LivingTravelInspirational Garden for All at RHS Wisley

Inspirational Garden for All at RHS Wisley

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley Garden, near London, is where English gardeners draw inspiration. Its collection of world famous plants has been developed for more than 100 years. Open all year round, it brims with ideas and color in every season.

Wisley is spread over 240 acres in Woking, Surrey, an hour’s drive from central London. Even if your idea of gardening is to water a plant on the windowsill, it is a lovely, peaceful place to stroll. But, if you are a more ambitious gardener, this garden, really a series of different gardens, will fill your head with new projects to try.

It’s a demonstration garden filled with practical garden design ideas and growing techniques. Model gardens are designed for many different types of homes, from small city gardens to expansive manicured landscapes and woodland walks. Wide mixed borders change with the seasons. There are wild and wooded gardens, beautiful rose gardens, and testing grounds where new flowers and vegetables are tested.

The glass house

Opened in 2007, Wisley’s massive greenhouse is 40 feet tall and covers an area equivalent to ten tennis courts. Indoors, you can explore the RHS collections of rare and exotic plants, as well as seasonal exhibits in three different climate zones: tropical, humid temperate, and dry temperate habitats. A winding path, past rocky outcrops, waterfalls, pools and hillsides, leads through the greenhouse to the most important collections, including young plants, endangered species and hundreds of varieties of orchids.

The borders of the greenhouse

The Glasshouse sits next to a new lake. Borders designed by Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf feature prairie plants from North America that blend in naturally. Oudolf used the same approach when designing New York’s High Line plantations.

Mixed borders

Wisley’s 420-foot-long mixed borders are world famous as a prime example of the way English gardeners combine annuals and perennials, foliage and flowers. If you’ve ever wondered how gardeners “paint” with flowers and plants, this is the place to see it.

Other features in Wisley

Be sure to also check:

  • An alpine meadow and a rock garden
  • Rhododendron, azaleas and heather collections
  • Wild garden, pinetum and arboretum
  • A fruit orchard with more than 670 different varieties of apple.
  • A family garden
  • A street of small gardens
  • Three restaurants, from a casual dining room to a family cafe with a play area, and a more formal restaurant for brunch, lunch, and afternoon tea.

Don’t forget to visit the Wisley Plant Center which has over 12,000 varieties of plants. International visitors who may not be able to take the plants home can still ask the center’s manual gardening experts seven days a week with their questions. There is also a gift shop with many things that you can take home.

Wisley Essentials

  • Address: RHS Wisley Garden, Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB, England
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 845 260 9000
  • Hours: the gardens are open all year round, except on Christmas Day. Last admission is one hour before closing.
  • Monday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm
  • Saturdays and Sundays and holidays, from 9 am to 6 pm
  • Admission: RHS members and one family member are free. There are different entrance fees available for adults, children and groups. There is no discount for seniors. Visit their website for current prices.
  • Gift Aid Tickets: Tickets are commonly sold as “Gift Aid Tickets,” which are priced slightly higher than tickets without Gift Aid. Through the aid of gifts, a portion of the ticket price is considered a charitable donation and is matched by the UK government. This program is only available to UK taxpayers, so if you are visiting abroad, please apply for the ticket without gift aid.
  • Disabled Services: Wheelchairs are available and there is a free electric mobility vehicle.

Get there

  • By car: Wisley is 20 miles southwest of London on the A3, near junction 10 of the M25. Look for brown tourist attraction signs with flower symbols. Parking is free.
  • By Train: Trains from London Waterloo Station run regularly to Woking (7 miles away), where taxis are available. The West Byfleet station is closer (4 miles) but there are no standby taxis available there. Check National Rail Inquiries for schedules and prices.
  • By Bus: There are buses every hour, every day, from Surbiton Train Station and Guildford Bus Stations.
  • Discounts on green tickets : there are a reduced price ticket for visitors arriving by train, bus or bicycle. Keep your travel ticket to show at the box office.

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