Wandering through Wisley

Only forty minutes away from me – traffic allowing – it borders on the criminal that I don’t find myself at Wisley more often, particularly when there’s always so much to see. This morning I was there for a meeting, following which I took the opportunity to take a stroll through some of the gardens before hurling the car back into the melee on the M25.

Warm, grey and drizzly – in all honesty much better conditions for observing and taking photographs of plants and gardens than the strong, harsh direct sunlight we’ve been enjoying lately. With the blanket of clouds acting as a giant softbox, flowers and foliage had ample opportunity to reflect the full vibrancy of their colours back into the camera lens – wonderful diffuse light in which to experience the summer garden, bettered only by those golden hours at each end of the day. I wandered up through the mixed borders, into the country garden, through the AGM border and into the rose gardens; a tiny fraction of the site, but sufficient to provide a fix of garden goodness that should see me through the next few grey days.

If I could only grow one ornamental annual, it would probably be cosmos

Daisies, umbellifers and grasses make for an energetic summer display with a naturalistic feel. Cosmos, Ammi majus and Stipa tenuissima will give this effect.

The huge, shallow bowled water feature adds another element in the country garden, but the planting still manages to steal the show

Fennel and Verbena bonariensis is a tried and tested pairing, but the leaves of Ginkgo biloba raise this planting combination to another level

Echinaceas with phlox and rudbeckia in the background....

....and rudbeckia with phlox and echinacea behind.

Golden oat grass Stipa gigantea makes a fantastic duo with the miniature red rose 'My Valentine'

Visiting a garden tended by an army of students, staff and volunteers can be a dispiriting if you’re ever daft enough, as I can be, to berate yourself for failing to maintain the same high standards. So today’s visit was a tonic, burgeoning borders and fabulous plants, yes, but also edges in need of a trim, wafty hedges, fresh growth on vigorous climbers crying out to be tied in and – gloriously – weeds and dry leaves everywhere – a proper garden.

Oh, the recuperative powers of seeing somebody else’s wavy edges...

...wafty hedges...

...and weeds. All is right with the world.

The whole thing made me feel much better about the seemingly endless list of jobs clamouring for my attention in the gardens I tend. Wisley is not always perfect, and not being perfect, as any fule kno, is precisely how a garden should be.

A carpet of agapanthus spread beneath a golden Indian bean tree, Catalpa bignonioides