A Taste of the Tropics in Surrey

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Whilst driving down to Sussex a couple of weeks ago, I decided to take a break from the monotony of traffic on the M25 and make a quick detour for some horticultural therapy at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley garden.

Situated just a few minutes drive from the motorway, the Wisley garden is a perfect place for a whole day out, but as a member of the RHS with free admission, and having visited many times over recent years, I thought that a quick trip to the tea rooms and a look around the greenhouses for a taste of the tropics was the order of the day!

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An impressive feat of glasshouse engineering!

Once inside the glasshouses I was transported to a tropical wonderland!

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A contrast of colours

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Big banana leaves…


and fabulous tree trunks!



Echeveria ‘Afterglow’ a very succulent succulent!


A startlingly red Hibiscus!


More big leaves…

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The cannas were at their peak of perfection and I found a couple of varieties that I hadn’t seen before.


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Canna Orange Punch

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A wonderful whorling cactus

And speaking of wonderland, to celebrate 150 years of the timeless children’s book and a real favourite of mine, Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” the RHS were running workshop activities for children in the glasshouses and throughout the gardens.


The White Rabbit is suspended from the ceiling…


…whilst the Cheshire cat sits grinning in the vegetable bed

Also around the gardens some beautiful bronze sculptures and water features were on loan from Robert James Ltd and creatively sited amongst the flower borders.


The Mad Hatter serves tea!


So too does the Mad March Hare…


onto the head of the unsuspecting dormouse!


Whilst the dapper Dodo looks on sagely!

I took a quick look at the prairie style glasshouse borders which were looking quite good but it was maybe a little to early for their full late summer glory, which I have captured in previous visits…



The grasses give movement to the borders and form a great backdrop


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Steely coloured eryngiums add contrast

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The full layered effect…a view across the borders from the Fruit Mount

After a coffee stop at the restaurant, I wandered back along the grass borders to make my way out. This area is always changing and each time I visit I see new and exciting planting combinations.


The grass borders


Eucomis and Agapanthus vie for the viewers attention


More prairie plants…here Coneflowers mingled with the grasses


And “just grasses” very sculptural in their own right

I walked back through the walled garden for a final touch of the tropics before leaving and was not dissapointed!

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Backlit Gunnera leaf


Cyperus papyrus planted in the black pond giving wonderful reflections



Pseudopanax ferox or Toothed Lancewood from New Zealand is happy with its fern and hosta neighbours here in Surrey!

DSCF7700The Bromeliad, Fascicularia bicolor planted into the trunk of a palm tree make an interesting combination that I have not seen before


Dianella is used in the walled garden as an edging plant…and at just the right time to see its stunning purple berries

After my enjoyable and inspiring detour it was time to head back to the motorway and continue my journey… not before an obligatory visit to the gift shop with its wonderful selection of books and gifts.

Always a satisfying albeit, possibly expensive, end to any of my visits to RHS Wisley!


About Anne Guy

I am a garden designer living and working in rural Worcestershire For more information and to see examples of my work see www.anneguygardendesigns.co.uk
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11 Responses to A Taste of the Tropics in Surrey

  1. Nan Quick says:

    Anne’s carefully-chosen views of the living fabric of Wisley’s gardens are both exquisite and instructive. Given a wealth of things to see, she always focuses her camera upon the most
    telling details.

  2. Barry West says:

    What a stunning collection of photographs, full of colour and the utmost detail. I feel that I have been to RHS Wisley today. Maybe I will go one day. Thank you Anne for allowing me to see the fruits of your visit.

  3. Terry says:

    Lovely photos makes me want to visit Wisley again soon

  4. Isobel says:

    Those leaf pictures are astounding, particularly the first one. It looks like a richly woven cloth. Like you, I love Alice, so the sculptures appeal to me no end. i haven’t been to Wisley since i was a teenager. i think I need to rectify that.

  5. allibeans says:

    The tropical gardens are spot on. We have most of the plants you photographed in the gardens in our street. Would love a couple of those bromeliads – wonder if they’d harm a cycad host?

  6. Absolutely stunning photos as always Anne, and a far more satisfying stop off the motorway than a Little Chef. The view of the borders from the fruit mount is particularly beautiful.

  7. Hilary says:

    As everyone has said, stunning photos, real jewels, Anne. I remember visiting Wisley at this time of year and being bowled over by the grasses. Whatever time of year I visit I always find gems and it is certainly a wonderful stop off on any north/south journey I do and as The Lady Travels says so much better than The Little Chef, but as you say, uaually a lot more expensive!

  8. Terry says:

    Beautiful colour and such an eye for detail, a pleasure to view thanks Anne

  9. Hello , I just came across your photo of the bromliad attached to the trunk of the trachycarpus fortunii . Now then , that looks beautiful …but if you could only see the size of the clump in my garden , then you would see that , maybe , it is not such a good idea .
    In fact I was just googling ” How to divide a Bromeliad Fascicularia ” Lol ! Mine is going to be a devil of a job !
    I’d love to see how the ones at Wisley are doing now 🙂

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