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It has probably been a good 15 years since I last walked round the gardens at Wisley, and as a young keen student of horticulture I remember being generally underwhelmed as well as bored with the number of the displays which proved to be lacking in imagination.

And so it was with a certain trepidation that I arrived in the car park after being invited along for a second visit. 

After an initial confusion as to where the conflicting toilet arrows were pointing to, I finally made my way through the ticket booth and – to my amazement – stepped into one of the best gardens I have ever seen!

Wisley belongs to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) which was founded in 1804 in London, England. Originally called the Horticultural Society of London, it gained its present name in a Royal Charter granted by Prince Albert in 1861.

Wisley is undoubtedly one of the great gardens of the world, boasting a huge as well as diverse plant collection. 

With that in mind you are going to spend the best part of 4 hours walking round so make sure that you are wearing sturdy shoes and take one of the small maps provided so that you don't miss anything. On a hot day, take plenty of water and a few snacks.

Makes sure that you get to see the alpine glasshouses, and the Bonsai display - they are superb!

The history of Wisley 

It was founded by Victorian businessman and RHS member George Ferguson Wilson, who purchased a 60 acre (243,000 m²) site in 1878. He established the ‘Oakwood Experimental Garden’ on part of the site, where he attempted to make difficult plants grow successfully. 

Wilson died in 1902 and Oakwood was then purchased by Sir Thomas Hanbury, the creator of the celebrated garden ‘La Mortola’ on the Italian Riviera. He gifted both sites to the RHS the following year. Since then Wisley has developed steadily and it is now is a large and diverse garden covering 240 acres (971,000 m²). In addition to the numerous formal and informal decorative gardens, several glasshouses and an extensive arboretum, it also includes small scale model gardens, and a trials field where new cultivars are assessed.

The laboratory - which was built for both scientific research and training - was originally opened in 1907 but proved inadequate. It was expanded and its exterior was rebuilt during World War I. It was made a Grade II Listed building in 1985.

In April 2005 Alan Titchmarsh cut the turf to mark the start of construction of the Bicentenary Glasshouse This major new feature covers three quarters of an acre (3,000 m²) and overlooks a new lake built at the same time. It is divided into three main planting zones representing desert, tropical and temperate climates. It was budgeted at £7.7 million and opened June 26, 2007.

For related articles click onto:
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LONDON: The Houses of Parliament
ENGLAND: Knole House - the Ghosts!
ENGLAND: Sissinghurst
ENGLAND: Where is Stonehenge?
LONDON: The London Eye
LONDON: The Tower of London
LONDON: Who was Guy Fawkes?

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