stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A wet wander around Wisley

We've just got back from a day at RHS Wisley the best known of the Royal Horticultural Society's gardens. It was coach trip (two and a half hours each way) organised by someone in Dorchester - who does one every year. Last year they went to Kew in the rain, and this year it was Wisley.....also in the rain. And how it rained!

Just as well that I have good weatherproof gear (sorry the Other Val, no chance to show you a view over the boots, too wet!) It was a good chance to test out my new smallish rucksack before going off to Iona next week. Its not totally waterproof when the English heavens open, but never mind, its very comfortable and I shall put things in plastic bags to compensate.

The gardens were lovely, and the pinetum was divine (heheh I just had a typo and put "diving" very appropriate with so much water) There were many varieties of beautiful pines, and with quiet birdsong it was incredibly tranquil. We saw a jay too, which is only the second time I have seen one.

You can just see my husband on the right admiring the rhododendrons. Despite the weather, it was a pleasure to see so many incredible plants. I loved the bamboo grove, magical, though they were so much smaller than those I've seen in Japan, its just not warm enough here. And there was a delicate woodland area with small mysterious paths to explore - does anyone recognise this lovely shrub below? The pink blossom had a sweet fragrance, and it was the only plant we saw without a name tag, darn it!

There were glasshouses of orchids, and also alpines - which were the surprise of the day. I had always found them boring, those interminable rows of unidentifiable small green plants in gravel. But I suppose the RHS will have the best in peak display, and these tiny jewels of all sorts of flowers were a revelation. We wandered along the display benches oohing and aahing, and calling each other over to wonder at some exquisite bright flower. We could see how gardeners become a bit fanatical over them.

There were some small show gardens and I saw one with my new birthday present - clematis armandii - climbing over a fence. I found that garden very interesting, with its balance of purple and lime green, and like the slabs of glass with painting of the leaves next to them. Quite innovative I thought.

I found the Japanese themed garden disappointing. I should have known better. I knew it was only to display a collection of bonsai - which it did very well. No photo consequently, as I dont feel comfortable about bonsai somehow.

The herb garden was another delight. Quite simple and elegant with an interesting feature in the middle (that's me in purple, with the famous boots). The wording around the diameter reads "All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today and yesterday". Us girls discussed that philosophical point on the way home in the coach. This area also had a section behind a fence with all the toxic herbs and an interesting creation of gravel and two bubbling stones, based on the ying yang symbol.

It was raining so hard that we really couldn't enjoy the excellent selection of plants for sale, though I noted some for possible future purchase - a Judas tree (cercis canadensis, also known as redbud tree) for only £50 but amazing with its purple buds coming straight out of the stem, followed later by heart shaped leaves; an unusual iris with striped two tone leaves; and a broom plant to replace my old overgrown one which is currently leaning over to ground level with the weight of the recent rain!

Ive come away with some glimmering of ideas of where to put some of the plants and trees that are still in pots on my patio awaiting inspiration. Yes, I think that Wisley was inspiring in a way that Kew is not. Wet, but inspiring!


At 2:22 am, Blogger Val said...

Pines and bamboo: favorites of mine. And although uncomfortable, the rain would have brought out all the scents of the gardens. Val, we again have something in common: a less than enthusiastic attitude towards bonsai. It's rather like foot binding, don't you think?

At 9:15 pm, Blogger Tabor said...

Interesting what you said about the bonsai trees as I have had a love/dislike with that type of planting. I anthropomorphise the plants somewhat in thinking what they are forced to go through to be so beautiful.

At 12:07 pm, Blogger Kerri said...

Looks like a wonderful place Val, and thanks to your lovely photos, we had a little glimpse too.
Did you take any pictures of the alpines? I'd love to see what they look like.
What color is your clematis armandii? My Carnaby Clematis is just beginning to bloom. We've just finished with several days of gloomy wet weather. The yard and garden work is getting ahead of me!
I'm not thrilled with bonsai either.


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