Winter visit to Wisley Gardens

cyclamencoumI have three little pots of cyclamen coum sitting here on my desk as I write. I have been yearning for these little beauties ever since I saw them on a garden programme a few years ago. Mainly because the leaves are so beautiful. I am a touch allergic to variegated plants (aesthetic, not physical), so these cyclamens please on both the foliage and the delicate flowers front.
 I should have bought more as I haven’t seen them in many garden centres in our part of France.  But I was on a budget – and I had other purchases.
Yes, I have finally decided to reinvest in more raspberry canes. And my favourites are a Scottish variety called Glen Ample. Mainly because it is a thornless cane. Always useful in the potager when you are growing strawberries underneath the raspberries in the same bed.  But you can’t just pick them up in any old shop.
 So where did all this bounty come from (Pink Fir Apple seed potatoes as well)? The RHS Garden at Wisley.
 I had been meaning to go out all winter, but this is my London week and I had two criteria. Not in half term holidays and not bucketing down with rain. butterflyhouse
The bad news was that half term holidays seem to have started today. And also the weather was threatening.  Heavy rain predicted for the afternoon.  So I raced out there – it takes an hour – and was at the doors when the gates opened at 10am.
Along with a zillion others.  I realised too late that the biggest draw butterfly house exhibition inside the glasshouses.
 I almost didn’t go in when I saw the hundreds of baby buggies parked up outside.  But actually I was as excited as the kids.  And for once I didn’t spend all my time ogling the plants.
dendrobiumMind you, it’s hard not to go up and visit the gorgeous dendrobium now that it is in flower. And wafting its perfume about the waterfall in the tropical glasshouse.
Did I ever smell this plant in Australia? I don’t remember, but it is a firm favourite.
 The weather was blustery, which was a shame. As I was on the hunt for winter scent.  But the blast of sarcococca (oh, that is hard to type, you just have to bash out the keys and hope) – christmas box – is planted in such masses that I did manage a good sniff.
 The hamamelis were beautiful too, but you had to almost trespass onto the perfectly mulched and weeded beds to smell them.  And I didn’t dare.
 The viburnum opulus is fast becoming my most yearned for plant.  I saw lots of them in the Alps in late August and they were so heavy with berries.  And they are holding on here at the end of winter as well.   But hopefully I can find that closer to home in France. I just love those red berries in winter.
 Here is my favourite winter border in the entire garden (I had a fast gallop around).
 It is such a simple combination.  Beech columns (very fashionable at the mo) with a hardy grass – carex I suspect, and interspersed with huge shrubs of the christmas box.
 Planted en masse as it is around the glass houses; it works in both winter and summer.
And with the added bonus of scent.
 And it takes your eyes off the huge baby buggy parking area just beside it.