Yesterday we attended the opening of the brand new RHS Garden Wisley Welcome building.
Founding RHS Ambassador Alan Titchmarsh officially opened the building and his speech celebrated the British nurserymen and women who are so crucial, but often go unnoticed.
Alan Titchmarsh said in his speech: “I am, along with the RHS, happy to celebrate not only the opening of this enormous welcome centre but that stalwart breed – the British nurseryman. This is why today I promised to support Greening Great Britain by continuing to promote and support specialist UK growers, so often the Cinderella’s of the horticulture world, taken for granted, passed over when more glittery salesmanship catches the eye but who remain nevertheless an indispensable force at the epicentre of that most important of hobbies and pastimes.”
Alan Titchmarsh went on to say: “I’m simply delighted to be here to launch what I hope will turn out to be a hugely successful part of these rightly famous gardens at Wisley. I’m pleased that the RHS have made provisions to celebrate and bring to wider notice these specialist nurseries as well as the garden centres that we all patronise. Think of them as your local friendly grocer compared with the big supermarket. We need both but we neglect the smaller outlets at our peril and if they die, their skills and their plants – our plants – die with them. It’s up to us to put our money where our garden is and make sure the patch of earth we tend is richer and more varied as a result. Thank you so much for coming to support Wisley and the RHS. It’s 50 years since I first visited Wisley and it’s changed over that half century. Enjoy your day, enjoy your garden and this one, and keep coming back to enrich the lives of your family and friends by supporting the oldest profession on the planet. Keep enjoying your garden and keep growing things.”
Dircector general of RHS Sue Biggs said in her opening speech: “This building has been eight years in the making. We really dared to dream in 2011 about how we could possibly transform horticulture and help things in this country and Wislley has been such the heart of horticulture that it seemed the core of our investment should come here and so although this is a beautiful building you will see when you come inside, it’s got many beautiful things. It’s amazing to have all this in one place, that has been eight years in the creation.”
The Welcome building has completely transformed the entrance to Wisley, with trees now lining a path which leads inside. Visitors will be met by a stylish shop full of hundreds of beautiful artisan products and the largest horticultural book shop in the country. There is also a brand-new café with indoor and outdoor seating, a stunning restaurant and an expanded plant centre which now houses even more varieties of plants.
Held in the new gift shop and plant centre, there will be events, talks, demonstrations and samplings held this week to celebrate the opening. Yesterday we were treated to a talk by Matthew Biggs on his book Lessons from Great Gardeners’ and his new book A Nation in Bloom, as well as a demonstration by Michael Marriott as he spoke about the wonderful array of British roses grown by David Austin.
Sue Biggs and Alan Tichmarsh
The new restaurant
The new shop
A range of plants on offer