garden photography gardening gardens open to the public photography RHS

The Gardens of the RHS Part Six – Orchids at Wisley

The new Centenary Glasshouse at Wisley is one of our favourite, regular places for visiting and enjoying.


In our September wander we made several detours through its big sliding doors and into its warm, dry interiors as thunder storms threatened to periodically drown us. We always enjoy the glasshouse plants but Jude the Undergardeners favourites have to be the orchids, although here she is admiring a Passionflower.


If we visit any garden with orchids hardy or greenhouse varieties she is drawn to them. But I don’t complain – they are unbelievably beautiful, the blooms richly coloured and eccentrically shaped. Here under the protection of Wisley’s glass roof they flourish.

DSC_0114 DSC_0115 DSC_0116 DSC_0118 DSC_0121n DSC_0122 DSC_0125 DSC_0126 DSC_0127

With such a stunning, varied and comprehensive collection of orchids what glasshouse could wish for more?

colours garden photography gardening gardens open to the public photography

Wisley Part Five – The Centenary Glasshouse

I promised you a sample of the delights of the RHS’s Centenary Glasshouse, and here they are.


Usually in glasshouses the flowers are the stars of the show so just for a change let us begin by bringing foliage to the fore and letting leaves revel in the lime-light.

Foliage in all shapes, sizes, textures, markings and colours are to be found around every corner.

DSC_0099 DSC_0103 DSC_0107 DSC_0111 DSC_0134 DSC_0135 DSC_0137 DSC_0138 DSC_0139 DSC_0140 DSC_0142 DSC_0149 DSC_0152

Now for the flowers!

DSC_0105 DSC_0129 DSC_0130 DSC_0131 DSC_0132 DSC_0143 DSC_0145 DSC_0147

garden design garden photography gardening gardens open to the public grasses hardy perennials meadows ornamental grasses photography RHS

Wisley Part 4 – the Steppe-Prairie Meadows

Alongside the Centenary Glasshouse at RHS’s Wisley is an area of meadow planting that has to be one of the best in England. We walked around it in the rain and our enthusiasm was not dampened one iota. The design and plant choice is the creation of Professor James Hitchmough, best known as the right hand man of Nigel Dunnet from Sheffield University.

DSC_0154 DSC_0158 DSC_0159 DSC_0160 DSC_0175 DSC_0176

His garden at Wisley features  naturalistic, flowing plantings of hardy perennials and grasses which look and feel remarkably natural even though carefully and thoughtfully designed.

The word that springs to mind for this planting style is “gentle”. When walking through the gardens along its meandering narrow gravel paths we felt the atmosphere – peaceful, calm and relaxing.

garden design garden photography gardening gardens open to the public grasses hardy perennials meadows ornamental grasses photography RHS

The Gardens of the RHS Part 3 – Prairies and Meadows at Wisley.


When we first visited Wisley a few decades ago the grass was cut short and neatly edged. There certainly were no wildflowers allowed to grow amongst the neat blades of grass, and there certainly were no meadows.

But now differential grass cutting is favoured with some areas cut short, others allowed to grow longer and wildflowers are establishing as they enjoy this new habitat of longer grasses. The trend towards planted meadows and prairie-style plantings are well represented, which is good for us because these styles are a real favourite with us both.

Piet Oudolf has designed and planted magnificent double borders – very different to traditional English double herbaceous borders such as those at Arley House.

DSC_0081 DSC_0082 DSC_0083

Carefully chosen herbaceous plants are planted in large groups to create swathes of colour and texture. In early autumn, when we looked at Piet Oudolf’s borders, grasses featured strongly alongside drying stalks and seed heads of herbaceous perennials. There were still flowers to be seen and they were enhanced by the background of stems.

DSC_0043 DSC_0045 DSC_0051 DSC_0052

To enjoy a look at the plants of Piet Oudolf’s Wisley Borders click a photo in the gallery below and follow the arrow.

But Oudolf is not the only garden designer to create meadows at Wisley, as a newer and equally beautiful planting area has been created by Professor James Hitchmough. It is described as a steppe-prairie meadow. See the next post ………..

garden design garden photography gardening gardens open to the public Land Art outdoor sculpture photography RHS the South

The Gardens of the RHS Part 2 – Sculpture at Wisley

We were in luck when we visited Wisley – a sculpture exhibition was taking place throughout the gardens, with sculptures of all styles positioned with great sensitivity. We didn’t like them all but that is what art is all about. If we all liked the same pieces it would be a boring art world.

Here is a selection of those we enjoyed.

First figures ……………….

Then couples ……………..

The simple and amazingly beautiful!

And last but far from least the downright cute!