History Flourishes at The Royal Horticultural Society's Garden Wisley

At Eberly & Collard Public Relations, our team is frequently astounded by the complexity of garden design, both old and new. As in any field of design, landscape architects and horticultural specialists must look to the past for the future of their work. For inspiration, sometimes it’s necessary to slow down and take a stroll through history. Our team recently discovered the remarkable quality and celebrated beauty of The Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden Wisley; we cannot escape the time-honored inspiration these gardens provide, nor the contemporary designs they embrace.

[Photo Credit. Botanicalgardenphotography.com] 

Generously presented to England’s Royal Horticultural Society in 1903 by Sir Thomas Hanbury, The Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden Wisley have become a beloved national treasure. The second most visited gardens in the United Kingdom, Wisley Gardens (as they are often called) are carefully tended by the Royal Horticultural Society and have grown considerably since their original gifting. The gardens now include a wild garden, vegetable garden, model ‘home’ gardens, pinetum, canal with water lilies, fruit field, and an alpine meadow. Recent years have seen the educational additions of a laboratory, the Clore Learning Center and the stunning bicentenary Glasshouse.

[Photo Credit: Botanicalgardenphotography.com]

The Glasshouse is a design marvel in and of itself. Built to mimic the feel of a cathedral, the Glasshouse was designed as a one-of-a-kind plant showcase structure and stands 40 feet tall. The Royal Horticultural Society’s immense tender plant collection, comprised of more than 5,000 taxa, is housed in this immense tri-roof structure. Each ‘roof’ represents a climactic habitat: tropical, moist temperate and dry temperate. Designed to overlook the garden lake, the Wisley Glasshouse enchants visitors and provides a center of education for the gardens.

[Photo Credit: The Telegraph]

Another recent addition to Wisley Gardens is the Czech-designed Centenary Crevice Garden. This celebratory addition to the rock garden was crafted by alpine specialist, Zdenek Zvolanek. While preserving the integrity of the original Wisley rock garden, designed in 1911, this installation honors the history of alpine growers and includes hundreds of miniature, high-elevation plants from all over the world. With special attention to seasonality, this garden currently overflows with autumn cyclamen crocus and colchicum, soon to be replaced by winter oxalis and lachenalia.

[Photo Credit: Botanicalgardenphotography.com] 

The breadth and depth of history to be discovered at The Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden Wisley serves to remind landscape architects and horticultural specialists of the foundations for their expertise. Just as Wisley Gardens abounds with vibrant greenery, this garden also overflows with historic inspiration. Wisley Gardens’ seamlessly-executed integration of old and new provides a challenge for modern designers, as this garden maintains a long-standing paradigm of design grandeur. In our work within the fields of horticulture and design, the ECPR team has seen a number of gardens, but an exclusive handful that have historically maintained this level of excellence and elegance. From the Glasshouse to the alpine meadows, history flourishes and artistry abounds at The Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden Wisley.

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Don Eberly

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