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Home Over the garden gate
Wisley - August 2001
By Ali and Andrew (not forgetting 2 reluctant teenagers!)

Ali and Claire woke up feeling nervous about the journey, Claire because she was navigating and Ali because she had to negotiate the joining of the M3 and then the M25. She did very well considering the navigator was not paying attention to where they were! The only mistake made by Ali, was missing the turning for Wisley, and ended up travelling down part of the A3, until she was able to turn round.

Ali and Claire did arrive before Andrew and Gemma (why are guys always late for that date)? Ali tried calling Andrew on his mobile to find she had jotted down the number incorrectly, nothing else to do, but wonder round the car park, and sit on the wall and wait!
Lily Pond
When Andrew and Gemma arrived, we decided to go straight into the gardens. As Gemma was the only one who could tell where we were on the map, she was elected map-reader for the day! Andrew had been told there would not be enough time to look at everything during the time we had. So Ali let him decide what he wanted to see, as it was his first trip there. Andrew's choice was the wild garden (of course); this seemed a good option, as it is the farthest point from the entrance and lots to see on the way.

The very first view you get of Wisley as you enter is the magnificent Lily Pond; the water lilies were out, pink, white and yellow, they are truly a glorious sight. From here we walked through the walled gardens, where the banana plants were especially impressive in size, and had obviously been well cared for. Next to the bananas stood a magnificent clump of Cyperus papyrus, which Andrew informed us the first paper was made from as well as the famous 'Kon Tiki' boat. There were lots of the lovely Verbena bonariensis, which are much loved by bees and butterflies.
At this point Ali decided she was hungry so a trip to the restaurant was made where Andrew (he was such a gent) bought coffee, lunch was eaten, and Ali showed Andrew her garden photo's which she was sure he really wanted to see!

After lunch, the map-reader was called upon to lead the way and point us in the right direction; we strolled past a lovely bed filled with different grasses. Although, now, lots of people grow different types of grass, not many people grow the eight to nine feet tall elephant grass, which was the background to the border. Andrew started to say something about tigers and men on elephants and Ali told him to stop rambling.
Gemma did a brilliant job at map reading, but some how or another we missed the Wild Garden, they must have moved it!

Rock Garden
So instead we made our way to the Rock Garden, which is very impressive and large, steps that meander through the plants, make it a steep climb to the top but well worth the view when you get to there and look back down. There are some lovely large patches of pink and white Cyclamen hederifolium in full flower and some beautiful Japanese Acers with their foliage turning already. Gemma pointed out a Welsh Poppy still in flower, which she recognised from Andrew's wildflowers.
Raised Hosta Bed
Above the big rock garden there are some Oak trees, and using the shade from these, a border has been created with plants that prefer this aspect, we saw some lovely Trilliums here including grandiflorum and erectum which must have looked great in the spring.

Beyond this were the Alpine Glasshouses, the first, which was traditionally laid out, with plunge bed benches either side of the walkway. These were home to a variety of different species of alpine plants in pots. Andrew loved the different Hardy Cyclamens, where Ali commented on the beautiful blue Gentians and we all just couldn't resist touching the mounds of the Alpine Dianthus.

Hardy Cyclamens

The other alpine house was very special! Externally, it looked like a normal high topped glasshouse, however, the planting structure within, resembled a piece of a cliff face made out of a material that looks like volcanic pumice, or bubbly chocolate. The 'bubble's are where the plants have been planted, they are all very healthy and look as though they are thriving. This glasshouse must be very expensive to run as the temperature; humidity and airflow are very carefully controlled.

Fuchsia
From here we went to the Greenhouses, whose structure alone are worth a look, but to own on like this you would need to win the lottery! Cactus houses are here too housing some truly fantastic specimens. The fuchsia's on display were magnificent and wouldn't disappoint the fuchsiaholics amongst us; Passion flowers, impatiens and coleus were all here and looking very good.
We walked through the Jubilee Arboretum, and from Ali's point of view it had grown somewhat since her last visit, but still has a way to go before it can be called a proper Arboretum.

Refreshments again! Coffee for the grown ups and ice creams for the girls, the Coffee was nice although the cups could do with being a little bigger! The same applied to the ice cream.

Orchid
We made our way back to the entrance, and visited the gift shop where the girls bought Kendall Mint Cake, Ali and Andrew were eager to get to the plant centre so left the girls and headed there! Ali was for once, very good, and did not buy anything, Andrew bought two Hardy Cyclamen, mirabile and intaminatum, the plant centre is very good, but a lot of the plants had been sold, and there were empty spaces where the plants should have been. They had some black bamboo, which was a 100 a pot, so Ali's at 20 was a real bargain!
Mixed Border
We walked back through the Rock Garden, and followed various paths, we found ourselves, in the mixed border, which was full of rudbeckia's, delphiniums, and numerous other plants such as the exotic cannas, this is on a slope and takes the eye up to the large sculpture at the top. We didn't visit them, but at the top of this hill which then gently slopes down you can find the 'trial gardens'.

Then sadly it was time to go home!
 


Ali's point of view
I had a lovely day at Wisley, it is one of my favourite places to visit anyway and meeting Andrew and Gemma, a fellow OGGie, although nerve racking to begin with actually turned out to be okay. Our daughters got on and Andrew and I did too, and talked gardens most of the time! It was like a continuation of one of our chats in the chat room! Andrew even bought me two plants, one of his 'prized' blue poppies and an Alpine Cheddar Pink, much better than chocolates any day, thanks Andrew.

I have never been to Wisley so late in the year before, but there was still quite a lot to be seen, and I had never seen the water lilies out before. The greenhouse's never fail to impress, and were still crammed with plants, I think my personal favourite, glass house has to be the cyclamen one, because here you can really look at them in detail and see just how different and unique some of them are.

Anyway, where to next Andrew?

Andrew's point of view
I was equally as nervous when we all met and Ali's idea of an early lunch was good and relaxed us all.

The large rock garden with accompanying glasshouses was arguably my favourite part, although I didn't see the wild garden.
I thought that this garden was at least as good, if not better, than any that I have visited, including Kew and Inverewe in Scotland

I really enjoyed the gardens and the company of three lovely ladies and was very disappointed when it was time to leave.

Where would you like to go to Ali?

Claire's point of view
We arrived first and after waiting for 40 mins Andrew and Gemma arrived. So by the time we went into the gardens it was 12:15pm! We wondered around for 15 mins then went and had lunch. The cafe was quite crowded but we found a table and ate. After lunch we walked around the rest of the gardens, the plants were well kept and very impressive, especially the Banana plant. We recorded some of the names: Cyperus papyrus. I came to the conclusion that plant names are very confusing!

Gemma's point of view
I enjoyed the gardens especially the tubs of Ice Cream.
I liked the artwork placed about the gardens and also the 'touchy feely' type plants even the cacti.
I couldn't understand why the plants my dad liked, were either 'dead' (hardy Orchids) or had no leaves (hardy Cyclamen).

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