Monday, October 22, 2012

A Tour of the Glasshouse at Wisley

We blogged recently about visiting the Gardens at RHS Wisley, and that post concentrated on exploring the grounds. However as well as having fabulous landscaped gardens, Wisley is also home to a large glasshouse that was only opened in the summer of 2007 by her majesty the Queen. As we mentioned on that last blog we normally visit Wisley in the winter, usually to spend time in the tropical heat and humidity under cover rather than explore the grounds themselves. Don't get me wrong the grounds are lovely even in the depths of winter, but usually by then a little heat is just what's needed to escape the cold outside.

On that recent trip we spent a lot of time outside but also explored the glasshouse too, well it would be rude not too wouldn't it!

On approaching the entrance they have planted large beds of exotics, just a tempting preview of what's inside.

Ensetes and other exotics outside
Mixed exotic beds with the towering greenhouse behind.
Hard to believe that just a few weeks ago we still have lovely warm sunshine!

When we visit Wisley, we always seem to go the same way round the glasshouse, and this day was no exception. It is divided up into three main areas, a temperate tropical section, leading into arids and succulents before entering a more humid tropical section.

As soon as you enter a large Begonia luxurians dominates the planting in front of you. Our plants stayed in the greenhouse this year, but will no doubt make an appearance into the garden next year.

This chap was for sale, part of the sculpture exhibition in the grounds. Its a shame he's not permanent!

Schefflera macrophylla is doing well under glass without having to worry about the weather outside.
These do have some degree of hardiness to them but needs to be in a milder location and sheltered spot
to do well. We keep our own plants in pots.

Throughout the tropical section, orchids have been attached to trees and the greenhouse itself. The one below is Miltonia 'Oscar Kirsch'

Miltonia 'Oscar Kirsch'

The waterfall is starting to age quite nicely now, the main rocks are all artificial and have taken a few years
to mellow down and get a covering of algae on them. Cannas to each side.
 As you approach the arid section the lush plants give way to a selection of cycads.

Macrozamia moorei

Encephalartos villosus
Soon, however the cycads give way to more arid and succulent selections.

Sansevieria trifasciata var. laurentii
Aloe striata
Aloe glauca
Euphorbia trigona frubra

Pachypodium lamerei var. ramosum

Echinopsis aurea 'Leucomalla'
Copiapoa coquimbana

Mammillaria bombycina 
Yucca filifera
Euphorbia pulvinata
Ferocactus viridescens

Echinocactus grusonii
Echinocactus grusonii

Parodia magnifica 
Agave filifera
A final look at the main arid bed, this area has really settled in well over the last few years. Naturalistic planting of arids, when done well works beautifully. Sadly with our climate in the UK the only way to really get this look is under glass.

From the arid section you walk through some doors and are immediately back into the tropics!

Queen of the night

Philodendron sp
A little friend to guard the pool

The unmistakeable flower of hibiscus

This final section is packed with many typical house plants, doing well with the high humidity and heat, in the winter months it plays home to butterflies but over the summer months they are absent.

Hopefully next year we will get over to Wisley in the Spring as well as the winter too.



  1. What luxurious place! Amazing variety! Philodendron is my favorite here. I had one, but it didn't survive our winter.

    1. Hi Tatyana, it's a lovely, well kept place indeed. Philodendrons aren't hardy here either. It makes a good houseplant though, or at least kept under glass in the winter.

  2. Wonderful tour...just what I needed on this gray and drippy day. Thanks!

  3. Looks like an awesome place! That Begonia luxurians is unlike any Begonia I have ever seen. That whole genus just is really growing on me of late.

    1. It is an awesome place indeed College Gardener! Begonia luxurians is one of the more unique looking begonias out there, and looks so lush and exotic too.

  4. Simply gorgeous! I've often wondered what it might be like to live in a house within a glass house; to have one's very own controled environment in which to garden.

    1. Same here outlawgardener, such an idea has crossed my mind before. I can imagine it'll be like living inside a tropical biome, and it's warm and humid all year round, even in the depths of cold and winter outdoors. Must be lovely :)

  5. Gorgeous! So many fabulous plants all in one place, like traveling the world without leaving home. That's the best part of a glass house done well.

    Oh and I too was marveling today how fast those sunny days disappeared...

    1. It is Loree, not the biggest glasshouse we've been to but certainly well planted and well represented by different plants from different regions of the world.

      It's been so cloudy here the past few days (typical!) and I'm starting to crave some sunny weather soon. And it's only the start of autumn...

  6. The glass house is fantastic and all the plants and blooms are amazing.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  7. Gorgeous. Very well done, and so much to see. I also love the way they wove the orchids in among the plants. The house itself is a gorgeous and amazing piece of architecture!

    1. Hi Holley, its a great building. The only complaint I would make is that the pathways are often on the large side, possibly for temporary exhibits. Glad you enjoyed the trip!

  8. I went round the glasshouse just after it was opened.... I am absolutely shocked to learn that it was so long ago! Time for another visit... and I will steal your idea of going in winter. Thank you for posting all these beautiful photos - I enjoyed the tour.... although I didn't enjoy the news that I blinked and another 5 years passed me by!

    1. You're welcome Gardening Shoe :) Amazing how time flies so quick indeed!

  9. I love the unusual design of the greenhouse. The orchid shots are lovely!

    1. Its a lovely design, very modern and fits the landscaped area around it well. There is a large pool next to it that works well.

  10. THAT is what B. luxurians matures into?! Now I NEED one (even though I hear they hate growing in houses).

    1. It does get tall Tom :) You can always trim it down if it gets too big, and find that it becomes more bushy instead.


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