It’s National Gardening Week and RHS Garden Wisley is preparing for a tropical summer this year as it plants up its very first Exotic Garden. Bringing together a cornucopia of intriguing species and cultivars to the flagship RHS Garden, the brand new feature will create an immersive experience, whisking visitors away to a paradise bursting with exuberant plants, gigantic leaves and brightly coloured flowers.
To be opened in July 2017, the garden will showcase a diverse range of plants, from palms and bananas to vibrant flowers such as dahlias, cannas and gazanias. Providing an alluring contrast from the nearby Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden and Cottage Garden, the oasis will feature more than 100 species originating from tropical areas as far as Brazil and South Africa in an array of bold shapes and textures.
RHS Garden Wisley curator Matthew Pottage said: “With the recent revival of vibrant palm prints, indoor exotics and succulents, we are delighted to reveal our plans for the new Exotic Garden which will bring a tropical touch to Surrey. The garden will demonstrate the range of plants that can thrive in English gardens and we hope that it will inspire others to be bold and more adventurous with their choice of plants.”
A mixture of circular and angular stone pathways will weave through the garden towards a beautiful bespoke double lotus fountain, adorned with pineapple and passion flowers. Individual stone benches also decorated with passion flower detail will be dotted around for visitors to sit and admire this tropical hideaway.
With the ability to cope with a range of conditions, the hardy nature of the palms and other plants will ensure the garden endures all of Surrey’s seasons and provide an oasis-like setting for guests to spot the different plants while demonstrating the myriad of tropical design possibilities.
Alongside this year’s National Gardening Week theme (10 – 16 April) ‘Help New Gardeners Grow’, the garden aims to inspire and encourage new gardeners to engage with horticulture in fresh and exciting ways.
For those looking to transform their gardens and re-create exotica at home, budding gardeners can consider these three plants, as recommended by the RHS chief horticulturist Guy Barter:
- With lopsided leaves and abundant flowers, begonias are a must-have for a tropical look. Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’ AGM is typical of the newer cultivars featuring purplish leaves and an array of individual orange flowers.
- Eucomis look like ginger or pineapple plants with tufts of leaves on top of their massed starry flowers. Choose Eucomis bicolor AGM for their purple stems and green flowers for a fresh twist.
- For blooming red flowers of a dazzling nature that almost hurt to look at, introduce striking lobelias such as Lobelia cardinalis AGM and L. tupa.