Saturday, 21 November 2015

All Horts go mad at Wisley!

 RHS Wisley - 20th September 2015
Rocky and I being silly - Photo Credit Rocky Coles

 On a bright shiny day in September I wake up early, excited like a kid before Christmas and why? Because today is the long awaited "late, late summer All Horts" visit to RHS Wisley!
Having only been to Wisley once before and only recently moving to the area I'm in now i decide to leave myself plenty of time to get there, start time is 8.30am in the Sports pavilion. So i give myself an hour.
I may have needed less as when i arrived i was not only first there but the gates were still shut! oops! 
If any of you are wondering about the lightbulb its not a permanent fixture of the car merely a remnant of the house move
So after entertaining myself for half an hour or so the gates are opened by one of our lovely hosts for the day, Rebekah, who welcomes me in and gives me free rein of the site whilst she catches up with organising everything for the day. I promptly start wandering around with my camera. The day is looking to be one of those beautiful late September ones where the suns warmth tricks you into thinking it could carry on like this forever, perfect blue sky, a gentle breeze, we couldn't have asked for more.

After a few minutes others start to arrive and like all Gardeners the most important things are sorted out first, Tea and biscuits with lots of catching up and giggles.
 Fully fuelled and looking suspiciously like a scene from Reservoir dogs the group sets off on their tour. There were some enlightening conversations on what may or may not occur in certain car parks on the way to the entrance, most of which is not appropriate on this forum but as always, informative to say the least!

Andrew O Brian in the "heres looking at you" obligatory photo
 At this point we all become sensible, professional Horticulturists.... well.... most of us and get an introduction to Wisley from Colin Crosbie - Curator RHS Wisley & Matthew Pottage - Deputy Curator RHS Wisley on the Conifer lawn.

Gardeners listening intently
 From here we moved to the top terrace to be greeted by the white Rabbit! One of many wonderful sculptures dotted around the garden to celebrate the 150th birthday of Lewis Carrolls classic story, integrated into the bedding scheme on the right was a caterpillar surrounded by mushrooms, very psychedelic! I admit i got a bit excited at this point and failed to listen properly instead got lost in the delicious scent of the Heliotropes that lured me away, in my defence, its Cherry pie, I can never resist. For years this great plant was used in bedding schemes but did dip in popularity for a while but seems to be making a comeback, which in my humble opinion is awesome, as its a prolific flowerer with a fabulous scent.
Alice in Wonderland theme to celebrate 150th anniversary
Fabulous Heliotrope

Gathering on the Top Terrace
 From here the group moved en masse up the mixed borders to Battleston Hill, its surprisingly taxing, a long slow climb which left most short of puff on reaching the top. Looking back you suddenly realise how far you've come, bit like life in that respect.

 A lightening speed tour around the east side of Battleston Hill ensued, some of the group had worked at Wisley in previous incarnations and lively conversations about how much things had changed went on, identifying various plants and general oohing and aahing. Then we sped off to the next section for Alpines & Bonsai, quickly zooming past the Trial Gardens and through the Rose gardens. Our tour leaders keeping the group together and moving admirably as its akin to the task of herding cats.

 I was particularly excited by the Alpine and Bonsai areas as becomes obvious when i look back through my photos. For me the delicacy of Alpines, the intense colours and the obvious difficulty of growing them to a high standard are a particular draw. I love challenges and these guys can give you that in spades but the rewards are amazing!

Colchicum agrippinum

Heamanthus cocineus

Gentian, sorry i forgot to take note of which one

Paeonia cambessedesii, seed head
 Then i snuck away from the main group to satisfy my lust for Bonsai, sadly this has never been a skill ive excelled in. We all have that area where our interest far outweighs our abilities and this is one of mine. I first realised this was the case when my mum exclaimed over my success growing Lobelia from seed, something id never even thought about much less attached importance to. To hear my gardening guru say i could do something she couldn't was a seminal moment for me as she could get busy Lizzie's to romp away and African violets, Stpaulia's, to grow from leaf cuttings with absolute ease where i would see mine sadly rot and die before my eyes. So i spent a few moments admiring the skills needed to grow these magnificent specimens in tranquillity.... then we were off! To the Rock garden!

 At this point in the tour I'm seeing parts of Wisley id missed on my first visit and it was incredible, we started at the top of the hill and spread out before us were meandering mock mountain streams with enchanting waterfalls. In the distance you could spot the roof of the giant glasshouse dwarfed by the scale of the grounds surrounding it. I could hear members of the group fore and aft exclaiming over one plant or another, asking questions of each other and confirming identifications.  I know that i will visit Wisley again for this area alone as it was gorgeous and bears closer examination but on this day in order to cover the ground we had to move quick and as myself and a few others lingered to look at the fish, then the statues and various plants we nearly lost site of the main group, eek!

Andrew statue bothering, can you tell the trouble makers of the group?

Im slightly obsessed by Hares and i adore this!

Magnolia seed head deformed into weird shapes by the swelling pollinated ovaries
 We caught back up with the main group by the pagoda in what i think is the area known as 7 Acres where there were many statues and works of art to be admired. I love art in gardens i think it works so well and over the years I've seen some fantastic examples including one sculpture garden in Devon which ill cover at a later date.

 In the distance as we returned to the Sports pavilion for the eternal tea and cake all gardeners are fuelled on we spotted the perfect photo opportunity for the group pic. As usual the brilliant official photographer for All Horts excelled himself and Gerald told us to take our places so we obliged. Rosie and myself took a vertical view of the idea and immediately decided it looked very climbable and never ones to back down from a challenge we did just that... so much fun!
Photo Credit Gerald Abrahams All Horts 2015
In the afternoon we had some amazing industry talks from  Sue Moss (RHS courses manager), Ellen Sivell (Merrist Wood Horticultural tutor), Andrew Wain (Head gardener of Euridge Manor Gardens), Rosy Hardy (owner of Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants), Dave Green (Arborist extraordinaire)  and i feel bad saying this but another lovely young lass from Wisley just starting out in her career but I've forgotten her name! So sorry! I'm sure I've left someone else out too? If you're reading this and you remember please do comment and ill be sure to update.
Then on to the Finale! A treasure hunt...  now id better admit I'm slightly (a lot) competitive at this point plus I'm basically an overgrown child so this made me mega excited, imagine a 6 year old hopped up on Haribos and fruit shoots and you'd be close. We split up into teams and i discovered that i was in a team of some other quite competitive people too, Rosemary Hardy (i mean who could ever rosie as being competitive?) Gerald Abrahams, Justin Warhurst, Holly Allen and myself. Cut a 2 hour long story short we practically ran round the garden again, answering questions, collecting pics from the clues given then raced back to the pavilion just in the time limit with much laughter.

And guess what? We won!!!
I was looking like the Cheshire cat
So thank you organisers of this wonderful, fun, informative day and members of All Horts, this is a group I'm proud to be involved in.

The smile on my face at the end of the day!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Too many Gardens, too little time! ....Or Exotic Kew

Hello, its been a while, i know and for that i offer my most sincerest apologies, but you see its been so exciting ive hadly had a chance to breathe never mind blog!

I said last year that i was reconnecting with my passion for Horticulture and in the last 2 years ive certainly done that. In the next few blogs ill try and catch up with some of my adventures since then, ive covered Waterperrys thoroughly in my last blog but have since visited Pat and her team once more. They are also starting an amazing project there which if you look at their website youll get the full details.

This year (in no particular order) i visited
  • Eythrop House to see the private gardens.
  • Queen elizabeth park for a tour led by Dr Philip Askew who is a Landscape Architect, Urban Designer and Horticulturalist.
  • Chippenham park Gardens a beautiful private house open to the public.
  • RHS Wisley, a fun day out involving treasure hunts and guest speakers from the industry.
  • Oxford university Botanical Gardens & Waterperrys both really worth visiting
  • Organised a tour of Hole Park Gardens for "All Horts"
  • Hampton Court, both as a volunteer on the Nigel Durrantt Garden build and as a visitor
  • Chelsea Flower Show
  • Party for Perrenial at Kensington rooftop Gardens
  • Visited How green nurseries with the PGG
  • Great Dixter for the spring plant fair
  • Kew for a behind the scenes tour of the tropical Glasshouse
Not to mention the gardens and events i attended in 2014, its really hard to decide which to tell you about first! Im also sure ive missed some out but i guess as i go through my old photos that will become apparent.
So how about i start with the most recent first?

Kew Tropical Glasshouse - 18th October 2015

Let me set the scene (imagine one of those wavy flash back things you get on tv)
Im sitting scrolling on my laptop one night in October when i saw a post my friend was tagged in, it was a behind the scenes tour of the Tropical Glasshouse at Kew.
Now i love Kew, who doesnt? and the prospect of seeing how they grow their awesome displays was just to much to resist! Before we knew it a small group of us were furiously arranging travel, meeting points, times and exchanging phone numbers.
The day came and i finished work, got changed, picked up my camera and snacks and drove down prepared to squeal repeatedly at the wonderful Orchids!

The intrepid bunch! (im behind the camera) L to R - Phil, Kitty, Andrew, Ben & Rocky
Well met, we headed to the glasshouse, playing around and ooh'ing and aah'ing on the way, poor Rockys beard once more turned into a receptacle for all things nature a fun game we all like to play. I got excited by the Ricinus in a border and Ben managed to eat something that wouldnt kill him.... thats another story.

Then we arrived! I absolutely love going through gates that state Private! Its almost a dare to me.

I think ill let some of the plants do the talking for me at this point....

But it wasnt JUST Orchids! There wese so many beautiful, rare exotic species!

but if you know me the orchids come first! So ill leave you with some more and ill just say that if you fancy taking the tour yourself keep an eye on Kews website, theyre not highly publicised but well worth it as the staff are available to give you tons of information and so friendly with it.

And finally one of Kitty's legendary selfie's