munich are all likewise shining constellations in the firmament of Alpines--but London is the only city I know of that can boast TWO such best of class collections in its greater metropolitan area. What a treat to see them both! Check back in a few days and you'll be able to catch a glimpse of Kew's Alpine section as well!
|A closer look at Lewisia cotyledon and a few bulbs|
|A South African Ledebouria sneaking in lower right...|
A lst glimpse of the colorful show and then on to a whole new palette...
|Saxifraga arco-valleyi 'Labe'|
A few white flowered alpines all in different families--notice how everything is meticulously labeled.
Some woodlanders on the shady side...Spotty Dotty being especially flashy!
This massive Aeonium nobile is pushing the "alpine" envelope, perhaps...but horticultural alpines are not limited by altitude: and a large percentage of rock garden classics are Mediterranean. The succulent gems of the Canary Islands are claimed both by alpinists and Succulent fanciers: and why not? This does reputedly grow to nearly 3000' in altitude in nature!
The variety of form and the perfection of every pot was inspiring. It was difficult to take pictures--the houses were quite crowded with visitors on a Friday morning! I can't imagine how busy they must have been the next day (and we're talking 240 acres of gardens at Wisley alone! R.H.S. has another THREE Gardens (albeit not quite so large perhaps...).
|A yellow Tulipa linifolia--new one for me!|
The labels are just big enough you should be able to read them--but it's mostly the colors, textures and layout I wanted to capture: of course right now all the plants will have been swapped out! We'll take a look at the "backup" space in a minute...
|And a fine assortment of bulbs...|
|Helichrysum "orientale" looks suspiciously like H. sibthorpii at Kew...|
|A mysterious "Mukdenia sp."|
A rather unsual pot outside the alpine house! Wisley is quite experimental in various ways..this one is a tad lonely here, alas.
And there are extensive areas tucked away from the Madding crowd full of treasures...
Beds with Primula sieboldii varieties...
Several houses with large plunge beds--the plants whisked off if needed for public view. All meticulously clean and cared for. Really: it's almost annoying from someone from a Botanic Garden without a proper alpine house at all. Not that I'm grumbling or anything...
You can see the holes where the missing show plants came out of. You can see that they have lots more to pick from--like a museum, not every worthy accession is on public view!
Numerous large cushions that require decades of tender care...
|Some random closeups|
|More--some succulents here--to tantalize us...|
|An area dedicated to bulbs|
|And a Lewisia bed blazing color: and color matters!|
|More choice bulbs in spades.|
|A closer look|
And I finish with a bench featuring many pulsatillas...I could go on like this forever, but take pity on you, the reader and myself: I must get back to my own life and garden! Thanks for joining me on this re-visit to one of the many Horticultural wonderlands of Britain. Near the top of my list too!