Leigh Clapp combines an autumnal stroll around RHS Wisley with the annual Taste of Autumn Show, which attracts visitors from far and wide
Wisley’s Taste of Autumn show
The essence of the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship garden, Wisley, is ‘combining learning with pleasure’ and the gardens are splendid in all seasons, brimming with colour and interest to inspire.
There is always so much to see in the extensive gardens, from display beds to the glasshouses and trial areas, as Wisley is home to one of the largest plant collections in the world.
October sees a crescendo of colour reaching its zenith, from stately deciduous trees and shrubs, as well as late-season flowers and the autumn harvest in the vegetable garden.
A highlight is the Taste of Autumn Show with its broad range of stalls, demonstrations and produce on display. “Enjoy the best of the season at Wisley’s harvest celebration. See the orchard laden with fruit, the garden awash with autumn colour, and prepare to be tempted by a range of delicious local and artisan food and drink stalls. More than 30 quality food and drink stalls will be exhibiting delicious goods, such as awardwinning sausages, condiments, cheese, puddings and handmade confectionery, to name just a few. Beverages will also be exhibited, with a range of ales and soft drinks available to sample and some guest exhibitors will also be providing talks during the show, discussing their produce,” comments Georgina Duff. Marketing and PR Executive for Wisley. After enjoying the show my suggestion is to wander up to the vegetable garden for further inspiration of autumn’s bounty. At my visit neat rows of late season produce, including crunchy chard, silvery leeks and cabbages glistened in the low sunshine, interspersed by obelisks
and arches, while attractive vignettes of pots of bright red chillies and purple leafed pak choi, with orange Dahlia ‘David Howard’ also drew the eye. I also loved the placement of red and yellow crab apples in contemporary containers as sentinels by a bench, demonstrating the versatility of these lovely small trees, which offer pretty blossom in spring as well as autumn fruit and colouring foliage. Both the variety on offer and the design ideas can be translated to the smallest of plot, or even to containers of produce and ornamentals mixed.
For ornamental planting ideas, take a close look at the autumn and winter beds with Michaelmas daisies mass planted and backed by autumn foliage from layered shrubs and trees, as well as beds dedicated to medleys of dahlias in mixed tones. The long herbaceous border also demonstrates how late season perennials, in particular salvias of all colours, can continue the show and are easily translated to the home garden. To admire foliage colour, stroll the paths by the rockery with the array of wonderful
specimen trees and shrubs, including iridescent maples and witch hazels, as well as the mature specimen trees spreading on the expansive lawns. Don’t overlook the power of berries as well, such as the deep purple callicarpa or the cascades of candy pink and orange dangling fruit of euonymus shrubs. Autumn is also on display in the glasshouse with a collection of colourful nerines in pots. Finally across the site, around the glasshouse and in the Piet Oudolf Glasshouse Borders you’ll be sure to come under the spell of the beauty in movement from drifts of parchment toned ornamental grasses.
“Don’t overlook the power of berries as well, such as the deep purple callicarpa or the cascades of candy pink and orange dangling fruit of euonymus shrubs”