Gor­geous gar­dens

Leigh Clapp com­bines an au­tum­nal stroll around RHS Wis­ley with the an­nual Taste of Au­tumn Show, which at­tracts vis­i­tors from far and wide

Surrey Life - - Inside - PHO­TOS: Leigh Clapp

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”

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