We Surrovians are pretty lucky, all told. We’re only a short hop from London and all the big smoke has to offer, but we’re never far from some of England’s most beautiful countryside either. The RHS Wisley garden is one of Surrey’s most breathtaking attractions, and there’s really no better place to soak up the last of the summer sun.
As it happened, we visited on the last weekend of the Surrey Sculpture Society Trail through the gardens, too, so we had a culture injection along with our breath of fresh air. The transitional period between summer and autumn is a wonderful time to visit, while many of the flowers are still in bloom but the leaves have already begun to turn.
On a day like this, the reflections of the sky in the canal stop you in your tracks. The curious little fish always want to come and say hello.
Wisley was bequeathed to the RHS in 1903, and since then has served as both an ornamental and scientific garden where the public can learn about horticulture and enjoy the carefully tended surroundings.
Henry Moore’s King and Queen sculpture is a more permanent fixture at the top of Wisley’s canal. They sit and gaze over the water to the loggia all day, every day. Talk about #relationshipgoals …
The Surrey Sculpture Society Trail started just a few steps away. The Society has been exhibiting its work at Wisley each summer for 18 years, and there are more than 60 works to see on your way around the gardens.
So here are a few favourites …
I instantly fell in love with the Moon Gazing Hare.
This winged man was a personal favourite.
So obviously this happened.
And that was enough horsing around with the sculptures. So I set off up the slopes of the Rock Garden until I reached RHS Wisley’s very beautiful Alpine Display Houses.
Where I discovered a collection of succulents to make any hipster green with envy (geddit?!) …
But from the top of the hill I spied a place I really wanted to check out.
So off I trotted down the winding paths …
… past the autumnal crocuses (croci?) and the scarlet seeds on the Japanese maples …
… until I reached the magnificent Glasshouse. RHS Wisley’s Glasshouse was opened by the Queen in 2007, and is a showcase for an incredible collection of tropical and hot climate plants. The building itself is pretty impressive, but what’s inside will blow you away.
The first of three climactic zones imitates arid environments, and it’s a cacti addict’s dream.
It put me in a bit of a cowgirl mood … But not for long!
Because through the doorway into the next zone, I was transformed into a jungle explorer.
“Dr Livingstone, I presume?”
These are not your average lilypads, by the way. Each one is about the diameter of a 4×4 tyre and they can support about 100kg on their surfaces when fully grown.
Everything in the tropical glasshouse seemed to be on a grand scale. So the delicate blooms next door were miniature by comparison.
The sun was descending in the sky as we left the Glasshouse.
But there was just time to find my Halloween pumpkin in the Clore Learning Garden …
… and a few more succulents.
We reluctantly headed back towards the entrance (passing a lucky wedding party on the way) …
… and waved goodbye to RHS Wisley, until the next time.