London has and always will be an extremly popular tourist destination for overseas visitors with over 19 Million visitors enjoying a trip to the big city every year.
However, what many people miss out on are many of the beautiful locations that the UK has to offer just a stones throw away from London. If you fancy getting out of the city for the day I would highly recommend visiting one of the Royal Horticultural society’s gardens. The UK has some of the most stunning gardens and lush green countryside that Europe has to offer and you would really be missing out by not exploring a bit further a field.
So if you have a day to spare I highly suggest buying a train ticket or jumping in the car and heading out to Wisley gardens in Woking, Surrey. Driving takes just over an hour and the train takes approx. 25 mins from London.
The closest stations are West Byfleet (4 miles) or Woking (7 miles). There are no taxis on standby at West Byfleet. For times and tickets see the National Rail Enquiries website. Visitors who produce their train or bus ticket on the day of their visit will gain entry to the garden for £12.10
If you have hired a car you can also drive down to the gardens. RHS Garden Wisley lies between Cobham and Ripley in Surrey, off the main London to Portsmouth road (A3) south of Junction 10 of the M25. Follow the brown tourist flower signs on the A3 and M25 to the RHS Garden. Car parking is free.
Cost are available below.
|Adults||£15.95* incl Gift Aid||£14.50 excl Gift Aid|
|Children 5-16 years||£8* incl Gift Aid||£7.25 excl Gift Aid|
2 adults + 2 children
|£40.70* incl Gift Aid||£37 excl Gift Aid
Additional child £7.25*/£6.20
|Groups of more than 10||£12.20** per person|
|RHS Affiliated Societies||One free visit per year**|
|Green travel bus or bicycle||£12.10* incl Gift Aid||£11 excl Gift Aid|
I’m back in the UK for some of the Turkish school holidays and I really wanted to explore some places that I hadn’t been to before. I mostly spend my time in the UK in London but on this visit I wanted to find some hidden gems for you and this one definitely made the list.
Arriving at Wisley gardens the first thing I saw was the most beautiful oldie World style cottages and houses. Upon further investigations into the gardens I was stunned to see so many beautiful and unusual flowers. I made the trip in June when everything was in full bloom. the colours literally took my breath away.
Im not a keen gardner and the only plants Ive managed to keep alive so far are cactuses and my Aloe vera plant everything else just withers away and dies, but this doesn’t mean I cannot appreciate the beauty of these gardens and somebody else’s hard work.
The Royal Horticultural Society was given Wisley in 1903, although at that time only a small part of the 24ha (60 acres) estate was actually cultivated as a garden, the remainder being wooded farmland. The original garden was the creation of George Fergusson Wilson – businessman, scientist, inventor and keen gardener and a former Treasurer of the Society.
In 1878 he purchased the site and established the ‘Oakwood experimental garden’, with the idea of making ‘difficult plants grow successfully’. The garden acquired a reputation for its collections of lilies, gentians, Japanese irises, primulas and water plants. Oakwood (formerly known as the Wild Garden) is the direct descendant of that original garden and despite changes is still true to the original concept.
After Wilson’s death in 1902, Oakwood and the adjoining Glebe Farm were bought by Sir Thomas Hanbury, a wealthy Quaker who had founded the celebrated garden of La Mortola, on the Italian Riviera. In 1903, Sir Thomas presented the Wisley estate in trust to the Society for its perpetual use.
Nothing could have been more providential in the circumstances. For at least 30 years, the Society had been seeking a larger garden ‘beyond the radius of the London smoke’, to replace the garden at Chiswick which it had leased since 1822. It was also committed to building a new exhibition hall and offices in Vincent Square (and the construction work had already started). Both projects were seen as a fitting way to celebrate the Society’s forthcoming centenary in 1904 but there were heated arguments among the Fellows over which should have priority for the available funds.
Sir Thomas’ generous donation solved both these problems at a stroke. By May 1904, the move from Chiswick to Wisley was complete and, in July, the new headquarters at Vincent Square was officially opened by King Edward VII – both in time to mark the centenary.
While Wisley was taking shape as an ornamental garden, its educational and scientific roles were never forgotten. A small laboratory was opened and the School of Horticulture founded to instruct young people in the principles of horticulture and prepare them for careers as professional gardeners.
Following the move to Wisley the trials of flowers, vegetables and fruit – an important part of the Society’s work since 1860 – were resumed and expanded. The trials ‘epitomise…the Society’s endeavour to show to the public the best kinds of plants to grow’ and remain one of the principal objects of the garden. That combination of learning with pleasure is the essence of Wisley.
As well as the outside gardens and the grounds there is also a gigantic greenhouse that made you feel like you have been transported to an exotic paradise. I had to remind myself several times that I was still in the UK and there was no need to order a mocktail at the beach.
One of my favourite parts of the garden was the Japanese lake. I really enjoyed just putting my feet up and soaking in the sights for a while.
So whether you are visiting the UK or you are a resident here. Wisley gardens is definitely something that you need to add to your to do list. City holidays don’t always need to be about the hustle and the bustle. Just getting away from it all and seeing the real beauty of the UK is well worth the trip. I guarantee you will be hooked. Im already looking for my next garden to visit.
Also on a side note if like me you have an obsession with British afternoon tea this is also a perfect location to indulge in the passion with prices ranging from 20-25 pounds depending on if you choose to indulge in some pressecco. For me a good cup of Earl Gray usually does the trick. I think on my next trip to the gardens I will 100 percent be stopping for some clotted cream and scones.
The day I decided to visit was actually Eid (Muslim festival) and I decided to go in my traditional Pakistani outfit. I got a few stares but more than that lots of smiles and people engaging in conversation with me about how colourful and beautiful my outfit was. I just loved the juxtaposition of the two traditions blended into one.
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Enjoy a day out at this world-class garden near Woking, Surrey. Join in the fun with all year round events. Free to RHS Members.