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RHS Wisley 2023 visit

The Tatsfield Horticultural Annual Wisley Visit

Saturday June 17th 2023 at 10am 

18 people arrived at the RHS Wisley Gardens ready for our group entry at 10am. It is an event we arrange every year as we are allowed one visit for up to 40 people with free entry with our affiliation to the RHS. If you had to pay it would have cost each person £18.90 entry, so you can see what a massive benefit this is.

Wisley is the flagship garden of the RHS and one of the most visited and loved gardens attracting over a million visitors a year. There are 75 gardeners, 25 students, 4 apprentices, and over 100 volunteers. The gardens cover an area of 240 acres.

George Fergusson Wilson, a keen grower of fruit and orchids, bought the garden in 1878. After Wilson’s death, Sir Thomas Hanbury purchased the garden along with a neighbouring farm and donated it to the RHS.

Fortunately the weather was warm for our visit; the sun was shining and I was greeted with lots of happy faces ready for the delightful experience which lay ahead. We are allowed to enter the gardens with the allocated tickets, as and when you wish and not as a group. Some people enjoyed a coffee plus a warm pecan pastry in my case!


Photo courtesy of Peter Boys

I decided to venture off around the gardens stopping first at the Unusual and Heritage Plant Show marquee. It was supported by various Societies, including Sweet Peas, Dahlias, Iris, Roses, plus stalls of Hostas, various Geraniums, and Heritage Plants. You could buy many of the plants on display and packets of seeds at a good price.

From here I walked through to the sweet pea trial beds, as I have a special interest. It was fun comparing the growth of the autumn sown seeds to the spring own ones, and taking photos of new varieties that caught my eye. I start the seeds germinating at the end of February and then they don’t get out of control before planting out in April.

I always enjoy walking in the woodland gardens amongst the massive trees and shrubs on Battleston Hill, exploring the plants from far off climes. The different varieties of Cornus Kousa’s were the Stars today.

I sauntered down the hill to the massive 12 metre high Glass House, built to celebrate the RHS bicentenary. It covers an area equal to 10 tennis courts. The glasshouse was constructed using recycled glass from the previous glasshouse. There was a vast pelargonium collection which showed how many different varieties and colours there are. The Tropical plants were enormous and unbelievable that you could be stood in such a jungle setting. We read that robins and wagtails are able to operate the automatic opening vents and make their nests in there – clever birds. There is also a Dry Arid garden section which is full of cactus and succulents.

Coming outside again for fresh air I walked over to the new Science Research block, called Hilltop. This building opened in 2021, and is home to their Scientists who are hard at work researching the issues that affect our everyday lives. I walked through the Orchards to the Allotments for my first ever visit. This was an absolute joy.

From here I wandered over to view the Bowes-Lyon rose beds, built to commemorate Sir David Bowes-Lyon RHS President 1953-61. The scent was breath taking.

No visit is complete without a stop at the shop and garden centre. This time it was just a packet of Sweet William seeds. I am picking last year’s sowing right now.

Sue Warren



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